Czech President Vaclav Klaus has agreed to name David Rath the new health minister on Friday. This ends a battle between Prague Castle and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who failed to persuade the president to appoint Mr Rath a fortnight ago. At the time, Mr Rath headed a professional chamber representing doctors and President Klaus feared it could lead to a conflict of interest. Mr Rath gave up the post on Wednesday.
The Czech Interior Ministry says there are no secret CIA facilities holding members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group in the Czech Republic. Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post reports that the CIA's most important Al-Qaeda captives are questioned and held at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. The Czech Interior Minister, Frantisek Bublan, says the Czech Republic is not the country in question. He added that one month ago, Prague declined a request from the US government to consider granting asylum to Guantanamo Bay detainees who were not linked to the Al-Qaeda and face persecution in their home countries.
The Czech government has agreed to send four Czech Prison Service members to join personnel at the UN prison in The Hague. The detention prison serves the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Czech Justice Ministry estimates total costs at around 7.6 million crowns a year (around 310,000 US dollars). This may be twice the amount received by the ICTY but will strengthen the country's prestige, the ministry says. The plan has yet to be approved by parliament.
A group of environmentalists have been protesting against the practices of a tar and benzol processing plant in Moravia on top of its 100 metre high chimney. The four members of the Czech branch of Greenpeace mounted the chimney on Tuesday morning, accusing the plant's management of producing chemicals that are hazardous to our health. Equipped with a laptop and an internet connection, the group managed to collect 1,500 electronic signatures supporting their cause within 24 hours. Fearing an intervention in the protest would result in injury, the police say they will detain the group when it descends the chimney.
Germany will most likely make use of the full seven years that it is entitled to restrict the movement of labour from the new EU member states. The Governor of the German state of Saxony, Georg Milbradt, told journalists in Prague on Wednesday that Germany's high unemployment rate and its lack of a plan dealing with the differences in salaries make it difficult to shorten the transition period.
Two out of every five Czechs believe that EU membership has affected their lives more than necessary, the results of an opinion poll suggest. The STEM agency, which conducted the poll says the number of Czechs with this opinion is growing. A growing number of Czechs also believe that ministers, deputies, and senators enjoy too much influence over the ordinary citizen and would like to see more of the power transferred to trade unions and the local authorities.
The next few days are expected to remain cloudy with day-time temperatures ranging from 11 to 14 degrees Celsius.
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