News Mayor: Prague to take over running of Opencard from current operator
Prague plans to take over operation of the Opencard electronic card system from the middle of this month, Mayor Tomáš Hudeček told the Czech News Agency. City Hall has been locked in a dispute with the company eMoneyServices over the figures quoted by the latter for extending a service contract for the Opencard, which is used for public transport and other services. Mr. Hudeček said Prague would begin operating the Opencard itself once its current contracts end with eMoneyServices; it holds the copyright on the system but could not be contacted by the Czech News Agency on Thursday. The Opencard cost CZK 1.35 billion to implement and has been mired in controversy.
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The European Commission will launch an information campaign on consumer rights in the Czech Republic in order to increase people’s awareness of their rights when buying goods or taking consumer loans, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Issues and Gender Equality Věra Jourová told journalists on Friday. The campaign will target particularly young people aged 18-35 years who are considering taking the first consumer loan. According to a recent poll conducted by the TNS agency, 38 percent of Czechs do not feel sufficiently informed about their rights relating to consumer loans and only 30 percent of Czechs read the conditions of a loan carefully before signing the deal.
Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from President Miloš Zeman to visit the Czech Republic. The Czech head of state, who was granted an audience by the Holy Father in the Vatican on Friday, said the date of the visit has yet to be set but should take place by the spring of 2018, before the end of his first term in office. The Czech president expressed great admiration for the Pope’s leadership of the Catholic Church saying that the Holy Father’s philosophy reflected his own beliefs. Mr. Zeman brought the Pope a copy of the famous Infant Jesus of Prague, a wax statuette made in Spain in the 16th century which is highly revered particularly in the Hispanic world, where Pope Francis comes from.
A convoy of 30 historical U.S. military vehicles rode through Prague on Friday within celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the country’s liberation from Nazi rule. According to the organizers, the ride was organized not only in remembrance of US war veterans, but also to symbolically fulfil the unfulfilled wish of General George Smith Patton to liberate Prague. Although General Patton’s army could have progressed to Prague he was bound by an agreement with Russia to stop at the demarcation line in western Bohemia. The convoy´s arrival in Prague annually opens its tour of western Bohemian towns that were liberated by the 3rd U.S. army under Patton´s command. It will culminate with a ceremonial parade in the West Bohemian town of Plzen on May 3.
The State Office for Drug Control is poised to sign an agreement with the firm Ekoplast Slušovice which won a tender to produce medicinal marihuana for the Czech market. The Anti-Monopoly Office which was looking into the conditions of the tender has closed the case after failing to find any irregularities. Medicinal marihuana is already available on the market but is imported and thereby extremely expensive for patients. Presently one gram of medicinal marihuana costs 300 crowns while Ekoplast Slušovice won the tender with a projected price of just 68 crowns per gram.
Some 60 Czech firms are presenting their goods at the Shanghai International Technology Fair, within a Czech Days in Shanghai promotion event organized by the Czech China Chamber of Commerce, the ctk news agency reports. The participants are businesses from high-tech sectors: environmental technology, machinery, aviation, IT and nano and bio technologies, among others. Skoda Auto which is already well-established on the Chinese market is presenting it latest models. A Czech-Chinese business forum is also being held on the sidelines of the fair, attended by Czech Industry Minister Jan Mládek and the Speaker of the lower house of Parliament Jan Hamáček. A Czech Moser glass store is to open in Shanghai on Saturday.
The Czech Republic ranks 31st on the ladder of the 2015 World Happiness Report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative under the United Nations. The placement makes it the happiest country among the post-communist states and puts it ahead of countries such as Spain which ranks 36th and Italy which placed 50. Switzerland tops the happiness ladder, followed by Island and Denmark. The Czech Republic’s former sister state Slovakia ranks 60th. The study bases its rankings on data from the Gallup World Poll and takes into account variables such as real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, corruption levels and social freedoms.
Industry Minister Jan Mládek has won the 2015 Oil Guzzler award, a mock prize established by environmental groups to highlight the worst anti-environmental stance, decision or project in any given year. Mr. Mládek won the award for his draft long term energy concept which relies on nuclear energy and his efforts to lift coal mining limits in north Bohemia. The Green Pearl, a prize for the most shocking ant-environmental stand went to President Miloš Zeman for his statement on “the crimes of environmentalists and green fanatics”. Mr. Zeman also received the Oil Guzzler award in 2013 for promoting the 380km-long Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor project.
The Tabor Zoo which was facing bankruptcy has been sold to a new owner for 16.2 million crowns and should reopen on June 30th ,the ctk news agency reported. The zoo closed to the public at the beginning of the year although its past owner continued to care for the animals. The sale of the animals was averted thanks to the zoo’s creditors who are owed tens of millions of crowns. The zoo’s past owner is expected to stay on in the position of advisor.
An Internet petition launched by the Open Doors initiative is calling for a ban on the Night Wolves motorcycle rally marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. The gang, which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, wants to stage a ride from Moscow to Berlin, passing through Poland, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria. The organisers are set to hand over the petition at the Office of the Government on Friday. The group is not preparing any other protests.
In ice hockey, Litvínov has claimed its first domestic Extraliga title in its history, after beating Třinec 2:0 in the seventh, deciding match of the playoff final series at Třinec’s arena on Thursday night. The tight match was goalless throughout the first two periods largely thanks to outstanding performances by the two goaltenders. The title was secured by František Lukeš, who scored in the 52nd minute and added another goal when he found an empty net in the final minutes of the game. Litvínov’s goalkeeper Pavel Francouz got a shutout for the fourth time in this year’s playoff.