A poll by the STEM agency found that only one in four Czechs want the ratification process for the EU constitution to continue. Four out of ten respondents said that the ratification process should be suspended, and nearly as many said they thought it should simply end. So far, 12 countries have ratified the treaty. Prague has joined several other capitals that have delayed or suspended plans to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. These including London, Dublin and Copenhagen.
Austria has extended until 2009 the transition period during which Czech nationals must seek approval to work in that neighbouring European Union country. The Minister of Economics for Austria, Martin Bartenstein, said the possibility that in it could be extended again in three year's time could not be ruled out. Ahead of EU expansion last year, Austria and most other original 15 EU member states imposed restricted access to their labour markets for newcomers like the Czech Republic.
The business daily Hospodarske noviny reports that the newly named Minister of Culture, Vitezslav Jandak, co-established a charitable foundation with indirect ties to an Israeli mafia family. In 2001, Mr Jandak helped form the 'Little Lion' (Lvice) foundation with people connected to a now defunct casino owned by the Abutbul crime family. The casino was shut down in 2004 after police began investigating its origins, following a failed attempt to kill its de facto owner. Casinos are required by law to donate a share of proceeds to charity. A bill now in Parliament would prevent casinos from donating to related organisations.
The lower house of Parliament passed an amendment to the labour law on Friday that would reward employers who create so-called "socially beneficial" jobs for fresh university graduates, handicapped people, and those younger than twenty-five or over the age of fifty. According to the Labour Office, people of those ages make up one-third to one-half of the unemployed nationwide.
The lower chamber or Parliament also voted down the Senate's veto of an amendment banning the privatisation of regional hospitals. The senior ruling Social Democrats and main opposition Communist party, who united to uphold the ban, argue that if privatised, hospitals would focus on lucrative treatments, which would threaten the quality of general health care. The centre-right Civic Democrats reject that argument and say they may file a compliant to the Constitutional Court to have it reversed, should President Vaclav Klaus sign the bill into law.
Scattered showers and daytime highs of in the low 20s is the forecast for much of this weekend, with clear skies likely on Tuesday.
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