The Czech industry and trade minister, Martin Kocourek, signed a declaration on cooperation in nuclear energy with US government officials in Washington on Monday. The declaration should foster greater Czech-US nuclear cooperation in both the commercial and scientific areas, Mr Kocourek said. The agreement is linked to a bid by the US-based firm Westinghouse for a multi-billion deal for the construction of new blocks at the Czech nuclear plant at Temelín. Czech and American officials have also discussed intensifying trade between the two countries.
A spell of freezing weather and heavy snow has claimed its 10th victim in Prague. A 35-year-old homeless man was found dead on Monday morning in the neighbourhood of Kobylisy. That follows three deaths at the weekend: on Saturday, two homeless men died in the capital, while a 53-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday. Charity workers said the combination of severe frost and heavy snow is extremely dangerous for people living on the street because the snow makes their clothes wet, making them more vulnerable to the freezing temperatures. The current spell of freezing weather should let up by Monday but meteorologists have warned that roads and pavements will be covered by ice.
The Czech Constitutional Court has ruled that the police are allowed to extract DNA samples and scent traces without the consent of suspects. The court said such practice does not contradict the principle of freedom not to incriminate oneself. Rather, judges said, it supports the public interest by increasing protection against crime. If an individual refuses to provide hair or saliva samples, the police are allowed to fine them and even use force. The ruling unifies the Constitutional Court’s view on the matter; in the past, the court reached contradictory verdicts.
Austria has joined the search for a nine-year-old Czech girl who went missing in October. The country’s media on Monday carried the girl’s description. A spokesman for the Austrian police however denied there were any clues suggesting the girl might have been kidnapped to Austria. The spokesman said Czech police asked their Austrian colleagues to publish the missing girl’s description. The girl was last seen on October 13 in the Prague neighbourhood of Troja on her way home from school.
The Czech government will not set any benchmark for the adoption of the single European currency, PM Petr Nečas said on Sunday. Mr Nečas said that setting a deadline for adopting the euro would be politically and economically imprudent. The Eurozone has changed, according to Mr Nečas, and the country first needs to analyze the consequences of these changes before seriously considering the timetable for the adoption of the common currency.
The Czech Republic is bound to adopt the euro by the accession treaty to the EU. Last month, President Václav Klaus suggested the government negotiates an opt-out from the treaty, an idea PM Nečas rejected.
The average salary in the Czech Republic rose by 2 percent in the third quarter of this year to over 23,660 crowns, or 1,250 US dollars. After stripping out seasonal effects, however, it only increased by 0.1 percent, the lowest increase in a decade. Analysts believe a decreasing number of employees, low inflation and limited economic recovery will cause salaries to stagnate for some time to come.
Former justice minister Daniela Kovářová said she would step down as the head of the Judicial Academy by the end of January, alleging that she had been bullied by people at the Justice Ministry at the request of the current minister Jiří Pospíšil. She said her decision was influenced by two factors: that the ministry was planning on shutting the academy down, and that it was preparing criminal charges, which she called fabricated, against her. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil said he was shocked by Ms Kovářová announcement, and said her allegations were absurd and untrue.
The Lonely Planet guidebook has ranked Prague’s Christmas market among the top five in Europe, alongside those in Cologne, Vienna, Bruges and Strasbourg. The guide called the Prague market, held between late November and early January on Old Town Square, a “gothic winter fairy tale”. The organizers said the listing was like a Michelin star.
This year’s Christmas market in Prague is in the Art Nouveau style with Christmas decorations inspired by the work of the painter Alphonse Mucha. However, the 50-year-old, 20-metre-tall Christmas tree standing in the centre of the market, does not come from the Krkonoše Mountains as reported by Lonely Planet, but from a village in central Bohemia.
A 12-year-old opera singer, Patricia Janečková, beat a dancing dog in Sunday’s final of the Czech-Slovak version of Got Talent. Some 1.2 million viewers took part in the final vote, with 53 percent of them favouring the singing sensation over Keysi the performing dog. The winner, who sang a composition by Ennio Morricone from the film Once Upon a Time in the West, received 150,000 euro in prize money.
Czech national team and goalkeeper Jakub Štepánek, who plays for SKA St Petersburg in the KHL, was named the league’s goalkeeper of the week. The 23-year-old gold medallist from last season’s world championships scored three wins in all three games of the past week. He conceded three goals in two of the matches and managed his first shut-out of the season in the third.
The Czech Republic’s floorball team tied 4:4 with Norway on Monday, securing the first place in group D at the World Championships in Finland. The Czechs were leading 4:1 but failed to defend the margin in the final stage of the game. The Czech team, who crushed Japan and Italy in their previous games at the event, is likely to face Estonia in the quarter-finals.
The next few days should be overcast with snow and sleet. Highest day temperatures should range between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius.