A new poll has suggested that Czech assessment of the functioning of the
government and the Czech Parliament is at its highest since 2003. The
poll, conducted by the STEM agency, found that 43 percent of respondents
were satisfied with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's cabinet while some 36
percent assessed as positive the workings of Parliament. The last time the
Czech government enjoyed similar public support was in the year 2003 but
also the summer of 2002 when the Czech Republic was hit by widespread
The new STEM poll also gauged public support for the country's president, Vaclav Klaus: he was rated positively by some 72 percent of respondents.
The Czech Republic will - with minor exceptions - ban imports of exotic
birds from countries that are not EU members, to reduce the danger of
the spread of bird flu. The Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba said
on Monday that the measure was in harmony with a European Commission
directive. The ban concerns primarily commercial imports, while
individuals will be allowed to bring small number of birds - less than
five - into the country. All these imports will have to be made via
Prague's Ruzyne international airport. Birds will be kept in quarantine
for 30 days or have to be vaccinated or checked for the bird flu virus.
The import restrictions are expected to be kept in place for at least six months.
Deputy Health Minister David Rath has described as "very likely" a
decision to step down as the head of the Czech Doctors' Association on
Tuesday. Until now Mr Rath's position as head of the Doctors'
Association has been a major hurdle preventing his being named health
minister by the country's president. Vaclav Klaus has twice refused to
name Mr Rath to the post, on the grounds his naming would be in clear
conflict of interest.
On Monday, President Klaus dismissed Mr Rath's latest words and any speculation: he indicated he was still awaiting Mr Rath's next move.
The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats will support the government's proposal to lower the income tax. In a TV discussion programme on Sunday, Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty said party deputies will vote in favour of the bill at Tuesday's lower house session. The Civic Democrats have been blocking the proposal as it only affects those with a monthly wage of up to 30,000 Czech crowns (around 1,200 US dollars); an estimated four million people. They have instead been pushing for a flat tax rate of 15 percent to include those with higher incomes. Mr Tlusty says his party has not had a change of heart but simply realises that lowered taxes for some is better than for none.
Deputy Health Minister David Rath has declared war on those hospitals, which fail to provide proper care for in-patients. The director of the largest state-owned insurance company, VZP, is expected to present him with a list of up to forty of the country's worst offenders, Mr Rath said in a TV discussion programme on Sunday. A commission of experts will evaluate the hospitals and the worst cases will be fined or even closed down. This is part of a health ministry effort to lower the 11 billion crown (some 450 million US dollars) health insurance debt and improve overall health care.
The Czech Film and Television Academy's Elsa Television Awards were
held at Prague's Lucerna Ballroom on Saturday night. With the exception
of commercial TV Nova's investigative programme Na Vlastni Oci, all
awards went to productions by the public broadcaster Czech TV. Among
Elsa winners were feature film In Nomine Patris (Best Film), actor
Viktor Preiss (Best Actor), actress Vilma Cibulkova (Best Actress),
film director Jaromir Polisensky (Best Director), and screen writer Jan
Drbohlav (Best Screenplay).
The two main commercial stations, TV Nova and TV Prima boycotted the ceremony, protesting against the Film and Television Academy's selection procedure; the Academy had not considered the Czech Pop Idol and reality shows, for example, for awards.
The number of Czechs with diabetes that is caused by excess weight has doubled in the last two decades. Of the country's population of ten million, some 750,000 suffer from "Type 2 diabetes", which is not treated with insulin but rather by dietary changes, exercise, and tablets. Experts warn ever more Czechs are inactive, have a poor diet, and suffer from high blood pressure.
Ten people were injured, one seriously, when a bus carrying Greek tourists collided with a car near Rakovnik, around 50 kilometres west of Prague, on Saturday evening. A woman who suffered life-threatening injuries was airlifted to Prague's Motol hospital. Other injured were taken to a local hospital. Police are investigating the cause of the accident.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk on
Friday evening in hopes of ending a 13 year long dispute between the
Catholic Church and the state. Both claim to be the rightful owners of
St. Vitus' Cathedral, one of Prague's main landmarks. Last week, a
Prague district court ruled in favour of the church but the state plans
to appeal the verdict.
The two-hour meeting between the prime minister and the cardinal failed to produce a compromise solution. Mr Paroubek proposed the Church declare the Cathedral is owned by the Czech nation but plays an important role in its management. The Catholic Church on the other hand recognised St Vitus' Cathedral as part of the cultural heritage of the Czech state and a symbol of Czech nationhood but insisted ownership rights be decided by a court.
The Animal Liberation Front says it is responsible for releasing into the wild over 1,000 foxes and minks that were bred at a fur farm near the eastern town of Svitava. Animal rights activists have welcomed the move but some fear the foxes will find it hard to survive in the wild. The farm owners say they have lost over one million crowns (a little under 41,000 US dollars) and will have to close down the business before they acquire new breeding animals.
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