Czech Republic creates Strava art to mark 100th anniversary

Is Strava art a thing of the past? Not in the Czech Republic, which marked the 100th anniversary of its former iteration, Czechoslovakia, on Sunday with a massive GPS doodle representing the two-tailed lion that is one of the country’s national symbols.

RELATED: Romantic, creative and artistic Strava routes

The project, called Lvi Stopa (which translates as Lion’s Footprint), was a collaboration between the Czech auto maker Skoda and We Love Cycling, and supported by a number of other national organizations. It involved tracking a complicated route that spanned almost the entire width of the country, using 150 cyclists.

Bulgaria smashes ‘fake passport scam’

Prosecutors in Bulgaria say they have smashed a passport scam which saw thousands fraudulently acquire Bulgarian citizenship – and with it, the right to travel and work throughout the European Union.

More than 20 people have been arrested, including officials.

Applicants are said to have paid up to $5,690 (£4,445) for fake certificates of Bulgarian origin.

Police have raided the offices of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.

Staff at the agency were allegedly involved in selling fake certificates to buyers in nearby non-EU countries.

Many of the false applications are believed to have come from states with sizeable ethnic Bulgarian minorities, including Moldova, Macedonia and the Ukraine.

Some reports suggest the agency was issuing about 30 dubious certificates a week.

Prosecutors say they are investigating the agency’s work on counts including bribe-taking, forgery and abuse of office.

Slovakia will try to rent out Bratislava Airport

Transport Minister Árpád Érsek proposes renting Bratislava airport to a concessionaire for 30 years, the SITA newswire wrote.

It cited a draft public-private partnership project for selecting a concessionaire for the operation of M.R. Štefánik Airport in Bratislava (BTS), which his department submitted on October 26 for a fast-tracked interdepartmental review.

The expedited review should be closed as early as on November 2, as the Ministry claims, there is an urgent need to carry out further actions resulting from the project as well as the entire procedure of selecting a concessionaire. According to the proposed schedule, the concession agreement could come into force as soon as 2021.

The document mentions a concession for a strategic partner in the form of a public-private partnership as about the best option for the future of the largest Slovak international airport.

Indebted airport needs investments

The Ministry expects that this step will secure the long-term sustainable development of the airport, with the State benefiting from it, alongside the investor, the Sme daily reported.

The concession should minimise threats connected with the ownership and operation of the airport, while certain control and strategic assets will remain with the State, the ministry argues.

Connection with strategic partner recommended

“The variant involving the rental of the airport to a foreign partner has been discussed repeatedly, and ultimately, this option has been shown to be the best and most advantageous for the State,” Érsek said, as quoted by Sme. “I believe it will help make the biggest Slovak international airport – with a strategic position within Europe – visible. I am sure that thanks to sufficient investments which the State cannot render to the airport, its prestige and quality of service can improve, and it can attract new airline operators.”

The Transport Ministry elaborated a feasibility study which explored several options such as development by current management, or granting the concession to a strategic partner.

The documents ultimately find a strategic partner to be the best solution, with the State acquiring an extra €61 million, and a higher residential value for BTS when it is returned.

The planned timeline

The conclusion of the concession is expected by June 2020, after a public tender. Its subject should be the operation, maintenance and development of Bratislava airport, while the runways and the connected infrastructure should remain in the ownership of BTS, according to Sme.

“By implementing the project of public-private-partnership in the form of granting a concession, the long-term sustainable development of M. R. Štefánik Airport will be secured,” the ministry predicts, as cited by Sme. “The precondition is that the strategic partner improves the competitive position of BTS in the region and increases the offer and quality of the airport services.”

Slovakia threatens to freeze relations with Vietnam over kidnapping case

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia has threatened to freeze relations with Vietnam over the case of a Vietnamese businessman who Germany says was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents and smuggled back home through Slovakia, the Slovak foreign ministry said on Saturday.

German prosecutors have said businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh, who had sought asylum in Germany, was abducted in a Berlin street by Vietnamese secret service agents and taken back to Vietnam, where he was tried and jailed for life.

The alleged incident took place during a visit to Slovakia by Vietnamese public security minister To Lam in July 2017.

