Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg struck back at German criticism of the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant in Monday’s issue of Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Mr Schwarzenberg wrote that while other European states use nuclear power, he knows of no other case in which a neighbour comes under such a strong pressure to abandon it. The Czech Republic, he said, respects Germany´s decision to substitute nuclear energy with renewable sources, in spite of the fact that that decision overburdens the Czech distribution network. Temelín is to be completed by 2025. French, Russian and U.S. firms have shown interest in the huge order.
A 30-year-old woman died on Monday from injuries sustained in the crash of a military training jet the day before in the region of Ustí nad Labem. The woman was apparently an acquaintance of the pilot, who died on impact, and had been given the flight as a birthday present. The L-29 Delfín belonged to the company Aviation Technologies and Services, which uses the aircraft for training and show purposes and hires them out to adventure companies. The plane was reportedly equipped with ejection seats but had them deactivated due to regulations. Police are investigating the cause of the crash.
A parliamentary commission dealing with midwifery has given preliminary approval to the establishment of birth centres. According to Czech Television, officials will establish rules for the running of such centres during the summer, such as clear regulations for the training of midwifes. The birth centres should for the most part be a part of hospitals. The decision does not clarify the situation with home births. A regulation passed this spring requires midwifes to adhere to strict conditions under a threat of penalties of up to a million crowns; midwifes themselves however have said that the conditions are impossible to meet.
Growth in consumer prices slowed to 3.2% in May from April´s 3.5% and was the lowest this year, the Czech Statistical Office has announced. Compared with April, prices overall rose by 0.2% due to higher food prices. Analysts estimated the year-on-year fall in inflation at 3%. The deceleration in the year-on-year price growth came from prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages, where the price growth of bread and cereals slowed down to 2.1% from April´s 10%. Prices of eggs were 57% higher (almost 63% higher in April). Fuel prices increased by 5.7%, while in April they rose by 7.6%.
Photos of MP David Rath in prison were leaked to the media by a prison officer. The Security Inspectorate found that the tabloid Blesk had paid the officer 5,000 crowns in exchange for the pictures. Another prison worker has been accused of collecting personal information on the other people involved in Mr Rath’s case. The men were identified with the help of the company that secures the prison’s information and were arrested at the weekend in a confidential raid. David Rath, formerly the governor of Central Bohemia, has been in prison for the last several weeks since being caught receiving what police believe was a seven-million crown bribe.
The Czech-Irish singer pair Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard have received a total of eight Tony awards for a musical adaptation of their Oscar-winning movie Once. The duo was nominated in a total of eleven categories of the prestigious theater award. Among the categories they won was “best musical”. In addition, the musical adaptation of Once also won prizes in the set design, sound design and lighting categories.
Representatives of the Roma minority met with Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Monday to discuss ways to improve ethnic relations. The leaders of the Nationwide Association of Roma, which was created late last year, hope to find more effective solutions to the community’s problems, which many say are worsening in spite of investments. The association requested of Mr Nečas that the government establish a Roma representative to the cabinet that would not be a minister but not be without authority. The Prime Minister told a press conference afterwards that the idea was woth considering.
Firemen were called to the main building of the Czech Parliament on Monday after a room filled with smoke. Rescue services reached the fire via Thunovská St. only a few minutes after automatic alarms sounded, just before 5 p.m., and found no flames. The smoke had apparently been caused by a equipment from Czech Television overheating in one of the electrical rooms. No one was injured. In 2006, four cars caught fire in an underground parliamentary garage due to an electrical malfunction.
Health Minister Leoš Heger wants comprehensive spa care to be covered only for serious diagnoses, such as strokes or hip replacements, in whjich cases insurance companies would pay for treatments and accommodation. Under the minister’s plan, insurance companies would not pay for spa visits after gall bladder operations for example. Speaking at the Žofín Forum, which is dealing with Czech health care reform, Mr Heger said that he did not believe that spas would lose patients, as they would be able to arrange insurance coverage as is the case with rehabilitation institutes. The association of therapeutic spas however says it will decrease the number of patients by another 30% because of the plan, which will mean closing certain facilities.
Czechs ordered and paid for government savings bonds worth 15.3 billion in the spring bond issue, the Finance Ministry told the Czech Press Agency on Monday. The total volume of orders reached 15.9 billion at the end of May. The ministry says it considers the issue a success, adding that it plans another one in autumn. The Finance Ministry plans to borrow over 243 billion this year, in line with the state debt financing and management strategy for 2012. The sum includes the spring and autumn issues of saving bonds. According to preliminary data, investors showed the greatest interest in the 1.5-year discount bond. In autumn of last year, investors ordered saving bonds worth more than Kc20bn.
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