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National Museum responds to critics over restoration of bullet-ridden façade

The National Museum has responded to criticism that a recent renovation of the façade of its building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square has left bullets holes dating back to the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia barely visible.

In a press release issued on Monday, the museum said restorers took great care to leave the distinctive traces of the nation’s history – including attempts by Soviet occupiers to literally whitewash them – in place for generations to come.

In refurbishing the façade, the contrast between the original stone parts and the embedded fillings of the bullet holes was partially lost but the colour differences were intentionally preserved, it said, describing in great detail the process and care given to preserving the history whilst protecting the façade.

Labour Minister proposes minimum wage be set at half average salary

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Maláčová (Social Democrats) will propose a new mechanism for determining the minimum wage, setting it at 50 per cent of the average salary in the country for the previous year.

As of this January, the minimum wage in the Czech Republic is 12,000 crowns (480 euros). Trade union representatives had been seeking an increase of 1,500 crowns, or 12 per cent.

The valorisation mechanism proposed by Minister Maláčová would require amending the Labour Code. According to the Czech news agency ČTK, trade unions would back the proposed change, which could come into effect in 2020.

Obraz activists ride Prague trams in chicken masks to highlight plight of caged hens

Several dozen activists from the animal rights group Obraz packed themselves into Prague trams on Monday wearing chicken masks and distributing leaflets to raise awareness about what they see as inhumane conditions for hens in poultry farms.

The activists were heading to the headquarters of COOP, which unlike major supermarket chains such as Lidl and Globus has not pledged to gradually phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens, according to Obraz.

Data from the Bohemian and Moravian Poultry Union shows more than 87 per cent of Czech eggs come from battery farms. Only 11 per cent of hens are kept in free-range farms and just about one per cent of the birds are bred in natural conditions.

Average Czech newborn baby weighs 3.3 kg, multiple births decreasing

The average weight of a newborn baby in the Czech Republic has held steady at around 3.3 kilograms over the past ten years, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) said on Monday.

The proportion of multiple births has fallen in that period – from 2.1 per cent of live births in 2007 to 1.4 per cent last year – a change that could signal a drop in the use of fertility treatments, which increase the chances of having twins.

The majority of babies were from 49 to 51 centimetres long at birth and were born in the 39th or 40th week of pregnancy. Last year, 505 children were born in the Czech Republic who weighed less than one kilogram, up from 430 in 2007.

Czech Railways announces tender for delivery of up to 90 express wagons

Czech Railways (České dráhy) has announced a tender for the delivery of up to 90 express wagons to replace its ageing fleet that should feature air conditioning, internet access and electrical outlets, and offer passengers a smooth ride at speeds of up to 200 km/hour.

This is the second major investment announced this summer by the national railways operator, which faces increasing competition from private transport companies. In late June, Czech Railways signed a contract for the delivery of 50 passenger trains for its Prague - Brno - Bratislava - Budapest line.

Zlín authorities file suit against 10 suspects for allegedly abusing EU subsidies

The Zlín branch of the Brno Regional Prosecutor’s Office has filed a lawsuit against six individuals and four legal persons for having allegedly illegally used European subsidies worth tens of millions of crowns.

The main suspect is a 57-year-old man who works for an organisation that facilitates the drawing of EU subsidies, which in this case went towards constructing accommodation in the Zlín region, a spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office said.

An investigation into the alleged illegal activity had been underway since 2014. If found guilty, the suspects face up to 12 years in prison.

Nearly 1,000 e-shops to forgo delivery fees during Free Transport Days

Czech e-shops taking part in the Free Transport Days promotion starting on Monday will not charge customers for the delivery of orders worth over 300 crowns. The promotional event ends on Wednesday at one minute before midnight.

Almost 1,000 online companies are taking part this year, according to its organiser, Heureka.cz. A similar promotion has been held in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, traditionally the busiest season for online retailers.

Weather outlook

Tuesday should be partly cloudy throughout nearly all of the Czech Republic, with daytime highs of 29 degrees Celsius in the north and up to 32 degrees in the south. No rain is expected until the weekend.