The National Reference Laboratory has denied media reports claiming that a Czech woman had been diagnosed with the human form of BSE, also known as mad cow disease. The laboratory said that in actual fact the 60-year-old woman had been diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacobs Disease which appears in a random occurrence, and has no known genetic or environmental cause. Sporadic CJD chiefly affects people between 50 and 75 years of age and can be mistaken for senility.
Hundreds of town halls and institutions around the Czech Republic on Tuesday joined the Flag for Tibet initiative expressing support for Tibetan independence. The Flag for Tibet initiative traditionally takes place on March 10th marking the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising in Lhasa which was brutally suppressed by the Chinese regime. Deputies from the Green Party hung the Tibetan flag in a window of the Czech Parliament building despite warnings from diplomats ahead of a planned EU-China summit in Prague in May. Tibetan flags were also hoisted at the environment and education ministries.
Due to the Czech Republic’s communist past, many Czechs have a strong affinity for Tibet and the anniversary was marked by dozens of events around the country including Free Tibet concerts, exhibitions of Tibetan art and culture and meditation sessions with Tibetan lamas. A peaceful demonstration in support of Tibetan independence was held outside the Chinese Embassy in Prague on Tuesday evening.
The Czech EU presidency on Tuesday helped broker a long-sought deal on reduced sales tax on certain services in the EU, as Germany yielded to French pressure to allow less tax to be charged in restaurants. The issue of whether EU countries can apply reduced value added tax rates for specific labour-intensive industries has been one of the longest running unsettled dossiers in Brussels. In the latest effort to break the deadlock, the European Union's Czech presidency put a compromise proposal on the table for the finance ministers' meeting, which was then heavily revised before an agreement could be reached. In addition to including restaurants on the reduced VAT list, the deal dropped a 2010 deadline for the expiration of current exemptions on window-washing, hair-dressing, building renovations and bicycle and home repairs.
The future of the Czech energy industry must be linked with nuclear power, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said at a conference on the future of the Czech energy sector on Tuesday. The prime minister said nuclear power was essential for further development, although other low-emission technologies such as hydroelectric power stations should also get support. Mr. Topolánek has long advocated a growth in power production from nuclear sources on the grounds that it would help cut energy prices and would be the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The question of the country’s long term energy policy has split the coalition government since the Green Party is strongly opposed to the further development of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic.
The Green Party of the Czech governing coalition is facing a wave of resignations by rank-and-file members who are dissatisfied with the party leadership. Close to half of the party’s registered members have left the Greens in the wake of a stormy confrontation between its leadership and an opposition fraction over the weekend. Four members were expelled for openly opposing the leadership, triggering calls for a new party which would be more active in support of Green issues. The Interior Ministry has confirmed that it received an official request for the registration of a new Green party with a thousand signatures from potential members. Dana Kuchtová, one of the four expelled rebels, has distanced herself from the initiative, saying there was not enough room for two Green parties on the Czech political scene.
A Czech police officer is running for the extreme-right National Party in the June elections to the European Parliament, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. A spokesman for the police said that his superiors were aware of the fact and did not consider it a problem since the officer was not actually a member of the National Party. The officer, Jaroslav Bernásek, said he had been offered the chance to run and was not remotely interested in the party’s ideology. He denied that his candidacy was in conflict with his profession.
The Czech transport and environment ministries have moved to stop the felling of trees along state roads until a close inspection has been made of the country’s road avenues and the trees marked out for felling. Czech environment inspectors recently uncovered plans by road maintenance to fell some 9,000 trees along state roads in the course of this year. The news produced an outcry from the public and led the two ministries to step up controls.
A regional court has ruled that Třebíč Hospital was fully entitled to sack the nurse who was responsible for a highly publicized swap of two baby girls in 2006. The swap was uncovered nine months later when one of the girl’s fathers asked for a DNA test. The court ruled that although there was no evidence to suggest that the nurse in question actually swapped the babies, her negligence in performing her duties led to the fact that the mix-up was not uncovered immediately. The nurse had protested against her dismissal, saying she had been selected as a scapegoat by the hospital management which had irreparably damaged her reputation.
An opinion survey conducted in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO indicates that 76 percent of Czechs approve of the country’s membership in the alliance. The majority of Czechs see NATO membership as the best possible security guarantee the country can have. Those against are mainly older people and Communist Party supporters.
The coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with some rain showers and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.