Slovakia’s foreign minister met with his Vietnamese counterpart on the sidelines of a UN general assembly meeting last month seeking an explanation but the country has yet to hear back from Hanoi, the ministry said.

“We haven’t yet received a reply from Vietnam,” the ministry said in a statement. Minister Miroslav Lajcak said that unless Hanoi provided a credible explanation of how the kidnapped (Vietnamese) citizen got to Vietnam, bilateral relations between the countries would be frozen.


“Slovakia is a serious state and will draw resolute diplomatic consequences if the suspicions that Vietnam is facing prove to be true.”

The case has also soured relations between Germany and Vietnam and prompted Germany to accuse Vietnam of breaching international law. A German court in July sentenced a Vietnamese man to three years and 10 months in jail after he confessed to helping his country’s secret services kidnap Thanh.

Slovakia sought to distance itself from the incident following a report in Dennik N alleging Thanh was taken in a van from Berlin via Prague to Bratislava, where he was added to the Vietnamese minister’s delegation and left on a Slovak government plane.

Former interior minister Robert Kalinak in August denied any involvement in the kidnapping, calling the media report “science-fiction”.

New study shows advertizing for alcohol is prevalent in UK television

A new study in the Journal of Public Health indicates that advertising for alcohol is common in British television, and may be a potential driver of alcohol use in young people.

It is estimated that the rate of alcohol consumption in those over 15 in the UK is the eighth highest in Europe. Alcohol use was responsible for at least 6813 deaths in the country in 2015, and cost the NHS £3.5 billion in 2013-14.

There is strong evidence that exposure to advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases subsequent use in adolescents. An estimated 28 million British households have at least one television and in 2015 the average viewing was 3 hours and 47 minutes a day. Previous studies have found that alcohol imagery appeared frequently in studies of UK television; some 40 per cent of programs contained alcohol content.

In 2015, researchers quantified the content of all programs and advertisements broadcast on the five, free access, national UK channels. The researchers here explored the differences in content between channels and genres, and compared these with the findings of a similar study in 2010.

A total of 611 programs and 1140 commercials were recorded during the peak viewing hours, between 6 and 10 pm, from Monday to Sunday in three separate weeks. Alcohol imagery occurred most frequently in the news, current affairs programs, and soap operas.

This study demonstrates that alcohol imagery is extremely common on UK television, occurring in over 50% of all programs broadcast and almost 50% of all advertising periods between programs. The majority of alcohol content occurred before 9 pm. Branding occurred in 18% of programs and 11% of advertisement periods and involved 122 brands, though three brands (Heineken, Corona, and Fosters) accounted for almost half of all brand appearances.

Alcohol content shown on TV has an effect on the uptake of alcohol use in young people. This analysis shows that television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the UK and is likely to continue to be a contributor to alcohol uptake by young people, with levels of content slightly higher than the researchers observed in the earlier analysis of program content from 2010.

“There is strong evidence that viewing alcohol advertising or imagery has an uptake on subsequent alcohol use in young people,” said Alexander Barker, research fellow at the Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. “Our study shows that alcohol imagery, including branding, is regularly broadcast on prime-time TV, when children and adolescents are likely to be watching. Tighter scheduling rules from the Advertising Standards Agency and Ofcom (broadcast regulator), such as restricting alcohol advertisements and alcohol imagery in programs, to after the 9 p.m. watershed, could prevent children and adolescents being exposed to this content.”

Bulgarian President, high courts name three new Constitutional Court judges

The joint assembly of Bulgaria’s two high courts elected two new Constitutional Court judges on October 26, followed several hours later by President Roumen Radev making his own appointment to fill one of the four vacancies that will open next month.

Pavlina Panova, deputy head of the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC), and Nadezhda Djelepova, deputy head of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), were elected after two rounds of voting, from among 10 candidates, by the 169 judges in the two courts.

As is traditional, the high court judges kept to the informal arrangement that both the SCC and the SAC are equally represented on the Constitutional Court.

Panova, who started her career as a prosecutor and became a judge in 1994, is head of SCC’s penal college and one of Bulgaria’s ad hoc judges at the European Court of Human Rights. Djelepova’s 34-year career in the judiciary includes 17 years in the SAC, where she is now head of the department that handles property registry, construction permit, excise and customs cases.

Later in the day, the presidency announced Atanas Semov, a member of Radev’s legal advisory council, as the nominee for the fourth and final spot on the Constitutional Court.

Semov, a former deputy speaker of Parliament and one-time presidential candidate, had the requisite 20 years legal experience and was “a recognised authority” in Bulgaria and abroad, the presidency said in a statement.

Semov was Bulgaria’s nominee for a EU Court of Justice advocate-general position in 2015, but was withdrawn after a negative appraisal by a consultative committee, which cited his insufficient legal experience at the highest level, according to reports at the time.

He had been previously nominated for the Constitutional Court from the parliamentary quota in 2012, but did not win enough support.

Panova, Djelepova and Semov will be joined by Krassimir Vlahov, the former deputy head of the SCC, who was elected earlier this month by Parliament, in taking their seats on the Constitutional Court.

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has 12 sitting judges, appointed for nine-year terms, without an option for a second one. They are appointed by all three branches of government – four by Parliament, four by the president and four by the joint assembly of the judges in the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court.

Every three years, four judges are replaced – this year, this includes one judge appointed by Parliament (Tsanka Tsankova), two elected by their fellow judges (Roumen Nenkov and Stefka Stoeva) and one appointed by the president (Keti Markova). The terms of the four sitting judges expire on November 12.

Romanian justice minister demands prosecutor general’s dismissal

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s justice minister on Wednesday demanded the prosecutor general’s dismissal, accusing him of exceeding his authority in a move that could heighten concerns in Brussels about democratic values in some eastern EU member states.


Other recent steps by Romania’s ruling Social Democrats to change the justice system and replace senior judicial officials have triggered massive street protests, and sparked worries about the rule of law at the European Commission and among diplomats.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader read a summary of a 20-point report that he had compiled, calling for Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar to be fired on the grounds that he was responsible for “acts and facts intolerable to the rule of law.”

Lazar is the last major figure in an anti-corruption drive that has won praise from Brussels for exposing high-level corruption, including the theft of EU funds.

He condemned Toader’s bid to oust him. “(This) is the way that the executive, by way of the justice minister, demonstrates its understanding about respect for prosecutors’ independence,” he told reporters.

Lazar oversees thousands of prosecutors, including anti-organised crime unit DIICOT and anti-corruption unit DNA.

The DIICOT leader’s mandate has expired, and the head of the DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi, was fired in July after a performance review similar to Lazar’s. Critics say their potential replacements might be soft on crime.

Under Romanian law, the president must sign off on petitions to dismiss chief prosecutors, which are requested by the justice minister and also need approval from a judicial watchdog.

However, the Constitutional Court ruled earlier this year that the president does not have the right to oppose such a request from the justice minister. As a result, President Klaus Iohannis had to sack the DNA’s Kovesi in July.

Iohannis will be limited to assessing the legality of the procedure. Analysts have said the constitutional court’s ruling increased the government’s power over prosecutors.

Transparency International ranks Romania as one of the EU’s most corrupt states and Brussels has kept its justice system under special monitoring since it joined the bloc in 2007.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have convicted thousands of public officials, including lawmakers and ministers.

Among them is Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea who has a two-year suspended jail sentence in a vote-rigging case. He was also sentenced to three and a half years in jail in a separate abuse of office case. He denies all charges and has appealed.

The European Commission, which is already seeking sanctions against Poland and Hungary for flouting democratic values, fears Romania is following suit. It is due to release its latest justice monitoring report on Romania in November.

False Rape Accuser: Sophie Skinner

A mother-of-three has been jailed for falsely claiming she was raped.

Sophie Skinner, 25, from Llanfoist in Monmouthshire, denied perverting the course of justice but was found guilty by a jury.

Newport Crown Court was told the life of her victim Damon Osborne was “turned upside down” by the accusation in 2016.

She was sentenced to 18 months in prison by Judge Daniel Williams after he said she had shown “no remorse at all”.

The court heard that Skinner went out drinking in Abergavenny “looking for attention” on Saturday, 4 June in 2016.

CCTV showed her in a Wetherspoons pub, before going to public toilets in White Horse Lane.

“You then saw Damon Osborne who was waiting for a lift home – at the time he was 18 and you were 23,” Judge Williams said.

“You ran over to him and hugged him… the CCTV at the toilets could not be clearer – you initiated the sex with him.

“When he gave into your persistent demands for sex you told him you could get him into trouble for having sex with you.”


The court was told that Skinner then made a false claim that she had been raped to Wetherspoons’ door staff, and was interviewed by police.


Mr Osborne “strenuously and completely truthfully” denied the accusation, Judge Williams said.

“After a commendably swift review of the evidence by police, the decision was properly made that Damon Osborne would not be prosecuted for the claim made, and to arrest you,” he added.

Mr Osborne said since he was accused in 2016 his life had “been a mess” in a victim statement.

After a jury in the first trial against Skinner failed to reach a verdict, he agreed to give evidence against her again.

“I was accused of rape by Sophie Skinner, that turned my life upside down,” Mr Osborne said.

“I was locked up for 17 hours, I had to undergo an embarrassing medical.

“I still think of the worst case scenario – if there had been no CCTV in this case – Sophie Skinner would have been believed and I would not have been giving this statement, because I would be in jail.”

‘No empathy’

Judge Williams described Skinner’s allegation of rape as “patently false”.

“You maintain your denials,” he said.

“You have no victim empathy, you have no remorse at all.”

“As the court have said before rape is a repulsive crime. The victims of rape should be treated with every possible consideration.

“On the other hand, just because rape is a repulsive crime, a false accusation can have dreadful consequences.”

Judge Williams said such accusations could have an “insidious” effect on genuine victims, sometimes “allowing doubt to creep in where none should exist”.

The court heard Skinner had never been in trouble with the police before, but she had been taken into care as a child and was described as “a vulnerable young woman”.

She was sentenced to 18 months, of which she was told she would serve half before being released on licence.

Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg slams firms for their poor gender diversity …after she hires Sir Nick Clegg.

It’s only a few days since Facebook hired Sir Nick Clegg as its head of global affairs, missing a golden opportunity to hand a top job to a woman.

But now the internet giant’s second in command has declared that women face a ‘rigged’ race in the workplace.

In an article likely to raise eyebrows, Sheryl Sandberg told how men were given a ‘huge head start’ and women ‘are disadvantaged from the beginning’.

Bulgaria seizes fake banknotes in biggest raid for a decade

A Bulgarian special forces unit stormed the basement of a hotel in the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach, the country’s interior ministry said on Monday.

Officers from the unit, which targets organized crime, seized 100-euro and 500-euro notes, as well as 50 US dollar bills. The notes were found at the print shop and other hiding places. Some 30 sites were raided across the country.

The fake cash was said to be had a face value of €11.5 million and $2 million. Some notes were said to be stockpiled and ready for distribution.

Deputy chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev said that the printing operation was the “biggest illegal workshop dismantled in the past 11 years.”

Prosecutors said the print shop had a sophisticated press that was making very high quality bills, with watermarks and security threads. The notes were to be handed over to Interpol for analysis.

‘NEW TABOO?’ Surgeon Says Sex Change Regret Is ‘On The Rise’ – But No One’s Talking About It

One of the world’s top genital reconstructive surgeons says “sex change regret” is on the rise, and that more patients are coming to him to have their “gender confirmation” surgeries reversed — but that people, too afraid to be politically incorrect, just aren’t talking about it.

Professor Miroslav Djordjevic told Canada’s National Post that, for the first time in his long career as a world-renowned surgeon, people who have had sex change operations are coming to him to have them reversed, a procedure that is not just expensive but very painful.

“Those wishing the reversal,” Djordjevic told the National Post, “have spoken to him about crippling levels of depression following their transition and in some cases even contemplated suicide.”

“It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” Djordjevic says, adding that many of these stories aren’t being heard, because the subject is considered “potentially politically incorrect,” given the current climate surrounding issues of sex and gender.

Researchers connected with Djordjevic say they’ve investigated his claims about “de-transitioning” and believe the subject merits further consideration, particularly given that “gender confirmation surgery” is now a common treatment of gender dysphoric disorders, and even pre-pubescent children, who are unsure of their sexual orientation and gender identity, are being given hormone therapy.

One psychotherapist, James Caspian, who specializes in transgender issues, told the Post that he wanted to publish a paper on the topic of de-transitioning after meeting with Djordjevic and hearing his stories, but after confirming his research plan with Bath Spa University, and submitting preliminary research which suggested Djordjevic wasn’t alone in seeing an increase in “de-transitioning” requests, Bath Spa turned down his proposal, citing “ethical concerns.”

“[A]fter submitting the more detailed proposal to Bath Spa, [Caspian] discovered he had been referred to the university ethics committee, which rejected it over fears of criticism that might be directed towards the university,” the Post reported, adding that Bath’s primary concern was the “powerful transgender lobby” that operates on social media.

Corrected: Romania’s tug of war over rule of law nears the line

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – A power struggle between Romania’s government and judiciary is reaching a tipping point that risks driving a new wedge between the European Union and its eastern members over democratic standards.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has said he will soon decide the future of the prosecutor general, the last major figure in an anti-corruption drive which has won praise from Brussels for exposing high-level graft, including the theft of EU funds.

Augustin Lazar oversees around 2,500 prosecutors, including anti-organised crime unit DIICOT and anti-corruption unit DNA.

If Toader decides to trigger Lazar’s dismissal, it will mark the end of an era for Romania’s prosecutors. The head of the DNA has already been fired and DIICOT leader’s mandate has expired.

The government says the units have ruined innocent lives.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have secured almost 5,000 convictions over the past five years, including 27 lawmakers and 83 mayors across parties, as well as ministers, county council heads, state firm managers and magistrates.

Among them is Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democrats, who was barred from becoming prime minister by a conviction in the first of three investigations against him. He denies all wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a political witch-hunt by the judiciary.

In recent months, his party has launched a slew of bills to overhaul criminal law and procedures to raise the burden of proof. It has also set up a unit to investigate judges and prosecutors for possible crimes and aims to reorganise judges panels.

European diplomats, who are seeking sanctions against fellow east European states Poland and Hungary for flouting democratic values, are concerned Romania is following suit.

French and German citizens fleeing to Hungary to escape mass migrant crime

German television station ZDF spoke to a German couple who had made the move to Hungary. Valentin and Jennifer Duräder, a couple in their 20s, explained that they were afraid to raise their then unborn child in a post-migrant crisis Germany. More and more French are seeking to escape to what they see as the safety of Budapest according to a new documentary called Hungary: the Promised Land that was broadcast on French television this week, France Info reports.

In other words, Muslim migrants have now made migrants out of peaceful Europeans who were once safe in their own homes. Democracy is the best system for human rights and the rule of law, but thanks to globalists such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, some of their own citizens are fleeing to live under the jurisdiction of responsible leadership in order to feel safe.

German television station ZDF spoke to a German couple who had made the move to Hungary. Valentin and Jennifer Duräder, a couple in their 20s, explained that they were afraid to raise their then unborn child in a post-migrant crisis Germany.

Another young woman said “she moved after being assaulted and robbed on three separate occasions in her previous neighbourhood.” Even community building local fairs can no longer be taken for granted. Muslim migrants terrorized a small town fair, sexually harassing women, fighting locals and threatening ride owners.


“French Flee To Hungary To Escape Effects of Mass Migration,” by Chris Tomlinson, Breitbart, October 20, 2018:

French citizens are now joining Germans and others seeking a new life in the Hungarian capital of Budapest in order to escape the negative effects of uncontrolled mass migration.

More and more French are seeking to escape to what they see as the safety of Budapest according to a new documentary called Hungary: the Promised Land that was broadcast on French television this week, France Info reports.

The 20-minute documentary examined the lives of several French citizens who now call Budapest home including a young woman named Elsa who came to the city two years ago after living in the notorious, heavily migrant-populated suburbs of Paris.

The young woman claimed that she moved after being assaulted and robbed on three separate occasions in her previous neighbourhood. “I think that when you are master of your country, fundamentally, in an era of globalization, the immigration factor comes into play,” she said.

Elsa isn’t alone in seeking refuge from mass migration in Hungary as other western Europeans have flocked to Budapest and other Hungarian cities. In 2016 German media spoke to a Hungarian real estate agent who noted a sudden upturn in interest from “disaffected” Germans.

Months later, German television station ZDF spoke to a German couple who had made the move to Hungary. Valentin and Jennifer Duräder, a couple in their 20s, explained that they were afraid to raise their then unborn child in a post-migrant crisis Germany….