President Vaclav Klaus has signed a decision on the appointment of twenty one new judges, all of whom are over thirty or will turn thirty this year, and sent it to Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for counter signature. The President last week refused to appoint 32 trainee judges who had not yet reached the age of thirty on the grounds that they were too young for such a responsible post. His decision evoked strong criticism since the Czech Republic is suffering from a lack of judges and has lost several court cases in Strasbourg over protracted proceedings.
The Prague State Attorney's office has asked the police to bring charges against the minister for information technology Vladimir Mlynar in connection with a transfer of state funds to a private company which he founded in 2003. The minister was unavailable for comment. His spokeswoman Klara Volna said that he had not received any information through official channels and would definitely comment on the matter when he did. In October of 2003, Mr. Mlynar assigned Testcom, a company subsidized and supervised by the state to fund a private company of a similar name. He earmarked 7.5 million crowns from Testcom's budget for this purpose.
The Pardubice region, east of Prague is on flood standby, in view of the thaw and the vast amount of snow on the ground. Firemen and emergency crews are monitoring the situation and preparing to take coordinated action should the water levels rise. Volunteers have been filling sandbags and there is heavy machinery on standby should it be necessary to remove ice barriers from the rivers. The next few days are expected to bring a significant rise in day temperatures -up to 15 degrees Celsius- and there is more snow on the ground than the country has seen in over 40 years. All dams have been partially emptied out in preparation of the thaw, but experts say floods on local scale cannot be ruled out.
The pace of repairs of pre-fabricated housing estates must be speeded up, according to local development minister Jiri Paroubek. At a two day conference of EU housing ministers in Prague, Paroubek said the Czech Republic was wrestling with a legacy of the communist years - low quality pre-fab housing for a third of the country's 10 million inhabitants. Since 1989 the government has spent over 3 billion crowns on repair work, going at a rate of 30,000 flats a year. Now EU funds should enable it to achieve better results. Between 2007 and 2013 the Czech Republic could get an estimated 150 billion crowns in EU funds for this project.
The price of some agricultural products, such as potatoes, fruit, cereals and eggs is expected to drop in the coming weeks. The reason is last year's abundant harvest and tough competition in the farming industry after EU accession.
Tuesday is expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius. Day temperatures on Wednesday are expected to rise still further to between 12 and 16 degrees.
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