News In tennis, Štěpánek reaches semis at London’s ATP event

14-06-2014 12:57 updated | Jan Richter

Czechs tennis player Radek Štěpánek defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 1-6 6-2 6-3 at the Aegon Championships in London to reach the tournament semi-finals, his first in two years. Czech number one Tomáš Berdych, meanwhile, has been knocked out after he lost to Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the quarter-finals. Štěpánek will now face Lopez to qualify for the finals.

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Prague Zoo sees birth of first silvery gibbon in Czech Republic

30-07-2015 10:06 | Jan Velinger

A silvery gibbon female at Prague Zoo, has given birth to a healthy baby - the first born in captivity in the Czech Republic. The parents are the female Alangalang and male Flip, both ten years old, who were acquired by the zoo last year. Alangalang arrived in Prague from Howletts, England, and Flip from Munich. Both take excellent care of their young, Prague Zoo said. In the wild, silvery gibbons live on Java and rank as the most endangered of primates. 

Czech fighter pilots, maintenance crews, begin Iceland mission

30-07-2015 09:46 | Jan Velinger

Czech Gripen jets on Wednesday began protecting Icelandic airspace, a mission which will run until August 25. Four of the Swedish-leased jets will patrol the skies over the country while a fifth jet is being kept in reserve. Czech pilots are guarding airspace over Iceland for a second time; the Czech military also served in similar missions in the Baltic states as a member of NATO. On Wednesday, the Czechs took over duties from the Royal Canadian Air Force, whose pilots will now reportedly take part in airstrikes against the terrorist group Islamic State. 

Jablonec lose home leg of Europa League qualifier

30-07-2015 09:05 | Chris Johnstone

In football, Czech club Jablonec lost 0:1 in their initial home leg of the third prequalifying round of the Europa League against Copenhagen. The sole goal of the match was struck from almost 25 metres by winger Benjamin Verbič in the 51st minute. Jablonec, which had a handful of scoring opportunities in the first half, complicated their chances an equalizer after Stanislav Tecl was red carded in the 69th minute. 

Cabinet proposes tighter rules for financing political parties

30-07-2015 09:04 | Chris Johnstone

Stricter rules for the financing of political parties were agreed by the Cabinet on Wednesday. The proposed measures include a 3 million crown ceiling on donations to a party from an individual or company. The Ministry of Interior, which drew up the proposal, had been pressing for a lower limit of 2 million crowns. The proposal also seeks to clamp down on the increasing use of political institutions under the guise of non-profit organisations. The proposal calls for them not to be financed in future by a single party. Their operation will also be supervised by a newly created authority tasked with overseeing the financing of political parties. Financing oversight was previously carried out by a parliamentary committee and frequently criticized for its laxity. 

Jana Hybášková selected to head EU Namibia representation

29-07-2015 18:43 | Chris Johnstone

Former Czech member of the European Parliament and diplomat Jana Hybášková has been confirmed as the European Union’s new ambassador to Namibia. Hybášková previously the 28-strong EU as ambassador in Baghdad. She was previously a member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2009 and before that worked for the Czech diplomatic service with postings in Slovenia, Kuwait, and Qatar. She speaks Arabic fluently. The announcement was made in Brussels on Wednesday amid a series of other staff changes. 

Škoda Auto boosts turnover, profit, and car sales in first six months

29-07-2015 17:36 updated | Chris Johnstone

Škoda Auto, the Czech Republic’s biggest car maker and one of the main industrial motors of the economy, has boosted first half operating profits by around 23 percent to 522 million euros compared with the same period in 2014. Overall turnover rose 7.5 percent to 6.4 billion euros. The manufacturer, part of the Volkswagen Group, said favourable currency rates and lower prices for raw materials helped the improvement. Car deliveries in the first half topped 544,000, a rise of 4.2 percent. 

Cabinet proposes clampdown on gaming business

29-07-2015 17:21 | Chris Johnstone

Tighter rules on the gaming industry were approved Wednesday by the Czech Cabinet. The proposed measures include giving local council greater power over opening hours, including an obligatory closing period during the night, and higher taxes on companies. Taxes on lottery games should increase from 20 to 25 percent. The proposal would also ban gaming machines from bars and restaurants. The Czech Republic has long had a reputation as a gaming paradise compared with other European countries but with the serious social impact that around 100,000 people are now estimated to be addicted to gambling. 

Almost 40 illegal immigrants detained Tuesday night by Czech police

29-07-2015 12:05 | Chris Johnstone

Czech police detained almost 40 illegal immigrants, of which 13 were children, on Tuesday night, Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec announced on Wednesday. He warned that the increasing trend is set to be long term. So far in the first six months of the year police have detained around 3,000 illegal immigrants. Next year the total is expected to be between 5,000 and 7,000. The minister said an extra 1,200 beds in detention centres for illegal immigrants by the end of this year should be sufficient if the situation did not dramatically worsen and as long as it was possible to return some of the immigrants back to Austria and Hungary. 

Czech Post prepares special edition of stamps to honour Sir Nicholas Winton

29-07-2015 12:04 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Post office is preparing to rush out a special edition of stamps in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised transports of 669, mostly Jewish children, out of Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of WWII. The move almost certainly saved their lives. Sir Nicholas died at the age of 106 on July 1. The special edition of stamps, in a limited edition of 750,000, should go on sale on September 2. Czech Post said the special edition is intended as a tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton. 

Ministry bonuses for top staff rise in first six months compared with same period in 2014

29-07-2015 11:07 | Chris Johnstone

Bonus payments to top ministry officials have risen sharply in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier, Czech Radio reported on Wednesday. Total bonuses rose by around 65 million crowns to reach almost 220 million crowns. The figure for the first half of 2014 was 155 million. Among the year on year increased spenders with total budgets almost doubled include the ministries of agriculture, foreign affairs, industry and trade, environment, and regional development. Ministers argue that the need to offer bonuses to motivate top staff and the bonuses are small compared with those in the private sector. 

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