Brno's municipal waste-management firm SAKO is being investigated by the
Office for the Protection of Economic Competition (UOHS) in connection with
a tender it held for the reconstruction of an incineration plant in the
Moravian capital, according to Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes. It was the
fourth tender announced by SAKO for the reconstruction of the plant, which
is expected to cost as much as 2.25 billion CZK (113 million USD). The
first three tenders were cancelled by the waste-management firm itself and
the allocation of the fourth has now been delayed for around a year after
one of the unsuccessful bidders lodged a complaint with the UOHS.
The Brno incineration plant has been in need of refurbishment for several years now. Brno's municipal authorities want to obtain funds from the EU to finance part of the project
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said on Saturday evening that
negotiations with US representatives on the construction of a proposed
American radar base were proceeding without any major problems after
holding talks with a delegation from the US Congress on the issue. He also
said that a number of obstacles to the negotiations had been removed
although he declined to elaborate.
The US delegation, headed by Democratic congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, also met with the deputy prime minister Alexander Vondra and the head of the opposition Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek. Earlier, Ms Tauscher had said that the proposed US missile defence system involving a radar base in the Czech Republic and an interceptor missile facility in Poland must be fully incorporated into NATO and it must protect both Europe and the United States.
The proposed US facilities are intended as part of a missile defence system aimed at countering possible attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iran. Polls show that a majority of Czechs are against the proposal even though it has the tentative support of the centre-right government. A final decision on the base is expected early next year.
Jet-ski owners symbolically blocked the Vltava River in Prague for several minutes on Saturday afternoon in protest against a planned amendment to the law on inland navigation, which would ban certain vessels from water courses, including jet-skis. The protesters were also demonstrating against a proposal to introduce charges for recreational navigation on the country's waterways, which has been free up to now.
Around 300 Czech police and other members of the security forces protested
in the centre of Prague on Saturday in protest at the so-called
"Service Law". The demonstration was organised by police unions,
who claim that the law, which has been in effect since the start of the
year, leaves many police officers worse off. Their principal grievances
include the fact that the law abolished many bonus payments for overtime
work and for working on state holidays and weekends. The Czech Minister for
the Interior Ivan Langer denies that the law has had a detrimental effect
on police salaries and maintains that the wages of 94 percent of police
officers have increased since the legislation was introduced.
The turnout was a lot lower than expected, but protest organisers claim that the attendance would have been much higher if some police had not been assigned to a special traffic-safety operation. They also said that the number of people protesting was also affected by the fact that a lot of extra police were on duty amid security concerns surrounding a first-division football match between Slavia Prague and Banik Ostrava on Saturday evening.
An advisor to the Ministry of Education has said that the food served to
children in Czech schools could change within the framework of proposed
reforms to the education system. Educational consultant David Bartusek has
said that in addition to offering parents different education programmes
for their children, schools may soon be offering alternative healthy meals
on their menus as well.
The food served in school dinners is currently set by a ministerial decree. Critics say that the food prescribed by the legislation has too much fat and an unhealthy surfeit of protein, which could be a contributory factor in rising obesity levels.
President Vaclav Klaus has praised the legacy of the first President of Czechoslovakia Tomas Garrigue Masaryk on the seventieth anniversary of his death. Speaking at a special commemorative event in Prague Castle on Thursday night, Mr Klaus said that President Masaryk's legacy in establishing the first Czechoslovak Republic was a "constant source of inspiration for Czech democracy." Besides President Klaus, the event was also attended by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and former president Vaclav Havel among other dignitaries. Tomas Garrigue Masaryk died on 14 September 1937 at eighty-seven years of age.
American Secretary of Defence Robert Gates is to visit the Czech Republic to meet with Czech politicians and discuss the possible establishment of a US radar base in the country, according to the Czech Press Agency (CTK). Citing what it calls "a reliable source", CTK says Mr Gates meetings should take place on 20 and 21 October. The US embassy in Prague has so far declined to comment on the report. A number of senior American political figures have already visited the Czech Republic to promote the proposed radar. Nevertheless, opinion polls suggest that a large majority of Czechs are against having the military facility in their country.
The Czech Finance Ministry has confirmed that Czech government debt rose by 53.6 billion CZK (2.7 billion US dollars) in the first six months of 2007 to 856.1 billion CZK (43.2 billion US dollars). According to the ministry, the accumulation of state budget deficits were primarily responsible for the debt. Government debt is currently financed by treasury bills, government bonds, direct loans or loans from the European Investment Bank.
Meanwhile, the mayors of municipalities in the west-Bohemian Brdy region,
which is the proposed site of the aforementioned US radar base, have
expressed their dissatisfaction with information presented to them after a
meeting on Friday with Ministry of Defence officials on the issue.
Most of the municipal representatives said in the wake of the meeting that they had not received any new information concerning the establishment of a US radar facility in the area. They cited the potential health hazards posed by the radar, the status of US military personnel on Czech territory, and the radar base's impact on tourism and real estate prices in the region as major areas of concern.
The Minister of Defence Vlasta Parkanova has promised more detailed studies of the proposed radar base's effect on the region.
Most of Central Europe's Social Democrat leaders have signed a joint statement calling for a moratorium on more ballistic missiles being located in the region. The statement was issued following a meeting in Prague attended by representatives from social democratic parties in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Germany. The statement also said that all EU and NATO countries should be involved in negotiations on the placement of a new US missile base and radar station in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile defence shield against so-called rogue states such as Iran. The statement also calls for greater consultation on the issue with Russia, which has been a fierce critic of the proposed military installations. Only the representative from the Hungarian social democrats did not sign the statement.