Made in Slovenia

17 Aug 2020, 17:18 PM

STA, 17 August 2020 - A lung transplant was performed over the Saturday night in the UKC Ljubljana hospital on a 14-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, in what was the first lung transplant in a child in Slovenia's main medical centre.

The girl started breathing on her own with the new lungs already on the following day and she feels well, UKC Ljubljana said on Monday.

At the same time, a heart transplant was performed on a 15-year-old boy, which has also been successful, said Tomaž Štupnik, the head of the hospital's ward for thoracic surgery.

After the surgery, which involved a team of 20 doctors and nurses, the girl is expected to stay in hospital for two weeks under the optimal scenario. She is expected to return to living normally in a few months.

"With one surgery, a child who barely breathed before the transplant ... and whose quality of life was poor and who was psychologically at the bottom, turned into a practically normal girl who laughs, breathes and is much more lively."

Štupnik noted that it was harder to prepare a child for lung transplant because the team needed to also cooperate with the parents, and lungs of an appropriate size needed to be found.

What is more, the complexity of the surgery in the case of cystic fibrosis is higher because of the infection in the thorax, and the possibility of complications after the transplant is also higher.

Since UKC Ljubljana started performing lung transplants less than two years ago, 23 persons got new lungs, and the number of transplants in 2019 placed Slovenia 16th in the world in terms of lung transplants per million people.

17 Aug 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 17 August 2020 - A study has shown that an endangered subspecies of the common dolphin visited the Gulf of Trieste, which includes the bulk of Slovenian territorial waters, between 2009 and 2012, after a long period of absence due to systematic culling and lack of food.

The marine mammal association Morigenos, which conducted the study, notes that the appearances of the subspecies in the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean used to be something completely usual.

But since the 1970s, it has become so rare that it was labelled as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

According to the association, this was most probably owing to deliberate and systematic killing of the animal in the mid-1950s.

"At the time, Italy and the former Yugoslavia were paying rewards for each dolphin killed, because they were treated as pests who compete for fish with the fisheries sector," Morigenos said in a press release on Monday.

An additional possible cause for the decline of its population was the lack of food due to over-fishing and overall degradation of the marine environment.

Related: Slovenian Team Finds Dolphins Sharing Bay Based on Time, Not Space

While the last large groups of the common dolphin were seen in the Gulf of Trieste in the 1940s, Morigenos has come up with some new findings based on direct observations and found carcasses.

The association has established by means of photo identification of the dorsal fin that at least four specimens appeared in Slovenian territorial waters between 2009 and 2012.

While the common bottlenose dolphin is constantly present in the Gulf of Trieste, the common dolphin remains a rare species in the Northern Adriatic and chances for its return in large numbers are rather slim.

"Researchers record no increase in the number or sightings anywhere in the Mediterranean," said Morigenos, which hopes the study will encourage reporting on future cases to get better insight in the occurrence of the common dolphin in the Adriatic Sea.

"Large marine predators are important for healthy ecosystems and in the long run they are beneficial for the fisheries sector and not harmful," the association concluded.

You can learn more about the work of Morigenos here, and also read the full study, Occurrence of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in the Gulf of Trieste and the northern Adriatic Sea, by Tilen Genov, Polona Kotnjek and Tina Centrih

03 Aug 2020, 14:17 PM

STA, 3 August 2020 - During the past few years public orchards have been planted across Ljubljana in the desire to make fruit available to locals from midsummer to autumn and create a pleasant environment for bees. Alas, the orchards have often been a target of vandalism and are not thriving as planned, according to the city.

Most of the orchards were planted near urban community gardens in Ljubljana, however the process has been slowed down due to vandalism. The city authorities will carry on planning and planting the orchards when the existing trees are old enough to bear fruit.

The orchards were meant to be venues promoting food self-sufficiency and for educational activities, for example pruning workshops.

The first orchard was created in autumn 2015, featuring 128 trees, only to be vandalised three times in 2016. No saplings survived the incidents unscathed. Young trees in most of the orchards are not developing as planned due to acts of vandalism, said the city.

The saplings are either uprooted and stolen or damaged. Ljubljana has replaced all the missing or broken saplings and reported the damage to the police, but the perpetrators remain unknown.

Last year and this year so far no saplings were hurt as the city imposed deterrent measures, including traffic warden patrols and campaigns raising awareness about the need to respect public space.

A total of some 600 fruit-bearing trees have been planted in Ljubljana so far, most notably trees producing apples, pears, plums, but also rarer types of fruit, such as persimmons, medlars, and quinces.

The trees will require a few years to develop their final size and bear fruit, but they are also hardier than those in modern orchards and need no support.

03 Aug 2020, 10:54 AM

STA, 3 August 2020 - Drago Jančar, arguably Slovenia's leading contemporary writer, will formally receive on Monday the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2020. The life-time achievement award is awarded to writers with a strong international presence.

