Czech courts have punished two people for wishing death on a child on
social media, Respekt reported on Thursday. The two were found guilty of
hate speech after calling for the death of a new-born baby with a Czech
mother and Kurdish father in Facebook comments beneath a photo of the
Pavel Hrabák was sentenced to 100 hours of community service by a court in Prague and Lada Vyskočilová received a suspended sentence from a court in Vyškov, Moravia.
Others are being investigated over similar comments directed at the baby, Respekt reported.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, on Thursday
told the Chinese ambassador to Prague, Zhang Jianmin, that publicising the
content of a private meeting was inappropriate. This was a reference to
talks between Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Mr. Zhang before
Christmas. Afterwards the Chinese envoy said on social media that the Czech
leader had climbed down over banning Chinese-made Huawei mobile phones at
the Office of the Government. Mr. Babiš later said this was a lie.
Mr. Petříček said he believed Thursday's discussion would ensure similar misunderstandings did not occur again.
The Czech prime minister this week ordered 160 key Czech organisations to look into whether they were at risk from using products made by Huawei or another Chinese firm, ZTE.
Activists at an independent social centre in Prague refused to vacate the
building on Thursday. The operators of the Klinika centre in the Žižkov
district had been ordered by bailiffs to leave by 11:30.
When they failed to do bailiffs and representatives of owners the Railway Infrastructure Administration moved in and the police were called. A number of activists then climbed onto the roof of the building.
Prisoners were deployed to help deal with a snow calamity declared in the
town of Jablonec nad Nisou in North Bohemia on Thursday. Streets and
pavements are blocked and maintenance workers are struggling to cope.
Over half a metre of snow had fallen in the town, which is in an upland area, over the last two days and it was still snowing on Thursday morning.
Heavy snow has caused power blackouts in some parts of North Bohemia and around 9,000 customers were without electricity overnight.
A train carrying 60 passengers derailed in the train station in Liberec,
north Bohemia on Thursday morning. The train was due to stop at the station
but did not halt at stop lights and crashed into buffers before jumping the
tracks, an inspector said. There were no injuries.
The causes of the accident are being investigated. Damages have been put at around CZK 650,000.
The governor of the Czech National Bank, Jiří Rusnok, has accused the
government of speaking emptily about making housing more accessible in the
Czech Republic but not doing anything in practice. He told the weekly
Ekonom the central bank was the only organisation taking steps to deal with
the housing market.
Mr. Rusnok said the main problem was that new apartments were not being built in sufficient numbers. He also said property tax in the Czech Republic – which he described as “crazily low” – should be increased and short-term rentals should be regulated more.
The Czech National Bank has tightened mortgage rules in recent years. However, Mr. Rusnok says it is not its job to regulate the offer of apartments.
Critics say excessive red tape is preventing the construction of flats, leading to a shortage and a marked rise in prices.
Consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose by 2.1 percent in 2018. It was
the third highest average annual rate of inflation in ten years, according
to the Czech Statistical Office.
The cost of basic necessities, such as food, housing and transport, accounted for the largest part of the increase, along alcohol and tobacco.
Consumer prices in December increased by 0.1 percent compared with November, driven mainly by price increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The Czech National Bank has set an annual average inflation rate target of 2 percent and last year raised the base interest rate five times to tame inflation.
Bank governor Jiří Rusnok said further tightening of monetary policy is likely this year.
Czech archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what may be the oldest
wooden structure ever discovered in Europe – a water well made of oak
trees felled some 7,000 years ago.
According to the head of the Archaeological Centre in Olomouc, the well was discovered outside in the eastern Bohemian town of Ostrov in the early stages of a motorways project.
Scientists were able to determine that the tree trunks for the wood were felled in the years 5255 and 5256 BC, said the centre’s director, Jaroslav Peška.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš remains the true owner of the Agrofert
conglomerate that he founded, despite having placed it in a trust,
according to a legal study commissioned by the opposition Pirate Party.
The new study, which has been sent to the European Commission, confirms earlier findings by the EU executive arm and the Czech branch of watchdog Transparency International, that Mr Babiš has violated EU laws on conflicts of interest.
As a prime minister, he can influence the scope and distribution of EU subsidies that benefit Agrofert, of which he is the ultimate beneficiary, the various findings argue.
The European Parliament voted in December to suspend subsidies to Agrofert until the matter is cleared up.
Mr. Babiš is facing criminal charges in the Czech Republic of EU subsidy fraud over CZK 50 million received by a hotel and conference centre near Prague that previously belonged to Agrofert. He denies any wrongdoing.
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