Prime Minister Petr Nečas has announced significant concessions to the government’s S-card system streamlining social and welfare benefit payments that is to come into effect in January next year. In line with a fresh agreement reached with Ceska Sporitelna and the Czech Postal Service S-Cards will not be mandatory for payments and will only serve for identification purposes. Under the proposed amendment, people will be free to decide whether they want their benefits sent to the S-card account, a different account or by post.The only exemption concerns those suspected of exploiting the welfare benefits system.
A gorilla named Kamba, who resides at the Prague zoo, is due to give birth in January, but already a month before sixty people are ready to step in at any moment, to help the mother who most likely is also suffering from a heart condition. Because of her condition, the birth may be tricky and dangerous, so the zoo’s veterinarian has a list of in-house and external specialists who are on call and would be able to help with the delivery. Another gorilla in the zoo named Kyjiva will also give birth around the same time, but the staff do not expect complications in this case.
The Czech GDP fell by 0.3 percent in the third quarter of this year, and by 1.3 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office confirmed on Friday. This means the Czech economy has been in recession since the end of last year, which some analysts say equates them to the most indebted south European countries like Greece and Spain.
The Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill on Friday that legalizes the use of marijuana to alleviate some medical conditions. Patients will be able to purchase marijuana only with an electronic prescription from a doctor. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president to come into effect.
The Czech Meteorological Institute has issued low temperature warnings for nine regions, mostly in the east of the country, for the whole of the upcoming weekend. In some mountainous areas, temperatures are expected to dip as low as -17 degrees Celsius during the nights. Day temperatures may be around -10 degrees in some parts of the country. Extreme temperatures should become more moderate by Monday morning.
The academic senate of Prague’s Charles University has issued a statement saying that it disagrees with the current proposal for higher education reforms. According to the senate’s spokesperson the Education Ministry’s current proposal does not resolve even the basic problem of separating universities into scientific and professional ones. They also claim that the ministry has not allowed for enough time to negotiate possible changes. The academic community has rejected a number of proposals for reform s in the past few years. Thousands of students and academics protested against the reforms proposed by the former Education Minister Josef Dobeš this February.
The anti-corruption police have proposed filing charges against 17 members of the Prague branch of the Social Democratic Party. The suspects are believed to have paid people to enter the party and vote according to their directions. This was done to influence voting in compiling the list of candidates in the 2010 general elections and elections to the Prague City Council. Two men are suspected of offering bribes, 15 of taking them.
Parliament’s Commission for European Affairs has asked the government to vote against a proposal by Brussels to impose a 40 per cent female quota on listed company boards across the EU. Opposition to the proposal was spearheaded by Public Affairs. The commission concluded that introducing quotas for companies should be a last-ditch measure that should be decided by individual member states. MP Viktor Paggio from Public Affairs described the proposal as an ill-conceived attempt at social engineering that would inevitably backfire. The EC defended the proposal on the grounds that all its previous attempts to address a severe gender imbalance across the 27-country bloc by attempting to reach voluntary agreements with companies had failed.
A Ukrainian porn-star who was refused asylum in the Czech Republic demonstrated outside the Czech Parliament building topless on Thursday to draw attention to her case. Anastazia Hagen, who is a mother of three, says she fears returning to her homeland where she could be persecuted for acting in porn-movies. She fled the country 18 months ago and settled in the Czech Republic with her husband and three sons.
The Czech health ministry has warned of the danger of more methanol poisonings over the Christmas holidays. According to police estimates there could still be up to 5,000 litres of uncertified, potentially dangerous alcohol in small stores and households. In the course of the past three months 38 people have died of methanol poisonings from bootleg liquor and three are currently in hospital in serious condition. Spirits have been banned from Christmas markets around the country.
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