A team of experts charged with mapping out a model for reforming the Czech
pensions system met for the first time on Wednesday. The team put together
by the Ministry of Finance is expected to come up with reform options in
May. Politicians should join the team following lower house elections due
in the second half of May.
The Czech Republic has so far taken no radical steps to reform a pensions system which faces serious problems with a sharply falling ratio of working people to retired over the next decades. Economists have highlighted this as a weak point. In 2014 it is estimated there will be more retired people than children in the Czech Republic.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has been knocked out of the Australian Open in the second round. The 21st seed lost in straight sets to 21-year-old Kazakh player Evgeny Korolev. The score was 4:6, 4:6, 5:7. The highest seeded Czech in the singles competition, Radek Štěpánek, lost in the first round.
Czech Minister of Defence Martin Barták opened an exhibition on Wednesday
to mark the Czechoslovak resistance to Nazi occupation and in particular
the assassination of the highest ranked Nazi during World War II, acting
protector of Bohemia Reinhard Heydrich. The exhibition is in the central
Prague church of St Cyril and Methodius. That was the site where the
Czechoslovak parachutists who carried out the assassination in May 1942
were corned and killed.
Thousands of Czechs were killed in reprisals following Heydrich’s death from his injuries. The revenge attacks included the flattening of the Lidice and Ležáky villages and execution of many of their occupants.
The head of the Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Trades Unions, Milan Štěch, has announced his intention to step down after eight years in the post. The 56-year old, who is also a deputy speaker of the upper house, the Senate, for the Social Democrats, said he would continue until the confederation congress in April. He said he had no desire to retire completely from public life. The confederation is the biggest grouping of trades unions in the country.
A Czech court has cut the total damages awarded to two couples whose
babies were swapped at birth by their local hospital. The High Court in
Olomouc on Wednesday ruled that the parents receive total compensation of
3.2 million crowns or around 175,000 US dollars. That is 100,000 crowns
lower than the previous award from the regional court in Brno. The sum
be taken from the damages awarded to one of the fathers.
The compensation total was challenged by the hospital in Třebíč. The latest decision cannot be appealed. The hospital’s mistake came to light almost a year after the babies were born in December 2006. One husband demanded genetic tests because the baby bore no resemblance to him.
The selection of a new archbishop of Prague to replace Miloslav Vlk has been stalled because the church is looking for new faces, the bishop of Hradec Králové, Dominik Duka, suggested on Wednesday. Duka said one problem was that most members of the main decision making body in the country, the Czech Bishops’ Conference, had been in office for around 20 years and had their roots in the period of totalitarian communist rule not freedom. He said that a new era needed new faces and speculated that was one reason why the Vatican had delayed announcing archbishop Vlk’s successor. Dominik Duka had been seen as one of the frontrunners for the position.
The roof of a building that forms part of the famous Brno exhibition
complex collapsed under the weight of snow on Wednesday. No-one was
injured. The building was being used as storage space and is one of the
oldest parts of the site.
The latest incident follows a thaw following recent heavy snowfall. On Wednesday an elderly man suffered serious head injuries after falling when cleaning snow from a roof in Prague. A baby boy was taken to hospital with a serious head injury after ice fell on him from a Prague roof on Tuesday. A nine-year old in the centre of the country was also rushed to hospital following a similar incident.
The Czech branch of the environmental group Greenpeace staged a protest in
front of the Prague offices of local power giant ČEZ on Wednesday. The
protest included a two-metre model chimney which coughed out smoke and
ashes. The demonstrators wanted to highlight ČEZ’s plans for a new
coal-fired power plant at Prunéřov in the north west of the country.
say the company is saving money on technology resulting in higher
for local people.
The Prunéřov plant is also the subject of a challenge from a grouping of small Pacific states which say the extra pollution will contribute to global warming which threatens their disappearance.
Czech Minister of Education, Miroslava Kopicová called on Wednesday for the law faculty at the Pilsen-based West Bohemian University to start cancelling as soon as possible doctoral degrees where serious doubt exists about their validity. Investigations by a commission at the scandal beleaguered faculty have shown that 14 out of 63 doctorates awarded there were not in conformity with correct procedures. Some, for example, were given in a surprisingly short time and others when the examining committee was hurriedly and incorrectly convened. A scandal over plagiarism at the faculty last summer quickly expanded with teaching practices and the award of degrees coming under scrutiny.
Around 14 vehicles, 12 reported to be lorries, were involved in a pile-up in the north of the country. The accident happened on the highway from Germany to Ústí nad Labem on Wednesday morning with the road in both directions closed temporarily as a result. Police said two people were injured but no-one was killed. Transport police are investigating the cause of the accident which is likely to be linked to thick fog at the time.