Researchers have revealed where and where not to visit if safety and peace are your top priorities, with this year’s publication of the Global Peace Index (GPI).
This 17th edition of the index reveals, depressingly, that overall world peacefulness has declined by just under half a percent, which may not seem much but fits in with a 15-year downward trend.
How is it measured?
The Institute for Economics and Peace uses both qualitative and quantitative criteria in the GPI, a whole 23 of them, and looks at 163 independent states and territories comprising 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.
Three main areas are taken into consideration: how safe and secure society is; ongoing domestic and international conflict levels; and to what extent the country in question is militarising.
Global Peace Index 2023: The average level of global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth consecutive year, with 84 countries recording an improvement and 79 a deterioration pic.twitter.com/ZfVmUIj1hU
— IEP Global Peace Index (@GlobPeaceIndex) November 22, 2023
The Czech Republic has been ranked 12th in the Global Peace Index 2023. Despite a slight drop of five places over the past twelve months, the country still maintains its position among the most peaceful nations.
The most peaceful countries in the world 2023
- New Zealand
The most dangerous countries in the world 2023
- South Sudan
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
Step aside Big Ben, Grand Central Clock, and assorted Rolex products: there’s a new chronographic monarch in town. Actually, it’s a far older timepiece dating back to 1410 on the Town Hall in Prague.
This makes it the 600-year-old, undisputed title-holder of “Coolest Clock in the History of Ever.” “Elegant, sumptuous aesthetics meets timeless timekeeping mastery,” the ad might read.
Prague’s Astronomical Clock, more properly the “Orloj”, is a stunning engineering marvel. From the outside, it looks like a color-coded, multi-layered, brightly painted clock-face of golden whorls and arcane symbolism.
Inside, it’s a brain-bustlingly convoluted mechanism of endlessly churning weights, pulleys, ropes, and gears.
As a multifunctional medieval astrolabe, it tracks “Old Czech Time” (from when the sun sets) using ancient Gothic numerals, the Sun’s intersection with zodiacal signs using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), and “sidereal” hours using Roman numerals (our actual, uncorrected “day” of 23 hours, 56 minutes).
It also depicts the phases of the moon, when the sun reaches its zenith above the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the entire calendar year, and much more.
Every hour from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (except for Mondays), tourists can gawk at a procession of moving wooden figures that parade through and without the Orloj.
We’ve got four allegorical entities, Vanity, Greed, Death, and Extravagance, and “The Walk of the Apostles,” featuring all 12. We’d totally crowdfund a wrist-based version if anyone’s up to the task.
A 600-year-old art-and-engineering project
The Orloj isn’t the world’s only astronomical clock, but it tends to get the most attention for its undeniable complexity, gorgeous artistry, and ornamental features like the moving figures of the 12 apostles.
Frankensaurus lists a whole bunch of astronomical clocks in cities through France, England, Sweden, Poland, and more. Many of them date back to Europe’s Late Medieval period starting roundabouts 1250-1300 CE.
To survive to the present, the Orloj had to endure quite a bit of punishment, tinkering, and upgrades. As Barcelo states, the original astrolabe dates back to 1410, the by-product of the team effort of Mikuláš of Kadaň, a clockmaker, and Jan Sindel, professor of Astronomy at Charles University in Prague. Century by century, the Orloj had components added to it.
It malfunctioned in 1552 and had to undergo maintenance, had some moving parts added in the 17th century, and the apostles added in 1865. Czech painter Josef Mánes (1820-1871) was responsible for adding the clock’s “twelve medallions,” such as its four lower figures: the philosopher, angel, astronomer, and chronicler.
In 1945, Prague’s Old Town was incinerated by spiteful, rampaging Nazis as soon as they realized they were going to lose World War II. Certain Orloj features, like its wooden figures, had to be completely remade. The current reconstructed clock was revealed in 1948. Since then, the Orloj, Prague’s Town Hall, and Prague itself have thankfully avoided any disasters or depredations.
An hourly show of saints, skeletons, and roosters
When the hour strikes, little doors on the top of the entire apparatus open up and show the twelve apostles shuffling in a procession, heads down.
