The Social Democrats have agreed to withdraw a controversial election billboard that has come under fire for racist overtones. Acting party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the billboard which reads “Why should I regret being a member of a national majority? One state and one set of rules for all!” would be withdrawn and replaced in the coming days. However, not all party members are happy about the decision. The head of the party’s north Bohemian branch Petr Benda said the billboard could be slightly altered so as not to offend some groups of the population, but the core message should stay the same.
Sociologists have warned about the potential dangers of an election campaign that targets predominantly outcasts and people living on the margins of society. Many parties have built their campaigns on promises to clean up the local environment – of homeless people, drug addicts, petty thieves and vandals. Sociologists say that this populist approach may win them votes, but can easily be abused and may be potentially very dangerous in the long-term.
The Czech Transport Ministry and police are arguing over cost-cutting measures that could endanger road safety. In response to a news report on TV Prima the transport ministry confirmed that it had ordered some lights along the country’s roads and highways to be switched off in order to save money. Although the ministry said it had requested the directive be implemented prudently Prima reporters found that a ramp leading onto the D1 highway from Brno to Prague was left in complete darkness, with only car lights to guide drivers. Police asked about the measures said they considered them a hazard with public safety.
A new bypass on the south-western outskirts of Prague should open to traffic on Monday. A festive opening planned for Saturday attracted thousands of people but was marked by chaos, as work had not been fully concluded in all areas and the public was not allowed to view certain sections of the road and tunnels. The bypass has been criticized as being too expensive, but it is expected to significantly reduce congestion in the Czech capital.
The Višegrad group states have signed a memorandum on closer cooperation between their air forces. The pledge was sealed at the 10th annual NATO days in Ostrava said to be the biggest air, military and security show in Central Europe. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary agreed to maximize interactions between their air forces and promote joint training opportunities for their pilots with an emphasis on more across-the-border training and shared know-how from foreign missions. The NATO days in Ostrava attracted close to a hundred thousand visitors. One of the biggest attractions this year is the legendary heavy strategic bomber B-52 Stratofortress of the United States Air Force.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta has banned four lobbyists from the premises of the transport ministry, the internet news site Tyden.cz reported on Sunday. It said the lobbyists in question all figured in past contracts to the tune of hundreds of millions of crowns which appear suspect or have been put to question. Minister Bárta said he was determined to reduce the influence of lobby groups on the transport sector.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek is to meet with trade union representatives on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to reach agreement over a planned change of salary scales. The talks are scheduled a day after a massive anti-government protest in Prague and on the eve of a government session expected to push through the planned changes. Apart from a ten percent salary cut for all public sector employees next year the government wants to change the way employees are paid – reducing fixed wages and increasing bonuses for performance.
The car-maker Škoda is banking on its GreenLine ecological cars at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in October. Unlike previous years when Škoda presented brand new or radically altered models at international motor shows, this year it is showing a line bursting with eco-friendly innovations. The GreenLine offers tires with lowered rolling-resistance, changed aerodynamics, motors and gear-box, and a system whereby the car automatically shuts down its engine while waiting at traffic lights. According to Škoda's spokesman the start-stop system will save 10 percent or more on gas. In addition, the new GreenLine cars will have regenerative breaks which convert breaking energy into electric energy that can be used by the car.
Czech drivers are paying more for gas and diesel fuel that drivers in all neighbouring states and filling their tanks abroad whenever possible. While at Czech gas stations a liter of diesel fuel costs on average 30.49 crowns, in neignbouring Poland it is sold on average for 27.12 crowns –in Czech money. The price of gas is almost two crowns cheaper. Economists say fuel prices should stay fairly stable in the coming weeks.
Two people were injured during the felling of trees in the town of Prosetín. As one of the trees came down it broke in two and hit a married couple watching the felling. The forty-three-year old woman died of her injuries several hours after being transported to hospital, her husband remains in serious condition. It is not clear who let them watch the action close-up. Police are investigating the incident.