FBI agents have arrested a man suspected of robbery and torture in Prague. Hossein Nayeri and three others were charged with kidnapping for ransom, aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary after they allegedly drove the owner of a California medical marijuana dispensary to the dessert last October and brutally tortured him in order to get money from him. One of the suspects was arrested already last year, while two others were arrested on Friday in Fresno. Mr. Nayeri was allegedly transferring flights in Prague on Thursday on his way to see his family in Spain. He will face extradition proceedings in the Czech Republic.
Top Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková took second place in the 3000 meter race at the opening World Cup speed skating event of the season in Calgary, Canada. Sáblíková finished 35 seconds behind the German veteran skater Claudia Pechstein, and 29 seconds ahead the current world champion Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
A nursing secondary school in Prague has forbidden two of its female Muslim students to wear the tradition hijab headdress to class, causing the students to leave the school. One of the students offered to wear the scarf in a way that would only cover her hair, but the school’s principal said that it was still unacceptable. The other student began attending classes without the hijab, but also left the school a few days later. The school said that wearing any headgear is against official policies and that the 23-year-old Somali and the 25-year-old Afghan students had other problems with school rules, which the young women deny. There are currently no laws in the Czech Republic, which concern religious dress in public.
Czech astronomers would like to establish a “dark sky” area near the village of Manětín, in west Bohemia. The area of 315 square kilometres should improve conditions for astronomical observations, and reduce levels of light pollution. The idea has won support from the mayors of eight communities in the area which has one of lowest levels of population density in the country. There are now eight “dark sky” areas in Europe, two of them in the Czech Republic.
The Prague transit authority will on Saturday inaugurate metro carriages designated for singles, the company’s CEO Jaroslav Ďuriš told reporters. The middle carriage on each train running on the metro’s A line will offer single people a chance to chat and meet other singles on Saturdays between 10 AM and 10 PM, Mr Ďuriš said. The carriages will have no special signs; instead, passengers will be informed by boards placed in metro stations. The transit authority, which refers to the cars as “communication carriages”, has backed down on its original plan to designate the carriages strictly for people looking for new partners.
The ANO party, which came second in the Czech general elections last month, will demand the post of the lower house speaker, ANO deputy chair Věra Jourová told reporters on Friday. ANO leaders met with Christian Democrat representatives on Friday to discuss their cooperation in the Chamber of Deputies. Both parties agreed that the number of lower house committees, sub-committees and other bodies should be lowered. The parties also reiterated their positions on the possibility of forming a coalition with the Social Democrats; both parties are determined to either join a coalition government together, or back a Social Democrat minority cabinet.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has charged two people in relation to the controversial project of electronic health records, a spokesman for Prague’s state attorney said. The two people face charges of manipulating public procurement for the project, having allegedly caused damages of 450 million crowns. The project, known as IZIP, was launched in 2008, with the aim of transferring patients’ records into an electronic database. The total costs have reached over two billion crowns but it has been put on hold after very few physicians subscribed to it.
Czech farmers this year harvested just over 637,000 tonnes of potatoes, the lowest yield since the 1920s, the Czech Association of Potato Growers said on Friday. In the 1990s, annual potato harvest exceeded two million tonnes. The historically lowest harvest is attributed to a long-term decrease in the cultivation area which diminished by nearly 11 percent between 2011 and 2012. Farmers now receive between six and seven crowns for one kilo of potatoes while their retail price is about double.
The employees of the mining firm OKD on Friday voted to reject a draft collective agreement and to approve a possibility of going on strike. Some 60 percent of OKD workers took part in the vote, a prerequisite for the firm’s trade unions to declare strike. The north Moravian mining firm, part of the embattled NWR company, has come under pressure due to falling prices of coal. The draft collective agreement included a plant to cut vacation and Christmas bonuses, and conditioned a 4-percent pay rise by meeting the firm’s mining target, among other things. Earlier this year, OKD made some 250 workers redundant; the firm is also planning to close down one of its mine, a move that would cut another 3,000 jobs.
Three senior Social Democratic officials who had attempted to oust party chair Bohuslav Sobotka after disappointing election results have resigned from positions in the party leadership. Michal Hašek and Zdeněk Škromach have stepped down as deputy party chairs while Jeroným Tejc quit as the head of the Social Democrat MPs’ club. The three officials, along with another two senior Social Democrats, attended a secret meeting with President Zeman just hours after the polls closed in the recent general elections, causing a major controversy within the party. A majority of party members have backed Mr. Sobotka, calling for those implicated in the revolt to resign. In a reaction, Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday appreciated his rivals’ decision, and said he saw no reasons for other party officials to quit.
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