Daily news summary

ČSÚ: Overall confidence in Czech economy drops for second straight month

Confidence in the economy has fallen for a second consecutive month, dropping 0.7 points to 98.6 points in December, data published on Thursday by the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) show.

According to the economic sentiment indicator, business confidence fell 1.4 points to reach 96.4 points in December. Consumer confidence, meanwhile, rose by 2.3 points to 109.2 points following a more pronounced decline in November.

Compared to December 2017, overall confidence in the Czech economy is down, and both the business and consumer confidence indicators have fallen in annual terms.

Press: Czech PM met Chinese ambassador ahead of Huawei ban, later retracted

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (Ano) stressed at a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jianmin ahead of the Christmas holidays that his government did not in fact favour banning the use of mobile phones made by Huawei and ZTE, the daily Denik N reports.

On December 17, the National Bureau for Cyber Security and Information (NÚKIB) argued using technology made by those Chinese companies could undermine state security.

Mr Babiš announced on December 19 that employees of the Government Office (Úřad vlády) would be banned from using the Chinese products. Several ministries later followed suit.

According to Denik N, however, Mr Babiš told the Chinese Ambassador to Prague that this was not the government’s official position, and a few days after announcing the partial ban, he rescinded it, saying such a move was hasty and had no technical basis.

In a press release dated December 24, the Chinese embassy said Mr Babiš had apologised for the initial decision to impose a partial ban and stressed the positive development of Czech-Sino economic cooperation.

Opposition politicians have said the position taken by the Czech prime minister was irresponsible, with one accusing him of being servile to China.

Newborn boy found in Prague babybox

A newborn boy placed in a babybox the Prague 6 City Hall early on Thursday morning has been given the name Filip.

Ludvik Hess, founder of the Czech babybox network, said Filip is the 180th infant to have been placed in a babybox in the Czech Republic in the past 13 years. There are currently 76 babyboxes in the country.

Critics say babyboxes violate the child’s right to know its identity, nationality, and birth parents, as established under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Advocates of babyboxes maintain that the practice prevents infanticide and late-term abortion.

88-year-old German woman gone missing in Mariánské Lázně found

Police in western Bohemia say an 88-year-old tourist from Germany who had gone missing in the spa town of Mariánské Lázně has been found.

The woman had been reported as missing on Wednesday, after she did not return to the Hvězda Hotel from a walk on the historic colonnade.

Police said she was in good health but did not provide further details.

Prague woman dies in Christmas Eve fire set off by tree sparkler

Prague firefighters responded to about 60 calls during the Christmas holiday, one of which involved a fire that resulted in a casualty.

A woman in her early forties died on the 24th of December as a result of a Christmas tree fire in an apartment on Lucemburská Street in Vinohrady.

Two men and a small child also suffered injuries, according to a spokesperson for the firefighting service. The fire probably started because of a sparkler decorating the tree.

About 136 fires were reported throughout the country at Christmas, 29 fewer than last year. Rainy weather may have been a factor in the overall decrease.

Hundreds turn out to honour Karel Čapek at annual Vyšehrad cemetery ceremony

About two hundred admirers of Karel Čapek met at his grave in Prague this Christmas Day, the 80th anniversary of the writer’s death.

Best known as a science fiction author, Karel Čapek was a writer of great scope, whom many classify alongside Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

Academic Martin C. Putna, a principal spokesman of the Čapek Brothers Society, delivered a speech based on the writer’s work Apocryphal Tales, highlighting the writer's idea that every man is a "spark of good", and talking about the dangers of extremism.

While Karel is buried at the Vyšehrad cemetery, his brother Josef Čapek, a celebrated cubist painter as well as a writer, died in the Belsen concentration camp.

Karel Čapek's funeral on December 29, 1938 in Vyšehrad became a public demonstration. The Čapek Brothers Society was established in 1947.

U-20 ice hockey: Czechs beat Swiss 2-1 in overtime, next face Russia

The Czechs have won their first match in the 2019 World Junior Championship, beating the Swiss team by 2-1.

The decisive goal by David Kvasnička came just shy of a minute into overtime play.

The Czechs have a day off before taking on Russia on Friday.

The Swiss, meanwhile, on Thursday play Canada, hosts of the U-20 Ice Hockey World Cup in Vancouver.

Weather outlook

Friday should be partly cloudy with occasional light rain or snow especially likely in the regions of northern Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia. Average daytime highs should range between 4 to 8 degrees Celsius.