The new government is planning to amend its programme statement to take on board comments from union leaders and employers, the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said after a tripartite meeting with both groups on Tuesday. Following the talks, the president of the Confederation of Industry, Jaroslav Hanák, said it was still unclear how the coalition aimed to finance its plans. The cabinet aims to approve its programme on Wednesday before seeking confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on February 18.
Olomouc’s Palacký University is planning to boost its international activities in the coming years, its new rector Jaroslav Miller said on Tuesday. Mr. Miller said the university was considering setting up offices in places such as Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Ukraine with a view to attracting a higher number of overseas students. At present it has a total of 23,000 students, of whom 5,000 are not Czech.
Shirley Temple Black, a former child star who became US ambassador to Czechoslovakia, has died at the age of 85. The diplomat was appointed by President George Bush senior in 1989 and held the post during that year’s Velvet Revolution. She remained in Prague until 1993, by which time Czechoslovakia had split. Temple Black is credited with helping create strong Czechoslovak-US ties in a period of transition.
Michal Hašek and three other regional governors from the Social Democrats who also have seats in the lower house are calling for government ministers not to be allowed to simultaneously hold the position of parliamentary deputy. The four said on Tuesday that they would table a bill to that effect by the end of next month. Their move comes in response an ultimatum from the Social Democrats for Mr. Hašek and the others to either stand down as governors or quit the lower house. Mr. Hašek failed in a bid to remove now PM Bohuslav Sobotka as party leader immediately after elections in October.
The leading Czech women’s competitor in the biathlon, Gabriela Soukalová, came fourth in the 10km pursuit event at the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi on Tuesday. Soukalová narrowly missed out on bronze and fourth place is regarded as quite an achievement for the athlete, with no Czech woman having ever taken an Olympic medal in biathlon. The country’s men had not done so until Sochi, where Jaroslav Soukup has taken bronze in the sprint and Ondřej Moravec silver in the pursuit. The only other Czech to win a medal so far in Sochi has been speed skater Martina Sáblíková, who took silver in the 3000m.
Officials say the Czech Republic’s highest mountain, Snežka, is slightly higher than previously believed. The mountain, in the Krkonoše range in north-eastern Bohemia, is given on maps as being 1,602 metres above sea level. However, that is the height of a triangulation station on Snežka; a land surveyor recently discovered that the highest point on the mountain is actually 1,603.3 metres above sea level, a spokesperson for the Krkonoše National Park Administration said on Tuesday.
The civic group Žít Brno have announced plans to stand in local elections in the Moravian capital in March. The activists gained a national profile after launching a website parodying Brno City Hall. A leading member, Matěj Hollan, told journalists on Tuesday that they were standing in response to the recent removal of their Facebook page on the orders of Mayor Roman Onderka, a frequent target of their criticism. Mr. Hollan said Žít Brno would campaign under the slogan “It can’t be done any worse”.
The Chamber of Deputies has rejected a Communist Party bill that would have brought to an end a law barring those who collaborated with the secret police under communism from holding high office. The smallest party in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats, had threatened to quit the government if the legislation reached a second reading. In the end some 121 of the 167 MPs present in the lower house voted against the motion. The so-called lustration law was introduced in the early 1990s and requires aspirants to important posts to get a security clearing.
Some 70 percent of calls to the Czech Republic’s integrated emergency services number, 112, constitute misuse of the system, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. In Prague that figure is up to 90 percent. The 112 number, which was introduced in 1996, is called every eight seconds, with fire officers, ambulances or police patrols being sent into the field every three minutes. The integrated number is slightly slower than those for individual services, as it involves re-direction by operators.
The renowned British Czech Studies expert Dr. James Naughton died last weekend, the UK-based website Britské listy reported. A lecturer in Czech language, history and literature at Oxford University from the 1980s on, he was also the author of Colloquial Czech, which is regarded as one of the most useful books for learners of the language. Naughton also translated important works of Czech literature, including books by Bohumil Hrabal.
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