At the same time, Death the skeleton rings a bell, while the mandolin-playing guy next to him, Extravagance, bobs his head to some unknown tune.
On the other side, Greed waggles his cane and money-bag around, while Vanity on the far left admires himself in a mirror. At the end, a golden rooster at the top (added around 1865) crows, which we assume is an allusion to the Biblical story of Peter denying Jesus. Then the tower’s actual bell gongs.
The bottom, less-dynamic face marks the individual days, as well as each saint’s feast day. It also depicts the passing of the four seasons, the 12 signs of the zodiac, and has the philosopher, angel, astronomer, and chronicler figures next to it.
Lawmakers in the lower house of the Czech Parliament agreed Thursday to lift former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš immunity from prosecution in a fraud case involving European Union subsidies.
The approval allows prosecutors to decide whether Babis should be indicted for his alleged involvement in the $2-million fraud. Czech police have repeatedly recommended Babiš’ indictment.
It wasn’t immediately clear when prosecutors would complete their review of the case. Babiš denies any wrongdoing and has said the allegations against him were politically motivated.
“Even though the charges are purpose-built, I’m not opposing the move when it comes to facts,” said Babiš.
The allegations involve a farm that received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babiš-owned Agrofert conglomerate of around 250 companies to Babiš’ family members. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.
The subsidies were meant for medium- and small-sized businesses and Agrofert wouldn’t have been eligible for them.
Lawmakers twice before lifted Babiš’ immunity from prosecution in the case. The prosecutors had to ask them to do it again following October’s parliamentary election.
“I can declare with clear conscience that I have never done anything unlawful,” the food, chemicals and media tycoon said, calling the case “absurd”.
Last May, prosecutors said they were contemplating charges against Babis after police had urged them to indict him over the alleged EU subsidy fraud.
Police already called for the then-prime minister to be indicted in 2019, but a prosecutor found the allegations to be unfounded and cleared Babiš.
The country’s top prosecutor then found flaws in the decision and reopened the case concerning Babiš and his aide Jana Mayerova later that year.
Babiš was removed from government in a general election last October, won by a centre-right coalition of five parties and led by current Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
On the night of Thursday, 17 February, the Czech Republic was hit by a strong storm.
On the highest mountain of the country, Snezka, the wind speed reached 181 km/h. In low-lying areas, including Prague, it reached 90 km/h, which corresponds to a strong storm on the Beaufort scale.
As of 10 am, the bad weather left more than 300 thousand households without electricity. The wind broke down branches of trees that cut off power lines, blocking railways and roads.
Transport along several railway lines was disrupted and many roads were closed to traffic.
The worst damage is reported in the Central Bohemia, Pilsen and Karlovy Vary regions.
No injuries or casualties have yet been reported.
There are 270,000 ČEZ customers and 40,000 E.ON customers without electricity. The remaining suppliers have not provided their data.
“We are still in the thick of a major storm that has created storm conditions, and despite those difficult conditions in the field, our crews continue restoring power and making system repairs when it is safe to do so,” said the vice president for ČEZ.
A gale force wind alert remains in place until midnight for the whole of the country.
More than a dozen countries have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine amid warnings from Western powers that an invasion by Russia could be imminent.
The US, UK, Germany and the Czech Republic are among those who told their nationals to leave.
The last family members of the diplomats at the Czech Embassy in Kiev will leave the town on Sunday afternoon and evening. The embassy will continue to operate with 29 people remaining there.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the withdrawal of the diplomat’s family members from the country. The Ministry also recommended Czechs who are in Ukraine to leave the country.
Canada is also moving its embassy staff to Lviv, near the border with Poland.
Australia, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan have told their citizens to leave Ukraine. Some have also evacuated diplomatic staff and their families.
The Kremlin described the call as taking place amid “peak hysteria” from the US and its allies, and said Mr. Putin had again told his counterpart that they had not addressed Russia’s security concerns. But both leaders would continue to talk, it said.
Moscow has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border but denies any intent to invade.
In a phone call, US President Joe Biden again warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin of the costs of any invasion.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said invasion warnings could stoke panic, which he called “the best friend of our enemies”.
