A new poll conducted in Brussels by the Czech news agency has suggested that a majority of the 22 Czech members of the European Parliament will not back the new European Commission next week. All nine MEPs for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, and four Communist MEPs, suggested that the new commission and its policies would not gain their support; the Civic Democrats, Jan Zahradil said, are likely to abstain. Czech Christian and Social Democrats MEPs, meanwhile, have said they will vote in favour. The new commission, headed by Jose Manuel Barroso, is expected to pass easily overall. In the EC, the Czech Republic will be represented by Stefan Fuele in the post of EU Enlargement Commissioner.
Security was heightened at the office of the government on Friday after a man walked in trying to gain access to the prime minister. The news site Novinky.cz was the first to report the story, saying that the man, whose identity remains unknown, threatened he would kill Justice Minister Dana Kovářova, after he was turned away at the office of the government lobby. Neither the prime minister nor the justice minister were in the building at the time of the incident. The head of police security at the office of the government said that the individual slipped away before he could be arrested. But the police are confidant that the man will be apprehended as he was caught on security camera. Security at the justice ministry was also raised as a result of the incident; the justice minister - currently on holiday abroad - was informed of the developments.
A 69-year-old Czech woman in Tanvald, near Jablonec, survived a 10-story fall from her window on Friday morning. The accident happened when the woman apparently fainted in her apartment. The authorities said the woman was saved by more than a metre-and-a-half of snow outside of her building, which cushioned her landing. The fall, said a police representative, would otherwise almost certainly have proven fatal. The senior underwent a number of medical examinations which revealed no external or internal injuries.
More than 24,000 Czech drivers had their licences revoked last year due to frequent offences, the daily Právo reported on Friday. They amassed 12 or more penal points; under the drivers point system introduced in 2006, they are automatically banned from driving for one year. More than 95 percent of the offenders were men, the daily said. Another 4,000 drivers are just a point short of having their licences revoked.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has reported a worsening of atmospheric conditions in parts of Moravia, roughly a week after it issued it’s first-ever smog alert, which required local industry to scale back production. On Friday poisonous emissions in areas reached more than five times the allowed limit of 50 micrograms per cubic metre. One region the hardest hit is that of Karviná, home to steel giant ArcelorMittal Ostrava, one of the chief polluters in the region, the Czech news agency ČTK reported. The higher concentration of particulate in the air can lead to health complications, including a worsening of conditions such as asthma.
A rescue team in the area of Zlín, Moravia, was called out on Thursday evening to try and locate a father and his 8-month old twins who got lost while cross-country skiing. The man was pulling his children on the trail in a modified baby carriage. The authorities were alerted to their disappearance by the man’s wife. As soon as he was able to get a signal on his mobile phone in the hilly area, the man contacted the authorities, and the three were successfully located soon afterwards. While the man was reportedly exhausted from his ordeal, his two children slept through the incident unharmed.
The head of the Transport Union, Luboš Pomajbík, has warned that a number of branches of Czech industry could strike anytime after February 22. He made the announcement on Friday after a meeting between several of the country’s unions. Union leaders, including those at Czech Railways, are against new regulations subjecting benefits to the value-added tax. Mr Pomajbík called the new regulations an attack on the unions and suggested that a strike was inevitable, unless the new regulations were struck down. As of January 1 benefits – from employee discounts to the use of company cafeterias - are subject to VAT.
President Václav Klaus has scheduled this year’s national election for May 28-29, the last possible date to hold elections for the next government’s four-year term. The document calling the election signed by Mr Klaus was also signed by the country’s prime minister, Jan Fischer, whose caretaker government has led the country since last year, after the centre-right coalition of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens was toppled in a no-confidence vote. The next government will face tackling the increasing deficit as well as steering the Czech Republic to eventual adoption of the euro. Current polls put the Social Democrats as the front-runners ahead of the election, but no party is expected to win an outright majority.
Czech forward Martin Havlát scored two goals in NHL action on Thursday to
help his team Minnesota defeat the Edmonton Oilers. The final score was
and Havlát was named the game’s first star.
In other action, the New York Rangers’ Václav Prospal racked up four points on the night, scoring twice and earning two assists against Washington. It wasn’t enough for the win, though: Washington edged the Rangers 5:4.
Milan Michálek, who plays for the Ottawa Senators, earned a goal and an assist against Vancouver. The Canucks lost by a score of 3:1.
Crime in the Czech capital rose slightly in 2009, due to an increase in robberies in the city centre, the head of Prague’s police Martin Červíček said on Friday. According to the officer, break-ins at apartments downtown as well as bicycle theft contributed most to the slight bump in numbers: up by around 1,000 cases from the previous year. In 2009, Prague saw a total of around 84,100 cases in all. Police also registered a slight rise in the number of crimes solved: 18.8 percent. Regarding more serious crimes, Prague saw 34 murders last year - 30 of which were solved by police detectives.