The Chebsko region of the Czech Republic has been hit by a mild earthquake registering around 3.8 on the Richter scale. The tremors were the third time in a week that the area has been hit – the first being last Monday when an earthquake measuring 2 on the Richter scale struck the area – the latest quake occurred at 9:40 am on Sunday. The earthquake centred in the village of Nový Kostel and the shocks were felt more than ten kilometres away. The earthquake is the strongest to hit the country in more than twenty years. There were no reports of any injuries or notable damage. Despite this, reports suggest that local inhabitants are in states of high anxiety, fearful of what might happen next. Seismologists have sought to reassure the public, cautioning that a still relatively small earthquake of more than 5 points on the Richter scale is virtually impossible in the area.
The head of the Czech National Bank Zdeněk Tůma has conceded that the global economic crisis is likely to negatively affect Czech economic growth. The comments came during a television interview on Czech Television on Sunday. During the interview, Mr Tůma stated that the previously predicted 3.6% GDP growth would likely be downgraded by several tenths of a percent. New Czech National Bank forecasts will be released in early November.
The Czech Republic suffered a 2:1 away defeat to Poland in a qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa. The result is a blow to the team’s qualifying hopes following on from a poor showing at the Euro 2008 competition and the departure of head coach Karel Brückner. Poland scored the first goal in the 27th minute, and followed with a second goal in the 57th minute. The Czech Republic managed to slightly recover after a late substitution, with player Mark Fenin scoring a goal in the 87th minute. The Czech team’s performance was almost universally derided as inadequate by commentators. The team will now face Slovenia on Wednesday. Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech has been ruled out of that match with a groin injury.
A proposed new law will make doping in sports a criminal offence. The proposed law has already passed a first reading in the Czech parliament. Specifically, the law will make the manufacture, storage and trade in performance enhancing drugs illegal across the Czech Republic – however, the actual consumption of these drugs will not be illegal, say analysts. Prison terms between one and three years will also be available for offenders.
Hotelier Bohumír Ďuričko, who is accused of killing the son of former Jiří Paroubek advisor Václav Kočka jr. has been remanded in custody by police as he faces trial for murder. Mr Kočka was shot on Thursday at a location in which the Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek had just attended an event to launch a new book. According to the authorities, the decision not to grant Mr Ďuričko bail was taken on the grounds of a genuine fear that the accused man may seek to escape the country and also seek to influence witnesses in the trial. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
A large oil slick 200 metres long and ten metres wide appeared on the surface of the river Vltava on Sunday morning. Fire-fighters soon arrived on the scene and used special equipment to absorb the slick. The work, which began at around 9am took several hours to complete. The source of the oil slick remains unknown and police have promised a full investigation. No oil pipe-lines are believed to be in the area, leading some to speculate that a leak from a damaged boat sailing on the river is the likeliest cause.
Senior Social Democrat MP Michal Hašek has stated that should a planned post-election vote of no confidence in the current coalition government succeed, his party would expect a caretaker government through its impending EU chairmanship. The comments were made on the Czech television station Prima on Sunday morning. The Social Democrats are largely convinced that upcoming gains in local elections will give them an effective mandate to bring down the current coalition government.
A crater formed in Prague’s Stromovka park on Sunday morning above the location of a tunnel being dug under the surface. The twenty metre crater formed on a grassy area of the park in northern Prague, and there have been no reports of any injuries. A similar crater formed in a different area of the park in April of this year. A 21 billion crown road tunnel is being built underground in this area, and workers from Metrostav, a company involved in the construction soon sealed off the area above ground where the earth collapsed. The planned tunnel is scheduled to be completed in 2011.
Farmers in the Czech Republic have called off a planned nationwide blockade of roads after reaching an agreement with the Prime Minister over financial subsidies to the industry. The breakthrough came after a meeting on Saturday between representatives of the Agrarian Chamber and the government. During the meeting, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek offered that the government would make up for a planned four billion crown shortfall in the Agriculture Ministry’s budget. The original protest action was called after the Agrarian Chamber sought an additional 2.8 billion crowns in direct payments, something which the government initially refused. The Agrarian Chamber argued that these subsidies, which are at 90% of levels in surrounding countries, were essential to the survival of farming in the Czech Republic. Monday’s planned protest, would have seen farming vehicles coming to a halt on roads (though not motorways) across the country.
A number of labour unions in the Czech Republic have announced a strike over working conditions in the retail giant Tesco. Specifically, the unions believe that Tesco stores are being under-staffed leaving employees chronically overworked. They say that with the upcoming Christmas season, the situation is expected to get worse. Tesco Stores have defended themselves saying that the striking unions represent only a small fraction of its total 13,700 employees.
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