“He keeps laughing, joking, flirting. And he looks gorgeous,” wrote Petra Paroubková on her blog last week in an attempt to increase the falling popularity of her husband, ČSSD head Jiří Paroubek. Paroubek’s popularity is at its lowest since 2006, according to the latest CVVM poll. “I think that we can agree that my wife is a smart lady and she also has a sense of humour,” Lidové noviny quoted Paroubek praising his wife on Wednesday. Paroubek boasted that his wife’s ode had been read by almost 100,000 people, while the most read article by the presidential candidate Jan Švejnar had “over some 90,000” readers.
>>> Hundreds of Canadians applied for Czech visas in Canada last week, although no visa from Canadians are required, the weekly Týden has reported. Czech gay community is mourning over the Canadian ambassador leaving the Czech Republic, Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. Michael Calcott, who has been always open about his homosexuality, will end in his office at the beginning of August.
>>> Former Green party Chairman Martin Bursík has decided not run for the party in the autumn general elections, while there have been rumours that Prime Minister Jan Fischer has an ambition to become an EU commissioner.
>>> McDonald’s opened its first Czech McCafé near Průhonice last Thursday. Big Mac is almost as expensive in the Czech Republic as in the US, according to The Economist’s Big Mac index. Jan Fischer’s caretaker cabinet plans to subsidise milk products at schools. Jaromír Rafaj ate 105 apricot dumplings beating by two dumplings his rival at the 10th annual Meruňkobraní, a contest in eating apricot dumplings that took place in the Znojmo region on the weekend.
>>> CK Tomi Tour, one of the 10 biggest travel agencies on the Czech market, went busted last Friday. 13,930 people who had bought their holiday with the travel agency will stay at home. Tomio Okamura of the association of Czech travel agents (ACČKA) called it the biggest bankruptcy in the sector in 12 years.
>>> Civic Democrats have initiated their pursuit of “green” voters. The party admitted that climate change exists (in contrast to the party’s former member President Václav Klaus) and that it’s necessary to fight it. However, the ODS wants to keep its election programme secret for now and plans to reveal it only later, after its members find out from their voters what the party’s programme should look like. Both big parties ČSSD and ODS made it clear this week that they want to make higher-standard healthcare more available. Most Czech voters do not want the ODS and the ČSSD to form a grand coalition after the elections, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency for the daily Pravo.
>>> Finance Ministry slashed this year’s GDP outlook, estimating the Czech economy to decline by 4.3% this year. According to the ministry’s estimate from April the decline was to be at 2.3%.
>>> Singer Aleš Brichta was explaining the meaning of the lyrics of his new song Deratizer (The Exterminator) to the police on Tuesday, as there had been suspicion that the song incites racial hatred. Some companies in the Czech Republic are starting to print their advertisements in Vietnamese, as the Vietnamese community presents a potentially interesting clientele for them, media reported on Wednesday.
>>> Four rare South American monkeys have been stolen from the Plzeň zoo, ČTK reported on Wednesday. Hundreds of dead bumblebees can be found these days under exotic lime trees in towns; the animals spend more energy than they receive by sucking the nectar and consequently die of starvation, Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday.
>>> Czech football star Tomáš Rosický returned to the pitch on Saturday after battling injuries for 18 months. Czech police have started investigating the sale of Euro 2004 championship tickets, as there are suspicions of tax evasion.
>>> Paroubek wants to cut political salaries. Scientists protested on Tuesday against planned cuts in subsidies for the Czech Academy of Sciences. ODS senators would like to relax penalty system for drivers, increasing the number of penalty points from the current 12 to 18, ČTK reported on Wednesday.
>>> Tropical heat has hit the Czech Republic, making 23 July the warmest day of the year so far. Summer sales have reached as much as 80% in some cases, but people are less willing to spend money, Právo reported on Tuesday.
>>> The cabinet on Monday passed the Regional Development Ministry’s zoning plan that sets conditions for the construction of nuclear power plants, transportation projects and other strategic projects. The senate on Wednesday agreed to give free carbon emission credits to energy firms, provided they invest part of the money in modernising energy production. Energy companies claim the bill favours state-owned ČEZ.
>>> First Czechs have lost their jobs due to Facebook, the wekly Týden reported on Monday. Steelworks ArcelorMittal and Evraz Vítkovice Steel announced they will lay off some 500 workers. Almost two-thirds of Czechs consider the current jobless rate to be too high, according to results of the latest poll conducted by CVVM.
>>> Three Czech U2 fans sang Angel of Harlem with the band at its concert in Berlin on Saturday, after Bono invited them to perform with the band on stage.