Around a hundred doctors from the region of Ústí nad Labem in North Bohemia have called on the government to carefully consider the easing of existing limits on brown coal mining in the region. In an open letter presented in the Senate on Wednesday, the doctors argue that relaxing of brown coal mining limits would have a negative impact on local people’s health. According to one of the petition’s initiators, Petr Končel, the limits were introduced because of the alarming condition of local inhabitants, who frequently suffer from respiratory problems and other diseases. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been considering abandoning the limits at the Bílina mine as soon as this year.
Some 7,000 women in the Czech Republic are victims of rape every year, suggests a study conducted by Focus agency, commissioned by the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International. According to the study, only about 20 percent of the perpetrators are complete strangers to the victims and only two percent of the rapists are punished by courts. The study also suggests that nine out of ten women raped do not report the offence.
The government on Wednesday approved an amendment to the School Act. Among other things, the draft legislation prolongs compulsory education from nine to ten years, by making the final year of preschool compulsory. It also introduces unified entrance exams to most secondary schools and introduces mathematics as a compulsory subject in school leaving exams in certain secondary schools as of 2021.
The decision by EU interior ministers to allocate migrants to individual member states based on mandatory quotas is binding for the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after the government’s meeting on Wednesday, adding that the decision was a result of a naïve approach to the solution of the migrant crisis. The Czech Prime Minister said he won’t oppose the decision at the EU summit meeting on Wednesday evening, because there was no sense in escalating the tension in the European Union, adding that Europe must not disintegrate over the solution to the migrant crisis.
The Volkswagen diesel emission scandal over illegal software cheating emission tests is likely to hit Czech drivers as well. The Czech carmaker Škoda has confirmed that the device was fitted into some of its models, namely the Fabia, Roomster, Octavia and Superb manufactured between from 2009 until 2013. A spokesman for Skoda said the company was currently assessing the number of cars affected. The US Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday that Volkswagen had installed the illegal software to allow its diesel cars to produce up to 40 times more pollution than allowed. The US government has ordered VW to recall nearly 500,000 VW and Audi cars produced since 2009.
ANO party deputy leader Radmila Kleslová resigned from her post on Tuesday, saying that she had made the decision due to growing pressure from the media. Earlier this month, the news site neovlivni.cz revealed that Ms Kleslová has made a lucrative deal with the state controlled company ČEZ, receiving 100,000 crowns. According to the former deputy Finance Minister, Lukáš Wagenknecht, who revealed the information, he was pressed by Mrs Kleslová not to investigate the matter any further.
The government has approved the draft of the state budget for 2016, with a deficit of 70 billion crowns, the government’s spokesman Martin Ayrer told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. The proposal envisages a wage hike for firefighters, teachers, policemen and health workers, as well as extra expenditures connected to the current influx of migrants. The draft will now be discussed by the lower house.
The Czech Republic will meet the commitments resulting from Tuesday’s EU agreement on the migrant crisis, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Wednesday. Mr. Zaoralek said a common strategy by the European Union was the only possible solution to the migrant crisis, but he warned that neither the EU nor the Czech Republic can accept an unlimited number of refugees and the quotas might mean that the Czechs would be obliged to accept tens of thousands of refugees or pay a fine.
The first passengers on a new direct Beijing to Prague air route arrived in the Czech capital on Wednesday morning. The flights, operated by the Chinese company Hainan Airlines, have made connections between the two states less expensive with the cheapest return tickets going for around CZK 12,500. Previously all air travel between the two capitals involved transfers.
President Miloš Zeman's chancellor Vratislav Mynář has failed to receive the top-level security clearance he needs to perform some of his functions, the newspaper Právo reported on Wednesday. The head of the National Security Authority, which carries out such checks, has twice met with Mr. Zeman to discuss why it had rejected his application in recent days, the daily said. In the past the president said Mr. Mynář, who applied for clearance in December 2013, could not remain in the post if he failed to receive it.
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