Despite a spell of unusually warm weather, the authorities on Wednesday warned drivers against snow- and ice-covered roads in parts of the country. In the eastern part of the Czech Republic, many roads continue to be covered with frozen snow and fallen trees complicate traffic in some places. Most main roads in the Šumava and Krkonoše mountains have been gritted but the authorities call on drivers to exercise extra caution.
The average Czech retirement pension is set in for a slight increase in January which will fall short of covering the rising cost of living, the news website novinky.cz reported on Wednesday. The average monthly pension of just over 10,700 crowns, or less than 570 US dollars, will rise by 137 crowns. However, this will not cover the inflation rate of 2.7 percent along with a one-percent rise in VAT. The centre-right government this year froze pension increases which are otherwise by law set to cover a 2-percent or higher rise in inflation and real wages.
Some 4.5 billion crowns of public money were spent last year on care for cultural heritage and historical monuments, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office. Regions, towns and municipalities spent 2.5 billion crowns in 2011 while the state provided around 2 billion. The bulk of the state funds comes from the Culture Ministry which finances the National Heritage Institute, an organization in charge of maintaining around 100 chateaus, castles and other historic sites.
Some 240 people are taking part on Wednesday in the 66th edition of the Alfréd Nikodém Memorial, an annual winter swim in the Vltava River in Prague. This year, swimmers from Slovakia, Poland, the UK and Germany also participated in the event which takes place near the National Theatre building in the centre of the capital. The swim is named after Prague winter swimmer Alfréd Nikodém who established the tradition in 1923.
Senator Tomio Okamura said he would on Thursday file a complaint with the Czech Constitutional Court over his elimination as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election. The Interior Ministry refused to register the senator as a candidate in the race on the grounds he had failed to collect the 50,000 signatures required by law to stand as the error rate found in the petition was too high. The decision was later confirmed by Supreme Administrative Court. Mr Okamura’s complaint, and those filed by some other aspirants for the race, could delay the first direct presidential election the first round of which is planned for January 11 and 12.
Warm weather has raised water levels in rivers in the south, west, and central Bohemia. On Tuesday morning, the Berounka reached the second degree of flood risk at Zbečno, some 40 kilometres west of Prague while lower levels of flood hazard have been declared at several other places. In the eastern Czech Republic, freezing rain, snow and ice-covered roads complicate traffic. The authorities have appealed to drivers to exercise extra caution.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Archbishop Dominik Duka, hosted Christmas lunch for homeless people. The lunch, organized for the 14th time by the Sant'Egidio community, was held in the Archbishop Palace and the Capuchin Monastery in Hradčany. Some 270 guests arrived to enjoy the traditional liver dumpling soup, beef in cream sauce, roast duck with cabbage and dumplings, and Christmas cookies. Every guest also received a small gift.
The police are investigating the deaths of three people whose bodies were found on Thursday in Jílové, a village near Děčín in the north of the country. The police have imposed information embargo on the case; however, the news website denik.cz reported an older man allegedly shot dead his wife and son before committing suicide. A police spokesman said more details could be released later on Tuesday.
Firefighters extinguished 16 house fires across the country on Christmas Eve which is the lowest number in 17 years, a spokeswoman for the country’s fire brigade said on Tuesday. Two people suffered minor injuries when a Christmas tree caught fire in a village outside Prague. However, a fire which broke out at a farm near Havlíčkův Brod in central Czech Republic on Tuesday morning killed 1,400 pigs.
Around one third of all newborn babies were born at hospital’s high-risk units last year, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Czech Statistical office. The causes include a growing number of children born following IVF procedures; more multiple births and a rise in the average age of mothers, the statisticians said. Over 108,000 babies were born in 2011, 8,400 less than in the previous year. The highest birth rates were registered in Prague and central Bohemia, the lowest in the Zlín and Moravian-Silesian regions. 331 babies were born outside health care facilities, either at home or on the way to the hospital.