The leader of the opposition party Public Affairs Radek John has come under fire from all sides over his decision to return to journalism while keeping his seat in the lower house. Mr. John announced on Wednesday that as of November 1st he will head the current affairs department of the Empresa Media publishing company that among others issues the Tyden weekly. Mr. John said he would vacate the post of party chairman but would not give up his seat in the lower house. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said Mr. John should make up his mind whether he wanted to be a politician or journalist because engaging in both went against the principle of independent journalism. Opposition leader Bohuslav Sobotka has also slammed the decision saying it was clearly a conflict of interests. The head of the TOP 09 party’s deputies club Petr Gazdík has called on Mr. John to resign from Parliament’s security committee and give up his seat in the lower house.
The leadership of the opposition party Public Affairs has expelled one of its parliament deputies, Milan Štoviček, for consistently breaking party ranks and voting with the government. According to party deputy chairman Tomas Jarolim Mr. Štoviček had received several warnings and the decision to expel him was unanimous. Public Affairs was originally a coalition party member, but eventually split up with the core of the party going into the opposition and a grouping around deputy prime minister Karolina Peake remaining in government.
The Czech central bank on Thursday cut its key interest rate to 0.05 percent – a new record low since the country was formed in 1993 after the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The central bank had last cut the rate in September to 0.25 percent, the previous record low. Thursday's move was expected by analysts and is aimed at boosting the economy.
The Czech state budget showed a 51.31 billion crown deficit at the end of October, down from a 71.4 billion crown deficit in September, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. A year on year comparison shows that the budget was 40 billion crowns higher in October of last year. The Finance Ministry says growth in revenues from VAT has been slower than anticipated. The Czech government has approved extensive spending cuts and is trying to push through a package of tax hikes for 2013 in view of lowering the gap in public spending to below 3% of gross domestic product by the end of next year.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)has called on the Czech government to ensure better protection of the Šumava National Park and make sure that the park’s management fully adheres to international environment protection norms, Friends of the Earth activists told the CTK news agency on Thursday The IUCN has reportedly warned that the Šumava National Park is under close scrutiny and if this is not done Šumava could lose its internationally acknowledged status of a national park. In a letter to the park’s management the IUCN has allegedly criticised the size of the no-human-intervention zone within the total area of the park. The park’s management has said it is not possible to increase the no-intervention zone in view of 22 inhabited localities nearby.
President Klaus has said he will not attend the weekend conference of the Civic Democratic Party nor presume to advise the party on how best to resolve the ongoing crisis. Mr. Klaus who founded the party but later left it over ideological differences with the new leadership said it was no longer his party or his conference. In connection with the rebellion in the party there had been speculation that some Civic Democrat members want Mr. Klaus back as party leader.
A 53-year-old man died of methanol poisoning in the north-east of the country on Wednesday night, a police spokeswoman said. The man became the 31st victim of the outbreak of methanol poisonings in the country. Another two people have been hospitalized with methanol intoxication, one of them is in critical condition. Although the government has taken measures to protect consumers from the dangerous bootleg liquor, experts say isolated cases of methanol poisonings could continue for several more months.
The former Czech prime minister Miloš Zeman on Thursday officially registered as a candidate in the 2013 presidential elections after collecting more than 105,000 signatures in support of his bid. Miloš Zeman, who was prime minister for the Social Democrats in 1998-2002, ran for office in 2003 but lost to his main rival the incumbent president Vaclav Klaus. The first direct presidential elections are scheduled for January 11-12, 2013.
A Catholic charity organization (ACHO) in Olomouc has invited Czechs to buy Christmas gifts for orphans in Ukraine. The charity has been involved in this project since 2008. It gets a list of children from several orphanages with details regarding their age, dress size and interests. People who want to give Christmas presents to a child who may never have received one in their lives, are requested to bring a Christmas package to the tune of 1,000 crowns to the charity organization by December 13th.
A fourteen-year-old-boy is reported to have committed suicide with his father’s hunting rifle. The boy was reportedly stressed out over poor school grades. The boy’s school master has rejected speculation that bullying may have been behind the suicide. At the family’s request the police are not disclosing any details.
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