The Czech Under-20 football team will play Austria on Wednesday night for
a place in the World Cup final. The winner of this match between the
tournament's surprise packages will face either Chile or Argentina in the
final on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Czech senior team have dropped out of the top ten in the FIFA world rankings for the first time in three years.
The Czech Senate has decided against making the possession of child
pornography a criminal offence. Discussing an amendment to the law on
pornography passed by the lower house, senators agreed that only people
who produce or sell child porn or who make it available should be
punished, but not those who just own it, as such a measure could be easily
misused by third parties to get others into trouble.
One senator expressed concern that even an unsolicited email could result in a person being prosecuted under the proposed new child porn legislation. One of the authors of the amendment, Communist MP Milan Bicik has criticised the senators' reservations, saying that they were unfounded and that the legislation only targeted those who knowingly possessed pornographic images of children. The bill has now been sent back to the lower house of parliament for another reading.
The website of the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes has quoted the head of the E.ON power company Wulf Bernotat as saying that his organisation are going to build a brown-coal-fired power plant in conjunction with Czech coalmining giant Mostecka uhelna. According to Mlada fronta Dnes, talks between the two companies on the plant should be concluded in a few months and that it will involve an investment of 56.5 billion Czech crowns or 2.7 billion US dollars.
According to the Czech Press Agency (CTK), Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek has cancelled plans to go on an official trip to Africa to attend the birth of his child. Mr Topolanek's mistress fellow, Civic Democrat MP Lucie Talmanova, is due to give birth to the Czech leader's child on 26 July. Mr Topalnek's place on the trip will be taken by Czech deputy prime minister and Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek.
The Czech government and sexologists have rejected criticism from the Council of Europe regarding the practise of castrating some sex offenders in this country. The Council's Committee for the Prevention of Torture has criticised the policy of allowing some sex offenders to choose between surgical castration or confinement for life in a psychiatric facility. Leading Czech sexologists have defended the practise, saying that castration is only carried out with the prisoner's consent and that it has drastically reduced re-offending. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture maintains that consent to castration can hardly be considered free if the alternative for the prisoner is indefinite confinement in a psychiatric hospital.
A new opinion poll conducted in June by the Mori agency indicates that the Civic Democrats still lead nearest rivals the Social Democrats, but that both parties have lost more than five percent of their support since May. According to the poll, if elections were held tomorrow, the Civic Democrats would get 33 percent of the vote while the Social Democrats would get 22 percent. The Greens were the third most popular party in the poll with eight percent support followed by the Communists on five percent.
Czech authorities have been heavily criticised for detaining two Uzbek nationals near the city of Pilsen at the request of the government in Tashkent. According to the Radio Free Europe website, Omanullo Maqsudov and Zohid Mirzaev were detained on an Interpol warrant while crossing the Czech-German border on July 3. The Human Rights Watch bureau in Berlin has reacted strongly to the news, saying that the men have already been granted full refugee status in Germany and that their lives could be in danger should the Czech authorities return them to Uzbekistan.
The Czech romany civic association Romea has filed a criminal complaint against independent senator Liana Janackova for apparently racist remarks she made about Romanies. The senator, who is also mayor of a district of the city of Ostrava, was recorded on tape saying she was against Roma integration in the area. Ms Janackova has since apologised for her remarks but has rejected calls for her to resign from her post as deputy chairwoman of the Senate committee for human rights
Czech daily Pravo has reported that controversial businessman Tomas Pitr has fled the country to avoid serving a prison sentence for tax evasion. According to the paper, Mr Pitr has been staying at a number of seaside locations in Croatia. Czech police have been searching for Mr Pitr after European and international warrants were issued for his arrest last month when he failed to show up to serve a five-year prison term for tax evasion. Mr Pitr - one of the Czech Republic's richest men - has lodged an appeal against his sentence with the Supreme Court.
The retail chain Interspar has been fined half a million Czech crowns or 25,000 US dollars for breaching the Czech Republic's discrimination laws. According to the Prague labour office, the Austrian-owned chain asked employment applicants inappropriate questions regarding their marital status, the number of children they had and their nationality, which could lead to discrimination. Interspar has said it will appeal the decision.