President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed the first provision of a package of bills introduced by the government in an effort to reform the public finances. On Wednesday Mr Klaus's office said the president had refused to sign a bill increasing health insurance payments for the self-employed. However, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said he was optimistic that the governing coalition would unite to override the president's veto when the bill comes before the Chamber of Deputies for a second time. Mr Spidla has staked his political future on the financial reforms, which were introduced in reaction to a record budget deficit.
The Czech ambassador to Kuwait, Jana Hybaskova, has sharply criticised the decision to recall a Czech military field hospital from the neighbouring state of Iraq. Speaking in an interview in Wednesday's Mlada fronta Dnes, Ms Hybaskova said the field hospital was pulling out of Basra at the very moment the Czech Republic should be starting to capitalise on all it had invested in Iraq. She said there was a "lack of political will to see things through to the end".
The Environment Ministry has refused permission to the Transport Ministry to build two weirs on the Elbe River in north Bohemia, saying both proposed weirs were in protected areas. However, the ministry's decision could be overruled in a vote in the Chamber of Deputies this week. Under a bill put forward by the former transport minister, Jaromir Schling, the law on the environment would make exceptions for the modernisation of waterways of international importance, meaning the Elbe, the Oder and the Danube. Environmental groups say, however, that the bill would allow for unprecedented devastation of the landscape.
Police in the north Moravian city of Ostrava have arrested a group of seven people accused of smuggling drugs into a local prison. A prisoner serving a seven-year sentence for producing the amphetamine pervitine is accused of selling the drug to other inmates.
Meanwhile, Parliament's constitutional-legal committee has rejected a government proposal to give the Czech Republic's prison service permission to pay informers in order to fight crime in prisons. Neither will the prison service be allowed to keep samples of prisoners' hair and other biological material in a database, even though such a register could lead to a fall in prison crime, the Justice Minister Karel Cermak said on Wednesday.
The mayor of the west Bohemian town of Kocov has been charged with breach of the peace and attacking a public official, after a fight in a local pub on November 15, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday. The mayor, who is 46, is said to have attacked staff and guests at the pub, before turning on police who had been called to the scene. He could face up to three years in prison if found guilty.
Thursday is expected to be cloudy with rain in places. Temperatures should range from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius. There have been warnings of strong gales in some mountainous regions.
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