News in brief for Aug. 15: Top headlines for Czechia on Tuesday

Robert Fremr nomination under scrutiny, Třebíč celebrates milestones, and more top stories for Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 15.08.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 15.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

education Fifth of Czech secondary school students financially illiterate

According to a report from the Czech School Inspectorate presented today, one in three first-year secondary school students in Czechia demonstrate excellent financial literacy, but nearly one in five are financially illiterate. The weakest performance was observed in areas related to everyday activities such as safe payment behavior and household management. For students, the main source of information regarding money is their family, the report also found.

The survey involved 370 secondary schools and 26,607 first-year students who completed online tests two months into their secondary school studies. Results exhibited that students excelled in categories such as taxation, personal finance, and financial products while struggling in areas involving practical financial skills.

politics Prague court rules Babiš must apologize to journalist

The Prague Regional Court has ruled that former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is the leader of the ANO opposition party, must apologize to investigative journalist Pavla Holcová for a derogatory Facebook post. The court also ordered Babiš to publish the apology on his social media profile within three days of the ruling taking effect. Last April, Babiš posted a collage on his profile insinuating that Holcova was involved in a conspiracy against him.

The post was in response to the "Pandora Papers case," which exposed Babiš's undisclosed ownership of offshore companies. The court emphasized the importance of the journalistic profession in a democratic society and the need to protect journalists from unwarranted interference. This case sets a precedent for holding politicians accountable for defamatory social media posts and sparking public discussion on the issue.

emergency Damages reach CZK 1.8 billion after massive fire at Žebrák plant

A major fire at a Žebrák plastics production plant near Beroun resulted in approximately CZK 1.8 billion worth of damage, making this Czechia's fourth-highest industrial fire loss since 1990. Police spokesperson Michaela Richterová stated that this exceeds the initial firefighters' estimate of CZK 1.5 billion.

An investigation into the incident, classified as a potential endangerment of public safety, is ongoing. Police are considering two possibilities: negligence or a technical fault, which carry possible sentences of up to eight years in prison for the perpetrator. The plant, owned by Novares CZ Zebrak, is engaged in manufacturing automotive plastic components.

environment Rapid treeline shift in the Krkonoše mountains due to global warming

The treeline in Czechia's Krkonoše (Giant Mountains) has risen about half a meter annually due to global warming, making it one of the most visible impacts of climate change in the country. Research by Charles University's geoecologist Vaclav Treml, in collaboration with Krkonoše National Park Management, revealed an upward shift on the mountain slopes since 2017.

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Treml added that the shift was also due to large areas becoming open to a gradual spruce expansion as the highest parts of the Krkonoše stopped being used for pastoral farming. The Alpine tundra, a unique feature of the region, will likely diminish but not disappear, impacting local flora and fauna. This shift occurs in various mountain regions across the world.

transport České dráhy embarks on Czech regional rail transformation

The first two units of the 847 RegioFox series have been handed over to České dráhy, which will start testing them today in the Central and South Bohemian regions, heralding a significant transformation in domestic regional rail travel, Zdopravy.cz reports. A total of 76 units have been ordered to modernize Czech regional rail, with the potential for up to 160 units in eight years.

Czech Railways board member Jiří Ješeta confirmed the reception of the RegioFox trains, with initial test rides underway. In this first phase, six units will be gradually integrated into the Rakovník depot, primarily operating on the Rakovník – Beroun, Beroun – Rudná u Prahy – Praha a Beroun – Lochovice lines.

science Academics protest against proposed changes to research institute management

Czech university staff, scientists' unions, Fórum Věda žije!, and Hour of Truth group have united against proposed research institute management changes, fearing closures and negative research impacts. They criticize adding the amendment on public research institutes to the government consolidation package without prior discussion in the lower house of parliament.

Over 830 researchers have signed a petition against the proposed changes, which eliminate the need for institute council approval in closures/mergers, entrust the supervisory board with annual report approval, and alter director selection and fund allocation. Petitioners argue these changes curtail autonomy, politicize, and risk asset stripping of research institutions.

politics Pavel's team under fire for nomination of Robert Fremr to Constitutional Court

President Petr Pavel's consultative panel faced criticism for poorly handling the nomination of Robert Fremr, a Prague High Court Vice-Chairman, to the Constitutional Court. Political analysts noted flaws, including senators not obtaining enough materials. Fremr withdrew due to media pressure and concerns about his Communist-era tenure.

Despite Senate approval, his appointment was postponed pending historians' input on his past decisions. Critics faulted the panel's inadequate research on Fremr's background and senators' lack of participation in the vote. Experts believe Fremr's failure was lying to senators about not trying political cases. The nomination process and Senate handling were deemed lacking by analysts, as Fremr's decision negatively affected the Constitutional Court's image.

culture Třebíč celebrates legacy, UNESCO heritage list inclusion

The Four Seasons and UNESCO Monuments exhibition has commenced in Třebíč, showcasing images of St. Procopius Basilica and the Jewish Quarter with its cemetery. These sites were added to the World Heritage List on July 3, 2003. The opening marked the start of anniversary celebrations and included a concert of the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra.

Running until Oct. 1, the exhibition follows a photography competition introduced last summer, capturing changing landscape landmarks over the year. Třebíč's UNESCO-listed monuments will also have a lasting tribute—a document prepared by the town hall capturing the testimonies of those thanks to whom the monuments were included on the UNESCO list.

Tourism Prague to introduce entrance fee for paternoster lift access

Prague's municipal authorities are planning to discontinue free access to the paternoster lift at the New Town Hall, Mariánské náměstí, implementing an entrance fee for visits. The city councilors have greenlit an interior renovation tender. The elevator was temporarily closed earlier this year due to an influx of tourists seeking the unique technical attraction. Safety concerns arose as tourists overloaded the lift and impeded the town hall's functioning.

The proposed modifications aim to allow visitors to see the paternoster while maintaining regular administrative activities. Changes include partitioning the elevator with corridor walls and placing payment terminals and QR code readers for fee collection.

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