Hungarians part Siamese twins

A team of Hungarian doctors has successfully separated Rabeya and Rokaiya, Siamese twins conjoined at the head, in a 30-hour operation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Foundation for Defenceless People that organised the operation has said. The three-year-old Bangladeshis were said to be in a stable condition but complications could not be ruled out. Apart from ensuring them a better quality of life, "Operation Freedom", as the series of operations was dubbed, is a trailblazer for new treatment methods, the foundation said. The first phase, including ground-breaking work to separate the blood flow of the brains, was conducted by a Hungarian team led by Istvan Hudak in Bangladesh in August 2018. Preparatory surgery to separate the twins was performed in Hungary on January 25 this year. During the operation led by Dr Gergely Pataki, a tissue expander system was implanted. A team of 35 Hungarian doctors and assistants led by András Csókay from Budapest's Honvéd Hospital carried out the final procedure in Dhaka.


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Swine danger remains

The African swine flu virus has not been detected in Hungary's farm stocks but wild boars are spreading the disease, chief veterinary officer Lajos Bognár has warned. Further infected wild boars have been found in north-eastern Hungary and there is a high risk of the epidemic spreading in central-eastern Hungary, Bognár said. Hunters are obliged to remove the carcasses of dead boars and kill ones exhibiting symptoms of the fever. Farmers are advised to pay extra attention to cleaning and disinfecting sties, and not to feed their swine with green fodder straight from the fields or use fresh straw for litter. Livestock cannot be transported from one location to another without prior inspection by a vet.

Cottage cheese endorsed

"Rögös túró", a traditional cottage cheese made in Hungary, has obtained the Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG) label from the European Commission. TSG products must have a traditional composition or be produced according to traditional methods, however the designation does not impose any restrictions on the geographical origin of the product. The Dairy Products Council noted that rögös túró is an essential component of a number of traditional Hungarian dishes such as crepes with curd, cheesecake, cheese dumplings and noodles with curd.

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Two Domingos for Szeged

World-renowned Spanish tenor Placido Domingo will appear on stage with his son for the first time in Hungary on August 28 in Szeged. Their concert featuring acclaimed Puerto Rican soprano Ana Maria Martinez as special guest will be a highlight event of the international Placido Domingo Classics festival. The concert also featuring Hungary's MAV Symphony Orchestra with American conductor Eugene Kohn will inaugurate the city's new youth and sports hall Szent Gellért Forum. At the opening event of the Placido Domingo Festival on August 24, Grammy Award-winning baritone of the New York MET Edward Parks and Hungarian singers Nikolett Gallusz, Pál Feke and Katalin Ágoston will perform titles from popular musicals. The festival was established in New York in 2017 to honour Placido Domingo for his artistic achievements and humanitarian work.

Special fireworks ‘surprise’

The government has promised the traditional August 20 national holiday fireworks spectacle will have more than 26,000 visual effects and a “surprise” element. State celebrations honouring Hungary's first Christian king, St Stephen, will start in front of Parliament with the hoisting of the national flag and the traditional oath-taking of young military officers. The ceremony will be addressed by the country’s president and the defence minister. Programmes during the day include a military air show over the Danube featuring Gripen fighter jets and a holy mass in St Stephen's Basilica. The fireworks spectacle over the river has been designed using special software. Leading up to the holiday are programmes starting on August 17 with the Festival of Folk Arts in the Buda Castle and a three-day gastronomy event offering specialties from the Carpathian Basin opening in the Varkert Bazaar on August 18.

Leaders to mark picnic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will mark together the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic, one of a series of events leading to the dismantling of the Iron Curtain and the fall of communism. The picnic was held on August 19, 1989, on the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sopron to demonstrate the peaceful coexistence of Austria and Hungary. The nearby border crossing was opened for three hours, allowing nearly 1000 East Germans to flee for the West. The event contributed to the opening of the borders and the reunification of Germany. Merkel and Orbán will address an ecumenical service in the Lutheran Church in Sopron on August 19.

