>>> As the majority of cherry trees were already past their bloom on 1 May – the day of love – many lovers had to look for other blooming trees, such as chestnuts, under which they could kiss. “Sausage for CZK 10 and beer for even less – well, how could one resist it?” said one of the attendees of Civic Democrats’ celebrations of May Day on Prague’s Petřín hill that the party occupied together with lovers and tourists.
>>> The Czech president repeated his conviction that there is no global warming while heading his first EU summit on Monday. The outgoing Environment Minister Martin Bursík said he wants to prevent Klaus from chairing any more European Council summits. On Wednesday the Eurosceptic president announced he was going to wait with signing the Lisbon Treaty passed by the Senate after six hours of debates for some senators who have already voiced their intention to send the treaty for another examination to the Constitutional Court.
>>> Some 2,400 travellers questioned by the portal TripAdvisor evaluated Prague as the best European city with regard to quality-price ratio. “It’s no fun to drive foreigners either,” said a Prague taxi driver in reaction to the statement by the leader of ODS election list for European Parliament, Jan Zahradil, who said in defence of high salaries paid to the heads of state companies like ČEZ or Czech Railways: “Try to be in charge of an enterprise, it’s not like turning the steering wheel”.
>>> The new Czech cabinet is now complete. Jan Fischer, who has been dubbed “puppet prime minister” by media, has taken by surprise both ODS and ČSSD on Thursday when he introduced candidates of his own choice for three ministerial posts.
>>> The outgoing cabinet approved a 3.5% pay raise for more than 500,000 state employees as of June. As of next year, the newly appointed Finance Minister Eduard Janota is planning to freeze salaries of state employees, cut 10% from each ministry’s budget and hold down pension increases in order to keep the state budget deficit at CZK 150 billion. Czech Airlines pilots agreed to the lowering of their salaries by 6% as of April this year.
>>> Five Czechs died in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Saturday while the weather in the Czech Republic was sunny and hot. However, temperatures dropped significantly on Monday. Lower temperatures and rain pleased fruit growers, Právo reported on Tuesday. “Stoves often have more qualities than boilers for biomass, but they are not subsidised,” said František Holec from the Czech Chamber of Commerce in reaction to the Environment Ministry’s plan to distribute CZK 25 billion in the next four years to support biomass boilers. Fireplaces and stoves will not be subsidised.
>>> Hundreds of Roma protested on Sunday in more than dozens of Czech towns against rising extremist violence. Roma protests in Chomutov and Ostrava were broken off by neo-Nazis. The attitude of the majority of Czechs (60%) to Roma is still negative and it even worsened in the past year, according to April STEM poll.
>>> Six Czechs who arrived at the Prague Airport from Mexico on Sunday were ordered to stay in home quarantine and one was taken to hospital. “Czech Republic still without swine flu”, Právo’s headline said on Tuesday.
>>> The French actor and winemaker Pierre Richard came to the Czech Republic last Thursday to propagate wine of his own production. Czech water companies have started encouraging restaurants to serve tap water as its quality is often better than that of bottled water.
>>> Analogue darkness ruled one minute before midnight last Thursday as TV stations ended their analogue broadcasting from Prague’s Žižkov TV tower. Over 11,000 people gathered at Ladronka park on the same evening to celebrate the Witches’ Night.
>>> ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek’s wife Petra Paroubková is expecting her first child in the autumn.