President Klaus criticizes coalition's tax bill
Czech President Václav Klaus criticized Prime Minister Petr Nečas for his determination to push through a bill that would raise the Value Added Tax rates by one percentage point as well as income tax for top earners. President Klaus told Mladá Fronta Dnes daily on Friday that raising taxes at this time is a fatal mistake that is “bordering on political and economic suicide.” The Prime Minister pledged to override the Senate veto of the bill, which is an essential part of the government’s economic consolidation package. Without the package the government will not be able to fulfill its main goal to bring the public deficit below three percent of the GDP. In that case, Mr. Nečas warned, there will be no reason for this government to continue its existence. The coalition government will have to get 101 votes, or absolute majority, in the lower house to pass the tax hike, which some analysts say will not be as easy as the Prime Minister claimed on Friday.
Thousands attend Prague Pride Parade
The second gay Pride Parade took place in the Czech capital on Saturday, with thousands taking part. Organizers estimate that this year’s parade drew even more attendees and onlookers than last year, when the estimated participation was 8,000 people. Parade participants walked from Wenceslas square to Střelecký island accompanied by floats with music and dancers. Festival organizers said that their Facebook account was hacked on Friday night and false information about changes in the schedule was sent out to fans. But the event went ahead without any glitches. A few dozen supporters of the conservative group D.O.S.T. came to Wenceslas square to protest the event before the start of the parade. And some members of the Young Christians walked with the parade carrying signs and sometimes chanting slogans that were offensive to homosexuals, but no serious conflicts were reported. A number of political and public figures showed support for Prague Pride, including presidential candidate and vice-chairman of the Social Democratic party Jiří Dienstbier, members of the Green Party, Young Social Democrats and the U.S. Embassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen. The Prague Pride festival will finish on Sunday with an ecumenical service and a number of afternoon events.
Foreign Ministry troubled by Pussy Riot sentencing
The Czech Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern over the decision of the Moscow court on Friday to sentence three members of the punk group Pussy Riot to two years in prison. The ministry was surprised that an act that was not damaging to either health or property received such a strict punishment. In a statement, the ministry underscored not only the length of the sentence the defendants received, but also the fact that they were held in prison for over five months before sentencing.
Police arrest a Breivik sympathizer in Ostrava
Czech police arrested a 29-year-old man and found bombs, bullets and explosive substances at his apartment. In a press conference on Saturday, the police say the man, who was arrested on August 10, was most likely planning a sophisticated bombing attack. During the search of the man’s apartment, they found a police uniform and car siren, which the Ostrava resident was probably planning to use for the attack. The man’s internet communication led Ostrava police to suspect him of sympathizing with the Norwegian mass murdered Anders Breivik. The suspect had been arrested in the past for setting off a bomb explosion in an unpopulated area.
Number of self-employed up in 2012
The number of self-employed people in the Czech Republic grew in the first half of 2012 by 10 thousand, bringing the total number to over 1.012 million people, compared to 1.002 million last December, according to figures from the Czech Social Security Administration. However the number of the self-employed paying for social and health insurance decreased by 6 thousand and 15 thousand respectively. Most self-employed people are residing in Prague, the Central Bohemia and the Moravian-Silesian regions. Companies with one to two employees make up 95% of all business in the Czech Republic.
Meteorologists warn of high temperature
Czech meteorologists warn of tropical weather coming to the Czech Republic on Sunday. High temperatures, going possibly up to 40 degrees Celsius, will last into next week. Authorities are warning against possible forest fires and urging people to stay well hydrated and limit exposure to direct sunlight to avoid health problems.
The biggest whisky bottle hanging on the wall
Glassmakers from the Czech company Kavalierglass created the biggest whisky bottle in the world. The hand blown bottle, which can fit 228 liters of whisky, is 1.7 meters tall and weighs 50 kilograms, will be registered in the Guinness book of records. The bottle was commissioned by a Scottish whisky producer Edrington Group. The Guinness book record will be the first for Czech glassmakers.
Sunny or partially overcast weather is expected across the country, with temperature ranging from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius, and 23 in southwest Bohemia.