Four rare northern white rhinos, half the known population left in the
world, on Saturday started on a long journey from Dvur Králové zoo to
their homeland Kenya. The transfer of four of the zoos six white rhinos is
a last-ditch attempt to save the species from extinction. Zoologists have
had problems trying to get the animals to breed, with only one birth in the
past ten years. While zoo officials hope that a return to the wild will
spur successful mating, opponents say the plan puts the animals at risk
because they have spent all of their lives in very different conditions
than those they will experience in Africa.
Two white rhinos live in captivity in San Diego zoo. Four other white rhinos living in the wild in Africa have not been sighted since 2006 raising fears that the eight animals in captivity are the last of their kind.
Hospitals around the country report an increase in the number of patients with frostbite, not all of them homeless people. Doctors warn against spending long hours out in the freezing cold weather and trying to stay warm with the help of alcohol. The freezing cold weather, with temperatures dropping to minus 20 degrees C at nights, has put the homeless at great risk, with three people having frozen to death in the past week.
According to a flash survey conducted by the STEM polling agency 80 percent of Czechs believe that global warming is a reality. Seventy-five percent of respondents said mankind was responsible for the problem and should take corrective action, while the rest ascribed the changes to natural processes independent of man.
Czech Airlines announced a 24-hour delay in a planned flight to the Caribbean on Saturday after a maintenance vehicle defrosting the airbus in question accidentally damaged the plane. The flight’s 200 passengers have been given accommodation and refreshments free of charge. The plane is expected to leave on Sunday.
Three people, including an 18-month-old baby girl, have died in a fire in their home in Brno. The fourth member of the family, a seven-year-old boy, was rushed to hospital in critical condition. The fire was reported in the early hours of the morning by neighbours, and it would seem that the family suffocated in their sleep. Police are investigating the cause of the tragic accident.
Czech Environment Minister Jan Dusík told the CTK news agency on Saturday he expected more from the Copenhagen climate talks. Minister Dusík said that while he did not expect a legally binding agreement to be reached he had hoped for a more fruitful debate and an understanding supported by all delegates. The minister described the Copenhagen climate talks as “an intermediate step” and said he hoped that a legally binding agreement could be reached in Mexico next year.
Two companies have entered the Czech Defence Ministry’s tender for assault rifles – Česká Zbrojovka and MPI Group. The ministry wants to buy 8,000 assault rifles and 400 grenade launchers to replace the MAG-58 machine guns which have been in use since the 1950s. The military has earmarked 1,5 billion crowns for the purchase. Other arms producers, including Heckler and Koch and Beretta, have criticized the fact that companies had only one month to hand in their bids.
The Czech Interior Ministry is preparing an amendment to the penal code which should help the authorities crack-down on corruption. The bill proposes introducing the institute of agent provocateur and that of crown witness. The proposal will now be debated in cabinet. Widespread corruption has presented a serious problem for many years and all previous attempts to root it out have failed. Caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fisher said shortly after taking office in May that his cabinet would take radical measures against the problem.
The Czech daily Lidové noviny has reported that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled back in September that a Czech court’s sentencing of former Communist official Karel Hoffman, was just. Mr Hoffman, a former head of telecommunications in communist Czechoslovakia, ordered Czechoslovak Radio broadcasts off the air following the Soviet-led invasion of August 21st, 1968. Over 30 years later he was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the invasion, but served just 25 days for health reasons. The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that the Czech Republic had not infringed on Mr Hoffmann’s freedoms; in response, the former Communist official criticised the court in November, calling it a “capitalist, bourgeois” entity.