Czech trade unions along with members of several dozen NGOs are staging an anti-government protest in Prague on Tuesday. The activists are protesting against the reforms and austerity measures of the centre-right Czech government; they are marching from the unions’ headquarters in Žižkov towards the seat of the government across the river. The police have closed several throughways in the centre of the capital due to the protest. The rally is expected to end by 3 PM. Union leaders also announced no major protests were planned until the end of June.
The parliamentary immunity and mandate committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to recommend to the lower house that MP David Rath be stripped of his immunity and prosecuted. The vote took place after members of the committee heard the testimony from Mr Rath who is under arrest on suspicion of corruption; the hearing was held in an Interior Ministry facility in Prague and lasted for about two hours. Mr Rath’s request to be heard in Parliament was rejected while members of the committee also refused to go to the prison. Mr Rath was arrested last week with an alleged bribe of seven million crowns linked to a public procurement project partly financed by EU funds. The lower house is set to vote on Mr Rath’s immunity at its next session in early June.
Czech astronomers have located the remains of a meteorite that landed in the vicinity of the central Bohemian town of Benešov in May 1991, according to a report by the Czech Academy of Sciences released on Tuesday. The report says it is the first such case when meteorites were discovered after such a long time; the objects were located on the basis of a new analysis of original records on the meteorite’s trajectory.
Girls at secondary schools get higher marks than boys despite worse test results, according to new study by the consultancy firm Scio released on Tuesday. The analysis found that boys who received C grades in maths did better at tests than girls who got higher grades. The firm said this was due to the fact that teachers consider girls more hardworking and conscientious than boys. The study also found that strictest evaluation criteria apply to math as compared to other subjects.
The rapid response unit of the north Moravian police on Tuesday arrested a woman who entered a school in Havířov, stabbed a teacher and took one of the schoolgirls hostage, the news website idnes.cz reported quoting a witness. The police rescued the girl after a two-hour standoff. The attacker reportedly wanted to abduct the girl but when the teacher tried to prevent her from doing so, the woman took out a knife and stabbed her. The injured teacher has been taken to hospital. Police are investigating the incident including the woman’s motif.
A court in Hradec Králové, in eastern Bohemia, on Tuesday sentenced a 41-year-old man to six years in prison for killing two boys in a car accident last November. The man put his car in reverse and hit a three-year-old and a six-year-old boy at a pedestrian crossing before running them over again and hitting a nearby wall. The boys later died in hospital. The court ruled out the man’s claim he suffered from epilepsy and said the driver’s exhaustion and alcohol he had drunk the previous nigh were the cause of the accident. The prosecution and defence might yet appeal the verdict.
Education Minister Petr Fiala on Tuesday halted a planned reform of the school financing system. Under the planned reform, schools would be getting funding according to the number of pupils in classes rather than payments per each pupil along with a set sum of money. The plan came under fire from teachers who said it would lead to the closing down of up to 70 percent of smaller schools. The ministry will now wait for the draft of the state budget for the coming years before taking a stand on the issue.
The OECD on Tuesday cut its growth forecast for the Czech economy from 1previously predicted 1.6 percent growth to 0.5 percent contraction in 2012 due to a decline in domestic consumption spurred by the government’s austerity measures. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recommended the government continue to consolidate public finances at a reasonable pace. The OECD predicts that in 2013, the Czech economy will grow by 1.7 percent due to stronger exports and investments. The Czech Finance Ministry expects a GDP growth of 0.2 percent this year while the central bank expects the economy to stagnate.
Czech mountaineer Milan Sedláček has died while descending from the summit of Lhotse in the Himalayas, the world’s fourth highest mountain, his expedition said in a statement on Tuesday. The 50-year-old man reached the summit on Saturday night along with another Czech mountaineer but never returned to the base camp.
The NATO summit in Chicago has approved the setting up of a multinational helicopter training centre based in the Czech Republic. The project, presented together with Croatia, is the Czech Republic’s contribution to NATO’s Smart Defence Initiative. The centre will be used to train the pilots of NATO member states whose militaries are equipped with Russian-made Mi type helicopters. Croatia has offered suitable training ground. The Smart Defence initiative deals with interconnecting different capabilities of member countries to reach higher effectiveness and economy.
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