The most common chronic disease among Czech children is reported to be asthma. According to asthma specialist Petr Pohunek air pollution is responsible for the fact that one in four children have a respiratory problem of some kind before they reach the age of five. Fortunately not all of them develop asthma. The problem goes hand in hand with the growing number of allergies among Czech children. According to statistics the number of registered asthma patients has risen by 170 percent in the past decade.
Police officers and firemen are due to hold a demonstration outside the Interior Ministry on Monday to protest against changes in their working conditions. A new civil service law which went into affect at the start of this year has reduced their overtime for working at weekends, public holidays and at night. Under the new law officers only get paid for working overtime after putting in 150 hours for free. Hundreds of officers have left the ranks of the police as a result. Close to 12,000 officers have signed a petition against the law.
The Czech Doctors' Chamber has slammed the health minister's proposed reform plan saying it would harm both doctors and patients. At their national conference over the weekend doctors argued that the proposed spending cuts were merely an effort to save money not a genuine reform based on the health sector's needs. They called for a broad debate on the future of health care in the Czech Republic. Although Health Minister Julinek had been invited to the conference he did not turn up. Health Ministry spokesman Tomas Cikrt said the Health Ministry did not consider the Czech Doctors' Chamber a partner for negotiations.
The unannounced techno-party that got underway in the Karlovy Vary district on Saturday is said to be winding down and no disturbances have been reported. Some fifty police officers were sent to the site on Saturday to deal with any conflicts and prevent the party from spilling over onto private land. Over a thousand people turned up but, as the weather turned cold overnight, several hundred of them packed up and left early on Sunday. Several landowners have complained about trespassing and are considering filing charges.
A twenty nine year old man who was evicted from his home for physically abusing his girlfriend returned to kill her a fortnight later. The perpetrator, a Syrian national, was arrested less than twenty-four hours later as he tried to flee the country. He faces up to 15 years in prison for murder. The CTK news agency says this is the first time that the new legislation under which abusers can be evicted from their homes, has failed to help an abuse-victim.
Czech politicians say that the decision on whether the country should host a US radar base is in the hands of the Czech Republic alone, but they fail to agree on whether it should be made by Parliament or the people. In a televised debate on Sunday Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said that national security issues should be decided by Parliament, since the Czech Republic was a parliamentary democracy. Opposition leader Jiri Paroubek countered that according to opinion surveys close to 70 percent of Czechs oppose the deployment of a US radar base on Czech territory and therefore it would be fair to let the people decide in a referendum. The question whether or not the Czech Republic should agree to hosting a US radar base as part of a US missile defense system in central Europe is a highly debated issue. Czech-American talks on the matter are expected to continue until the end of the year.
The Czech Republic scored another impressive victory at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow on Sunday, hammering Austria 6:1. The Czechs, who opened the tournament with an 8:2 victory over Belarus climb into top spot in the Group B standings. Their next match is against the US team on Tuesday.
Two people were killed in a pile-up on the D1 motorway from Prague to Brno on Saturday night. The accident was caused by a herd of cattle suddenly cutting across the motorway. The police are questioning workers at a nearby farm from which the animals escaped in connection with possible negligence. Collisions with animals are not unusual on Czech roads but they are mostly caused by wild animals, particularly deer and wild boar.
The police have once again proposed filing charges against six former IPB bank managers for breach of trust. The financiers allegedly ordered a series of dubious bank transactions in an effort to rid the IPB bank of four bad loans. They lent nine billion crowns to firms tied with IPB but the bank never got the money back. The police first proposed filing charges against them in May of 2006 but the State Attorney returned the case, citing lack of evidence.
Czech-born financier Viktor Kozeny, wanted both by the Czech and US authorities on corruption charges, has been released on bail from Nassau's Fox Hill Prison in the Bahamas. Kozeny, now an Irish citizen, made a huge profit from the coupon-privatization scheme in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s and left the country before he could be prosecuted for embezzling property worth up to 16 billion crowns. He is also accused of being the driving force behind a multi-million dollar bribery scheme in Azerbaijan in which US investors lost huge sums of money. Kozeny is charged with conspiracy to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and could face a 25 year prison term in the United States if convicted. He has appealed a verdict that enabled his extradition to the United States and was released on bail after US lawyers missed the date of a hearing that would have completed the extradition process. The hearing has been re-scheduled for June 23rd.