"Taking an individual to penetratingly render understandable the delusions of our history: this is one of the big strengths of his literature," the jury wrote about the 71-year-old.

Jančar is well known in the German-speaking world and a number of his works have been translated into the German, among them the 2017 novel And Love Itself (In Ljubezen tudi)

His works often deal with individual's struggles with society and some delve into post-WWII events in Slovenia, a source of many present-day political fault lines.

Jančar, a novelist, playwright and essayist, is the most widely translated Slovenian writer and has received an unparalleled number of awards in Slovenia and abroad.

He has written eleven novels; one of the most celebrated ones, I Saw Her That Night (To Noč Sem Jo Videl; 2010) has been translated into at least ten languages.

He is the only Slovenian writer to have won the prestigious Slovenian Kresnik Prize for the best novel of the year four times, most recently with And Love Itself in 2018.

The Austrian State Prize for European Literature is handed out annually for the oeuvre of a European author that has won international acclaim and has been translated into German.

Some of the previous winners include French writer Michel Houellebecq (2019), English novelist Zadie Smith (2018) and Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano (2012).

29 Jul 2020, 12:08 PM

STA, 29 July 2020 - Renoir, an advanced article-tracking tool developed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), has made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations as part of the Innovation Radar platform.

Innovation Radar is a European Commission initiative to identify high potential innovations and innovators in the EU-funded research and innovation framework programmes.

The platform, available at the web address https://www.innoradar.eu/, features around 3,600 top innovations whose excellence and potential has been recognised by independent experts.

The goal is to present to European public technological and scientific achievements supported by the EU funds, while also making it easier to the authors of innovations in looking for new opportunities or partners.

As part of the innovation and research project Renoir, co-financed within the Horizon 2020 programme, the STA has developed a prototype solution for tracking of articles in cooperation with international partners.

The prototype has been upgraded into an independently operating web application, called NewsMapper, which is available at the web address https://newsmapper.sta.si/.

The application is based on artificial intelligence technology and allows a series of functionalities, including machine tracking of the use of articles on the internet and early detection of new topical stories, both in real time.

NewsMapper, with which the STA targets foreign markets, makes the work easier to journalists, editors and marketing and sales divisions of media outlets.

At the same time, it is also useful to business users from non-media industries who are interested in the movement of their press releases in the media space, and related advanced analyses.

27 Jul 2020, 10:54 AM

Broken Bones (BB), the Ljubljana-based distillery that recently took home the title best gin in Europe have finally released their first whisky. The finally is because BB was started with the aim of making whisky, but the process takes so long that they started working on gin while the first batch was still waiting in the barrel. Now, 3 years later and the name Broken Bones already synonymous with small batch gin (available online, at the distillery the company and a few select bars and restaurants) has achieved it’s first aim – to produce a top-quality whisky in Slovenia.

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It’s a Scottish style whisky aged in oak, first in Slovenian barrels, then finished in used bourbon oak barrels from the US. Time and this process transforms Slovenian water, barley, yeast and air Into the rich flavours of a whisky for sipping and slowly enjoying.

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Polona, Borut & Boštjan. Photo: JL Flanner

We’ve covered the BB origin story before, but in short the broken bones refer to the accidents that befell the other BB at the distillery – Boštjan Marušič, a computer scientist, and Borut Osojnik, a professor of philosophy – when starting the business. The team is rounded out by the third co-founder, Polona Preskar, responsible for sales and marketing.

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The still. Photo: JL Flanner

While gin can be produced in a matter of weeks, whisky takes time, and the colourless 70% alcohol new make needs at least a year in the barrel before it can even legally called whisky. Beyond a year, whisky can be kept as long in the barrel as people are able to resist drinking or selling it.

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This whisky is only the start of the story. At the end of the year the second batch will be released, a peated whisky that I sampled. It tasted like an Islay, and is something to look forward to. From then on the plan is to release a new small batch twice a year, expanding production along with the market.

The whisky is a premium product, at €155 a bottle, and not intended for use with shot glasses or Coke. It’s for whisky lovers who enjoy collecting the rare and curious – with this batch available in a limited edition of 66 – and those interested in following the progression and development of BB whisky, with the peated version due in December, and the 4th year batch next summer.

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The distillery is not far from the centre of town, and on the bus and train routes. Photo: JL Flanner

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The whisky was launched with full social distancing and safety measures. Photo: JL Flanner

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Due to the limited production run the whisky will not be available in bars or stores, and can be bought exclusively through Broken Bone’s website or on a visit to the distillery.

Na zdravje!

25 Jul 2020, 14:46 PM

The pandemic put everything on hold for a few months, and one of the events that was cancelled was the Spring Soiree, in which the SILA-IWCL (International Women's Club Ljubljana) gathers to raise money for a good cause.

