Lifestyle

07 Jul 2020, 15:33 PM

This Sunday locals informed the Krško Firefighting Unit that the wooden statue of America’s First Lady Melania Trump, which had been erected in in Rožno, was on fire.

The wooden sculpture of Trump in a blue dress was raised on July 5th 2019 in a settlement not far from her hometown of Sevnica.

The sculpture was a work of local sculptor and craftsman Aleš Župevc Maxi and commissioned by American artist Brad Downey, who also filmed a documentary about the making of the statue.

The sculpture was met with mixed responses from the public and received a great amount of attention from local and international press.  

The Novo Mesto Police have been informed about the incident, and are currently investigating the circumstances of the event.  

Earlier this year, a wooden statue of President Donald Trump was also burned, this time entirely, in Moravče, some 30 kilometres east of Ljubljana.

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07 Jul 2020, 13:33 PM

STA, 7 July 2020 - Since Croatia entered the EU in 2013, Slovenian citizens purchased a total of 9,439 properties in the country, which makes them the most numerous foreign owners of real estate in Croatia in that period.

Unofficial estimates meanwhile put the total number at 110,000, mostly houses or apartments on the Croatian coast, as the bulk of them were bought during the times of the former Yugoslavia.

Citing data from the Croatian Tax Administration, Večernji List says that there should be no concern in Croatia that the Slovenian government would prohibit its citizens from entering Croatia.

Slovenia will not be restricting its citizens in going to the neighbouring country during the Covid-19 pandemic because it will protect the interest of property owners, the Croatian newspaper adds in a report on Tuesday.

When it comes to purchases of real estate in Croatia in the last seven years, Slovenians are followed by Germans (4,969), Austrians (2,867), Italians (1,612), Swedes (1,232) and Hungarians (949).

According to the Croatian Tax Administration, only around 4,400 foreign owners are officially leasing their real estate to tourists and pay tax for that.

Večernji List says that the state body has no complete data on real estate owners in one place, and that precise data will be obtained after a census, which is planned in Croatia next year.

07 Jul 2020, 10:52 AM

STA, 7 July 2020 - Storms raged across swathes of Slovenia last night as fierce winds uprooted trees and unroofed buildings and heavy rain flooded premises and roads in particular in central and eastern parts of the country.

Firefighters were busy throughout the night, including in Ljubljana, where the railway underpasses in Celovška and Drenikova streets and Šentvid were flooded, leaving three cars stranded in Šentvid.

According to the duty meteorologist at the notification centre of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, the Ljubljana Bežigrad weather monitoring station recorded 28.84 millimetre of rain per half an hour and winds gusting at speeds of up to 90 kilometres an hour. The Moste station recorded 23.5 millimetre of rain per half an hour.

Almost as high rates were measured at the monitoring stations in Logarska Dolina in the north of the country and Sora Suha in the north-west.

Flash floods disrupted traffic not only in Ljubljana but also in several other areas, with reports of floods closing down roads in the north-east of the country.

The winds ripped off the roofing and toppled trees on cars in several communities across the country, there have been reports of landslides and flooded premises, including at a police station and the Slovenj Gradec hospital.

A lightning struck a house in the Slovenj Gradec municipality, uncovering the roof. Despite some smoke there was no fire.

06 Jul 2020, 11:15 AM

STA, 6 July 2020 - The government has made a coronavirus contact tracing app the centrepiece of its new legislative package aimed at stemming a new coronavirus outbreak, but concerns over the proposal that the use of app be compulsory for infected and quarantined persons has prompted the country's privacy watchdog to urge parliament to discard it.

The legislative package in preparation for a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, which appears to be unfolding already, will be debated on the parliamentary committee on Monday before being put to the vote at the plenary session starting on Thursday.

Designed as a tool to alert individuals of contacts with infected persons and supervise abidance by quarantine orders, the app is to be available for free and voluntary download and use, except for persons testing positive for the virus or those ordered to quarantine, where it would be mandatory.

"In the opposite case, the mobile app would lose much of its meaning," the explanation of the legislative provision reads. The failure to use the app when compulsory would carry a fine of between 200 and 600 euro.

