Snowstorms and winds of up to 144 km an hour have killed two people, as
well as uprooting trees and cutting off power supplies around the Czech
Republic. One man died when a tree fell on his car, while another was
killed in a traffic accident on an icy road.
In the capital some Christmas markets had to be closed and Prague Castle had to lock its gates because of fears of falling roof tiles.
A site has been secured in Nosovice, north Moravia for a proposed new Hyundai car plant; the Moravia-Silesia regional authority announced on Friday that all owners of the land designated for the plant had agreed to sell. A decision on whether Hyundai will build in the region is due to be made by the end of the year.
The Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, says he is extremely satisfied
with the compromise European Union budget agreed on by EU leaders in the
early hours of Saturday morning. He said most of the Czech Republic's
demands had been met in Brussels and the country could receive up to 3.1
billion euros a year net in the period 2007 to 2013.
Mr Paroubek added that Czechs could receive more per capita from EU cohesion funds than any other state.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has warned that alienation with
Czech politicians is growing and that new faces are needed. Speaking in
an interview in Lidove Noviny, Mr Havel said fewer Czechs were
bothering to vote and more believed politicians were corrupt.
The former president also criticised the country's approach to China, and admitted to being fascinated by a reality TV show that ended last weekend, though he said he had not voted for any contestant.
The Czech BBC is to cease broadcasting. After the BBC World Service
axed it and several other language services, the Czech BBC had hoped to
continue as part of BBC Worldwide with commercial backing. But efforts
to save the station failed: its current affairs broadcasting will end
next Friday, while news bulletins will cease on January 31st.
Meanwhile the BBC World Service is hoping to win the agreement of the Czech Broadcasting Council to maintain its English broadcasting in the Czech Republic.
Swedish terrorist suspect Oussama Kassir, who was detained in Prague on Sunday, has accused the FBI of "manufacturing" a case against him, adding that it was "politically directed against Islam". In a statement released by his Czech lawyer, the 39-year old Swedish national said the United States wanted to embarrass the Swedish and Czech governments. Mr Kassir, the subject of an international arrest warrant for allegedly abetting terrorists was arrested as he stepped off a plane at Prague airport on Sunday evening on his way from Stockholm to Beirut. Sweden has never agreed to extradite Mr Kassir, who originates from Lebanon and has Swedish citizenship.
A 49-year old man was killed on Friday afternoon in the northern town of Decin when a tree knocked down by a gust of wind fell on his car. Wind and rainstorms that lashed the country on Friday caused temporary blackouts across the Czech Republic. Some roads in higher altitudes are closed due to heavy snowfalls and some are blocked by fallen trees. For the first time in several years, Prague Castle has been closed to visitors to prevent injuries caused by falling tiles. Open-air Christmas markets in the centre of Prague were also closed.
The lower house has approved a bill allowing for registered partnerships for homosexual couples. The bill had been rejected on four previous occasions, the last time by just one vote. On Friday all present MPs the Christian Democrats voted against the bill, which must now go before the Civic-Democrat dominated Senate.
The state may start paying higher insurance contributions for the jobless, pensioners and students from next year. Under a bill passed by the lower house on Friday, the current 481 crowns should be increased to 513 crowns (21 dollars) a month. The legislation is yet to be approved by the Senate. The chamber also approved an increase in parental allowance, paid to families with children between 6 months and 4 years of age, to 7000 crowns (290 dollars) a month. If the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by the President, it will come into effect in January 2007.
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