Members of parliament have been engaged in a heated discussion over whether municipal police officers should have the right to measure the speed of passing cars with mobile radars. The coalition, particularly the Transport and Interior ministries want to give municipal police this right, and claim that this change is a mere technical amendment in the existing laws. However, the opposition is arguing that such a change would be political and thus require the passage of new laws – they also argue that only state police should have the ability to use mobile radars and that in the past municipal police and local authorities ended up setting arbitrary speed limits in Czech municipalities. These accusations have been disputed by the government.
Key leaders in the Czech Republic have been trying to reassure the public that the country will not succumb to any major shockwaves caused by the financial crisis in the US and around the world. The Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, the governor of the Czech National Bank Zdeněk Tůma and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek gave a joint press conference on Thursday designed to address these concerns specifically. All three men stated that they believed that the economy and banking sector are stable and that the savings of bank customers are safe. Commenting on the state of affairs, Mr Kalousek said that the good times were over, but that the times now would be normal rather than negative. The Czech economy is forecast to grow by 3.4 percent next year.
Around 150 fans of the Croatian football club Dynamo Zagreb have clashed with police in Prague. The incident occurred late Wednesday night ahead of a match planned for Thursday between Dynamo Zagreb and Prague’s Sparta. According to Czech police, one of their officers was injured while no injuries were reported among the fans. Around 45 police as well as numerous security guards were involved in the clash, with reports suggesting Dynamo Zagreb fans marched on Wenceslas Square while throwing numerous missiles. Police surrounded the fans and gradually calmed the situation. The incident is believed to have been fuelled by an incident in August in which some nationalist Sparta fans hung a banner supporting the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic – who had just been arrested at the time.
The US president George W. Bush signed a 2009 budget law Wednesday that sees $465,8 million allotted to the anti-ballistic-missile program to, key components of which will be located in Poland and the Czech Republic. The monies allotted to the European arm of the project are $246.3 million lower than were requested by the president. The US congress has stipulated that certain funding for the rockets that form a part of this system will only be available after further testing proves the system’s viability. As currently scheduled, the system will be functional by 2013.
The Health Ministry is debating proposals which would see children being able to receive early vaccinations against meningitis. The plans would see the vaccinations paid for by general health insurance, and is designed to prevent wider outbreaks of illnesses among children. Another proposal would see the mandatory vaccination of children aged 11 against whooping cough.
The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by the environmental group Nebojsa to prevent the construction of a motorway that runs between Pohořelice and Mikulov in southern Moravia. The road, was approved by the Environment Ministry back in 2005, and will take the existing R52 motorway from Brno all the way to the Austrian border. The latest ruling follows on from other court rulings by the Prague City Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, which also rejected the motion to prevent the construction of the motorway. Despite the ruling, the final route of the motorway has yet to be finalized, but environmentalists have claimed that certain proposed routes will damage sensitive ecosystems in the Pálava region.
The Czech president Václav Klaus, who is currently in the US promoting his anti-global warming book, has run into some problems with attendance, the US publication Wilamette Weekly reports. On Wednesday, the president was in Portland Oregon, and according to the publication, the President’s press conference was met with very little interest with only three reporters in attendance. Following the press conference, Mr Klaus attended a summit designed to stem the perceived excessive panic about climate change where he attacked former US Vice President Al Gore for his views on climate change.
Three men and three women from the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem have received suspended sentences after being convicted of trafficking children to Germany for sexual purposes between 1995 and 1998. The sentences were lenient because of the number of years which had passed since the crimes were committed, according to Czech senator Kamila Krejcarová. The crimes in question saw the convicted offering both their own children and those of their relatives to paedophiles in Germany. In one case, a child as young as seven was offered.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bém has upped the ante for his party leader in upcoming local elections. In an interview with the newspaper Hospodářské Noviny, Mr Bém stated that his Civic Democratic party must win around seven regional governor seats in order for the party leader and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek to remain comfortable in his position. Most analysts predict that this is a wildly optimistic target, and have thus viewed Mr Bém’s comments as a potential challenge to Mr Topolánek’s leadership. Last week, Mr Topolánek accused Mr Bém along with rebel Civic Democrat MP Vlastimil Tlustý of trying to destroy his government. Mr Bém is widely viewed as positioning himself to replace Mr Topolánek, should his post become available. Local elections will be held on October 17.
The head of the Czech Doctor’s Association Milan Kubek has warned that a lack of qualified doctors in a hospital in the town of Havířov na Karvinsku is threatening that hospital’s ability to provide care for its patients. He also added that his organisation can no longer guarantee the quality of care in the hospital. In comments reported by the Czech News Agency ČTK, Mr Kubek warned that in the last year the number of available qualified doctors had fallen sharply in the hospital and that it now faced a serious crisis, brought on in his view by mismanagement over a long period. The hospital in Havířov na Karvinsku caters to a population of 120,000 people.
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