Over 20,000 dentists, pharmacists, and doctors who are not tied to hospitals will stop working for one hour on Tuesday. Their doors will be closed to patients from 11.00 to 12.00 hrs, in protest at the Czech government's failure to meet their needs during its reform of the health sector. The Czech government has promised to allocate 3.4 billion Czech crowns to hospitals and 3 billion crowns to health insurance companies. Doctors, dentists, and pharmacists who are not attached to hospitals say their problems are not being considered and hope Tuesday's protest act will attract government attention.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk and Bishop Karel Herbst held mass in Prague's Archbishop Palace on Saturday to bless a yearly nationwide charity collection that begins this weekend. The collection, which is being organised for the fourth year by the Czech Catholic Charity, is launched at the weekend before the festival of Epiphany, known here as Three Kings Day, celebrated on January 6. On this day, according to the St.Mathew's gospel, the Three Wise Men followed the Star of Bethlehem to find the Infant Jesus and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Over thirteen thousand volunteers are expected to go out and collect donations this year. The proceeds will be used to support a number of humanitarian projects in several regions around the country as well as in Kosovo, Chechnya and earthquake-hit Iran. Last year, a total of 42.7 million Czech crowns (over 1.5 million US dollars) was collected.
Bohumil Vejtasa, a representative of the Group for the Open Democracy at the town hall for Prague 1, has said he would continue with a hunger-strike that he has been on for the past three weeks. Mr Vejtasa decided to stop eating in order to force town hall officials from the ruling coalition parties to consult matters with colleagues from the opposition and keep them from making decisions that do not benefit the Prague 1 district. So far, Mr Vejtasa has lost ten kilograms.
Residents from the North Bohemian town of Teplice and its surroundings are commemorating the 70th anniversary of a tragic accident that took place at the nearby Nelson u Oseku coal mine. 144 miners lost their lives on January 3, 1934, after gathered coal-dust exploded. What led to the explosion was never determined. The accident is the second worst coal mine accident in the country's history.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is expected to travel to Taiwan this month, after accepting an invitation from its President Chen Shui-bian, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. From January 17-24, Mr Havel, who is also a dedicated human rights activist and a playwright, is scheduled to meet with President Chen, deliver a speech at a forum organised by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, accept an honorary doctorate from National Chengchi University and attend a discussion with Taiwan writers and artists. He will be accompanied by his wife Dagmar.
A fire that broke out on Saturday afternoon destroyed two houses in the historic centre of the little East Bohemian town of Litomysl. The houses were located just a few metres away from Smetana Square, named after Czech composer Bedrich Smetana who was born in Litomysl. Fire-fighters managed to rescue two people and a dog. No-one was hurt and the fire left an estimated damage of 1.1 million Czech crowns. What caused the fire is yet to be determined.
The Czech Under 20s ice-hockey team lost 1:7 to Canada at the Junior World Championships semi-finals in Finland on Saturday. On Monday, it will fight for the bronze medal against the team that loses in the other semi-final game between the USA and Finland.
Sunday is expected to be a cold day with temperatures between -3 to -7 degrees Celsius.
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