Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, will take possession of the titular church of Santi Marcellino e Pietro in Rome on Sunday November 25th, the church he was assigned when he became cardinal. He will formally accept responsibility for the titular church at a mass served by Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal will manage this new office with the help of an assistant.
Twenty-six-year-old Tomáš Klus was voted singer of the year in the men’s category of the Český slavík (Czech Nightingale) awards ousting pop idol Karel Gott who had 13 awards in succession to his name. The 73-year-old singer who has dominated the awards since they were established in 1962 winning 37 nightingales altogether, got a standing ovation from the audience and joked that his fans must be having problems voting over the internet. Lucie Bilá picked up the award for best female singer and was also voted overall winner. Kabát picked up the award for best band for the seventh time in succession. The winners are elected by the public.
Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake has said she would try to prevent three former deputies for the Civic Democratic Party, who gave up their seats in the lower house to allow the government’s tax package to win approval, getting a reward in the form of seats on supervisory boards in state-owned companies. Ms. Peake said in a panel debate on Czech TV on Sunday that this kind of behaviour seriously undermined the government’s credibility and that she intended to bring the matter up at the next cabinet meeting. The Czech branch of Transparency International has long criticized the practice of appointing politicians to the boards of state-owned companies saying it presents a serious corruption risk.
Close to 1,200 people were evicted from their homes over domestic violence between January and October of this year, according to statistics published by the White Circle of Safety, an NGO assisting victims of domestic violence. Restraining orders were issued on average for a ten day period to give victims time to re-think their situation and take measures to protect themselves and their children. Domestic violence has been perceived as a crime in the Czech Republic since 2004 and the law enabling perpetrators to be ordered out of their homes was passed in 2007. Six thousand people have been temporarily evicted from their homes for perpetrating domestic violence since it came into force.
A record number of Czech construction firms have gone bankrupt this year, according to the Czech Credit Bureau. The CCB says it expects a 17 percent increase in the number of bankruptcies year on year. 130 construction companies went bankrupt in the first six months of this year, which makes up 70 percent of all bankruptcies in 2011, the CCB said in its report. Newly-established construction firms are reported to be the most vulnerable.
Nine people have been arrested in a police raid on the Heřmanice prison house in Ostrava. Officers have been searching the premises and questioning employees since Friday night. The director of the prison house said he was fully cooperating with the authorities but refused to provide any details. According to the daily Právo the raid is linked to the suspect business activities of several prison guards who may have assisted in scam practices at a nearby scrap metal yard where prisoners from the jailhouse are employed. In view of the ongoing investigation the police have not released any details on the case.
Ondřej Liška was re-elected leader of the Green Party at the party’s weekend conference in the town of Česká Třebová on Saturday. The party’s old-new leader clashed with his main rival for the post former party head Martin Bursík over the party’s direction. While Mr. Bursík stressed that the Greens should fight to regain lost voters on the right of the Czech political spectrum Ondřej Liška argued there were no potential allies right of centre who would help implement the Green’s policy programme. He stressed the need to address the young generation which is generally receptive to green issues and build up a strong support base. The Greens were relegated to the sidelines of Czech politics after failing to cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house in the 2010 general elections.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has promised to assist the Czech Republic in ascertaining the main sources of pollution in the heavily contaminated Ostrava region and offer advice on how to tackle the problem effectively. American scientists are expected to visit the region for a fact-finding study at the end of this and the beginning of next year. A comprehensive study of this kind was last undertaken in 1995 but the situation has not improved since and air-pollution in the region remains a serious problem that negatively affects people’s health. Doctors report a high incidence of allergies and asthma directly linked to the smog situation that plagues the region’s inhabitants throughout the winter months.
Clean-up work continues west of Kolín where a Czech-made L-159 fighter jet crashed in a field on its way back to base from a training session on Thursday evening. A defense ministry spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that the plane’s black box had been located and most of the debris from the jet had been assembled and transported to the military technical institute for inspection. Soldiers remain at the site of the accident and are still combing it for small parts with the help of metal detectors. The investigation which is to ascertain the cause of the accident may take weeks.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday met with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras to discuss the case of two Czechs who have been charged with espionage in Greece. The Czech prime minister asked the Greek head of government to devote particular attention to the case, saying it was extremely unlikely that the two men, both software specialists, had been involved in spying. The two Czechs were arrested while holidaying in Greece after having taken photographs of military installations on Lemnos Island. The men allegedly took the pictures to give a computer game they were working on greater authenticity. If convicted to espionage they would face prison sentences of up to 20 years.
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