News roundup - Monday, 24 July

Ljubljana, 24 July - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 24 July:

Slovenian analyst expects new snap election in Spain

LJUBLJANA - Political analyst Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič has assessed for the STA the general election in Spain has resulted in a stalemate that will seem to require another early election. The right bloc is disappointed after falling short of an expected majority, while the left bloc is also weaker than it would want, Lisjak Gabrijelčič said. He added that it was clear the centre-right People's Party (PP) led by Alberto Nunez Feijoo will not be able to build a majority coalition, not even with the far-right Vox, which is a result at odds with opinion poll projections and the two parties' upbeat results in the May regional and local elections.

PM Golob announces swifter aid for storm damage

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob announced amendments to the Natural Disaster Recovery Act that will speed up the payment of financial assistance for storm-related damage. Based on a preliminary recovery plan, municipalities would be entitled to an upfront payment of 20%. The government is expected to adopt the bill at the first scheduled session after the summer recess, he told the press after a meeting with officials in charge of storm recovery and clean-up efforts. The aim is that once the changes are passed those entitled to the aid will be able to get part of their emergency measures funding paid out already this year, Golob explained.

Ljubljana hosts European summer school on AI

LJUBLJANA - The 2023 European Summer School on Artificial Intelligence (ASSAI 2023) opened at the Ljubljana Faculty of Computer and Information Science bringing 36 courses and many lectures by 60 world-renowned experts until Friday and boasting around 630 participants from more than 40 countries. The event is seen by the organisers - the University of Ljubljana, the Jožef Stefan Institute and the University of Primorska - as potentially encouraging development of AI in Slovenia. Honorary sponsor of the event, President Nataša Pirc Musar addressed the opening ceremony, pointing to a shortage of AI experts, while urging attracting more girls to STEM and creating favourable conditions to attract qualified staff to Europe.

Govt fares better, but SDS still in the lead in POP TV poll

LJUBLJANA - The voter approval rating for the Robert Golob government improved by one percentage point in the latest poll commissioned by the private broadcaster POP TV. However, the opposition Democrats (SDS) are still half a point ahead of the largest ruling coalition party, the Freedom Movement. Both saw their ratings improve in the past month. The SDS gained 1.4 points to 23.2% and the party of PM Robert Golob added 1.7 points to 22.7%. Smaller parties slipped back, most so the coalition Left.

Inspectorate discovers exploitation of Ukrainian workers at Alumero

SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - The Labour Inspectorate has uncovered a new case of exploitation of foreign workers, this time at the Slovenska Bistrica location of Alumero. The aluminium products maker was involved in hiring and exploiting Ukrainian workers through unlicensed intermediaries. Fines amounting to around EUR 40,000 were issued. The inspectorate said that Alumero, part of the Austrian Alumero Group, okayed the hiring of 28 Ukrainian workers through the firms Askar Slo and Prana, which did not have a temping agency licence. The workers were posted to Alumero without the necessary permits and registry entries.

Rupnik's expulsion from Jesuit order final

ROME, Italy - The expulsion of Slovenian priest and artist Marko Rupnik from the Jesuit order is final. Rupnik, who is accused of having mentally and sexually abused nuns, will remain a priest for now, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The decision to expel Rupnik was confirmed on 9 June, but the disgraced priest had 30 days to appeal. He remains a priest, although the Jesuits are allegedly considering of dismissing him from the priesthood.

Petitioners collect 24,000 signatures against nutria removal

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of 20 organisations have collected more than 24,000 signatures under a petition that opposes the government's plan to remove nutrias as an invasive alien species from the Ljubljana Marshes, and called for an immediate moratorium on the plan, which is expected to start to be implemented soon. The petition was hand-delivered to Agriculture Ministry representatives. Nevenka Lukić Rojšek of the World Wide Fund for Nature said the signatures showed a major part of the public did not support "violent short-term solutions to the issue of co-existence of people with other beings".

Slovenian composer nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards

LOS ANGELES, US - Slovenia's Anže Rozman is among the composers nominated for the 2023 Primetime Emmy Awards as part of his work on the theme music for the Prehistoric Planet documentary series, along with Kara Talve and Hans Zimmer. They are nominated in the category Outstanding Music Composition For A Documentary Series or Special. Prehistoric Planet, a ten-part British-US nature documentary streaming television series about dinosaurs, is narrated by natural historian David Attenborough. Emmys will be presented in September.

Wages up in May

LJUBLJANA - Average earnings paid out in Slovenia for May totalled EUR 2,208 gross or EUR 1,435 net, both up 1.2% in nominal terms and 0.1% higher in real terms compared to April pay, according to the Statistics Office. Year-on-year, net salaries rose by 10.6% in nominal terms and 2% in real terms. Average take-home pay in the private sector amounted to EUR 1,343 and to EUR 1,641 in the public sector.

Slovenia with lowest hepatitis C occurrence in EU

LJUBLJANA - At only 0.07%, Slovenia has the lowest occurrence of infections with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the EU, infectious disease specialist Mojca Matičič said ahead of World Hepatitis Day, observed on Friday, as she presented a projection made in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. With a hepatitis C management strategy in place since 1997, Slovenia has been successfully testing for HCV for 25 years now, making testing easily available, Matičič of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at UKC Ljubljana said.

New pollutants detected in Ljubljana's water system

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana's utility company Voka Snaga has detected modern-day water pollutants, benzotriazoles, in drinking water. Although the concentration of the hazardous substances is low for now, further increases could call for more stringent measures. Currently the concentration ranges up to 0.2 microgrammes per litre and they have been detected in all urban water sources. The World Health Organization has not yet established threshold values for benzotriazoles in drinking water, with Denmark being the only country to set the limit at 20 microgrammes per litre for adults.

© STA, 2023