Czechs will be asked to pay extra for above-standard health care as of 2013, a year later that the government originally planned. According to the business daily Hospodarské noviny the commission of experts which is to specify what will constitute standard and above standard care will need more time to draw the line. According to inside sources the list should be ready by mid-2012 and should come into effect the following year. Health insurers are also preparing to offer insurance for above-standard care as of January 2013. The lower house definitively approved the introduction of above-standard care into the Czech health system last week, overriding a veto by the Senate.
Forty eight percent of the Czech Republic’s inhabitants, or about five million people, breathe polluted air, according to data released by the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute. The amount of dust particles and other dangerous substances exceed permissible levels for long intervals at a time in Prague, central Bohemia, Usti nad Labem and almost the entire Moravia and Silesia, according to the report. The degree of pollution has significantly worsened in the smaller towns as well which is being attributed to the fact that due to the higher cost of living many people have gone back to using brown coal as a form of heating. The sale of brown coal went up by 15 percent in 2010. In the worst affected areas doctors say there is a confirmed link between air-pollution and the low birth weight of children as well as a higher incidence of asthma and allergies. The lower house is now to debate a legislation which should give both municipalities and the government greater powers in fighting air pollution.
Police have closed the case on email monitoring at the Education Ministry. Investigators said the monitoring of employees emails did not constitute a crime since employees were warned about the practice in their work contracts. A leak of information regarding bonuses at the ministry alerted the authorities to the fact that the privacy of emails was not respected. Education Minister Josef Dobeš distanced himself from the practice and filed a criminal complaint against an unknown culprit. The minister said on Monday that the decision to close the case was a disappointment to him.
Senator Jaromír Štětina claims he is receiving threats from members of the country’s intelligence service BIS over secret documents in his ownership which allegedly prove illegal undercover deals between agents and state attorneys. In a statement for the CTK news agency the senator says he has received a number of threatening messages and that the driver of a black Octavia recently tried to force him off the road. The senator had previously accused the country’s intelligence services of seeking to destroy his good reputation by claiming that he cooperated with the communist secret service. The intelligence service has sharply rejected the accusations.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Monday set off on a four-day tour of the Karlovy Vary region in the western part of the country. The president is set to visit town halls and meet with local politicians and entrepreneurs. He will also attend the European Volleyball Championship, this year jointly held by the Czech Republic and Austria. He is accompanied by his wife Livia, who will be visiting a children’s home in the town of Ostrov.
A bomb scare that resulted in the evacuation of an entire street in the town of Znojmo on Monday morning turned out to be a false alarm. A salesman reported a strange looking object in his post-pox and on finding a suspicious device the police evacuated the area and calling in explosives experts. They confirmed that the home-made contraption was not dangerous and had clearly been intended as a hoax. Police are searching for the culprit.
A court has sent a man who robbed at least 46 banks and post offices to ten years in jail. The 36-year old man went undetected for years as he radically changed his appearance, his speech and even the hand in which he held his weapon. Between 2007 and 2011 he committed robberies to the tune of 7 million crowns. The robberies were committed in broad daylight when all the outlets were open to the public. In one case the robber jumped over a two-and-a-half meter high glass counter to get the money and was gone before the police arrived. He admitted to all 46 robberies but was confused when questioned about individual cases.
Thousands of people gathered in Prague’s Old Town Square on Sunday to
pay their respects to ice hockey stars Karel Rachůnek, Jan Marek and Josef
Vašíček, the three Czech players who were killed in a plane crash near
the Russian city of Yaroslavl on Wednesday. The official commememorative
ceremony was moderated by Czech TV sports commentator Robert Zárub and
opened by ten minutes of silence in honor of the plane crash victims. A
sermon by Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka followed. The president of the
Czech ice hockey federation Tomáš Král, famous ice hockey players such
as Jaromír Jágr, Patrick Eliáš as well as the coaches Alois Hadamczik
and Vladimír Růžička attended the ceremony. As a tribute to the three
deceased players, their numbers – Rachůnek’s four, Marek’s 15 and
Vašíček’s 63 – will not be used by the Czech national team in the
On Wednesday, a Yak-42 plane came down shortly after take off from the Russian city of Yaroslavl and burst into flames. The players were taking off for Minsk for the first match of the season. Among the 43 victims were Russian and European hockey players.
Commemorative events marking the 10-year-anniversary of the terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, are being held
across the Czech capital. On Prague’s island Strelecký ostrov, an
all-day concert against fear is taking place. In the afternoon, a
commemoration of firefighters and paramedics killed on 9/11 will be held
Kampa island. Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra and other important
political figures are expected to attend a gathering with the motto
"Together Against Terrorism" at Jungman square in the afternoon.
In the evening, a flag ceremony will be held at Prague castle, followed by a memorial service at St. George’s basilica. Czech and American officials have organized a commemorative event to mark the tenth anniversary of 9-11 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Černínský Palác) at 6 p.m. Headlining the program will be the classic Czech underground band Plastic People of the Universe. An exhibition of photographs by Jan Šibík showing the aftermath of the attacks in New York will be on display, as will a new exhibit on Czech contributions to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The event is being organized by the Czech Foreign and Defense Ministries in cooperation with the American Center and is open to the public.
Six people, three of them police officers, were injured in demonstrations
and gatherings organized by the Workers Party for Social Justice in the
North Bohemian towns of Varnsdorf, Rumburk and Nový Bor on Saturday. A
total of 41 were arrested. In Varnsdorf, locals joined supporters of the
extremist party in an impromptu march to a Romany neighborhood, where a
police unit intervened and prevented clashes. The police mission is
estimated to have cost hundreds of thousands of crowns. A total of three
four hundred far-right extremists attended the demonstrations, with some
supporters of the party coming from abroad. Interior Minister Jan Kubice
and the deputy chief of police Vladislav Husák were also present in Nový
Ahead of the extremists’ gathering, the government’s human rights commissioner, Monika Šimůnková, called on residents of the three towns to not buy into the arguments of radicals and to carefully consider their participation. For days, police have maintained a state of readiness in the area due to assemblies and demonstrations provoked by tensions between ethnic Czechs and Romanies, which have escalated over the past month.