A travel agency based in Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, was offering its clients to go hunting for the Northern Lynx, which is a strictly protected animal in the Czech Republic. According to the daily Mlada fronta Dnes, the hunt was advertised on the internet and was supposed to take place in the beginning of next year. The owner of the travel agency said that his agency was only acting on behalf of a hunting company. The case is under investigation by the Czech environment inspection.
The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has been fined 100,000 crowns, or more than 5,000 U.S. dollars, by the anti-monopoly office for the manner in which it selected a company to supply it with an information system. When choosing the supplier last year, the ministry omitted to announce a public competition for the order worth of 50 million crowns. The ministry was already punished last year for a similar offence and paid a fine of 500,000 crowns, or over 25,000 U.S. dollars.
At a conference on global warming held in New York on Monday by U.N. Secretary General Ba Ki-moon, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that the rise in temperatures is small in a historical context. The rise in temperatures in the recent years, decades and centuries, according to the Czech President, has been small, and its impact on mankind and its activities is negligible. Vaclav Klaus also said that the threat of hypothetical future global warming is based solely on speculation. The Czech president has been criticized by some Czech politicians, including Martin Bursik, the head of the Green Party, who said that Mr Klaus' speech could weaken the position of the Czech Republic during negotiations on global climate change.
The Czech car-maker Skoda Auto will pay its sole stockholder, the German Volkswagen Group, a dividend of 8.4 billion crowns, or more than 430 million U.S. dollars, the Czech company announced on Tuesday. Last year, Skoda Auto's profit reached a record of 11.06 billion crowns (566 U.S. dollars). The car producer, based in Mlada Boleslav, some 50 km Northeast to Prague, sold more than 550.000 cars last year which is 11.7 percent more than in 2005.
Jiri Paroubek has invited the governing Civic Democrats to start negotiating about him possibly becoming the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies. The head of the opposition Social Democrats told the daily Mlada fronta Dnes that in exchange for Civic Democratic support of his candidacy, he is ready to discuss a number of issues to do with the Czech presidency of the European Union that will begin in January next year. Mr Paroubek denied, however, that he is willing to support Vaclav Klaus, the incumbent president and the honorary chairman of the Civic Democrats, at the next presidential elections.
Minister of Education Dana Kuchtova stepped down on Tuesday after being accused of failing to draw sufficient money from European Union funds. The Green Party politician has been criticized by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek as well as Michaela Sojdrova, the head of Parliament's Education Committee, for not being able to draw about 60 billion crowns, or three billion U.S. dollars, for research and education programmes from the funds of the EU. Green Party chairman Martin Bursik said, however, that Ms Kuchtova can rely on the support of Green Party leadership and deputies. It is yet not clear who will replace Dana Kuchtova as education minister.
The Czech national basketball women's team on Monday beat Israel 75:43, scoring their first victory at the European Championship held in Italy. After the opening passages of the game, the Czech team got the upper hand and gradually opened up an unassailable lead. The Czechs, who are European Champions, are yet to face Turkey and Latvia in group A.
Czech neo-Nazis are planning to march through Josefov, the Prague Jewish Quarter, on 10th November. That day marks the 69th anniversary of the Kristallnacht, the Nazi-inspired pogrom on Jews throughout Germany and Austria that took place in November 1938. According to the daily Hospodarske noviny, the march has been granted permission by Prague City Hall whose officials claim that they could not ban the march as it was officially announced as a protest against the Czech mission in Iraq.
Lebanese-born Swedish citizen Oussama Kassir, who was arrested two years ago at Prague airport, has been extradited to the United States. U.S. authorities accuse him of supporting terrorism in connection with his intentions to fund a terrorist training camp in Oregon. The decision to extradite Mr Kassir to the U.S. was approved by Czech courts earlier this year, and Czech Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil has now confirmed their decision. Due to the terrorism charges, Oussama Kassir is facing a life sentence in the United States.
Old age pensions in the Czech Republic will increase by 346 crowns monthly on average as of next year, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas told journalists after a cabinet meeting on Monday. The minister said that the living standard of pensioners would not drop despite the fiscal reform package approved by the government. He said increased expenditures would be further compensated in 2009 if necessary. Opposition parties on the other hand argue that the increase in pensions is woefully inadequate to counter the expected price hikes resulting from higher VAT tax on food, medicines and transport.
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