The leadership of the opposition party Public Affairs has expelled one of its parliament deputies, Milan Štoviček, for consistently breaking party ranks and voting with the government. According to party deputy chairman Tomas Jarolim Mr. Štoviček had received several warnings and the decision to expel him was unanimous. Public Affairs was originally a coalition party member, but eventually split up with the core of the party going into the opposition and a grouping around deputy prime minister Karolina Peake remaining in government.
A 53-year-old man died of methanol poisoning in the north-east of the country on Wednesday night, a police spokeswoman said. The man became the 31st victim of the outbreak of methanol poisonings in the country. Another two people have been hospitalized with methanol intoxication, one of them is in critical condition. Although the government has taken measures to protect consumers from the dangerous bootleg liquor, experts say isolated cases of methanol poisonings could continue for several more months.
The Czech centre-right government has lost its majority in the lower house of Parliament after an MP for the senior coalition Civic Democrats quit the party on Wednesday. Civic Democrat deputy Radim Fiala, who along with five of his fellow Civic Democrat deputies refused to back government legislation increasing VAT rates, said he quit over disputes with the party leadership; he will however retain his seat in the lower house. The government now has 99 MPs in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said Mr Fiala was “running away” from his responsibility.
The supervisory board of Prague’s Public Transport Company on Wednesday nominated a former sales manager of T-Mobile, Milan Křístek, for the post of the company's CEO. The nomination is to be approved by the company's board. Mr Křístek beat former transportation minister Radek Šmerda and head of the České Budějovice transport authority for the job. The company has been led by an interim director since August when its former boss Vladimír Lich was dismissed.
Health Minister Leoš Heger on Wednesday revealed a new health insurance directive for 2013 which will cap the salaries of doctors and health workers in that year. Mr Heger expressed regret over the plan but said the system was running in a deficit which had to be removed. The directive also limits health care expenses and obliges individual health insurance companies to spend only the amount they levy on health insurance payments. The move is in breach of last year’s agreement between the ministry and doctors’ unions according to which the salaries were to grow by 10 percent next year.
The Czech Finance Ministry on Wednesday worsened its forecast for the country’s GDP. According to the revised prediction, gross national product should this year contract by 1.0 percent, down by 0.5 percent from the previous prediction in July. Next year, the ministry expects the Czech GDP to grow by 0.7 percent, down by 0.3 percent from the previous forecast. The ministry said an expected decline in household consumption was behind the worsened outlook.
The vegetable sowing area in the Czech Republic has diminished by 30 percent over the past decade, according to figures by the Czech and Moravian Vegetable Growers’ Union, released on Wednesday. While in 2002, vegetables were grown on 12,700 hectares of land, a decade later it was 9,171 hectares. Imports of vegetables have grown by 50 percent over the same period, and now account for two thirds of all vegetables consumed in the country. However, the imports have slowed down as Czech consumers increasingly prefer home-grown vegetables.
The Social Democrats, the Communists and the left-wing Citizens Rights’ Party on Wednesday signed a deal on forming a coalition government in the eastern Zlín region. The region has become the fifth district where the Communist party will be directly involved in government, following their strong showing in last month’s regional elections.
Some 2,000 trade union members from a leading Czech mining company, Czech Coal, staged a protest outside the government building in Prague on Wednesday against a bill that will ban the expropriation of land for mining. The draft legislation has already been passed by Parliament and is to be signed into law by the president. The protesters said that the bill would lead to a decline in mining and to a loss of jobs, particularly in the depressed region of northern Bohemia. The environmental group Greenpeace however accused the protesters of promoting the interests of Czech Coal management as they did not react to massive layoffs by the firm in the past.
Tomáš Berdych defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6, 6-2 at the indoor Paris Masters event on Wednesday, and advanced to the tournament’s third round. The fifth-seeded Berdych had to overcome some difficulties in the first set but scored five aces in the second to wrap up the match in one hour and 40 minutes. In the next round, the 27-year-old Czech, ranked sixth in the world, will play the winner of the match between France’s Richard Gasquet and Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery