News in brief for June 22: Meteorologists warn of strong storms, possible tornadoes in Czechia

Extreme heat expected in Czechia today, activisits halt mine operation, Czech Radio hit by hackers, and more top stories.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 22.06.2023 09:02:00 (updated on 22.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

SPORT Czech basketball team suffers heartbreaking EuroBasket loss

In the quarterfinals of the Women's European Basketball Championship in Ljubljana this afternoon, the Czech women's basketball team suffered a narrow 61:62 defeat against Hungary. Despite erasing a 17-point deficit, the team was unable to secure victory. 

Kateřina Zeithammerová's basket gave them a temporary lead of 61:60, but a decisive shot from Hungary with 3.6 seconds of the match left sealed the win for the opposition. This is the strongest performance of the Czech women’s team in a decade. It will now compete for fifth to eighth place, and a chance to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.

EVENT Worker injured during Holešovice-Karlín bridge stress tests

Stress tests began today on Prague's Štvanice Bridge, which connects Holešovice and Karlín. During the test, a worker fell from a height of approximately five meters, but remained conscious and was transported to a local hospital in a stable condition. The cause of the fall has not been specified. The tests, which involve monitoring the deflection of the footbridge, will continue until Friday.

The footbridge, aimed at improving pedestrian and cyclist access to Štvanice Island and connecting city districts, is set to open in July, although the exact completion date has not been determined.

LAW Prague teacher who denied Russian war crimes is acquitted

The Prague 6 District Court has acquitted Martina Bednářová, a Czech language teacher in Prague, of charges related to denying Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The judge determined that her actions did not constitute a crime, and that the teacher was expressing an opinion. However, the verdict is not final as the prosecutor has appealed. 

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Bednářová defended herself by stating that her remarks were made during a media literacy lesson, aligning with instructions from the Education Ministry. The judge emphasized that the teacher's statements reflected her personal views, which legally cannot be grounds for prosecution. The school had dismissed Bednářová for her actions.

GENDER EQUALITY Czechia falls dramatically in Global Gender Gap index

Czechia has experienced a significant decline in its position in the 2023 Global Gender Gap index. It now ranks 101st out of 146 countries, a notable drop from its previous ranking of 86th. The country's weakest area is political empowerment, where it ranks 108th, marking a decline of 41 positions compared to the previous year. Notably, all neighboring countries, including Slovakia, Poland, Austria, and Germany, outperform Czechia in gender equality.

Only Cyprus fares worse among European countries. The index assesses health, education, work, and political participation, considering factors such as wage disparities, employment rates, leadership representation, education levels, and overall well-being.

SECURITY Pavel details dangers of Russian disinformation

President Petr Pavel, speaking at the Media and Ukraine conference organized by Czech Radio today, stated that while Czechia is not engaged in a conventional war with Russia, it is a target of Russia's information war. He highlighted the role of information manipulation in preparing and coordinating Russian aggression in Ukraine. 

Pavel also emphasized the significance of freedom of speech and how it can be exploited during times of war, hindering those who depend on it the most. “Your news and reporting is a tool for society to challenge myths and make informed decisions," he told reporters.

LAW Czech nurse labeled as 'killer' to receive CZK 500k compensation

The Prague Metropolitan Court has ruled that the commercial television channel Prima must compensate nurse Věra Marešová, who has been acquitted of murder charges, with CZK 500,000 plus interest.

The court found that Prima disrespected the presumption of innocence in its reports by implying her guilt during a trial in which she was accused of killing six hospital patients. Prima referred to her as "The Nurse Death" in their reports, violating her rights. She was ultimately found not guilty on all counts. Marešová has also filed lawsuits against other media channels.

TAXATION Finance Ministry prepares global-tax law

The Ministry of Finance has announced today that it is drafting a law aimed at ensuring large multinational companies, which have been able to avoid paying taxes by having their headquarters in other countries, are properly taxed. The proposed law is based on a European directive that had been agreed upon by EU member states in December, which sets a 15-percent tax rate for such companies. 

The Finance Ministry estimates that this new regulation could contribute CZK 4 to 6 billion annually to the state budget. The law would apply to both multinational and domestic companies operating in the Czech market, with consolidated revenues of at least EUR 750 million in two of the last four years.

weather Meteorologists warn of severe storms in west of Czechia

Czech meteorologists have issued a warning about the imminent threat of severe storms in the western part of Czechia today and tomorrow. These storms, expected to occur this evening and Friday night, may bring extremely strong winds reaching speeds of approximately 110 kilometers per hour, hail up to five centimeters in diameter, and heavy rainfall.

There is even a possibility of tornadoes, particularly in the Pilsen and Karlovy Vary regions. While storms are expected throughout the country, the danger level is anticipated to be lower – though still existent – elsewhere. Following the storms, temperatures will cool down after days of tropical heat.

Hackers Czech Radio hit by cyber attack

The websites of Czech Radio (ČRo) and iROZHLAS.cz are currently experiencing a significant Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The attack, aimed at the media organizations, has rendered their websites inaccessible. Czech Radio acknowledged the attack on Twitter and assured that they are actively working to resolve the issue.

The attack coincides with the organization's Media and Ukraine conference, which features notable attendees such as President Petr Pavel, Vitaly Klitschko (Mayor of Kyiv), Peter Pomerantsev (British journalist), and Zhanna Nemtsov (daughter of Boris Nemtsov). Representatives from public radio stations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine are also participating in the event.

Politics Czech V4 Presidency to prioritize business, Ukraine war

The Czech Republic, as it assumes the presidency of the Visegrad Four Group (V4) in July, has outlined its priorities, including addressing the Russian aggression in Ukraine, fostering economic interconnectivity, and promoting interpersonal meetings within the region. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) stated that the V4 presidency will center on these areas under the motto "V4 for Citizens."

Additionally, two parliamentary elections in Slovakia and Poland will take place during the Czech Republic's tenure. Czech President Petr Pavel views the V4 as a consultation forum and envisions potential collaboration with the Baltic countries.

weather Temps to reach 35 degrees Celsius in Czechia today

The recent hot weather in Prague is expected to give way to strong thunderstorms and a cold front. Temperatures will reach up to 35 degrees Celsius in Bohemia this afternoon but will cool down over the weekend to around 25 degrees. Meteorologists predict storms and heavy rainfall on Friday, followed by occasional showers during the weekend.

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued warnings regarding the possibility of strong storms accompanied by dangerous phenomena like gusty winds, hail, and torrential rainfall. By Saturday, the rain is expected to stop and cloudiness will decrease, with temperatures ranging from 21 to 25 degrees. Sunday will see fewer showers and temperatures ranging from 22 to 26 degrees.

Environment Activisits halt operation of Czech mine

Seven activists from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany have occupied an excavator at the Bílina lignite quarry, resulting in the suspension of operations at the mine owned by Severočeské doly, a part of the ČEZ group. The activists are protesting against the extension of mining until 2035. The police are present at the scene, urging the activists to vacate the machine.

This is not the first time such protests have occurred, with previous instances in June 2021. Greenpeace has criticized the mining extension, calling it a climate crime and challenging the environmental impact assessment.

Culture Metronome Festival opens with Ukrainian symphony orchestra

The sixth edition of the Metronome Prague festival kicked off with a double concert featuring the Ukrainian Ladies' Symphony Queens Orchestra and Czech performer David Koller with his band. The three-day musical event, held at the Prague Exhibition Center, will run until June 24, offering twice as many concerts as last year. Attendees can choose from four outdoor and three indoor stages, including the newly added Beats for Metronome stage in collaboration with the Beats for Love festival.

The opening concert showcased a one-minute video highlighting the war conflict in Ukraine. The festival will feature various musical genres and performances by renowned artists, with the main star on Thursday being Jamiroquai. The event also includes the Metronome Fair, showcasing outdoor installations, film productions, and presentations by non-profit organizations.

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