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In the News 20.5.08

Eating bugs, littering laws, and tutition fees...

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BY EXPATS.CZ
PUBLISHED 20.05.2008
LAST UPDATED 20.05.2008



In the News 20.5.08



Written by Masha Volynsky
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

 

As summer months are approaching, Czech Railways have decided to introduce another hike in ticket prices. Starting next months, ČD will introduce new timetables and new prices for many of the pre-paid tickets  such as the kilometer booklet, one-day and weekend passes as well as the internet ticket Šťastná eLiška. The railway spokesman assures that the changes will affect a mere 4% of customers, while helping the company deal will greater expenses due to higher prices of energy.

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Indeed, oil prices have soared in the past months. Although a strong crown has shielded the Czech consumers from feeling the full blow of rising world oil prices, it may change very soon, and companies may have good reasons for trying to safeguard themselves. The last two weeks have seen the crown wavering, as a result causing petrol and diesel price to rise more dramatically.

In addition to Czech Railways, Czech Airlines will also increase fares by raising fuel surcharges. Travel will be getting more expensive for almost everyone, maybe with the exception of campers, but it is not likely to deter anyone from the holiday rush.

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Although Environment Minister, Martin Bursík, may not actually lower the amount that people travel, he is still determined to show his country that lowering greenhouse gas emissions is possible. The ministry has Environs to carry out a study, which indeed proved that Czech Republic's emissions could be lowered by half, within the next fifteen years. The findings included a list of measures that need to be taken to achieve this goal, which include: replacing coal as a source of energy with natural gas, using biomass in power and heat production, and utilizing the fuel necessary for transport and heating more efficiently.

Many cities around the country are solving the exhaust fume problem by building park-and-ride facilities on the outskirts. But dealing with meaningless heat loss in houses, may prove to be a more difficult feat.

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Prague authorities have decided to take their own steps to help the environment - building from the ground up. Literally. Prague's Deputy Mayor Rudolf Blažek announced last week that littering in the capital will become a much more punishable offense than previously. Not just littering, but placing posters outside of designated spaces and not removing your dog's excrements could get you in serious trouble.

People should learn to clean up after themselves, is the message. And rely on the ever-improving recycling and garbage removal industry, as well as their friendly public transport operator, who will not be responsible for cleaning tram and bus stops regularly.

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If you want to get really close to nature this summer - put it into your food! Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno with professor Marie Borkovcová at the helm, has done extensive entomophagy research into the use of insects as nutritious dietary supplements . Beetles, ants, wasps and locusts, as well as many others, can be eaten in small amounts to provide many of the nutrients for elderly and sick people. The little critters will also be appearing more often in gourmand restaurants . If people have been eating frogs and snails for years, why not crickets and cockroaches?

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The economic results for the first quarter of this year are in, and some comparisons can now be made. Last year, the Czech economy has grown by 6.5 percent, which is the best result in the history of the independent Czech Republic. But the first quarter of this year has seen GDP grow at 5.4 percent, as opposed to the 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2007. Raiffeisenbank analysts expect the growth rate to slow down even further this year, and household consumption to decelerate as well. But few seem to be worried, with the country still ahead of most of its neighbors.

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The university tuition debate is continuing, with PM Mirek Topolánek's "White Book" looking like the unfathomable future of university reforms for this country. Czech Rectors Conference, comprising of the heads of the country's universities and institutes, is not happy at the system being shaken up. They most fear Topolánek's business-like approach to the future of their jobs, as well as the potential lack of research funding that may result from the reform.

Paradoxically, at least for graduates of the Anglo-American education system, the prime minister sees university tuition as the clear way to surpass elitism and favoritism in order to allow everyone who wants to study to for it.

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After poll results have been thrown around like poisoned darts in the US radar base debate, the polling agency STEM has come up with yet another poll, which seems to shake the ground under all that came before it. It seems that three-quarters of Czechs have admitted that their response to the radar is based on a general feeling , and only the remaining fourth of the population seems to have a factual reason for their stance. So if 75% of citizens cannot come up with a weather-proof reason to approve or disapprove of the radar base, it is no wonder that poll results can be swayed sometimes by a single word, and sometimes just by the time of day. Although approval ratings have been thrown around both ways, STEM claims that on 40% of the Czech population actually care about the radar either way .


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