The State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority (SZPI) has ordered the Czech food company Hamé to withdraw from sale more than 11,000 sweet biscuit packs after they were found to contain misleading labeling. The “butter leaves” are in fact made using margarine and not butter, with SZPI spokesperson Pavel Kopřiva stating that such mislabeling will lead to legal proceedings and sanctions against the company. The biscuits themselves were made by the Polish firm Mieszko for Hamé.
In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the government of PM Petr Nečas rejected a proposal tabled by the opposition Social Democrats to toughen laws protecting school teachers and other educational staff from violence. Under the proposals, five new categories of crime would afford teachers greater protection: murder, severe violent attacks, violent attacks, extortion and dangerously threatening behaviour. Proponents of the legislation argued that teachers are increasingly finding themselves the victims of physical assaults by pupils. However, the government rejected the proposals arguing instead for more preventative measures to be taken by schools and also adding that violence against teachers is already against the law and does not require additional legislation.
An ongoing online poll conducted by the news agency ČTK suggests the Czech public remain highly sceptical that the newly appointed Justice Minister Pavel Blažek will be able to carry out his job effectively. The poll asked respondents: “Will new Justice Minister Blažek be able to protect the justice system from external pressures and effectively investigate even sensitive political scandals?” Of around 1,700 votes so far, an overwhelming 96% said no – with 85% voting for a definitive “no” and 11% voting for “I don’t have much hope of that”. Only 4% expressed confidence in the new minister’s ability in the (entirely unscientific) poll.
Budějovický Budvar, the state-owned maker of Budweiser Buvar beer has terminated a deal with rival US Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch, according to the AP. Under the 2007 deal, the two rivals, who have been engaged in a decades-long legal dispute of the Budweiser trademark, the Czech Budvar beer was distributed by Anheuser-Busch in the US under the brand name “Czechvar”. Despite an initial surge in sales to the US, Budvar complained that post-2008, the new owners of Anheuser-Busch, the Belgian company InBev, lost interest in the product, with 2011 sales only at 30% of what had been projected. According to Budvar, the company United State Beverages located in Stamford, Connecticut will now take over distribution of Czechvar from InBev.
Defending Wimbledon champion, the number four seed Petra Kvitová has been knocked out of the tournament by former champion and number six seed Serena Williams. The straight sets win by Williams ended 6-3 7-5 and took place in Wimbledon’s Centre Court, with the roof closed due to rain. Williams overpowered Kvitová with a series of high powered serves – 13 aces up to 120 miles per hour. This is Kvitová’s first Wimbledon defeat in 17 matches.
President Václav Klaus confirmed deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party Pavel Blažek as the country’s new justice minister in a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday morning. In a speech, Mr Blažek cast doubt on any appointment of Lenka Bradáčová, a highly respected prosecutor and anti-corruption crusader, to the post of Prague High State Attorney. The new minister said he would not be taking orders from the Supreme State Attorney or following in the footsteps of his predecessor, both of whom he insinuated were controlled by regional politicians. The independent authority of state attorney, he said, should be kept in check. Pavel Blazek replaces Jiří Pospíšil whom the prime minister controversially sacked last week, criticising him of poor financial management. However, many have speculated that the decision was actually meant to block the imminent appointment of Bradáčová.
The president has signed an amendment to the Armed Services Act that will allow the army to use radio scramblers for training purposes. According to the new law, the devices can only be used under set conditions and when necessary for training, particularly for foreign missions. The army must inform the Czech Telecommunications Office and the Integrated Rescue System of their use beforehand. The same law also simplifies the sending of planes with humanitarian aid, which can now be decided on by the Defence Ministry rather than the entire government.
Heavy storms and torrential rain overnight are reported to have caused numerous problems in the northern parts of the country. High winds brought down power lines in Trutnov, Náchod and Hradec Králové leaving hundreds of people without electricity, a number of smaller roads have had to be closed down due to local flooding and cellars were inundated. No injuries have been reported. More storms of equal intensity are expected Tuesday night.
The zoo in Liberec is now home to three baby white tigers. The rare cubs were born to their four-year-old mother, Surya Bára, on Sunday morning. The births mark only the second successful attempt at breeding white tigers, the last having been ten years ago. The same animal bore three cubs last year but failed to care for them; the breeders then did not intervene and allowed the tigress to learn on her own – a decision they say Sunday’s birth proved to be the right one. The zoo’s tiger pavilion has been closed to the public as a precaution, but can be watched on a television screen elsewhere in the zoo.
Trade unions are preparing to publish their own plans for how the country should save and enact reforms. The confederation of trade unions is preparing a programme called Vision for the Czech Republic, that is intended to be an alternative to the government’s proposals and cuts, which they have long said worsen living standards for the majority of people and do nothing for the economy. One of the main points of the plan will likely be pension reform, the current form of which the unions say will cost the state 20 billion crowns next year without fully covering today’s pensioners.