News Party of Mayors and Independents elects new leadership
The center-right party of Mayors and Independents (STAN) on Friday elected a new leadership at its party conference in Prague. The new party leader is to be the governor of Liberec Martin Půta who was elected by an overwhelming majority. The party is also discussing its future role and strategy on the Czech political scene. The new leader is in favour of looser cooperation with the center-right TOP 09 which was STANS close partner in the past running in elections on a joint ballot. The party has strongly promoted greater powers for municipalities.
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Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková has reached her fourth final this year on the WTA tour. In Seoul she defeated Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko 4:6, 7:6, 6:3. She will face Uzbek-American Varvara Lepchenko for the title.
Around 30 travelers in period costumes on Saturday marked the 111th anniversary of the founding of the first electrified railway route in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the so-called 'Bechyňka' from Tábor to Bechyně, boarding an historic train called the Elinka. The route and railway car was the design of renowned inventor Frantíšek Krǐźik. A two-way trip on the historic train cost those who took part 500 crowns.
The second shipment of Czech military aid to Kurdish forces fighting against Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq was sent from the military airport in Pardubice on Saturday. A Canadian C-17 Globemaster transport plane is transporting some 65 tonnes of ammunition, including millions of rounds for Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, as well as hand grenades and ammunition for anti-tank rocket launchers. The Czech government agreed in August to provide support for Kurdish forces under threat from Islamic State, after it seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Meteorologists have issued storm warnings for the much of the country, with some areas to experience heavy rainfall or thunderstorms after around 3 PM on Saturday. Regions expected to suffer heavier storms include the Czech-Moravian highlands, Plzeň, and Central Bohemia. Warnings are in place until 11 PM.
Police at around 2 AM on Saturday apprehended 60-year-old Bedřich Spurný, bringing to an end a two-day manhunt. The man, considered armed and dangerous, was caught by police using night-vision gear; no one was hurt in the operation. The Czech News Agency reported the man is suspected of having committed the crime of grievous bodily harm. Since Thursday, dozens of officers, with help from Polish counterparts, conducted the search for Mr Spurný - in terrain near the border - making use of a helicopter and police dogs.
Traffic was reported to have been backed up for several kilometres in the area of Ostrava on Saturday morning as attendees prepared to visit NATO Days and Czech Air Force Days - the largest event of its kind in Central Europe - at the airport in Mošnov. Police reported that traffic was the heaviest from the city of Ostrava itself, where cars were backed up six or seven kilometres, with delays of up to two hours. Tens of thousands of people are attending the air show, where 16 states are taking part, over two days. One of the big attractions is the European 'premiere' of the American CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
The region of South Moravia so far this year has seen an increase in the number of road fatalities as well as a rise in the number of seriously injured. Since the beginning of the year, police in the region attended to 4,458 traffic accidents – up by 70. Up to the first of September, 53 people died on South Moravian roads (7 more than the same period last year) and 204 suffered serious injuries (up by 27 cases). The police charged that many motorists remained inattentive or drove dangerously, while some cyclists, who failed to wear helmets or rode after drinking, only deepened the problem.
Police stopping a driver for speeding in a VW Transporter uncovered more than 30 kilos of marijuana in large plastic bags in the back of the vehicle. The quantity of the drug has a reported street value of 1.6 million crowns. The suspect was charged with illegal production and possession of illicit and psychoactive drug. He is currently in custody. The motorist was tested for drugs but that proved negative.
The University of West Bohemia in Pilsen on Friday opened a new research and learning centre focussing on cybernetics, math, and physics. The university’s rector Illona Mauritzová said the centre, which cost 1.36 billion crowns, including equipment (the construction alone was 530 million) had the potential to rank among top European facilities for research and development. The bill for the centre was largely paid from European funds, almost 80 percent. The centre is one of four commissioned by the university. Two have been completed.
A new poll by STEM suggests that the two largest parties in government, the Social Democrats and ANO, made gains among potential voters over the summer months. The survey found that if a national election were held now, the ANO movement would secure 30 percent of the vote, while the Social Democrats would receive 21.3 percent – the latter seeing a two percent increase, the former, three. According to the poll, the Communists would stagnate at 13.5 percent. The rightest parties, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats, would gain 7.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, while the upstart Dawn would not pass the five percent threshold, receiving just 3.9 percent of the vote. The survey was conducted between August 3 and September 10.