The Czech Medical Chamber has called on Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla to replace Health Minister Marie Souckova. The professional organisation of health care personnel claims that the minister is unable to deal with the current serious financial crisis in the sector. According to the Medical Chamber, heath insurance companies are heavily indebted and delay payments to health facilities, which consequently become insolvent themselves and many of them are facing bankruptcy. The doctors claim that Mrs. Souckova has failed to present any feasible solution to the unsustainable situation and her incompetence may result in thousands of patients left without proper care.
The number of asylum seekers in the Czech Republic has increased dramatically this year as compared to 2002. Over the first nine months, more than 8000 people from 67 countries have applied for asylum, which is nearly the same number as for the whole of last year. More than one-third of asylum-seekers come from Russia. A total of 173 foreigners were granted asylum this year. The Czech Republic tightened its asylum laws last year due to frequent abuse of the system.
A regional court in the district of Ostrava has remanded Slovak businessman Patrik Pachinger in custody. He has been accused of fraud in his country and applied for political asylum in the Czech Republic. Pachinger was arrested in a refugee camp in north Moravia, at the request of Slovak authorities. It is up to the court to decide whether he will be extradited. Slovak authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Pachinger on Thursday. He and two other men have been charged with large-scale fraud and asset stripping. They deny the charges and claim that the prosecution is politically motivated.
Football - the Czech Republic defeated Austria 3-2 in the last Euro 2004 qualifier in Vienna on Saturday. The Czechs won 18 matches in a row in Group Three and qualified for the European football championship next year. Scorers for the Czech Republic were Marek Jankulovski, Stepan Vachousek, and Jan Koller.
We are expecting a mostly clear day with the highest daytime temperatures ranging from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius. Scatered snow showers may occur in the north-eastern mountainous parts of the country, afternoon highs there should reach around 4 degrees Celsius.
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