Prague’s mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has refused a call from Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka to withdraw his support for Prague Pride, a five-day gay and lesbian festival now underway in the Czech capital. In a letter to the mayor the archbishop wrote that Prague Pride was not about promoting the rights of minorities but rather about propagating a “loose” lifestyle, which he said was irresponsible and did not merit support from the authorities. The mayor said he would stand firmly by his decision and called for greater tolerance.
The controversy over bark beetle in the Sumava National Park has taken an unexpected turn – the beetle is reported to be dying in the thousands due to the cold and humid summer. Entomologists say the beetle is being eliminated naturally by viruses and fungae. Logging in most of the infested areas has been stopped and will come to a halt on Friday in the most controversial part of the park –near Modrava – where environmental activists have been staging a blockade to try and physically prevent felling. The park’s management said it would assess the situation to determine a further course of action.
Thailand has introduced visa-free travel for Czech citizens. People travelling to Thailand as tourists for a period of under 30 days will no longer require a visa, the Embassy of Thailand announced on its web page on Thursday. Entry into Thailand from a neighbouring country without a visa is possible for a period of 15 days. And foreigners entering Thailand are required to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of entry. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Czechs with on average 30,000 Czech tourists holiday there every year.
The cabinet is to further discuss the possibility of boosting the Education Ministry’s budget for 2012. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek who has been under pressure from trade unions to find extra money for the Education Ministry said following talks with union representatives on Thursday that he was not against the idea in principle but the money would have to be taken from another state institution and approved by the whole cabinet. Mr. Kalousek said he had no reserves with which to help out the ministry. Education Minister Josef Dobeš said that if his resort did not get an additional 1,5 billion crowns he would be forced to cut the wages of non-teaching staff by five percent. This would reduce the average wage of non-teaching staff –such as cooks and caretakers – to 13,000 crowns a month on average. The average monthly wage in the Czech Republic is just over 22 thousand crowns a month.
The Health Ministry has announced its decision to publish the reference prices of medical goods including medicines, equipment and materials. Minister Leos Heger said this was being done in order to curb corruption and overpricing. The minister said the list could save hospitals up to 5 billion crowns a year. The list will also be accessible to the public.
Ministers for the Civic Democratic Party on Thursday blocked a proposal in cabinet for the creation of a central database of bank accounts. The national register was to have enabled the police and state attorneys to gain fast access to the number of accounts a person or company has with different banks and financial institutions. The proposal was part of a package of anti-corruption measures and was supported by both TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
The Brdy Hills, an area southwest of Prague,that has long served as military training grounds is to be turned into a protected nature reserve. Defense Minister Alexander Vondra and Environment Minister Tomas Chalupa on Thursday met with the mayors of the surrounding towns and villages to discuss plans for the future in view of the military’s planned withdrawal from the area. The ministry intends to withdraw from Brdy by 2015 partly due to cost cutting measures. It is also scrapping or reducing other military training grounds considered unnecessarily large. The Brdy Nature Reserve is to be larger than the present training grounds, linking up to adjacent reserves.
The police is searching for a man suspected of having stabbed to death three people in the town of Mukařov near Prague. One of the victims –a 48-year-old man was found stabbed on the road, the bodies of a man and woman were later discovered in a house nearby. The three are believed to have been relatives but the motive behind the murders is unclear. Police are questioning the family’s relatives and neighbours.
A Plzen court has served a repeat offender a lifelong sentence for the brutal murder of a shop owner. The man who has served a number of sentences amounting to twenty years for robberies and violence, showed what the judge described as unspeakable brutality against his victim. He knocked the man down and stomped on his head until the man’s skull cracked open and his brains came out. Psychologists ruled out any chance of re-socialization, saying the man presented a threat to society. He may still appeal the verdict.
An unidentified perpetrator threw a Molotov cocktail into the house of a Romany family in the Central Bohemian village of Krty late on Tuesday night. The residents of the house were able to extinguish the bottle immediately; one of them was lightly injured in the process. Police have not yet confirmed a racial motive. The perpetrator or perpetrators could face prison sentences of up to 12 years. Several similar attacks against Romanies have taken place in the Czech Republic in recent years, most recently in the Central Bohemian village of Býchory. No one was injured in that attack.