To replace it the organization has joined forced with the French Embassy in Ljubljana to put the spotlight on a campaign to help furnish a new Safe House in Novo Mesto that welcomes women and children victims of domestic violence. Until the end of July you can donate money to the Safe House via SILA IWCL’s account:

Sberbank, IBAN SI56 3000 0010 4338280, SWIFT/BIC code SABRSI2X

Learn more about the project on SILA’s website, and follow the various events and opportunities that the group organizes on Facebook.

Domestic violence in Slovenia

Research shows that domestic violence remains a common problem in Slovenian, and there were fears of a surge in incidence during the lockdown. The latest study, carried out post-corona, is from the IPES Institut (Inštitut za proučevanje enakosti spolov, the Gender Equality Research Institute), titled “The atmosphere in intimate-partner relationships and families in times of quarantine and insecurity”.

It examined issues around domestic violence with data from 700+ anonymous and online surveys, completed from all of Slovenia’s statistical regions. More specifically, the study looked at: 1) the general understanding of gender-related roles in relationships (the persistence of gender stereotyping); 2) actual lockdown experience (the underside of the idealized family image); 3) coping with distress.

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The results show a high prevalence of intimate partner abuse, made worse by the pressures and confinement of lockdown. The abstract highlights the following findings:

  • ·      34.7% of men and 18% of women did not agree with the statement that the perpetrator is always responsible and guilty for an act of violence.
  • ·      30% of respondents believed that in times of crisis women work to should calm conflicts, calm potentially stressful situations and relationships and not raise their own problems.
  • ·      Just 11% of respondents stated they will have fond memories of the weeks in isolation, as they loved being at home.
  • ·      5% of respondents think that violence is sometimes justified, while a further 10% neither agree nor disagree with this statement.
  • ·      35% of the respondents believe that it is right for women to do most of the housework at home.
  • ·      15% of women answered that the corona crisis further increased their financial dependence on their partners.
  • ·      85% of respondents did not talk to anyone about their concerns during the lockdown.
15 Jul 2020, 15:04 PM

STA, 15 July 2020 - One hundred years to the day the first ever doctorate was awarded at a Slovenian university. Ana Mayer received a doctorate in chemistry after completing at the newly-established University of Ljubljana her chemistry studies which she started in Vienna before the collapse of Austria-Hungary.

Mayer, born in 1895 in Lože near Vipava, south-western Slovenia, started studying chemistry and physics at the Vienna university in 1914.

She was forced to leave in 1918 when the university decided after the end of WWI that all Slavic students must leave it, according to the kvarkadabra.net website.

Mayer continued her studies after Ljubljana got the first university in 1919, earning the doctorate on 15 July 1920 as the first student and the first women.

Even before her doctorate, she started working at the university as an assistant at the Chemistry Institute, as the first woman to teach at the university.

Although she wanted to continue the academic career, she quit in 1922 for what could be a lack of funding at the institute, her marriage to Evgen Kansky, a professor of medicine, or because she was pregnant.

She thus went into business, setting up a company which became synonymous with quality chemical substances and pursued a successful business career.

She also established a factory of diethyl ether and solvents for varnishes in Podgrad near Ljubljana, laying the foundations for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in Slovenia. The factory was first seized by the Nazis and then nationalised by the communist authorities in 1948.

Ana Mayer-Kansky had three children and died in 1962, whereas her husband, who was forced to retire in the autumn of 1945, died 15 years after her.

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A painting of Ana Mayer-Kansky by Henrika Šantel,1932. Source: Wikipedia, publc domain

According to Slovenia's Statistics Office (SURS), almost 11,600 students have earned their doctorates in Slovenia since the country became independent in 1991.

There were over 3,300 doctoral students in the 2019/2020 academic year and in 2019 there were almost 13,200 persons with a PhD in Slovenia - a mere 0.6% of the population.

There was at least one person with a PhD in all but five Slovenian municipalities, while 18 municipalities had more than 100.

Ljubljana as the largest city and home to the oldest and largest Slovenian university had more than 5,530 doctors of science, which was 42% of all doctors in Slovenia.

The number of residents with a PhD in Slovenia is increasing, having risen by 585 a year over the past five years, according to SURS.

23 Jun 2020, 13:11 PM

STA, 22 June 2020 - Elan has launched a new sailboat, dubbed GT6, in what the company claims is the most technologically advanced and best vessel it has ever produced. Like many other companies, Elan is facing the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, but the number of clients has been increasing in the last month.

What is also one of the largest vessels ever produced by the company based in Begunje na Gorenjskem, GT6 is part of the GT series, which was introduced at the end of 2017 with the GT5 model.

