Written by Naďa Straková
SHRINKING ECONOMY AND LOOMING RECESSION. So it is true – the economic crisis has hit on the country too. A number of companies have been forced to sack their employees, some in hundreds, some in thousands. Now, all the optimists that were predicting the crisis would not be as cruel to Czechs as in other Western countries, have to revise their optimism.
The unemployment rate has risen by 1.9 percent in a year-on-year comparison and the forecast for 2009 is not well looking. According to the European Commission, the gross domestic product is to drop down to 3.6 percent. The first signs of increase are to appear only in 2010.
HIGHER GUARANTEE. To reassure savers during the financial crisis, the Chamber of Deputies approved a cabinet proposal under which the state will guarantee individuals’ bank account savings up to EUR 50,000. Up until now the Czech Republic has only guaranteed to compensate 90 percent of savings up to EUR 25,000.
M&Ms OR RAINBOW? Some liken it to M&Ms, some think it is a rainbow. But the new logo for the Czech Republic´s EU presidency is to symbolize nothing else than diversity, openness and colorfulness, as explained by Alexandr Vondra Czech Deputy PM for EU Affairs.
Aleš Najbrt from Najbrt Design Studio is convinced it reflects a country of intelligent and smart people.
The logo reads EU2009.CZ and each letter has a different color, representing EU member states´ national flags. It refers to the www.eu2009.cz portal dedicated to the Czech Republic´s EU presidency.
E-BIKE TO WORK. A Bike Conference held at last year’s edition of the Sport Life fair pointed out that Czechs, unlike many western Europeans, still perceive bikes as sports equipment rather than a means of transport. But that may change soon.
Electric bikes, which use an electric motor powered by a battery to make the pedalling easier, were one of the hits of this past weekend’s Sport Life exhibition in Brno. Visitors had a chance to not only see, but also try out about thirty models by 12 manufacturers.
E-bikes might be able to accommodate those who otherwise avoid bicycles because they do not want to arrive at work or a business meeting sweaty and out of breath
FASCISM ON CZECH RADIO? Members of the public service Czech Radio Council (ČRo) admitted that they were wrong when accusing Radio Wave of promoting fascism.
Radek Vogl, economist, submitted an incorrect translation of a song “Swastika Eyes” by British band Primal Scream. Vogl labeled the band “rap-metal”, claiming the song promotes fascism.
“The Radio Wave appraiser that cautioned the ČRo Council was wrong in his criticism of Radio Wave and the Council members were thus misguided,” says the members’ statement.
THE FIRST CASE OF ABUSING UKRAINIAN WORKERS. The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint filed by Czech-based Ukrainian entrepreneur whose assets were seized earlier this year after he was arrested on charges of using thousands of Ukrainian workers as slave labour.
The man stands accused of blackmailing workers and forcing them to work and live in inappropriate conditions without rest and healthcare.
There are about 60,000 Ukrainians working legally in the Czech Republic and thousands more are illegal. It is believed that Ukrainians are the most common target of blackmail from organised crime groups, who also seize part of the workers’ earnings.
ROMA STILL SEGREGATED. European Roma organizations said at a conference held in Prague that the Czech government has failed to prevent segregation of Romani children in special primary schools for children with mental disabilities.
A school law effective from 2005, intended to eliminate discrimination of Roma, abolished special schools and replaced them with so-called practical schools. The reform also introduced preparatory classes and Romani teaching assistants at standard primary schools to facilitate the integration of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Despite the reform and the ruling of the Strasbourg court, Romani children remain over-represented in former special schools, now relabelled as practical schools, where they are taught according to substandard curriculum designed for children with mental disabilities.
THE DALAI LAMA IN PRAGUE AND ONLINE. The Dalai Lama is to visit Prague again after two years since his last visit. The Tibetan leader has been invited by former president Václav Havel and Forum 2000 Foundation.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is to spend a few days in the country – from 29 November to 2 December.
Check out his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s web site here. He has got all new media you can imagine – webcasting, desktop wallpapers, colour portraits„ Q&A and plenty more.
The tickets for the event will be available in Ticketpro.