The last regular session of the lower house ahead of May’s general elections should be held on May 18. On the agenda is a bill recently vetoed by President Klaus which would raise maternity benefits to 2009 levels, a controversial-anti-corruption package which left-wing parties have been trying to push through and which right wing parties oppose on the grounds that it has been poorly drafted, and a bill which would enable the president to be elected in a direct vote. Of those, the bill on maternity benefits stands the highest chance of gaining approval, in which case the presidential veto would be overturned. Any bills that are not passed in three readings by the lower house by May 18th will simply fall under the table.
Police in Louisiana have arrested two Czechs, one of them a man wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant. Originally the men were detained because their visas had expired, but after conducting a search the police found false identity papers and child pornography on their laptops. One of the men is wanted for fraud in the Czech Republic, while the other has a criminal record here, having served a ten-month sentence for spreading child pornography a few years ago. Both remain in custody.
The Christian Democratic Party has criticized the Education Ministry for an internet guide that provides guidelines on how to teach sex education in schools. The party’s deputy leader, Michaela Sojdrova, says that the guidelines, written by two prominent Czech sex-therapists, are too clinical in their approach to problems such as unwanted pregnancies, STDs, different sexual orientations and sex deviations. The Christian Democrats want the guidelines revised and are pushing for girls and boys to be instructed on the subject separately.
The Czech Republic does not fulfill the conditions necessary to adopt the euro, the European Commission stated in its Convergence Report published on Wednesday. The commission criticized the Czech government’s fiscal ambitions, stating that planned measures to reduce the state budget deficit in 2011 and 2012 were insufficient and too unspecific. Wednesday’s report evaluated the fiscal situation of nine countries that are hoping to adopt the euro. Of the nine countries, the only one to fulfill all conditions is Estonia, which the European Commission believes could join the euro zone in 2011.
The city police of Prague celebrated its 18th anniversary on Prague’s Old Town Square on Wednesday. Selected police officers were given awards for their work performance. Visitors also had a chance to see antique and modern police cars on display along with an exhibition about the history of the city police. Hundreds of Prague residents and tourists visited the celebration, which will continue on Saturday in Prague’s Stromovka park. The city police of Prague was established in 1992. Over 2500 officers work for the force.
Public service broadcasters in the Czech Republic have begun airing party advertisements on Wednesday, just over two weeks before general elections. The ads will appear on Czech Television at 2 pm every day, while Czech Radio will broadcast spots at different times on three of its stations. Twenty-six parties are contesting elections on May 28 and 29. The Social Democrats are favorites to come first, while opinion polls suggest that two or more new parties could reach the five-percent threshold needed to enter the Chamber of Deputies
The leader of the Green Party, Ondřej Liška, has called on the state-owned energy company ČEZ to publish information about its suppliers and its foreign acquisitions. Mr. Liška said on Wednesday that he suspects the company of inefficient management. In an open letter to ČEZ’s general director, Martin Roman, Mr. Liška asked that the requested information about CEZ’s financial operations be made public by May 25, before the upcoming general elections. According to the Green Party, ČEZ has become a center of power that is beyond the control of the government.
The Czech brewing company Plzeňský Prazdroj has opened its first Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant outside of the Czech Republic, in the German city of Düsseldorf. A spokesman for the company said on Monday that projected beer sales for the restaurant are about 50,00 liters of beer a year. The restaurant will feature self-service taps, along with offering traditional Czech fare. In the Czech Republic, Plzeňský Prazdroj has 19 original restaurants in nine different cities.
Customs police confiscated five specimens of an extremely rare parrot, the protected palm cockatoo breed, estimated to be worth a million Czech crowns, late on Tuesday night. Officers found the birds in the trunk of a car when they were performing a routine check. The driver was returning from Slovakia to the Czech Republic via the D2 motorway, he was stopped near the south Moravian town of Břeclav. The man denied that he was smuggling the birds. Transporting palm cockatoos across borders without any documentation is in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The Czech Environmental Inspectorate and customs police are investigating the case.
According to information released by the Ombudsman’s Office on Wednesday, a requiem mass will be held for the late Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl in the Moravian city of Brno on Monday. A commemorative gathering is also scheduled to take place in Brno that day. It will highlight the late ombudsman’s role in forming the Supreme Court, located in Brno. Mr. Motejl, who died at the age of 77 last Sunday, will be buried with state honors in Prague on Monday. Prague’s Divadlo na Fidlovačce theater will hold a special service for him as well. Mr. Motejl was the Czech Republic’s first Ombudsman and a highly respected public figure.
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