News Brno’s Ghettofest attracts hundreds of visitors
Hundreds of people turned out for the third annual street art festival Ghettofest in Brno over the weekend. The festival takes place in the city’s poorest quarter, a slum area commonly referred to as the Brno Bronx. The two-day undertaking, which aims to combat prejudice and highlight the conditions in which some of the city’s poorest inhabitants are living in, offered visitors music, dance and theatre performances as well as sports events, exhibitions and public debates. The festival will end with a mass and a prayer for peaceful co-existence.
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Social Watch, an international anti-poverty advocacy group, has criticized the Czech Republic over increasing numbers of overpriced and substandard accommodation facilities and continuing anti-Romany riots. In its annual report for 2013 released on Wednesday, the group says the country was affected by chaos, incompetence, record-high unemployment and decreasing living standards for a majority of the population. The group has also criticized a lack of women in the lower house of Parliament and other top political positions.
New EU sanctions against Russia adopted over Moscow’s support for the rebels in Ukraine will not have any significant impact on the Czech economy, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in a statement on Wednesday. The sanctions are targeting Russia’s oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies. However, the Czech Republic’s trade ties to Russia are based on civilian goods, Mr Sobotka said. The opposition Civic Democrats have meanwhile question the prime minister’s claim, and said any effective sanctions must also logically hurt those who impose them.
The regional authorities in Ústí nad Labem have allowed a Muslim student to repeat her school-leaving exams at a local secondary medical school after she accused one of the teachers on the examination board of anti-Islamism, the news website idnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The student reportedly failed the Czech language exam in May; she claimed she was deliberately failed because she had objected to the teacher showing students anti-Muslim videos during his classes. The teacher, who also serves as an evangelical pastor in the city, has denied the claims but the regional authorities have approved the student’s request to resit the exams.
Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms with hail that are to hit the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. The storms are expected to move in from Germany to western Bohemia before advancing to the east of the country. The warning is in place until Thursday evening. Meteorologists have also warned that torrential rain could flood roads and buildings in low-lying areas.
Detectives from the anti-corruption unit of the Czech police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Pražské služby, a city-run firm providing municipal services in the capital, the news website lidovky.cz reported. A spokesman for the unit did not comment on the operation but the website said the police were searching for documents possibly related to the firm’s multi-billion deals on waste collection as a planned acquisition of an additional stake in the company by Prague City Hall.
The Czech Constitutional Court has struck down legislation that denies tax breaks to working pensioners. Acting on a motion filed by a group of senators, the court said the legislation created inequality by only denying tax breaks of some 25,000 crowns to people who were receiving pensions on January 1 of the given year but not to others who might began receiving pensions on any other day. The legislation was introduced in 2013 as part of the then centre-right government’s austerity measures. However, the lower house of Parliament is set to vote on a bill that would re-introduce tax breaks for working pensioners regardless of the Constitutional Court’s verdict.
Doctors have brought musician Michal Hrůza out of an induced coma, his manager told reporters. The singer and songwriter, who is 43, suffered brain injuries as a result of being attacked in Ostrava nearly two weeks ago after reportedly attempting to calm an altercation on the city’s bar-filled Stodolní Street. Hrůza was in the city to perform at the Colours of Ostrava music festival.
Sparta Prague beat the Swedish club Malmo 4:2 in the first leg of their third round qualification tie for European soccer’s Champions League on Tuesday night. Sparta twice fell behind but recovered thanks to a hat-trick from captain David Lafata. The away leg takes place in Sweden next Wednesday. If the Czech title-holders capitalise on their advantage they will enter the final qualifying round for the lucrative competition.
A Prague court has handed former chief hygiene officer Michael Vít a three-year suspended sentence for signing unnecessary contracts for advisory services while he was a deputy minister for health in 2007. Mr. Vít was found guilty of exceeding the powers of an official and breach of trust. He has been ordered to repay the ministry CZK 1.7 million crowns. The verdict can be appealed.
Smoking in restaurants and pubs in the Czech Republic could become illegal from January 2016, under a bill being prepared by the Minister of Health, Svatopluk Němeček, for presentation to the government later this year. Mr. Němeček has drawn on a previous unsuccessful amendment put forward by a predecessor, Leoš Heger, but has made some changes to the draft legislation, including adding a provision under which electronic cigarettes would be permitted in eateries. An estimated 30 percent of Czechs smoke, with around 18,000 people dying as a result of smoking in the Czech Republic every year.