A special Roman Catholic service was held on Thursday in the Church of St. Peter and Paul on Prague's Vysehrad hill, dedicated to St. Valentine, celebrated in some countries as the patron saint of lovers in secular tradition. The church at Vysehrad claims to own the holy relics of St. Valentine. The holiday came to the Czech Republic with the fall of communism but has not taken root in the country. This year many sweetshops and florists have put up special Valentine's Day decorations but have not reported increased sales, the CTK news agency said.
Employment in high skilled professions in the Czech Republic is below the EU average but higher than in Austria, Spain and Italy, according to European Union Council documents published by the Czech financial internet server Mesec.cz. In the Czech Republic employees in high skilled jobs account for 34 percent, the fifteenth highest figure in the 25-nation block. At the top of the ladder are the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Denmark with more than 40 percent. Low-skilled employees make up 45 percent in the Czech Republic. A lower number within the EU can only be found in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Slovakia.
The Czech government's anti-drug council is likely to have a new head, two months after its former chairman Josef Radimecky was sacked. Ivo Kacaba, a former counter-intelligence officer who has worked for charities in recent years, has won the selection process and is likely to head the office and implement the government's anti-drug strategy by 2009, according to a government spokesman. The strategy, passed by the government last autumn, focuses more on the dangers of using marihuana and so-called party drugs.
A new Eurobarometer survey suggests that the level of support for the European Union Constitution in the Czech Republic is at its historic high but also that Czechs are among the biggest Euro-sceptics in the EU. Last autumn almost two thirds of Czechs said they supported the EU Constitution, which is by 15 percent more than a year ago. Less than 50 percent of Czechs see EU membership as an advantage.
A legal dispute with a lawyer who won a court case for the Social Democratic Party in 1997 could cost the party as much as 400 million crowns (over 17 million dollars), according to party leader Stanislav Gross. The lawyer, Zdenek Altner won a legal dispute over Lidovy dum, the Social Democratic Party headquarters, and is demanding a vast sum of money for services rendered. Mr Altner signed an agreement with then party leader Milos Zeman under which the party would pay him ten percent of the value of the building, if he won it for them, plus ten percent of the profit from the lease of the office space. The party is disputing his claims in court.
Twenty six people were injured in a pile up on the Prague-Brno highway on Saturday, two of them seriously. Rain and fog caused a pile up of 40 vehicles bringing traffic to a standstill for over ten hours. The accident happened when a car collided with a coach, creating a domino effect along a 4 kilometre stretch of the road. Eleven lorries, a tanker four coaches and an ambulance were involved in the pile up. Ten ambulances were called to the scene of the accident. Preliminary damage estimates are at around 5 million crowns.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has revealed the name of the person who
guaranteed a six million crown loan for his wife's company. Speaking on a
political talk-show on Czech Television, Mr. Gross admitted that the loan
had been guaranteed by a friend of the family, Libuse Barkova, who has
since been charged with insurance fraud. The Prime Minister said that Mrs.
Barkova was not being prosecuted at the time when she helped his wife to
acquire the loan.
The Prime Minister, who has been under growing pressure to resign in the wake of a scandal over his private finances, said he had no intention of doing so. He reiterated that he would undergo security screening to clear his name and that an inspection team would look into his wife's company finances.
The Czech Republic is ready to send more police instructors to Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government. Defence minister Karel Kuhnl said another three to five military instructors could be added to the 100 member contingent of Czech military police now operating at the Shaiba military base in the south of the country. Parliament would not need to approve the reinforcement of the Czech mission since the total number of soldiers would not exceed the limit approved by Parliament in January.
A charity concert in aid of south-east Asia has raised over six million crowns. The money will be used to buy medical equipment and supplies for a mobile children's hospital in Sri Lanka which is run by Czech paediatricians. The hospital was set up shortly after the tsunami disaster and is expected to remain in operation for a period of six months. The concert was organized at the initiative of several Czech artists who were in the region at the time of the tragedy. The Czech public has contributed over 200 million crowns / 6.7 million euros/ in aid to the stricken region and another 200 million has been earmarked by the Czech government for reconstruction.
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