Deputy Health Minister David Rath has described as "very likely" a
decision to step down as the head of the Czech Doctors' Association on
Tuesday. Until now Mr Rath's position as head of the Doctors'
Association has been a major hurdle preventing his being named health
minister by the country's president. Vaclav Klaus has twice refused to
name Mr Rath to the post, on the grounds his naming would be in clear
conflict of interest.
On Monday, President Klaus dismissed Mr Rath's latest words and any speculation: he indicated he was still awaiting Mr Rath's next move.
Czech filmmaker Jiri Menzel - the director of such films as the Oscar-winning "Closely Watched Trains" - is to attend upcoming screenings of his work in Switzerland. On November 1st Zurich will see a retrospective of the director's work, while Menzel's "Capricious Summer" will be one of the films screened at an international music festival in Basel this week. Mr Menzel who also works in the theatre, directed theatre productions in both Zurich and Basel in the past.
A new poll has suggested that Czech assessment of the functioning of the
government and the Czech Parliament is at its highest since 2003. The
poll, conducted by the STEM agency, found that 43 percent of respondents
were satisfied with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's cabinet while some 36
percent assessed as positive the workings of Parliament. The last time the
Czech government enjoyed similar public support was in the year 2003 but
also the summer of 2002 when the Czech Republic was hit by widespread
The new STEM poll also gauged public support for the country's president, Vaclav Klaus: he was rated positively by some 72 percent of respondents.
The Czech Republic will - with minor exceptions - ban imports of exotic
birds from countries that are not EU members, to reduce the danger of
the spread of bird flu. The Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba said
on Monday that the measure was in harmony with a European Commission
directive. The ban concerns primarily commercial imports, while
individuals will be allowed to bring small number of birds - less than
five - into the country. All these imports will have to be made via
Prague's Ruzyne international airport. Birds will be kept in quarantine
for 30 days or have to be vaccinated or checked for the bird flu virus.
The import restrictions are expected to be kept in place for at least six months.
The Czech Film and Television Academy's Elsa Television Awards were
held at Prague's Lucerna Ballroom on Saturday night. With the exception
of commercial TV Nova's investigative programme Na Vlastni Oci, all
awards went to productions by the public broadcaster Czech TV. Among
Elsa winners were feature film In Nomine Patris (Best Film), actor
Viktor Preiss (Best Actor), actress Vilma Cibulkova (Best Actress),
film director Jaromir Polisensky (Best Director), and screen writer Jan
Drbohlav (Best Screenplay).
The two main commercial stations, TV Nova and TV Prima boycotted the ceremony, protesting against the Film and Television Academy's selection procedure; the Academy had not considered the Czech Pop Idol and reality shows, for example, for awards.
The number of Czechs with diabetes that is caused by excess weight has doubled in the last two decades. Of the country's population of ten million, some 750,000 suffer from "Type 2 diabetes", which is not treated with insulin but rather by dietary changes, exercise, and tablets. Experts warn ever more Czechs are inactive, have a poor diet, and suffer from high blood pressure.
Ten people were injured, one seriously, when a bus carrying Greek tourists collided with a car near Rakovnik, around 50 kilometres west of Prague, on Saturday evening. A woman who suffered life-threatening injuries was airlifted to Prague's Motol hospital. Other injured were taken to a local hospital. Police are investigating the cause of the accident.
The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats will support the government's proposal to lower the income tax. In a TV discussion programme on Sunday, Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty said party deputies will vote in favour of the bill at Tuesday's lower house session. The Civic Democrats have been blocking the proposal as it only affects those with a monthly wage of up to 30,000 Czech crowns (around 1,200 US dollars); an estimated four million people. They have instead been pushing for a flat tax rate of 15 percent to include those with higher incomes. Mr Tlusty says his party has not had a change of heart but simply realises that lowered taxes for some is better than for none.
Deputy Health Minister David Rath has declared war on those hospitals, which fail to provide proper care for in-patients. The director of the largest state-owned insurance company, VZP, is expected to present him with a list of up to forty of the country's worst offenders, Mr Rath said in a TV discussion programme on Sunday. A commission of experts will evaluate the hospitals and the worst cases will be fined or even closed down. This is part of a health ministry effort to lower the 11 billion crown (some 450 million US dollars) health insurance debt and improve overall health care.
The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is facing criticism from a number of
politicians, who say Friday's address marking the 87th anniversary of the
foundation of Czechoslovakia was too political. Besides stressing that
Czechs should value their independence, President Klaus warned of European
integration and EU rules and regulations.
To Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek such anti-EU sentiment was misplaced as it is not shared by the majority of Czech citizens. The Communist Party's Pavel Kovacik believes the President took the opportunity to use the address as a pre-election speech - the general elections are to be held next year and the chances of a victory for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, which Mr Klaus founded, look promising. Most of the leading Czech press also criticised the presidential address, saying that Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president, would have supported European integration.