With cloud covering increasing in many parts of the country, inversion is causing worsening air quality in a number of regions, particularly in the north. Meteorologists have issued a smog alert in the Moravian-Silesian region on Thursday. The Ústí nad Labem and Hradec Králové regions are also experiencing adverse weather conditions. Meteorologists are advising senior citizens, children and the chronically ill in those regions to restrict their time out of doors.
The registration petitions submitted by eight of the eleven presidential candidates may need to go through a second round of checks, because many of the signatures were not verified, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. All candidates submitted petitions with supporting signatures from the public, except for Jiří Dienstbier, Přemysl Sobotka and Karel Schwarzenberg, who were nominated by their parties’ MPs. The Interior Ministry completed the first round of checks of the petitions, examining a random sample of 8,500 signatures, and said that more than three percent of them were invalid for each of the candidates. The three-percent mark is the highest that the candidates are allowed. If the second round of controls has similar results, some candidates may possibly be eliminated.
The State Attorney of the Ústí nad Labem region has launched a suit against four people, who allegedly fraudulently obtained almost 400 million crowns from 6,000 people in a pyramid scheme in the period between the year 2000 and 2006. The prosecution estimates damages to be more than 437 million crowns.
According to a study published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Czech Republic has the greatest percentage of youngsters who have tried marijuana out of all the EU countries. The study claims that almost 50 percent of Czechs between the ages of 15 and 34 have some experience with marijuana. Cocaine was the stimulant drug that the greatest number of people around the EU have tried at least once. In the Czech Republic, only 1.6 percent of 15 to 34-year-olds tried cocaine, which is the third smallest number in the among the 27 union members.
A man has died in the Frýdek-Místek region after drinking liquor with excessive amounts of methanol, the postmortem confirmed on Thursday. He is the 35th victim of methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic since the outbreak began in early September. But there have been only three victims since the beginning of the month. So far, 21 people have died from methanol poisoning in the Frýdek-Místek region. Another man who drank spiked alcohol is currently being treated in a hospital.
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes will present the Václav Benda Award for services to freedom and democracy to 19 individuals on Thursday evening. Relatives will collect commemorative medals on behalf of recipients who are no longer alive. Among those receiving the prize are a number of people who actively opposed the Communist regime and the priest Josef Toufar, who died after being cruelly tortured into confessing being behind the reputed movement of a cross in a church. Václav Benda, who died in 1999, was a Charter 77 signatory and samizdat publisher. The awards are being given for the fourth time.
Representatives of various unions, some NGOs and the public are planning a demonstration for the November 17 state holiday, under the slogan “Democracy doesn’t look like this”. The demonstration is meant to express the participants’ dissatisfaction with the current political leadership and the state of society. The organizers of the common platform Stop to the government! (Stop vládě!) have not revealed the number of people expected to attend the protest on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. A protest against government reforms that they organized on 21 April drew approximately 100,000 people.
The famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who served at the Prague court of Rudolf II at the turn of the 17th century, may have died from natural causes, not mercury poisoning, the Danish newspaper Politiken reported. Based on analyses done by Jens Vellev, an archeologist from Aarhus University, the amount of mercury found in Brahe’s hair was not life threatening and most likely indicates that he died of natural causes. The hair was obtained by Danish scientists during an exhumation of the astronomer’s body at his burial site in the Týn church in Prague in 2010. The circumstances of Tycho Brahe’s death have been long debated and a number of theories, including an assassination, have appeared over the years. The theory that he died of mercury poisoning was supported by research done after the body’s pervious exhumation in 1901. But this week’s announcement of the most recent findings rules out this possibility, pointing back to a previous theory that Brahe died of kidney problems.
The Czech GDP fell by 0.3 percent in the third quarter, compared to the previous one. Year-on-year the decline was 1.5 percent. According to the Czech statistical office the GDP has been in decline for the fourth quarter in a row, indicating that the Czech economy is in a slowly deepening recession. According to the statisticians, the continuing decline is due to decreasing demand of the Czech consumers, as well as the lower investments into construction and transportation vehicles.
Radek Štěpánek will face David Ferrer in the first match of the hundredth Davis Cup final on Friday afternoon in Prague. The second best Czech player will be follow by his teammate, sixth seeded Tomáš Berdych, who will play Nicolás Almagro at the O2 arena. After the draw on Thursday paired the Spanish number one with Štěpánek, the coach of the defending champions, Alex Corretja seemed confident his team could win the tournament, although Rafael Nadal’s absence may make it harder to snatch.
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