The president's annual address to the nation on Monday drew mixed reaction across the political spectrum, drawing praise from Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and criticism from the right-wing opposition. The prime minister welcomed the head of state's appraisal of improving economic conditions under the current government. The head of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, by contrast said in his address the president had repeated his usual positions and said "nothing new". Likewise, Miroslav Kalousek, the head of TOP 09, was critical, saying President Zeman had not outlined any new direction for the country. The head of coalition party ANO, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, called the president a great orator and described the address as "unifying". In his address, President Zeman suggested there were reasons to be optimistic on issues such as the economy, indirectly praising the finance minister.
London football club Arsenal, with Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech, defeated West Brom on Boxing Day by a score of 1:0. The Gunners rebounded after two straight losses but left it late before getting the goal from Giroud. Ahead of the match, the BBC noted that Čech's run of eight games without a clean sheet was the worst of his Premier League career.
A Syrian coordinator who worked for the Czech NGO People In Need in the province of Aleppo, Hasan Said al Sun, was killed along with his wife and children when their home was hit in aerial bombing, the NGO has confirmed. People in Need's Tomáš Kocián said that the bombing of civilians had unfortunately become a part of the Syrian conflict. People in Need has operated in Syria since 2012, helping some two million people, iDnes writes. Five workers or associates of the NGO have died in bombing.
In his annual Christmas address to the nation, President Milǒs Zeman
suggested that positive news had outweighed the bad in 2016 when it came to
domestic economic growth. He used the analogy of a glass being half full as
opposed to half empty, softly chiding Czechs for being famously skeptical
and suggesting there was reason to be optimistic, citing the increase of
the average monthly wage, improvement in old age pensions, low
unemployment, improved tax collection and a balanced budget or surplus. As
negatives, Mr Zeman listed the continuation of certain social benefits; he
was also highly critical of support for solar energy.
Regarding the international scene, the president expressed regret over the results of the Brexit in 2016 - Great Britain's decision to leave the EU. He rejected, as he has in the past, migrants being allowed the country which he suggested could create conditions for attacks, referring to the recent Christmas market attack in Berlin. But he said that the Czech Republic was otherwise willing to help abroad, including countries which had born the brunt of the migrant crisis. In his address, Mr Zeman also mentioned the election of Donald Trump in the US, saying he hoped it would lead to closer ties between the Czech Republic and the United States. In connection with the US election, he suggested the media had largely been biased against the businessman, now president-elect.
Meteorologists have warned that parts of the Czech Republic will be
buffeted by gale force winds, as high as 110 kilometres per hour.
Tuesday is expected to be cloudy with a chance of rain and snow at higher elevations. It will be colder than at the weekend, with daytimes highs of around 6 degrees Celsius expected.
The Florida Panthers are planning to honour Czech hockey star Jaromír Jágr on January 6 when the club faces Nashville. The evening, according to reports, will be dedicated to the 44-year-old forward who recently surpassed Mark Messier as second on the NHL's all-time points list, led by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Jágr said that being second was actually like being first, given that the Gretzky (forever known as "the Great One") was “from another planet”.
Music fans across the world, including the Czech Republic, are ruing the death of British singer George Michael who died unexpectedly on Christmas Day at the age of just 53. Local music critics noted that the singer had had an influence on Czechoslovak performers even during the communist era in the late 1980s. George Michael performed two back-to-back concerts in Prague in 2011 as part of a European tour. Not long afterwards he was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia in Vienna which almost claimed his life.
Students in three areas of Prague on Sunday took part in a charity event serving free meals of soybean goulash to the poor and those without anyone to spend the holidays with. Some 200 people received meals; a hundred or so members of the public also brought their own food to donate or leftovers from Christmas dinner to give to the needy.
Some 65 people in Rajhrad in the area of Brno donned costumes on Christmas Day to create one of the largest live nativity scenes in Moravia, an event attended by some 500 people, the Czech News Agency reported. According to the agency, the event was held for the 16th time; some who had been toddlers when they first participated years ago were now able to play adult roles. The live event included the spoken word and Christmas carols, organiser Magda Mlejnková said. She confirmed that the weather had been ideal except for the lack of snow.
Czech politicians and cultural figures have sent condolences to Russia over the plane crash that killed 92 people, including 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble. In a telegram to President Putin, Czech President Milos Zeman said he had been deeply shaken by the news. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed regret over the loss of lives, saying it was a terrible human tragedy. Singers Karel Gott and Helena Vondrackova who sang with the famous ensemble also expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy. The Russian military plane, with 92 people on board, crashed into the Black Sea early on Sunday. Debris and several bodies have been found, with no reports of survivors.
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