At is session on Wednesday the Cabinet approved a series of bills, among them a long-awaited bill on conflict of interests, a bill which would enable municipalities to regulate prostitution and a bill on absentee balloting in the elections. The Cabinet also approved a 76,4 billion crown state budget deficit in 2006. The proposed draft envisages expenditures of 906 billion crowns and revenues of around 830 billion crowns. All of the proposed bills still need to be approved by Parliament.
The Czech government has approved a bill which would allow scientists to use human embryo cells in research, but would ban cloning of humans. The bill, which has yet to be approved by Parliament and signed by the President, would ensure that research with human embryo cells would be under strict control and individuals or institutions violating the ban would face severe punishment, from a revoked licence to eight years in prison.
Small shareholders could be squeezed out of a large number of Czech companies. 57 companies have already called general shareholders meetings for this purpose and another 300 companies are expected to follow. The squeezing out of small shareholders has been legalized by a recently approved amendment to the commercial code. The association for the protection of small shareholders OSMA wants to complain to the Constitutional Court.
Culture minister Pavel Dostal, who is suffering from cancer of the pancreas, has been hospitalized in serious condition. The 62 year old former journalist and playwright is has been battling the disease for two years, having undergone surgery and chemotherapy. At his request the hospital in Brno is not issuing any information about his condition. His family are said to be by his side.
A 56 year old man has been sentenced to 12 years for murdering a social worker in an old people's home. Frantisek Dolejsky, who lived in the old people's home, attacked one of male nurses after a dispute over three bottles of beer. The male nurse confiscated the beer on the grounds that Dolejsky was already very drunk. When he refused to return them Dolejsky came back with a knife and stabbed the 21 year old social worker in the stomach. The young man was rushed to hospital where he died several hours later. Dolejsky, known in the home as a notorious drunkard, went to a nearby pub to have a beer where he was arrested shortly after.
Several Romany organizations have protested against the government's decision to lower the subsistence level, thereby lowering social benefits for the unemployed. The bill, prepared by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry wants to motivate people to actively seek a job instead of relying on social benefits. It would also lower the amount of financial support given to people with large families allegedly to prevent parents from living off their children. Romany representatives have slammed the proposal calling it racist and discriminatory and arguing that many of them cannot find work no matter how hard they try.
Libya has recalled two of its diplomats to Prague, whose sons were accused of raping a 10 year old boy. The Czech Foreign Ministry said it had urged Libya to take this course of action on the grounds of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Three Libyan boys all aged 13 recently assaulted two 10 year old Czech boys at a playground. One of the boys was allegedly raped, the other managed to resist the assault. One of the boys' fathers, a well known journalist and writer, described the incident in a Czech magazine. A spokeswoman for the Prague police has confirmed that a rape investigation took place but said the matter was dropped because of the suspects' ages.
Britain's Prince Edward, who is on a two day goodwill visit to the Czech Republic, on Tuesday handed out awards at the British Embassy to the Czech winners of the Duke of Edinburgh Youth Programme. On Monday the Prince visited the Royal Golf Club in the spa town of Marianske Lazne, also known as Marienbad, a club that his great-great grandfather King Edward VII opened exactly a century ago.
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has shocked politicians and economists by saying that there was no urgent need for a pension reform in the Czech Republic. In an interview for the Bloomberg agency published on-line, the Prime Minister said that the current reform system would not overburden the state budget for another 20 years and that the increasing birth rate would further improve the situation. There is no urgency for reform in this sphere, Mr. Paroubek said, sweeping aside EU warnings regarding the need to speed up reforms of the pension and health care systems. The head of one of the smaller governing parties Miroslav Kalousek of the Christian Democrats has said that dallying with the pension reform would be irresponsible.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has challenged the president to do a number of one-on-one radio and TV debates with him on the European Union. In an interview for the Frekvence 1 radio programme, the Social Democrat prime minister, who is pro EU-integration, said he and the president, who is strongly critical of the direction in which the EU is heading, should put their arguments to the nation in a language that people could understand. Debates at closed meetings or articles in the media do not have the desired impact, Mr. Paroubek said. The daily Lidove Noviny recently published a lengthy article in which President Klaus presented his vision of a future Europe- an organization of European states benefiting from free trade but not restricted in their sovereignty.