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Learn more about the red, yellow and green lists here

Representatives of the ministries of health and public administration favour a completely voluntary use of the app although Health Ministry State Secretary Tina Bregant said it would be desirable for the app to be used by between 60% and 70% of the population, which means virtually everyone with a smart phone.

The opposition parties, except for the National Party (SNS), have raised objections to the plans, while the senior coalition Democratic Party (SDS) says the app is urgent or else Slovenia will be forced to reimpose strict lockdown measures, which PM Janez Janša says is the only alternative until an effective vaccine or medication against Covid-19 is available.

The junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) finds the app useful, although it expects "certain issues" to be first cleared up. The fellow coalition party New Slovenia (NSi) is yet to take its position on the matter following today's debate and the Modern Centre Party (SMC) is yet to respond.

The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) would like the provisions on the app to be scrapped altogether, because they see it is yet "another attempt to place the population under surveillance under the pretext of concern for public health".

Similarly, the Left believes the invasion of privacy entailed would be simply excessive, while the Social Democrats (SD) and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) underscore the app should be voluntary. What is more, the users should be well informed and data processing transparent and lawful. The SD has also questioned the app's efficiency.

Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik has called on the National Assembly not to support provisions that would make the app compulsory because this runs contrary to the EU guidelines which say tracing apps "must be voluntary, transparent, temporary, cybersecure, using temporary and pseudonymised data".

Prelesnik says that only voluntary download can be acceptable under the European law, while the legal framework that would impose mandatory use should meet basic standards of protection of individual's rights, meaning it should be lawful, constitutional, temporary and proportionate with respect to the intended goal.

"Particular attention should be given to the question of mandatory use for individuals under quarantine. Those are not confirmed as infected, of which the app would alert other users, so such mandatory use in advance could be questionable from the aspect of being proportionate and needed."

Among other things, the commissioner is also concerned about the proposed fine for those who violate mandatory use, noting that contact tracing apps function reliably only on the latest models of smart phones, so the coercion for everyone to download it even though it would not function on their device is disproportionate.

The mandatory use of the app would also run against the terms of use of technological solutions developed by Google and Apple, which many countries in Europe have used for such apps.

Slovenia's app is to be modelled on Italy's or Germany's. These are based on application interfaces developed by the two tech giants and are used solely to notify of potential contacts with the infected persons, says Dušan Caf, director of Digital Society Institute Digitas.

Noting that Google and Apple want user privacy protected, including their voluntary decision to upload and use the app, he explains that tracing apps that do not use the two companies' interfaces do not work when in sleep mode. For full functioning, the companies would have to allow access to certain functionalities of mobile devices, which they do not want to do.

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia are here

05 Jul 2020, 17:09 PM

Water mills used to be a common sight in the Slovenian countryside. Inland, the owners of the mills were usually feudal landowners; i.e. the castle mills would mainly grind grain for the needs of the Lord. Smaller craft and peasant mills would on the other hand grind only for their own needs, and in the Littoral the owners of the mills were often townships. To enable milling, the accompanying activity of making millstones was developed.

At the beginning of the 19th century, water mills were still regulated by the 1770 Mill Order, which prescribed sanitary measures and customer protection provisions. The Mill Order paid special attention to the care of millstones. During times with a low water level the miller was obliged to grind first for his customers and only then for himself. It was strictly forbidden for millers to discriminate between individual customers, and charging methods were also prescribed by the Order. Land lordships were in charge of controlling the implementation of the Mill Order.

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Mill in Rateče; Radislav Benesch, 1886
 

In 1814 new provisions were included into the Mill Order, requiring professional training on the part of the mill owner, and customers were now free to choose the mill where they would grind grain and allowed to be present at the grinding. The miller was obliged to grind the grain of each customer separately, and was not allowed to mix it with other customers’.

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The water-flow energy was also used for log, saws and sometimes both devices were combined in one place.

With the introduction of the steam engine, mills began to move from the riversides to the shore.  The first steam engine in Slovenia was set up in Trieste in 1819 by a Frenchman, Sonnerat.  Instead of millstones roller mills were used, the capacity of which exceeded the previous methods of grinding several times. Further enlargements of these mills also required new propellants. All this led to the collapse of the old stone mills and water drive systems.