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Wizz Air, LOT add flights

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air will launch a direct flight between Budapest and Odessa in November and a Budapest-Edinburgh flight in December. From Budapest, Odessa will be Wizz Air's second destination in Ukraine. The carrier has so far operated direct flights to Kiev. The service to Edinburgh will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Passenger numbers on Wizz Air's Hungarian flights rose 7 percent to more than 3.2 million in January-July this year from a year earlier. Polish airline LOT is launching five new flights from Budapest, to Seoul, Belgrade, Prague, Stuttgart and Sofia. The first direct flight to Seoul will launch on September 22 and will fly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. LOT will fly twice every workday to Prague and Stuttgart, and once every day to Sofia and Belgrade.

Red panda twins born in Nyíregyháza Zoo

Rulers hold steady

The ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance has maintained its large lead over the opposition parties, a poll by the Nézőpont research institute shows. The alliance would win a general election, if held now, with 52 percent support among decided voters. The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) and Momentum would garner 11 percent, respectively, in this group, the poll showed. Nationalist Jobbik was backed by 9 percent and Socialist-Párbeszéd by 7 percent of the respondents. The satirical Two-tailed Dog party tallied 4 percent, LMP 3 percent and radical nationalist Mi Hazánk 2 percent. Among all voters, support for the ruling parties remained practically unchanged, at 41 percent. DK and Jobbik were on 7 percent each, Momentum 6 percent and Socialist-Párbeszéd 5 percent.

Ban on night flights

Night-time aircraft noise pollution over Budapest will soon be fully eliminated by new restrictions banning flights at Liszt Ferenc International Airport between midnight and 5am, Mayor István Tarlós says. Breaches will be fined up to 1000 euros and the number of noise monitoring spots will increase from six to 13.

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Delay for Ahmed H.

A court in Nyírbátor has extended the detention of Ahmed H., a Syrian national convicted under terrorism laws, until "conditions are in place that allow for his departure", daily Magyar Hírlap has reported. He can be kept in custody no later than September 15, based on the current ruling. Ahmed H. was convicted for inciting a riot at Röszke on the Hungary-Serbia border in September 2015 and spent 40 months in prison. He was released on January 19 this year after serving two-thirds of his term, taking into account time in pre-trial detention. Ahmed H. was sentenced to five years in prison in a repeat procedure in 2018 for illegally crossing the border as part of a rioting crowd pelting the police with stones, which the court regarded as complicity in terrorist activities. Asked by Magyar Hírlap, a local court in Nyiregyhaza said Hungarian authorities are waiting for authorities in Britain and Cyprus, where Ahmed H. and his family lived before, to state whether they are ready to take him back. But the procedure to obtain the documents allowing his extradition has been stalling now for more than six months by those countries' authorities, the paper said. Ahmed H. still does not have valid travel documents and "no country has so far agreed to take him in".

‘High toll’ of alcohol

The number of alcohol addicts in Hungary is around 800,000, and some 30,000 die annually of related illnesses, toxicologist Gábor Zacher has told public news channel M1. Hungarians drink on average the equivalent of 14 litres of pure alcohol in alcoholic beverages every year, Zacher said. It is a greater problem for the country than drugs, with an estimated 20,000 drug addicts and some 40 dying of related conditions every year, he said. Alcohol dependency should be spoken of more publicly, and an alcohol consumption strategy should be developed including a survey and plans for the future.

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Empty shops abound

Budapest is home to 2000-3000 vacant retail premises, business daily Világgazdaság has said. Their rents range from 20,000 forints to millions of forints a month, depending on size, condition and location, the paper said. Start-up businesses generally baulked at paying more than 100,000 forints in rent. The Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Budapest municipality have begun operating a non-profit database that currently contains information on 150 leaseholds. The purpose of is to help start-ups by providing useful information about properties and their surroundings. Plans are afoot to add analyses, which should make it easier for businesses to make investment decisions.

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