The National Reference Laboratory has denied media reports claiming that a Czech woman had been diagnosed with the human form of BSE, also known as mad cow disease. The laboratory said that in actual fact the 60-year-old woman had been diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacobs Disease which appears in a random occurrence, and has no known genetic or environmental cause. Sporadic CJD chiefly affects people between 50 and 75 years of age and can be mistaken for senility.
An opinion survey conducted in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO indicates that 76 percent of Czechs approve of the country’s membership in the alliance. The majority of Czechs see NATO membership as the best possible security guarantee the country can have. Those against are mainly older people and Communist Party supporters.
A Czech police officer is running for the extreme-right National Party in the June elections to the European Parliament, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. A spokesman for the police said that his superiors were aware of the fact and did not consider it a problem since the officer was not actually a member of the National Party. The officer, Jaroslav Bernásek, said he had been offered the chance to run and was not remotely interested in the party’s ideology. He denied that his candidacy was in conflict with his profession.
The Czech EU presidency on Tuesday helped broker a long-sought deal on reduced sales tax on certain services in the EU, as Germany yielded to French pressure to allow less tax to be charged in restaurants. The issue of whether EU countries can apply reduced value added tax rates for specific labour-intensive industries has been one of the longest running unsettled dossiers in Brussels. In the latest effort to break the deadlock, the European Union's Czech presidency put a compromise proposal on the table for the finance ministers' meeting, which was then heavily revised before an agreement could be reached. In addition to including restaurants on the reduced VAT list, the deal dropped a 2010 deadline for the expiration of current exemptions on window-washing, hair-dressing, building renovations and bicycle and home repairs.
A regional court has ruled that Třebíč Hospital was fully entitled to sack the nurse who was responsible for a highly publicized swap of two baby girls in 2006. The swap was uncovered nine months later when one of the girl’s fathers asked for a DNA test. The court ruled that although there was no evidence to suggest that the nurse in question actually swapped the babies, her negligence in performing her duties led to the fact that the mix-up was not uncovered immediately. The nurse had protested against her dismissal, saying she had been selected as a scapegoat by the hospital management which had irreparably damaged her reputation.
The Green Party of the Czech governing coalition is facing a wave of resignations by rank-and-file members who are dissatisfied with the party leadership. Close to half of the party’s registered members have left the Greens in the wake of a stormy confrontation between its leadership and an opposition fraction over the weekend. Four members were expelled for openly opposing the leadership, triggering calls for a new party which would be more active in support of Green issues. The Interior Ministry has confirmed that it received an official request for the registration of a new Green party with a thousand signatures from potential members. Dana Kuchtová, one of the four expelled rebels, has distanced herself from the initiative, saying there was not enough room for two Green parties on the Czech political scene.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has backed Switzerland in a row with other European countries over Swiss banking secrecy, the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported. Mr Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the presidency of the European Union, said a couple of million euros certainly escaped one tax coffer or another, but he said the country’s independence and the tradition of an autonomous and neutral Switzerland’s had a greater value. Due to the financial crisis France and Germany have proposed new measures against non-cooperative tax centres and have demanded new criteria to determine whether Switzerland should be added to the list, Reuters reported.
The Karamazovs was the big winner at the Czech Republic’s main film awards the Czech Lions on Saturday night. The movie, about the staging of an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, took the prize for best picture, along with best director for Petr Zelenka. In other categories, Karel Roden was named best actor for his role in Guard No. 47, while Zuzana Bydžovská was named best actress for her part in The Country Teacher. Citizen Havel by Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek received the best documentary award.
The Czech Republic should buy Gripen fighter planes it is currently leasing after the lease contract expires in 2014, the Czech minister of defence, Vlasta Parkanová, said on a TV debate programme on Sunday. She said the matter ought to be resolved during the lifetime of the current government, but refused to speculate on a possible price for the aircraft. The Gripens, made by Saab and BAE, will be used in a foreign mission for the first time later this year when they guard airspace over the Baltic states. The Czech government had decided to buy 14 of the planes but later leased them due to a budget shortfall in the wake of flooding in 2002.
A man shot dead his former girlfriend, her parents and another man at a family celebration in a restaurant in Petřvald, north Moravia on Saturday night, a police spokesperson said. The assailant then turned his gun on himself and is now in hospital in a serious condition. Police said the man, who is 41 and believed to be from the former Yugoslavia, immediately started shooting as soon as he arrived in the restaurant at around 1 am.
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