The number of Czechs missing in the wake of the tsunami disaster in south-east Asia has dropped to nine. In seven cases there are fears that the missing Czechs did not survive the disaster. Thailand has received documents and DNA samples to aid the identification process, but the Czech Foreign Ministry has warned friends and relatives that it could be a long process. The Czech Republic has one confirmed casualty to date.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus and the visiting Maltese President Fenech-Adami disagreed over EU matters during talks in Prague on Tuesday. While the Maltese head of state said that further EU integration was a positive thing and would be further improved by the adoption of the European Constitution, President Klaus warned of "dangers ahead" and criticized Brussels for trying to centrally direct people's lives. Similarly as the right wing Civic Democratic Party, which he established, President Klaus believes that the European Constitution would restrict the country's sovereignty.
The Czech Finance Ministry has proposed an amendment to the lottery law which would tighten the criteria for licenses-holders and applicants. The proposed amendment should make the business more transparent and prevent casinos and lotteries being used for money-laundering.
The chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party's deputy group in Parliament Petr Ibl has resigned from his post, along with three deputy chairmen. The resignations came following internal discord within the party and criticism from party leader Stanislav Gross who said he was dissatisfied with their performance. Deputy chairman Michal Hasek will replace Petr Ibl on a temporary basis.
The opposition Civic Democrats will support parents in a complaint to the Constitutional Court against a new system of applying for secondary school entrance exams. According to an amendment to the education law primary school graduates may send their application to only one secondary school of their choice, rather than applying to several as they did in the past. The Civic Democratic Party has slammed this new restriction, saying that it is in violation of the Charter of Human Rights.
The Czech intelligence service has confirmed that its men detained and interrogated British journalist Mahmood Mazher in Prague last June. Mazher, a reporter for the Sunday tabloid News of the World, allegedly wanted to discredit the Czech authorities by proving that it was possible to enter the country illegally, commit a crime and leave again unnoticed. However the intelligence service closely monitored all of Mazher's stays in the Czech Republic and arrested him at Ruzyne Airport when he was carrying a false passport, several false IDs and a fake doctors diploma, all acquired in this country. British photographer Conrad Brown, who works for the same tabloid was detained along with Mahzer. Some time later the police arrested the men who had sold them the fake documents.
Lorry drivers may have to pay more for using Czech highways and main roads as of June 2005. In response to the heightened number of lorries transiting the Czech Republic, the Transport Ministry has proposed introducing a new toll which would take into consideration the weight of the vehicle and the number of kilometres covered. This would be a stopgap measure until the introduction of electronic tolls planned for 2006 or early 2007.
Wednesday should be cloudy to overcast with light snow showers and day temperatures between 3 and minus 1 degrees Celsius.
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