The introduction of roller mills (first in 1850 in Ljubljana, then in Ajdovščina, Domžale, Kranj, Maribor and Središče ob Dravi) marked the beginning of the Slovenian milling industry.  In connection with the steam mill plants, several pasta factories emerged in Ljubljana, Maribor and Ilirska Bistrica in the last years of the 19th century, and most notably the Pekatete pasta plant from Bistrica, the brand that survived almost a century before being merged into Zlato polje pastas of Žito.

Although some 1,700 farm mills existed in the end of the 19th century, only a few survived to become part of today’s protected cultural heritage.

01 Jul 2020, 18:45 PM

The Sava Dolinka and Sava Bohinjka confluence in Lancovo by Radovljica has been a local recreational and fishing spot for as long as people can remember, helping to maintain the high quality of life for the those who live there.

The area is not only a place of great natural beauty, but also an ecologically important one and a spawning ground for indigenous fish.

Now an investor has shown up who is planning to “develop” the spot into a profitable tourist centre. Within the confluence area the investor plans to construct an artificial lake, apartment blocks, catering facility, picnic places, toilets, 62 spaces for caravans and parking lots. The plan also includes multi-purpose playgrounds and recreational facilities.

These plans did not make the locals very happy, so they started a "Save the confluence" petition, whose purpose is to stop the Tourist and Recreation Center Lancovo project, which would deprive the public of access to the natural attractions. The goal of is for concerned citizens to gain the right to participate in the planning of construction projects that will interfere with their living space and thus prevent the destruction of nature, and so protect the quality of life in the area.

To add your name to the petition click here.

01 Jul 2020, 10:36 AM

STA, 30 June 2020 - Contrary to previous announcements, Slovenia has decided not to delist Croatia as a Covid-19 safe country based on new assessments and steps taken by the country.

Jelko Kacin, the government spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday that even though the number of infections per 100,000 residents in Croatia has exceeded ten a day over the past fortnight, which merits the removal from the list, Slovenia believes Croatia will succeed in slowing down and eventually stopping the spread of infections in the coming days.

This is based on new assessments and Croatia's decision to close night clubs, venues that Kacin yesterday described as a major cause for concern.

"Based on an agreement between the countries' national [public health] institutes and a talk between both prime ministers, the Croatian government decided to adopt Slovenian action patterns and close night clubs as well as cancel such (massive) events," said Kacin, adding that Slovenia had hence come to a conclusion not to delist Croatia "at the moment".

He pointed out that Slovenia had given Croatia a chance to stem the spread of the infections by imposing the measures and thus lead by example among the Western Balkans countries.

Nuška Čakš Jager, the deputy head of the Centre of Infectious Diseases of the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ), earlier told the press that Croatia recorded 10.77 infections per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.

Kacin pointed out that both countries kept regular contact on a daily basis, highlighting that removing Croatia from the list remained an option. Slovenia will keep closely monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country in cooperation with health experts, said the government spokesman, adding that the coronavirus spread trends were checked twice a day.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who announced his resignation at the press conference, meanwhile said that the government had decided to keep Croatia on the list for now because the removal would "not change a thing for Slovenian citizens".

If Croatia was put on the yellow list, the Slovenian citizens would still be able to return to Slovenia from Croatia without having to quarantine, whereas Croatian citizens wanting to enter Slovenia would face different requirements. Only in case of exceptions they would not be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The situation will be re-assessed at the end of the week, Hojs added.

Statements by Croatian and Slovenian officials however indicate that things are not clear-cut at present.

Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović told the press he had no knowledge of any promises to Slovenia to close night clubs, nor of any decision by Croatian authorities to do so.

He acknowledged, however, that such a possibility was on the table if night clubs became coronavirus hotspots.

And Slovenian Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told Kanal A in the evening that the decision not to delist Croatia was not prudent and was difficult to understand. "I don't know at which level the decision was taken," he said.

Hojs also commented on the EU list of Covid-19 safe third countries, saying that Slovenia would append a special statement to the document in which the country would state that it reserved the right to keep forming its own green, yellow and red lists.

Member states are expected to lift restrictions on the external border as of 1 July in case of certain third countries based on the list, however Hojs pointed out that the list was merely a set of guidelines and that it was up to individual EU countries to decide upon opening borders to third country citizens.

The EU has set down an average of 16 infections per 100,000 residents over a fortnight as a limit for declaring a country Covid-19 safe.

The NIJZ plans to keep the standard of 10 infections per 100,000 residents for Slovenia will not lower its standards, said Kacin, adding that the final decision on categorising countries according to their epidemiologic situations would be up to the government.

Among third countries that are expected to see lifting of border restrictions on the EU external border on 1 July are also Serbia and Montenegro, the two countries that have been put on the Slovenian red and yellow lists, respectively.

30 Jun 2020, 12:20 PM

STA, 29 2020 - Various Slovenian cultural NGOs, institutions, festivals and artists are joining forces in a campaign called We are #Open (#odprti) for Culture, a joint platform aimed at raising awareness about the importance of culture. A series of events and action projects will highlight the role of creative endeavours in tackling current and future issues.

At today's press conference marking the launch of the campaign, Matevž Čelik Vidmar, the head of the Architecture and Design Museum (MAO), presented a study by the Centre for Creativity that stresses the role of culture in societal development as well as sustainable economy and dealing with the current burning issues.

"Culture and creative professions are those that could introduce new ideas into society and could be a laboratory for innovative concepts to find a way out of the crisis we are facing right now," he said.

Tibor Mihelič Syed, director of the Ljubljana SMG theatre, said that the joint project would in the long run strive to raise awareness about the role of the cultural, arts and creative ecosystem.

Apart from highlighting that cultural venues are reopening after the corona crisis, the campaign will also pursue long-term goals, such as creating a positive brand reminding the public that culture does not equal useless spending of public funds but is a set of positive values, said Tomaž Simetinger of the Slovenian Cultural Associations Union.

The first part of the campaign, #openstage (#odprtioder), will include some 100 free-of-charge events, taking place during the Slovenian Cinematheque summer open-air cinema between 1 July and 31 August. Museums are joining the action with extended opening times during summer and special events.

The programme, available on odprti.si web page [ed. at the time of writing the webpage was up, but there was no programme – you can follow #odprtioder on Twitter here, and the more general #odprti here], will feature various genres and strive to attract people who were not interested in such events prior to the corona crisis, said Uroš Korenčan, the head of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.

The efforts will strive to make a positive change not only in Ljubljana, but also in other Slovenian cities and towns, including Koper, Murska Sobota, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica, Kranj and Celje. The campaign will try to actively involve other cities as well, leaving no one behind, said Inga Remeta, the head of the Asociacija NGO.

29 Jun 2020, 11:27 AM

STA, 23 June 2020 - When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions not included in the EU emission trading scheme, Slovenia is expected to reach its goals for this year, shows a report released on Tuesday. The largest gaps remain in measures related to transport, in particular railway infrastructure and the promotion of public transportation.

The Climate Mirror 2020 (Podnebno Ogledalo 2020) report, compiled by the Environment Ministry and the Jožef Stefan Institute, says that Slovenia could be satisfied with the implementation of measures to improve energy efficiency of household- and municipality-owned buildings.

Related: Ljubljana Predicted to Be World’s Fastest-Warming City

Among other things, a positive mark has also been given to sorting of waste and the consequential reduction of the volume of landfilled biodegradable waste.

The report notes the increased effect of incentives for energy efficiency improvement of buildings in the public sector, as EUR 100 in investment required EUR 38 in grants, which is EUR 26 less than in 2015, mostly owing to municipalities.

The state has meanwhile not reached the set goals when it comes to buildings in its ownership, as they are being refurbished to improve their energy efficiency at an annual pace of 1.2%, compared to the target of 3%.

The report also says that industry has been neglected in this respect for a long time, with progress detected only in 2018, when the Eco Fund offered grants for the first time for this sector.

Measures for boosting efficient energy use and consumption of renewable sources in industry should be brought to a much higher level and goals for reducing emissions should be clearly defined, it adds.

The largest gaps are seen in measures related to transport, in particular railway infrastructure and the promotion of public transportation.

