The Czech Statistical Office on Friday upped its calculation both of the country’s GDP and the public deficit for 2010. The office added an extra 107.8 billion crowns to the country’s Gross Domestic Production bringing the figure to 3,775.2 billion. The revision means that the Czech economy grew by 2.7 percent last year as compared to the originally posted 2.3 percent. The statistical office also revised last year’s public finance deficit to 182.7 billion crowns. This translates into a debt ratio of 4.84 percent of debt compared with GDP as opposed to an earlier 4.71 percent.
Nuclear safety experts say the radioactive object found buried in a Prague playground this week did not pose a significant risk to human health. Experts studying the object say it appears to have been a radium tube, something akin to a radium needle used in medicine. The object is likely to have been buried in the ground for several decades, most likely from the first half of the 20th century. The object was uncovered thanks to a man wearing a wristwatch with a radiation measuring device who raised the alarm.
Three Czech citizens have been killed and another badly injured in a car accident in Nicaragua, according to the local daily La Prensa. The Czechs were travelling to the port city of Leon when their car collided head on with an oncoming lorry. The twenty-one-year-old driver who alone survived the accident is reported to be in serious condition in hospital.
Experts searching for the source of increased radiation at a children’s playground in Prague’s Podolí district have unearthed a small metal rod. The object has been sent to a laboratory for tests. Dana Drábová, head of the country’s Nuclear Safety Institute confirmed earlier on Thursday that radiation levels in the area were over a thousand times higher than the permitted level. Police closed off the area late on Wednesday after a man wearing a wristwatch with a radiation measuring device raised the alarm. Experts say the source of radiation could be radium 226 isotopes used in the manufacture of certain medical equipment such as radium needles.
A Roma activist has said the minority needs to establish its own party to influence developments in the regions. Čenek Ružička, chairman of the Romani Holocaust Compensation Committee, said he did not trust existing parties to defend Romany rights and argued that the situation would not improve until the Roma had their own representatives in local and national government. He said this would have to be done step by step, with the initial objective being to form a movement. The proposal comes amidst heightened tension between the majority population and the Roma minority in the north of the country where ethnic Czechs blame the Roma for a rise in crime and petty theft. Anti-Roma demonstrations have been taking place on a weekly basis.
Czech Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa and his visiting Polish counterpart Andrzej Kraszewski have signed a memorandum on reducing air pollution in the border regions. According to EU statistics, the air in Silesia’s border region is one of the most polluted on the continent, with air pollution limits exceeded nearly three times. The Czech Republic and Poland are developing a joint system for monitoring pollutants. The system will monitor primarily dust particles, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and selected organic substances that pose a risk to human health.
Deputy Social Democrat leader Jiří Dienstbier has climber to the top of the popularity ladder of Czech politicians, ousting his party boss Bohuslav Sobotka, who reigned unchallenged for over a year. Mr. Dienstbier got a 55 percent trust rating from the public, followed by Bohuslav Sobotka and another Social Democrat deputy chairman Michal Hašek. Miroslava Němcová, deputy chair of the Civic Democrats, placed fourth with a 47 percent trust rating. Prime Minister Petr Nečas is in tenth place with 36 percent.
A Swiss court has upheld an extradition order for fugitive Czech businessman Tomas Pitr. The decision is final. Pitr has been on the run since June 2007, when he didn't report to prison for a five-year sentence for tax fraud to the tune of 51 million crowns. Earlier this year, he faced a second, separate conviction for securities fraud, receiving a three-year sentence. Swiss police detained Pitr in July of last year in the resort town of St. Moritz. Pitr had contested the extradition order of the Swiss Justice ministry.
President Klaus has signed into law the first phase of the government’s health reform. The bill will introduce direct payments for above standard health care, increase the fee for a day in hospital from the present 60 to 100 crowns and increase patients’ financial participation in other ways. For instance drugs costing less than 50 crowns will no longer be covered by health insurance. It is estimated that the reform will enable the state to collect approximately 8 billion crowns more next year. The reform has come under fire from the opposition which argues that it will create a two-tier system of health care and disadvantage the socially weaker groups of the population.
Three employees were injured in an acetylene explosion in a factory near Brno on Thursday. The men were cleaning a tank when the explosion happened and all three suffered severe burns. One of them suffered lung damage from inhaling the fumes and is on a ventilator in an induced coma. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
Czech Republic bracing for wind storm Sabine
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery