The Czech Environmental Protection Agency (CIZP) has confirmed reports that cyanides released into the Labe River were behind the death of tones of fish last week. An agency official told the state news agency CTK the hazardous material probably entered the river from Kolin, east of Prague, where several large factories are located. Fish farmers downstream have been forced to clear tones of half-dead fish from the river. The environment protection agency official said that the perpetrator, once identified, faces a fine of up to 10 million crowns.
Czech pharmacists have decided to hold a three-hour protest strike on Monday, January 30th, in defiance of policies proposed by Health Minister David Rath, namely the lowering of profit margin on medicines by 3 percent. On Sunday, after meeting with the prime minister, the head of the Czech Pharmacists' Association Lubomir Chudoba said pharmacists would also launch a public campaign explaining how - in their view - Mr Rath's proposal would be damaging. According to Mr Chudoba, the lower profit margin will threaten one-third of the country's 2,200 pharmacies. The health minister, though, has made clear patients' interests are of higher priority, since in the health sector pharmacists rank among the highest-income groups.
A new terminal at Prague's Ruzyne international airport is to open for service on Tuesday. The North II terminal is expected to increase the international airport's capacity by 4 million passengers annually. Last year, the airport saw a record 10.8 million passengers. The new 320 million dollar terminal will handle flights between the Schengen visa countries; non-European Union and other flights will remain at the old terminal.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka have reportedly agreed to set aside government funds towards buying out the owners of a pig farm, built above the site of a World War II-era internment camp. Hundreds of Romany people, including at least 241 children, died at the Lety u Pisku camp site. Thousands more were killed after being transferred to places like Auschwitz. Activists have been calling for the Lety pig farm's removal for over a decade. This autumn, the Czech human rights commissioner Svatopluk Karasek estimated removing the pig farm would cost at least 12 million US dollars, but the prime minister has said it should cost considerably less. A finance ministry spokeswoman declined Monday to reveal how much money the government would be set aside.
Eastern Europeans are far less prone to dieting than their counterparts in Western Europe, according to a report by the market research agency GfK. Only one in ten people from Eastern Europe have started diets to lose weight, the report said, compared to one in five in Western Europe. Around 73 per cent of Czech women and 62 per cent of Hungarian women said the diets they tried had not worked. This compared to 61 per cent of Dutch women. The GfK report added that one-third of Central and Eastern Europeans believed their own food to be heavy in terms of calories.
The ruling Social Democrats have removed two prominent people from the party's candidate list for the general elections in June, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. Former agriculture minister Jaroslav Palas was taken off the list for his role in allowing the company Cesky olej to take over Setuza, a chemical producer. MP Oldrich Nemec was taken off the candidates list for having publicly doubted the credibility of another party deputy, Michal Kraus, in his explanation of a questionable business trip to Ghana.
Israeli citizen Yakov Moshalyov has been extradited to the Czech Republic to face trial for endangering the public in a grenade attack that took place in Prague in August 2004. The suspect, formerly a Soviet citizen, is believed to have been involved in a feud between Israeli crime gangs. The grenade was thrown at the vehicle belonging to an Israeli casino owner. 18 bystanders suffered minor injuries. Police have indicated Mr Moshalyov will be remanded in custody; if found guilty of the attack he could spend between 8 to 15 years in prison.
Antonin Pecenka, the man in charge of the forced administration of the
country's largest state-owned health insurance company, the VZP, has said
the insurer should take up a 5 billion crown loan (the equivalent of
almost 211 million US dollars). Mr Pecenka made the statement on a Sunday
TV debate programme, suggesting that taking such a loan was one way the
troubled insurer could eventually recover. Until now, the insurer has been
reeling from significant debt, issuing late payments to doctors and other
health workers, prompting the threat of strikes.
But, on Sunday, on the same television programme, the outgoing head of the VZP, Jirina Musilkova, said she opposed the organisation taking on the loan, stressing there was no way the firm could guarantee liability.
The Czech reality show 'Unmasking', which made world headlines late
last year by offering a look into the daily lives of gorillas at Prague
Zoo, has announced a "winner". With broadcasting of the programme
coming to a close, the 200-kilo male Richard emerged as the winner
having received the most text-messages from viewers. The proceeds from
telephone messaging will go towards charity - the funding of a nature
reserve in Africa.
The project was first launched on November 7th by Czech Radio in conjunction with Czech TV - "rivalling" local reality shows with human participants. As the winner, Richard the gorilla receives twelve melons - a play on the Czech slang word 'melouni' meaning "millions".
In related news Health Minister David Rath has said he will join the Social Democratic Party ahead of national elections in June. Mr Rath, who is heading the party's Prague candidate list, told journalists on Saturday he would consult the move with other Social Democrats and join the party in the year's first quarter. Mr Rath is the only unaffiliated member of the Social Democrat-led government, which also counts the Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Union.
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