In 2018, practically all indicators for transport worsened, while progress was detected in sustainable mobility projects prepared by municipalities as part of incentives of the current EU financial perspective.

Coming second in terms of emissions with 15.6% is agriculture, with the report noting that measures in this field should be more focused on reducing methane emissions and upgrading measures for improving the efficiency of nitrogen circulation.

Greenhouse emissions from waste were down by 7.4% in 2018, mostly owing to increased sorting of solid waste and construction of systems for mechanical biological processing of municipal solid waste before being landfilled.

Progress has also been made in treatment of waste water, as the share of advanced systems has increased, the report adds.

Stane Merše of the IJS' Energy Efficiency Centre said that the period until 2030 would be key for the implementation of measures, adding that "if we are successful, climate change will be manageable still."

According to him, energy efficiency improvement of buildings, use of renewables and sustainable mobility should remain the basis, while incentives for industry and transport also need to be increased.

Tanja Bolte of the Environment Ministry said that the report "shows that we are on the right track of reaching the goal of reduced emissions, but also that measures need to be enhanced", and that the "present moment is decisive."

A PDF of the full report, in Slovenian, can be found here

27 Jun 2020, 16:31 PM

In 1945 the RTV Slovenia Big Band (Big Band RTV Slovenija) performed for the first time during the reopening ceremony of Postojna Cave at the end of the war.

Immediately after liberation, the conductor and composer Bojan Adamič, who had his own orchestra during the Second World War, began to gather musicians for his new band called the Dance Orchestra of Radio Ljubljana. Their first public performance happened on June 27, 1945 at the reopening of Postojna Cave. The Dance Orchestra of Radio Ljubljana, officially became part of Radio Ljubljana in the autumn of that year. In the period that was not in favor of "American imperialist" music, Adamič skillfully introduced jazz elements into the otherwise rather "socialist" repertoire and successfully conducted the orchestra for sixteen years.

In 1961, Adamič was succeeded by Jože Privšek, who managed to raise the Big Band to the top of European entertaining and serious music standards. Over the decades of its operation, the Big Band of RTV Slovenija has also organized a number of concerts and successful tours around Europe, recorded many albums, and above all made a decisive contribution to the development of jazz, instrumental and vocal pop music. You can follow them on Facebook here.

26 Jun 2020, 19:52 PM

STA, 26 June 2020 - The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) has highlighted on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse the problem of widespread cannabis use among Slovenian adolescents. An international study places Slovenia among the countries with the highest shares of 15-year-olds using cannabis.

The institute pointed to the 2018 HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children WHO collaborative cross-national survey) report that showed an average of 13% of 15-year-olds in the 45 participating countries have already used cannabis. The share for Slovenia is 21%, which ranks the country 7th, the NIJZ said.

Related: Talking with the Slovenian Cannabis Social Club (SKSK) About Its Aims & Achievements

Slovenia fares even worse when it comes to 15-year-olds who have used cannabis in the 30 days before being quizzed for the survey. The international average is 7%, while it is 13% in Slovenia, which places the country only behind Canada and Bulgaria.

The NIJZ listed relative ease of access as one of the reasons for widespread use of cannabis among Slovenian youngsters. The survey has half of the 15-year-old Slovenian respondents assessing they could obtain cannabis easily or very easily within 24 hours.

Related: Learn Slovenian With Cannabis

The institute stressed the importance of preventive activities, such as equipping young people with proper social, emotional and behavioural skills, and measures aimed at reducing access to drugs, while stressing the use of cannabis among young people is harmful for brain development.

"Research has shown that with children and youngsters cannabinoids affect the development of the part of the brain responsible for the processing of received information and for thought processes helping solve problems and taking decisions. With regular use, these capacities are reduced, especially for those who start using this drug before the age of 18," Ada Hočevar Grom of the NIJZ warned.

Moreover, some research links the use of cannabis to poorer school performance and to the increased risk of the abuse of other drugs and addiction.

Related: Ljubljana Ranks High in European Consumption of Cocaine and MDMA, in Mid-Range for AmphetaminesLjubljana Ranks High in European Consumption of Cocaine and MDMA, in Mid-Range for Amphetamines

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