After a five year trial period, Czech public television, commercial TV Nova and Czech public radio have launched digital broadcasts. In the first phase of going digital, digital broadcasts should be accessible to an estimated 19 percent of Czechs, that's over one million people, on 13 percent of Czech territory. By next spring digital broadcasts should be available to viewers and listeners in Brno and Ostrava.
Some Czechs have started destroying the nests of migrating birds such as swallows and house martins for fear that they could spread the lethal strain of bird flu. The Czech Ornithology Society has attempted to curb the panic saying that these birds do not present a significant risk in transmitting the disease. Like other European states the Czech Republic has taken a series of preventive measures including a ban on imports of poultry from high risk countries, a ban on outdoor breeding for breeding farms and small breeders, as well as a ban on all exhibitions and sales fairs of birds and poultry.
Sixteen black buck antelopes died in a fire that broke out overnight at a zoo in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen. The fire killed the whole breeding herd, apart from one animal that had been kept in a separate sty. It was the biggest herd of black antelopes in the country. A spokesman for the zoo said the fire may have been caused by a fault in the heating system. Police are still investigating the cause.
The clash of wills between the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and
President Vaclav Klaus over who should head the Czech Health Ministry
continues. President Klaus refused to appoint the Prime Minister's nominee
David Rath on Thursday, citing conflict of interest since Mr. Rath heads of
the main doctors' association, the Czech Medical Chamber.
The Prime Minister first sought a way around the rejection, appointing Mr.
Rath deputy health minister. On Friday he re-nominated him for the post of
health minister, threatening legal action to push the appointment through.
Meanwhile, the Czech Medical Chamber has said it will amend its statutes to allow Mr. Rath to suspend his chairmanship temporarily.
The Social Democrats, the senior party in the ruling coalition, have rejected claims by a fugitive billionaire that the party received a large sum of money in return for special favours. Czech-born Radovan Krejcir says he loaned the Social Democrats 60 million crowns (some 2.5 million US dollars) back in 2002. Earlier this year, he fled to the Seychelles as he is wanted in the Czech Republic on a number of charges including tax evasion and conspiracy to murder. The Social Democrats, who take credit for Mr Krejcir's prosecution, say the allegations are a clear act of revenge ahead of the general elections.
The Czech Army has dispatched a plane carrying a vaccine against the common flu to Kosovo. As Macedonia awaits the results of tests on what could be its first case of bird flu, the Czech Army has decided to vaccinate its soldiers stationed in neighbouring Kosovo. Some 500 Czech soldiers currently serving in the KFOR mission in the south-Serbian province should be getting their shots in the next few days.
The Ceska Sporitelna bank has issued a report which foresees the country will not be able to adopt the Euro before 2013. It furthermore expects a rate of 25,50 crowns to the euro; the current rate stands at a little under 30 crowns. The Czech government has been working with a plan that sees the adoption of the single European currency three years earlier, by 2010 at the latest. The bank report also says Slovakia is the only member of the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, whose planned date - 2009 - is realistic.
President Vaclav Klaus has refused to name David Rath health minister. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek proposed Mr Rath's appointment on Thursday morning. In a letter to the prime minister, president Klaus writes that Mr Rath still heads the professional chamber representing doctors and could face a conflict of interests. Mr Rath has not commented on the news but has already stated many times in the past that he would be willing to resign from his current post if he were elected Milada Emmerova's replacement. She was sacked as health minister last week.
The Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry says Iran has not confirmed reports of an imposed trade embargo on the Czech Republic. According to the Iranian and South Korean press, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Argentina, and Britain are to be punished with embargos as they have been critical of the Iranian nuclear programme. Iranian charge d'affaires Said Hoseyn Rezvani has assured the Czech Trade and Industry Ministry that Czech firms exporting to Iran have nothing to worry about. In the first eight months of this year, exports to Iran have totalled some 86.4 million US dollars.
Police say they have arrested a man suspected to have murdered three people last week. The 28-year old man has been charged with murder, while his motive has yet to be determined. An elderly couple collecting wood in a forest near Brno was shot last Thursday. His other victim is believed to be an electrician from the town of Kladno, near Prague, who was shot three days later, as he was walking his dog.