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Easy to breath DIY cloth masks might not cut it pretty soon, as Czech officials contemplate making FFP2 respirators and surgical masks the new standard on public transport, medical facilities, and other government buildings.  This idea comes amidst a broader move to extend and tighten COVID-19 restrictions, following Germany and Austria’s lead. Recently, officials from both countries made respirators and surgical masks mandatory in all shops and public transport in response to the British mutation that is supposed to be more contagious. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček insists on voting in favour of extending the state of emergency until February 21.  “We can’t afford to discontinue the state of emergency. If we do, we won’t be able to meet our goalContinue Reading

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Oppositional parties ODS, SPD, KDU-ČSL, and TOP 09 stated that they won’t support the extension of the state of emergency in the Czech Republic if their demands are not satisfied. Oppositional parties continuously criticized the measures adopted by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the government plans to extend the state of emergency for 30 more days until February 21. The Czech Republic has remained in this state for 176 days since October 5.  The opposition doesn’t agree with the fact that the state of emergency, according to them, allows the government to violate human rights. “The government is not able to properly justify what exactly it needs, and why we have to keep being in an emergency overContinue Reading

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The stores occupying more than 400 square meters will be required to sell the obligatory minimum of Czech-produced products, states the new proposal to the Food Act that was approved today by the Chamber of Deputies. Eight countries from the European Union have already criticized the proposal because it is discriminatory against foreign-made products.  The proposal will apply to the products which can be produced in the Czech Republic. The rule won’t apply to stores smaller than the required 400 square meters, as well as the outlets. Next year, the obligatory quota will be 55 percent with plans to grow to 73 percent in seven years.  The Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Toman doesn’t see anything problematic with the proposal beingContinue Reading

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World War II has provided inspiration for movies for over 80 years now, with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of incredible tales. Sometimes I wonder, though, when I see a film as weak as Once Upon a Time in Paradise, whether the well is drying up and people are starting to run out of ideas… That may seem unfair on the source material, Josef Urban’s novel and the true story that inspired it. It sounds like rousing stuff on paper – a talented rock climber hides from the Nazis in the wilderness, evading capture for years – and maybe that is where it should have stayed. It was a similar situation with the Laurent Binet’s page-turner HHhH – an intensely grippingContinue Reading

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Chcípl PES initiative plans to establish a political party Otevřeme Česko (Open Czechia). According to restaurateur Jiří Janeček, partnering restaurants, pubs and shops will become places for political party’s meetings, which will make them exempt from COVID-19 related measures. “It is a response to the restrictions of this government, which does not want to deal with us, it only saves itself,” Janeček stated. Janeček added that the point of the party is not to participate in the elections but rather to solve the current situation. They will organize a petition for the restaurants and stores to start conducting political activities. The restaurants can be recognized as spaces for political meetings with the citizens. According to Janeček, this would then exemptContinue Reading

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After nearly a year of not being able to operate at normal capacity, České dráhy (Czech Railways) has been forced to lower some employee’s wages, and get rid of others, Irozhlas reports. Gabriela Novotná, the spokesperson for České dráhy, announced on Sunday that the company planned on reducing wages for 700 administrative employees, and likely release others in a plan that is supposed to only last for a year while the COVID-19 restrictions are hampering business.  Ivan Bednárik, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of ČD reiterated the measures are only temporary as the company waits out the coronavirus situation. “The pandemic has to end one day, so if we reduce contractual wages this year, it won’t beContinue Reading

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Last week, two German magazines, Die Welt and Der Spiegel, published articles criticizing the Czech government for the improper handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The article by Olaf Gersemann in Die Welt argues that Saxony and Bavaria have the worst situation with the coronavirus in Germany because they share the borders with the Czech Republic. He stated that it is not just a coincidence that these areas show the worst results in the entire country. Many Czechs travel there every day for work, thus spreading the virus. “Developing control with anti-coronavirus measures is difficult because the disease is constantly spreading across the open border with the Czech Republic. There was a third wave of a pandemic with 829 new casesContinue Reading

