European Parliament members from Eastern Europe are calling for a ban on communist symbols such as the hammer and sickle if the European Union decides to outlaw Nazi symbols, such as the swastika. Lawmakers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia said that any such ban should also cover communist symbols because of the killings and torture suffered by people in the former Soviet Union and the countries of the Eastern Bloc. The deputies wrote to the EU's Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini to press their demand.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a law restricting the movement of some unsuccessful asylum seekers in the Czech Republic. The law prevents foreigners whose application for Czech asylum has been rejected from leaving the refugee facility for some time until they are transported to a facility in another EU country which can assess their asylum application. These asylum seekers will be allowed to leave the refugee centre only in clearly specified cases, as, for instance to see a doctor or arrange documents for their asylum application. A group of Senators object that the law is at variance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, and they are planning to turn to the Constitutional court in this respect.
Tests have proved that a four-year-old cow from a farm in the eastern Jihlava district was infected with mad cow disease or BSE. The state veterinary office has announced it is the 17th BSE case in the Czech Republic, and some 300 cows will have to be killed in a preventive measure. The first BSE case occurred in the Czech Republic in June 2001. Since then all slaughtered animals over 30 months of age have had to be tested for BSE.
The Czech branch of the garden tools company Mountfield has decided to withdraw a TV commercial featuring a miserly orthodox Jew after Israel's ambassador to the Czech Republic complained it promoted anti-Semitism. The commercial for a sale at Mountfield's stores featured an orthodox Jew happily rubbing his hands together at the announcement of price reductions. The company defended itself saying the commercial promoting their radical price reductions featured a prudent shopper. The commercial will be taken off the air from February 7. The advertisement had been screened on all four of the country's terrestrial television channels since January.
The Czech crown passed the key psychological barrier of 30 crowns to the euro on Thursday, hitting the highest point for two and a half years of 29.95 crowns to the single European currency in morning trading. Vis-à-vis the US dollar, the crown is stable, trading around 23.02 crowns. Analysts explain the development by investors' expectations of strong December trade figures being published on Friday. Other Eastern European currencies strengthened sharply against the euro on Thursday as well, leading the Slovak central bank to intervene in the market to weaken its currency.
The Czech international football goalkeeper, Petr Cech, has set a new record for minutes gone without conceding a goal in England's prestigious Premier League. On Wednesday Cech, who - at 22 - is young for a top-flight goalkeeper, extended the Premiership record to 781 minutes when he kept another clean sheet for his club Chelsea. The Pilsen-born player also holds the Czech league record of 903 minutes, which he set while at Sparta Prague.
It should by sunny to partly cloudy in the coming days with daytime temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius.
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