Three baby giraffes have died in a stampede as a result of a massive power failure in eastern Bohemia. A spokesperson for the Hradec Kralove Zoo said that the sudden blaze of lights when power was restored threw the animals into a panic and the baby giraffes were trampled in the stampede. The zoo is said to have sustained 400, 000 crowns in damages as a result of the black out. The power cut in eastern Bohemia affected some 180,000 homes and is said to have been the worst in 15 years.
President Vaclav Klaus indicated on Thursday that talks on forming a new
government could soon produce results. In the course of the past week the
president met with representatives of four parliamentary parties -the
Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Green Party - in order to ascertain their position on a future government
set up. He is expected to meet with representatives of the Communist Party
next Tuesday after which Mr. Klaus should announce who he will entrust with
the task of forming a new government.
Green Party representatives with whom he met on Thursday have put forward two possible solutions both of which lead to early elections in 2007. Party leader Martin Bursik said that in the meantime the country should be governed by a caretaker government which would be acceptable to all.
Czech hospitals may be applying a double standard to Czech and foreign patients. According to the daily Lidove Noviny many hospitals, including state-run facilities, charge foreign patients higher medical fees. The paper said this was the case in five out of eight hospitals which it checked out. The cases all concerned services that are not covered by health insurance. The Health Ministry has said it would look into the matter immediately.
The FA will not take any formal disciplinary action regarding the
injuries sustained by Peter Cech and his fellow Chelsea goalkeeper
Carlo Cudicini in last Saturday's Premier League match at Reading. The
FA said on its web site on Thursday that it had reviewed the
circumstances and had contacted referee Mike Riley, who confirmed that
the match officials saw both incidents at the time. "There will
therefore be no further action," it said.
Czech Republic goalkeeper Cech, who has had an operation on a fractured skull, is likely to be out for several months after he was caught on the head by a sliding Stephen Hunt. Hunt has apologised and denied the challenge was deliberate, a view supported by his club and the players' association.
Former deputy local development ministr Vera Jourova, who has been
accused of mishandling EU structural funds told police investigators on
Thursday that she acted under indirect pressure from the former Social
Democrat prime ministr Jiri Paroubek. Mrs. Jourova said that Mr.
Paroubek's assistent Martin Vlasta relayed the prime minister's orders
which were that she should favour certain applicants. Besides Vera
Jourova, three men have been accused of corruption in the same case.
They are Zdenek Dolezel, a former senior aide to two former Social
Democrat prime ministers, Ladislav Peta, mayor of the town of Budisov,
and Miloslav Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee. All three have
been in custody since Friday.
The former prime minister and Social Democrat leader has reacted with anger to the accusations saying that they were a pack of lies intended to discredit him in the eyes of the public. He is also demanding an investigation into who leaked the police records to the media.
The government has said it wants to see the number of abused children and children in institutional care reduced. On Wednesday, it approved a plan by the Social Affairs Ministry which proposes to boost cooperation between state bodies, NGOs and the public to fight child abuse. According to a report published by the ministry, some 7,500 new cases of child abuse were reported last year and the number has been increasing. Some 20,000 children are in institutional care in the Czech Republic, a fact regularly criticised by NGOs both in the country and abroad.
The Interior Ministry has decided to dissolve the Communist Youth Association. The reason given is that its programme statement says the movement strives to remove the private ownership of means of production and replace it with communal ownership, a ministry spokeswoman said. The ministry says the statement is in breach of the Czech Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The association plans to take the matter to court. The Czech counter-intelligence service BIS lists the organisation among left-wing extremist groups.
The Prague City Court has ruled that businessmen Tomas Pitr and Miroslav Provod, who were sentenced to five years in prison for a tax fraud, do not have to start serving their sentence as yet. The court has postponed the prison sentences in both cases until it makes a decision on a proposed reopening of the trial. State attorneys can appeal Wednesday's verdict.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has put forward a strategy for a stricter fight against corruption. Under his proposal, special anti-corruption courts would be established and special agents would help reveal corruption and gather evidence against corrupt officers. Stricter punishments would be also imposed on civil servants proved guilty of taking bribes. They would face up to 15 years in prison instead of current 8 years if found guilty. The Interior Ministry also wants to introduce a black list of people sentenced for corruption to prevent them from taking part in any further public tenders. Mr Langer says clear borders must be set to distinguish between lobbying and corruption. The Interior Minister worked out the anti-corruption strategy in cooperation with the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
President Vaclav Klaus has said that finding an agreement between the Czech political parties on the formation of a new government will be tough. Speaking after a meeting with the leadership of the Social Democrats on Wednesday, President Klaus said he had learned the party's goals and priorities. He said that the different parties' views were like the pieces of a puzzle and he was trying to put the puzzle together. Previously, Mr Klaus received representatives of the Civic and Christian Democrats, and he will end the series of consultations with meetings with the Communists and the Greens.
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