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Cyber hackers are attacking Czech hospitals with out of date security systems, encrypting their data and then demanding ransoms from the hospitals. The most recent incident is being reported by Irozhlas. According to cybersecurity experts from Check Point, not all details of the attack are known yet but they have detected ransomware that may be used for some sort of extortion. “At the end of last week, one medical facility was compromised. There’s ransomware, and there’s a risk that the attackers will end up demanding a ransom for the data. We also know it’s affected some of the information systems. The audit report is not clear yet, so we don’t have all the details available to us,” said Pavel Řezníček. Continue Reading

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Since the number of COVID-19 cases is declining, the government will meet to discuss the shift to the fourth stage of the anti-epidemic PES system this Wednesday, hence reducing certain restrictions. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also announced the opening of stationery, footwear, underwear, and children’s clothing stores this Tuesday. The government will formally approve it on Monday. Babiš already stated that the stationery, footwear, underwear, and children’s clothing are moved to the “basic needs stores” category. According to the Minister of Industry and Transport, Karel Havlíček, the government should be careful with opening restaurants and stores because the December situation might be repeated. The development at hospitals should be monitored closely. “We have to be careful. We don’t want anContinue Reading

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Thanks to a partnership between Apple and Healthvana, a software platform that delivers test results to patients, residents in Los Angeles can have their vaccination records stored digitally since the end of December. In the Apple Wallet or selected Android wallets. With about 10 million residents, Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. All the vaccines are formally tracked in the government registries anyway. And people are given paper confirmations. This digital vaccination record was made in an attempt to ensure people are alerted by push notification to get their second dose. Because the approved Pfizer or Moderna vaccines require a two-shot dose. This digital record has also the added benefit of being very hardContinue Reading

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“Whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you are right.”  Abraham Lincoln Leave it to someone from very humble beginnings, born and raised in the Midwest United States, who rose to the pinnacle of political power, to draw upon his life experience and come up with a quote that is the essence of common-sense.  Lincoln suffered many defeats before rising to the U.S. presidency, and it was his ability to honestly, objectively reflect on his actions and beliefs that guided him to lead a nation through the greatest moral crisis of its history.  To believe in something is to make a choice—a choice to believe.  Choosing to believe in yourself, is investing in your future.  Sure, some thingsContinue Reading

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Due to the current vaccination scandal, the head of the State Institute of Public Health (SZÚ) Pavel Březovský resigned. According to the Seznam Zprávy’s investigation, Březovský was responsible for including SZÚ employees and their relatives on the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination.  “As the director, I accept all responsibility for the situation. For this reason, I have decided to resign today,” Březovský stated. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called this type of behavior unacceptable, and that this incident slows down the vaccination process. “Such excesses cannot be repeated. We said that priority is given to paramedics and nursing homes,” Babiš explained.  Based on the investigation, the employees included their relatives and partners on the list, and not all of themContinue Reading

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Former president Vaclav Klaus was caught eating inside a closed restaurant breaking COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, and when questioned about it, owned it and referred to it as an “act of civil disobedience.” Klaus denied being a threat to the public, and noted that unlike other politicians who advocated the lockdowns but then broke them anyway, he was against it from the beginning. He even joined an anti-lockdown protest days earlier. “I’m not the one who preaches water but then drinks wine like the other politicians who broke their own rules by visiting restaurants. I’ve been critcising these rules from the very beginning!” “We mustn’t accept this existence where we constantly face extensions of these rules and prohibitions. In aContinue Reading

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According to the Czech Statistical Office, the Czech Republic experienced the highest inflation rate seen in the last eight years. The raised prices on groceries and housing bills are some of the factors which influenced this year’s index. Consumer prices increased on average by 3.2 percent last year, which is the highest increase since 2012. The current inflation rate is even higher than the last year’s one – 2.8 percent. “This was the highest average annual inflation rate since 2012. Prices of goods in total and prices of services rose by 3.2 percent last year,” Pavla Šedivá, the Head of the CZSO Consumer Price Statistics Department, stated. December’s usual increase in prices slowed down for the fifth time in aContinue Reading

