Nineteen-year-old Vendula Fialková from Prague has won top marks in this yearś International Baccalaureate exam opening the way for an Oxford grant. Vendula was one of 146 students out of 150,000 from 136 states to get top marks in the exam i.e. 45 points. The average was 30 points. The private secondary school Nový PORG from which she graduated had 15 students sitting the exam this year with an average result of 39 points, which is an all-time Czech record. The school said it was immensely proud of its graduates.
South Moravian regional governor Michal Hašek has rejected calls for him to resign from office after it emerged that he had for years been represented by a non-existent spokesperson and had paid a lobbyist 400,000 crowns annually to write laudatory articles about him on the news site Parlamentilisty.cz .The Pirates Party and the Greens called on him to resign over the matter. Hašek´s fictitious spokesperson Lucie Proutníková was a cover for lobbyist Jana Mrencová, who has been found guilty of attempting to bribe journalists. It emerged on Friday that Mrencová very likely also wrote press reports for the Communist Party under a false name.
Medical tourism to the Czech Republic is on the rise, up by 15 percent in the past year, Czech Television reported on Saturday. Foreigners who come to the Czech Republic predominantly request plastic surgery, fertility treatment, weight reduction procedures or spend time at wellness spas. Czech health and wellness facilities are particularly popular with clients from Great Britain, Germany and Russia. Foreign visitors annually spend approximately half a billion crowns for these services. The interest is generated by high quality services at a comparatively low cost. In terms of quality the Czech health sector ranks 13th on a list of 35 European states, ahead of countries such as Italy or Great Britain, yet the cost of treatment is two to three times lower.
A ban on Segways in selected parts of Prague imposed by Prague City Hall as of August 3rd, is not being observed, the ctk news agency reported. According to Prague City Hall spokesman Vit Hofman it is not yet possible to enforce it because there are as yet no road signs in place banning Segways in the given localities. These should be installed by September 1st. The regulation, approved in July, bans Segways in Prague 1, Holešovice and Letna and selected parts of the districts Vinohrady, Žižkov, Prahy 4, Smíchov and Liben. Segways should be banned from pavements, cycle paths, pedestrian zones and streets. Segway operators have said they will sue the city for losses incurred.
An association of Czech NGOs helping migrants has issued a joint statement criticizing the anti-migrant rhetoric of President Miloš Zeman and several government ministers. The association labelled their rhetoric populist and dangerous. Both president Zeman and Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babiš have made it clear they do not want the Czech Republic to accept any migrants, even at the cost of sanctions. The president said that their presence here would create fertile soil for terrorist attacks.
Heavy rain in the night hours is reported to have caused local floods in the eastern parts of the country. The river Brumovka in the Zlin region burst its banks in several localities, flooding nearby fields, roads and houses and even sweeping a car off the road near the town of Broumov. The driver managed to escape to safety. Water levels are now gradually subsiding and the situation is expected to stabilize in the course of the morning .
The Czech Interior Ministry registered 765 requests for asylum in the first six months of this year, the ctk news agency reported. The vast majority were from Ukraine, Iraq and China. 131 applicants were granted asylum, 172 received international protection status which enables them to remain in the country on a temporary basis. The high number of applications from Iraq was due to a relocation project initiated by the NGO Generation 21. It was later scrapped by the government after several dozen applicants decided to move to Germany instead.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has toned down its travel warning for Turkey. The ministry is no longer advising Czechs against travelling to Ankara and Istanbul, although it recommends exercising a high degree of caution. In the case of Ankara the ministry advises putting off all non-essential trips. A warning not to travel to the south-eastern parts of the country remains in place. Tourists visiting other areas have been asked to remain vigilant, avoid large gatherings and crowded places and register with the ministry’s travel data base.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are planning to enter into an agreement on closer cooperation in air defense, the ctk news agency reported on Friday. The two countries already cooperate closely within the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System. The proposed bilateral agreement which is to be presented to the Czech government next week, should take this cooperation further, for instance in allowing the air force of the neighbor state to shoot down a hijacked civilian aircraft which terrorists intend to use in an attack.
A survey among teenagers in five Brno primary schools has revealed that a fifth of ninth-graders have either tried or occasionally smoke marijuana. The survey, conducted by the NGO Podané ruce, suggests that children as young as 12 years old start experimenting with the drug. Ten percent of 15-year olds admitted to smoking regularly and 16 percent said that they had repreatedly got drunk in the past.