The power utility ČEZ has declared a state of emergency in 18 districts after high winds left thousands of households without power. Emergency crews have been working around the clock to restore power lines severed by fallen trees. Problems are reported around the country with central, north and western Bohemia hardest hit. ČEZ said its maintenance crews had responded to 800 calls in the course of Friday morning alone. The wind is expected to subside over the weekend.
A twenty-two-year-old Czech man who stood trial on charges of supporting terrorism after trying to join Islamic State, has been handed a three-year prison sentence. The judge also ordered he receive psychiatric treatment. Originally he faced a sentence of between 12 and 20 years, but psychiatric experts testified that the man suffers from a schizoid personality disorder and was not able to fully judge the outcome of his actions. He is the first Czech to stand trial on charges of supporting and propagating terrorism.
The lower house has approved a bill that will enable fathers to take a week of paid leave to be with their new-born within six weeks of the baby’s birth. Paternity leave would be voluntary and those who chose to take it would receive 70 percent of their base salary, which is the same percentage currently received by women on maternity leave. The bill still needs to win approval in the Senate and be signed by the president.
As of 2018 sales outlets will no longer be able to hand out plastic bags for free to shoppers, according to an amendment to the law passed by the lower house on Friday. The move will bring Czech legislation in line with EU norms. Small, clear plastic bags for pastry and fruit will be allowed. Most salespeople are already charging customers for plastic bags.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s decision to temporarily take over the industry ministry portfolio following the dismissal of Jan Mládek has sparked criticism from business leaders and economic experts. In a survey conducted by the ctk news agency they say the ministry needs an expert in the field not temporary management and express the hope that the post will soon be filled. The prime minister said on Thursday that he would propose a replacement for Mr. Mládek after the Social Democrat’s election conference in March. Jan Mládek was sacked for allegedly failing to support the government’s efforts to cut mobile data costs for Czechs.
The Czech Interior Ministry has proposed stepping up financial aid to Macedonia to help the country deal with the migrant crisis. According to the daily Pravo, the Czech Republic should donate 27 million crowns to cover the cost of new lorries, Czech-made Tatras, for Macedonian border patrol. The Czech Republic has repeatedly sent police officers to help patrol the country’s borders and earlier donated 20 million crowns for Macedonia to buy 25 Skoda Yetti monitoring cars. The Czech government sent aid worth 57.5 million crowns to Macedonia within the Interior Ministry's foreign aid program in the past two years. Apart from Macedonia, Czech aid has also gone to Serbia and Greece.
Saturday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius. In higher altitudes temperatures can drop to – 1 degrees. The strong wind should gradually subside in the coming hours.
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