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On the surface, it can look like Czech identity revolves purely around the country’s vast history and the fairytale aesthetics that come with it. But in the details, you find lots of funny modern quirks, one of them being Pérák. Pérák is a superhero originally created by Jiří Trnka and Jiří Brdečka in 1946 and acted as a sort of mascot for anti-Nazism at the time. He existed as an urban legend for quite some time, but he first appeared in Trnka and Brdečka’s animated film called “Pérák a SS” (Pérák and the SS.) His character is a chimney sweep who accidentally puts his sweep too far down a chimney, manages to get it stuck in a couch, and thenContinue Reading

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Director Karel Kachyna gets his metaphors in early in Forbidden Dreams, otherwise known by its more evocative Czech title, Smrt krásných srnců (The Death of Beautiful Deer). Mr Popper (Karel Heřmánek), a Jewish vacuum cleaner salesman who can’t stop hopping into bed with his female customers, is out fishing in the countryside with his two eldest sons. Through his binoculars, he spots a herd of deer and he is struck by their beauty – but also spies danger threatening in the form of a hunting dog bearing down on the innocent creatures. The dog belongs to their grumpy uncle Karel (Rudolf Hrušínský), who loves getting his teeth into some freshly savaged venison. Mr Popper regards killing a deer as almostContinue Reading

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Czechs consider spending a vacation in Turkey and Greece during the upcoming summer. Tunisia and Egypt are also some of the top choices. Exim Tours are waiting for the same sales as of January last year when the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been felt yet. Petr Kostka, Exim Tours spokesman, said that the interest is so high that the company had to prolong the sales until January 15. Besides, clients are interested in Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, also Spain, and Italy.  The Fischer travel agency also noticed interest in first-minute tours. Families with children are the main customers because they want to get places in popular hotels with everything included. “The current numbers of pre-sales suggest that thisContinue Reading

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NEWARK, Del. (January 11, 2021) — The International Literacy Association (ILA) today released its biennial 30 Under 30 list, an initiative that shines a spotlight on the next generation of leaders who are working to create positive change in the global literacy landscape. The 2021 list of honorees includes educators, nonprofit leaders, authors, volunteers, researchers and social entrepreneurs. Though their roles may differ, they all belong to a growing cohort of young innovators, disrupters and visionaries in the field. “The start of 2021 is filled with much promise thanks to the work of this year’s class of honorees,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Their work—whether it’s research on multicultural literacy, helping young students find the power of theirContinue Reading

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British retail chain Marks & Spencer has announced it will be closing all its stores in the Czech Republic because COVID-19-related measures and now complications from Brexit have made doing business impossible.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions, M&S had only been selling food at most of its locations and cutting off much of its clothing and other retail goods sections.  On top of being forced to only sell “essential” items, the chain was also having trouble with importing goods from the UK, citing difficulties with Brexit. On Monday, customers noticed that most of the imported foods were replaced with Czech products, and large signs adorned the shelves saying, “We’re sorry that some of your favourite foods are notContinue Reading

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Someone broke the glasses of the statue of Nicholas Winton, the savior of Jewish children, located at Prague’s main railway station (Hlavní nádraží) again. Currently, the police are looking for an unknown man and woman who damaged the statue on December 30. According to the camera records, an unknown man and woman pulled up a child to the statues’ head and then left. “Unfortunately, the further development of the situation is not visible well,” stated Jan Rybanský, the spokesman of the Prague police. The police ask everybody who might know anything about the incident to contact the police via phone numbers 158 or 974 852 740. Unfortunately, similar incidents are not uncommon. The bronze statue of Nicolas Winton was presented atContinue Reading

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The first part of Lost Ladies of the Flowers discovered many talented singer-songwriters who flashed brilliantly and disappeared from view. Here are some who tragically fell, some who faded, some who have even returned. Judee Sill “So this guy and me, we began to do armed robberies,” Judee Sill tells Rolling Stone writer Grover Lewis in a rambling 1972 interview. “We did six or seven, liquor stores and filling stations. Sometimes it was quite exciting. We’d go to a motel afterwards and spill the loot out over the bed.” Sill was talking about 10 years earlier. She had been an angry girl, from a violent home. Her inevitable arrest and 9-month reformatory stint were followed in 1964 with eighteen monthsContinue Reading

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“No one ever listened their way out of a job.”  Calvin Coolidge Sage advice for those of us who might want to improve our listening skills.  In my work with leaders, I find that one of the most common complaints I hear from subordinates is that they just don’t listen to us.  The leader in question always has the “right” answer and will interrupt or speak over anyone trying to suggest another point of view.  That’s okay, some might say, and because I am the boss, I can do this whenever I want.  True, but…  The problem soon becomes on that the boss cannot talk their way out of.  Why?  Because people will stop trying to offer solutions and theContinue Reading

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People spend more time on their mobile phones than on any other device nowadays. Nearly a few hours a day. Mobile phones are always with us and allow us to stay connected, shop, or stay informed. Mobile phones have been becoming the main screen in our lives. That creates an opportunity for smarter marketing. So what’s in it for a start-up or small business? Mobile marketing will help you with increasing sales, generating more traffic, and boosting customer engagement. With a smart mobile marketing strategy, you will have a distinct edge over your competition and reap the benefits of increased sales and brand awareness. However, developing a mobile app would cost you a fortune. Easily more than a hundred thousandContinue Reading

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Several thousand people protested on the Old Town Square this Sunday against the government measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The attending speakers gave speeches, including the former president Václav Klaus. The whole event lasted for approximately two hours.  The Chcípl PES initiative organized the demonstration called “Otevřeme Česko” (Let’s Open Czechia).  Participants protested with various slogans, such as “Stop COVID tyranny. Let’s stop totalitarianism!”, “We are not sheep”, or “On Monday to school!”. Some protestors came with small children. Protesters mostly weren’t wearing masks nor keeping the required distance between each other. The police reported that the demonstration went peacefully. However, one person was detained for the offense. Klaus stated that he is against the government’s dictations and theContinue Reading

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January 12th (Online Seminar) Vaccine hesitancy & First Nations starting at 7:00 pm CET Hosted by collaborating Centres for Infectious Diseases and Indigenous Health, this seminar addresses the rising rhetoric surrounding the safety of vaccination when it comes to COVID-19. From issues regarding the necessity, long-term and short-term health risks, and effectivity, they’ll be examining everything about the newly issued vaccines while also seeing the behaviour and experiences of minorities (specifically Inuit and Metis). January 14th (Online Seminar) Data Cloud Summit 2021 presented by CloudEra starting at 3:00 pm CET. The currency of the 21st century isn’t gold – it’s data. And rising private enterprises to governments around the world are constantly trying to learn how to improve how theyContinue Reading

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In autumn, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health prepared a field hospital in the Prague Exhibition Centre in Letňany, preparing to take in patients should the regular hospitals overflow. The hope was to not have to use it, but as the number of cases continues its spike, the Ministry of Health has got the makeshift hospital on standby, capable of opening up within 24 hours. On Thursday, consideration of opening up shop in Letňany began when over 1,500 new patients were admitted to domestic hospitals within the previous six days, bringing the current number of hospitalized people to over 7,100. In the same period, over 62,000 people became newly infected.  Bulovka University Hospital, in Prague 8, will be in chargeContinue Reading

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According to new data from Eurostat, nearly 300,000 Czechs, mainly elderly people, cannot afford to heat their homes sufficiently. Sadly, this percentage isn’t even among the worst in Europe.  Based on Eurostat’s numbers, the Czech Republic’s so called “energy poverty” situation is actually way better than most countries in Europe; roughly 2.8% of Czechs are experiencing this problem, whereas 30% of Bulgarians, 26.7% of Lithuanians, and 21% of Cypriots are suffering from an inability to heat their houses. Only 0.3% of Swiss have this issue.  Lukáš Kovanda, an economist from Trinity Bank told Aktualne that the main reason this problem exists is money, and the inability to afford sufficient heat. However, it’s also exacerbated by decrepit old buildings with insufficientContinue Reading

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Two Hour School, the educational after school programme in English for kids of all nationalities in Prague, is hosting its first-ever Virtual Open Day. The event will take place on Thursday, 14th January 2021 from 14:00 until 19:00 via the video conferencing platform Zoom. Registrations are open to all parents with children interested in more information about the Two Hour School courses. The Two Hour School’s international primary school teachers provide children of 6 – 12 years of age with lessons twice a week in humanities, natural sciences, and literacy in English. This gives them an insight into the English way of learning, in order to open up opportunities for them to study at an English or international school anywhereContinue Reading

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A short walk through almost any Czech city exposes the country as a historical epicenter of esoteric and occult treasures, with mysterious symbolism built into much of the architecture and city infrastructures. The name of the capital city, “Prague”, or in Czech, “Praha”, is a synonym for “threshold.” This could be interpreted as the city being a threshold between eastern and western Europe, where two major groups of peoples and cultures reconcile in the middle of the continent. But many throughout history have interpreted Prague’s name as an indication of the city being a threshold between the physical and spiritual worlds, where if one truly wants to, they can reach into other dimensions to communicate with the saints, angels andContinue Reading

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During this pandemic winter, I have been time-traveling. Thanks to Spotify and YouTube, I am filling holes in an era I thought I knew well, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I made my youthful musical discoveries then, but only now, half a century later, do I realize how much I missed. The narrative of that lost time of love and flowers is dominated by big names: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, etc. But it was a seething creative time in America and Britain, with so many talented singer-songwriters who flashed brilliantly and disappeared from view. Here are some who tragically fell, some who faded, some who have even returned. Karen Dalton Sometimes in the early 1960sContinue Reading

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The numbers are in and according to Minister of Finance Alena Schillerová, the Czech Republic ran a deficit of CZK 367 billion for 2020, dwarfing 2009’s deficit of CZK 192 billion, making it the worst deficit in the country’s history by a long shot.  As rough as it is, this deficit is actually lower than what was expected; Originally, the Chamber of Deputies had signed off on allowing for a CZK 500 billion deficit. Schillerová explained that there was CZK 110.7 billion extra in unexpected revenues to pad the losses. Roughly half of the unexpected revenue came from taxes, and CZK 26 billion came from the European Union.  Overall, the total state budget revenues fell by CZK 47.7 billion, andContinue Reading

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“Discomfort is a precondition for growth.”   David Brooks Think back for a moment to a time when you first learned to do something really important at the time, like riding a bicycle, or learning how to skateboard.  Think about all the times you fell and how uncomfortable that was.  Now think about how great it felt when you grew into it and learned how to do it.  For most of us that was a time that represented a new sense of freedom and joy.  Well, the only difference between then and now is perspective.  You were willing to get uncomfortable because the benefit was worth it.  Why should our growth as adults be any different?  Sure, learning how to manageContinue Reading

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The cinematic threequel is often a recipe for disappointment. The Jaws series had already jumped the shark before the third instalment fouled the water with its cheesy 3D money shots. Francis Ford Coppola waited 16 years before giving us a belated conclusion to The Godfather trilogy – it was an offer everyone was quite happy to refuse. Alien 3 has its defenders but it basically poured cold water over Ripley’s heroics in James Cameron’s rip-roaring second film, turning the franchise into a massive bummer. Of course, there are some great ones too. Return of the King completed the coronation of Peter Jackson’s Award-festooned adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. On the indie circuit, Before Midnight capped off Richard Linklater’sContinue Reading

