Short Bits, Prague

Souvenirs

Prague. City of sirens. We wonder if they get paid based on the number of times they turn on the noise.

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The camp at Lety where much of the Czech Roma population was killed in WW2 is now a pig farm. In part because of the negative symbolism, there are calls now and again to buy it from the farmers and make it a proper memorial and the government comes out in favor of that kind of move but doesn’t come with the money and it remains a pig farm.

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I’m glad I heard in advance about the zombie parade, part of the fringe festival, because walking around Prague I passed some very strange looking people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise explain.

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Slovak born Finance Minister Andrej Babis is a billionaire (food, media, chemicals) who created a party with his own money and represents himself as a man of the people. You want no taxes? “Yes.” You want 365 days off a year? “Yes.” His party is Ano. Ano means yes.

He is Finance Minister because he fell just short of winning enough votes to become PM. The government is only four months old so his future stamp on Czech monetary policy is unclear.

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The prevailing Czech posture appears to be not to interfere directly in Ukraine’s affairs, mind the Czech Republic’s own business, keep your head down and in a generic way, “oppose occupation.”

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Czechs are great EU skeptics, pocketing the net gain that Brussels sends down while complaining about the more invasive rules. The more inane the rule the heartier the complaining, like for example about the famous ‘bendy banana’ rule. An EU rule on the speed of escalators had the effect of changing the public transport schedule, as a particularly long escalator had to slow down to comply.

Just 18.2% of Czechs voted in the EU parliamentary elections last weekend, the lowest turnout except for in neighboring Slovakia. Ano did well.

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The head of the xenophobic compliment to Hungary’s Jobbik, the UK’s UKIP, the True Finns and so on is Tomio Okamur, born in Tokyo to a Japanese father and a Moravian mother. Dawn of Direct Democracy wants ‘the Roma to leave the Czech Republic and to found their own state.’

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