The White House has warned that an invasion could happen at any time, and could begin with bombing from the air. Russia characterised such allegations as “provocative speculation”.
Fertility problems are common; one in six heterosexual couples worldwide experiences some form of infertility problem at least once. The Czech Republic is a desirable destination for all methods of IVF (In vitro fertilisationtreatments.
The average cost in Czech Republic for IVF is between €2,700 and €5,700, with donors’ eggs between €4,500 and €8,000. In comparison, the price of IVF in the UK can hit a maximum of €10,000 and €14,000 respectively.
Czech IVF clinics are also amongst the best in Europe in terms of success rates. According to a 2014 report from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), the average birth rate for IVF using the patient’s own eggs was around 33 per cent for those under 35 years old, 25.4 per cent for patients aged 35-39 and 13.2 per cent for patients over 40.
The average birth rate for IVF treatment with donor eggs was higher, at 46.8% for all age groups. As well as the traditional IVF, there’s also the option to pursue ‘social freezing’, a relatively new treatment designed to freeze eggs or sperm at the peak of your fertility.
After collection, the gametes are cryopreserved until the owner is ready to start a family. It’s possible to do this for years.
The Human assisted reproduction legislation in Czech Republic is one of the most liberal ones in Europe, perhaps worldwide.
The Czech law allows for properly tested people to donate their gametes. So, from anonymous reproductive cells donation programs to advanced genetic testing, couples that have depleted every treatment possibility at home can find adequate help at centres like PFC, Prague Fertility Centre, a well-known private clinic based in Vysočany, founded 11 years ago by Dr. Sonja Lazarovska, a gynaecologist and Dr. Daniel Hlinka, an embryologist; esteemed specialists who have both made significant contributions to the field.
“We have seen the market evolve for the past 25 years. We are opening a completely new floor with modern facilities and state of the art Lab in 2021. We will offer better comfort and privacy to our patients, as well as increased treatment capacity. We will be able to help twice as many couples as we do today„ said Dr. Hlinka.
Coronavirus related restrictions have changed the way that fertility treatments are carried out. But they are still safe to do. Prague Fertility Centre has adapted to the situation by offering online consultations, which as well as talking through treatment options, provides information for donors and guidance for women self-injecting hormones at home in preparation for egg collection and fertilisation.
This process, known as hormonal stimulation, is a key part of IVF, and so women are encouraged to self-isolate when doing so, as planning a pregnancy, even when doing so naturally, already means taking extra preventive measures to avoid getting the virus.
“The ever-changing Coronavirus situation has led us to require a negative covid test before starting any treatment, this is in the best interest of our patients, a healthy pregnancy, and of course, of our staff. We would like to assure all our patients that there is no evidence about IVF increasing the risk of infection. With regards to Covid-safe facilities, PFC has upped the intensity of our usual cleaning regime, implemented mask-wearing, hand sanitising, and temperature checks at reception,” said Dr. Lazarovska.
“We have also increased the number of online consultations to reduce the number of people visiting us. Since we opened the Centre, online consultations have always saved our patients’ travel time and expenses, while still provided all the necessary medical help,” she adds.
“When Coronavirus first hit, a lot of people felt it was not the right time to start a family, but as the world seems to have learned to ‘live with the virus’, people have decided not to postpone their family plans any longer. Meanwhile, our single clients have decided to freeze their eggs or sperm while they are healthy and fertile. Explained Dr. Svabikova, the Centre’s Senior IVF physician, dedicated to helping German and English speaking patients.
When asked about Brexit and how it would affect the travel of UK citizens for IVF treatment after January 1st, 2021, Dr. Svabikova commented: “We don’t foresee any complications. Except for queuing in a separate lane at border control, all our British patients will continue to receive treatment like before”.
An estimated 9 million babies have been born through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) since 1978, and the popularity of the treatment shows no sign of slowing down.
So while fertility treatments are closed off to many, a couple struggling to start a family will find endless commitment and support at PFC “We will not make false promises, but we will fully commit, from day one, to help all our patients achieve a healthy baby” said Dr. Svabikova.