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Karel Havlíček, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has hinted that the government is building a system whereby people will be refused entry to certain places without a vaccination ID or a negative test no less than “72 hours old.”  Aktualne reports that the Ministry of Health is building an electronic system that can allow bars, restaurants, and wherever else to verify whether or not their guests have been vaccinated before entering. Without a vaccination, guests would either be banned or forced into taking a test before entering the premises.  Ostensibly, venues would have a dedicated employee outside with a tablet, either scanning people’s phones for a code, or entering their passport or ID number into the portal. ToContinue Reading

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Did you know the father of all modern, western education was a Czech? Jan Amos Komenský (anglified as John Amos Comenius) was one of the earliest proponents of universal education, and introduced foundational concepts like illustrated textbooks, teaching in native languages rather than Latin, and more progressive, logic based thinking instead of plain memorization. He also pioneered social justice issues in regards to education, advocating for education for poor children, women, and disenfranchised people. Born in Moravia in 1592, Komenský spent the first half of his life involved with the church during the religious wars, and wrote influential writings spiritual writings that made him famous throughout Europe.  As a prominent protestant figure, Komenský was sent into exile after the war,Continue Reading

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Banks in the Czech Republic seem desperate to sell as many mortgages as possible, upping their game by nearly 40% in one year, iRozhlas reports. According to statistics from České bankovní asociace (Czech Banking Association) and  České národní banka (Czech National Bank), a total of CZK 22.1 billion worth of mortages were sold to people in November alone, which is a 7% increase from the month before, and a 39% increase from November 19. This is the highest ever recorded by the CNB.  The CNB’s data shows that the average monthly mortgage payment has decreased more than CZK 800, or 0.34% from a year ago. It also dropped 0.05% from October to November 2020. Vladimir Staňura, an advisor from theContinue Reading

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Of course, I am familiar with paper entry tickets that have probably got the number, your logo, and a few other details on them. But that is all that they can, right? And it is hard to sell them online. In one of my last summer articles, I was writing that art galleries might want to come up with something new and find new ways to engage with visitors. Now, it is time to get rid of dull paper entry tickets once and for all and cut through the noise. But people love to buy stuff online, and this is not going to change. They also prefer shopping online for your digital single-entry passes or digital season passes. They canContinue Reading

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A report from the Czech Psychiatric Society suggests that up to 20% of people who have contracted the coronavirus eventually experience depression and/or insomnia after the virus has left their body.  Martin Anders, vice-president of the CPS and head of the Psychiatric Clinic at General University Hospital, said that he observed this phenomenon with his patients, as well as himself.  “The reports show that up to 20% of those who have contracted COVID-19 experience psychological problems. Most often its anxiety, depression, or sleep disorders.”  “I’ve noticed it myself. After I had COVID-19, I went through 2 weeks of complete insomnia.” Anders says that COVID-19 causes a spike in the immune system that releases cytokine proteins, which are the likely causeContinue Reading

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With 2020 now behind us, we’re facing the conclusion of two strange, whirlwind eras. One started almost exactly four years ago across the ocean with a president freshly out court for trafficking in fake college degrees and casino debt. The other is not even a year old and tells the tale, more sober, but equally weird, of a pandemic ravaging the globe, transforming governments into lemmings, each imitating the other in Sisyphean, yo-yo lockdowns, opening and closing society. Typically, at the end of the calendar year society takes stock by looking back. Here, I propose first looking forward to a point from which we can look back to gain more perspective on this most unprecedented past year. History is leastContinue Reading

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With over 16 years history as the original source of Czech News in English, the Prague Monitor has amassed over 50,000 articles and syndicated links to credible news sources bringing you the latest on the Czech Republic and surrounding areas. With this history in mind, an update was long overdue. The update has been planned in stages with as much of the up-front planning leading to the first of the migration steps now being completed, the migration of the article content, setting of new layout as well as integration with our newsletter software etc. Next, we need to go through all the content and ensure all the meta data has been set to appropriately credit the various news sources, somethingContinue Reading