Marko Škrbin, the director of Elan's nautical division, has recently told the STA that GT5 was in fact the last model presented before GT6, as the company focused in 2018 and 2019 on thoroughly refurbishing the Impression and E product lines.

GT is the most prestigious line, which uses the best technology, work processes and materials available, and concept-wise, it follows the grand tourer concept in the automotive industry, hence the name.

"It represents an ideal balance between a fast sailboat and comfort at the highest level for long trips," Škrbin said, adding that the new sailboat was also a product of cooperation with the renown Humphreys Yacht Design studio.

Elan has also signed a cooperation deal with Studio F. A. Porsche for interior and exterior design of its sailboats.

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The company annually produces around 80 vessels and last year was the most successful in the last ten years business-wise, but Škrbin notes that the pandemic has left an impact and that 2020 will be an underachieving year.

"But in the last month, we have seen the return of a majority of private clients who had postponed their decisions to buy because of the situation, and some new ones," he said, adding that buying a boat was not an impulsive decision.

The company has noticed that people are going outdoors again while looking to minimise their carbon footprint. "This is practically the essence of sailing and the hope is that even more people will use sailboats," Škrbin concluded.

23 Jun 2020, 12:47 PM

STA, 22 June 2020 - The 2020 Plečnik Prize for best architectural project in Slovenia was won by Matija Bevk, Vasa J. Perović and Christophe Riss for the Muslim religious and cultural centre in Ljubljana. The jury said the project was exceptional not only in the national but also in the European context.

The architects have proven how extremely important it is to have a comprehensive approach to a project, and consistently implement the concept both at the levels of the city and building, and individual architectural elements.

With the religious and cultural centre, Ljubljana has finally gotten another piece of top quality public architecture of sensible size after a few decades, the jury said.

The project by Bevk Perović Arhitekti is an example of how top architecture can be created with a determined approach based on winning an international architectural design competition.

It also shows that architectural design competitions are an excellent tool for making sure that the high standards in Ljubljana's architecture set by Jože Plečnik and visionary decision-makers continue.

The Plečnik medal for realisation went to Rok Žnidaršič and Žiga Ravnikar for the gym of the Vižmarje Brod Primary School, which the jury described as a "convincing and fresh solution exceeding ordinary standards in every aspect".

Tomaž Vuga received the Plečnik medal for important contribution to architectural theory for his book Projekt: Nova Gorica, intertwining his personal recollections of his home town with his professional work as one of the main urbanists of Nova Gorica. His research offers a unique insight into the construction and planning of Nova Gorica in the second half of the 20th century, the jury said.

Another medal went to Matevž Vidmar Čelik, the director of the Museum of Architecture and Design, for his contribution to architectural culture and for the promotion of the museum in the international architectural community.

As the museum head, Vidmar Čelik has set out a modern path for the institution over the last ten years. By participating in international projects and cooperating with international institutions, the museum has been promoting Slovenian architecture on a global level.

The Plečnik Prize, the highest recognition for achievements in architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and interior design in Slovenia, has been conferred by the Jože Plečnik Fund, named after the famed architect Plečnik (1872-1957), since 1972.

22 Jun 2020, 13:53 PM

In the July edition of the influential Decanter wine magazine, which is dedicated to the world's best orange wines, the Slovenian Dolium Muscat Ottonel of Zorjan shares the first place with the Austrian Graue Freyheit of Heinrich. Both wines were ascribed 95 points by Simon J. Woolf who composed a list of 30 best orange wines in the world. Third place also went to Slovenia, with Rebula selekcija of Blažič, which Woolf awarded 94 points.

Zorjan’s Dolium Muscat Otonel from Podravje in Štajerska region is a 2016 vintage that was macerated for one year in amphorae and then another year in barrels, from where it went into bottles without filtration.

Orange wine is made of white grapes, produced as if it were red, and thus with a prolonged maceration process in which tannins from grape skins and stems dissolve into the wine’s stronger body. Rosé, on the other hand, is a red grape wine, produced as if it were white, with the removal of skins and stems from the wine making process.

Most of the Slovenia’s pioneers in co-natural wine production – which refuses regulation of chemical processes of wine through chemical additives – originate from around the border of Goriška brda (Collia), Vipava Valley and the Karst area, and are widely seen as among the best in the world of their kind. To name a few, Gravner, Radikon, Prinčič, Terpin, Mlečnik, Renčel, and Zidarich are all established names to look out for. More recent names from all of the country’s winegrowing regions have also joined this creative circle, including Urbajs, Klinec, Štekar. Nando, Keltis, Šuman, Gordia, Reia, Škerk, Škerlj, UOU, Kabai and Movia. 

Although large supplies of such wines cannot be produced in Slovenia, they are present all over the world, from Japan to the USA and Paris. In Ljubljana, you can find many fine bottles from the above listed producers in Štorija, a specialised wine store on Trubarjeva Street.

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