Deputy Health Minister David Rath has declared war on those hospitals, which fail to provide proper care for in-patients. The director of the largest state-owned insurance company, VZP, is expected to present him with a list of up to forty of the country's worst offenders, Mr Rath said in a TV discussion programme on Sunday. A commission of experts will evaluate the hospitals and the worst cases will be fined or even closed down. This is part of a health ministry effort to lower the 11 billion crown (some 450 million US dollars) health insurance debt and improve overall health care.
The Czech Film and Television Academy's Elsa Television Awards were
held at Prague's Lucerna Ballroom on Saturday night. With the exception
of commercial TV Nova's investigative programme Na Vlastni Oci, all
awards went to productions by the public broadcaster Czech TV. Among
Elsa winners were feature film In Nomine Patris (Best Film), actor
Viktor Preiss (Best Actor), actress Vilma Cibulkova (Best Actress),
film director Jaromir Polisensky (Best Director), and screen writer Jan
Drbohlav (Best Screenplay).
The two main commercial stations, TV Nova and TV Prima boycotted the ceremony, protesting against the Film and Television Academy's selection procedure; the Academy had not considered the Czech Pop Idol and reality shows, for example, for awards.
The number of Czechs with diabetes that is caused by excess weight has doubled in the last two decades. Of the country's population of ten million, some 750,000 suffer from "Type 2 diabetes", which is not treated with insulin but rather by dietary changes, exercise, and tablets. Experts warn ever more Czechs are inactive, have a poor diet, and suffer from high blood pressure.
Ten people were injured, one seriously, when a bus carrying Greek tourists collided with a car near Rakovnik, around 50 kilometres west of Prague, on Saturday evening. A woman who suffered life-threatening injuries was airlifted to Prague's Motol hospital. Other injured were taken to a local hospital. Police are investigating the cause of the accident.
The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats will support the government's proposal to lower the income tax. In a TV discussion programme on Sunday, Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty said party deputies will vote in favour of the bill at Tuesday's lower house session. The Civic Democrats have been blocking the proposal as it only affects those with a monthly wage of up to 30,000 Czech crowns (around 1,200 US dollars); an estimated four million people. They have instead been pushing for a flat tax rate of 15 percent to include those with higher incomes. Mr Tlusty says his party has not had a change of heart but simply realises that lowered taxes for some is better than for none.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek met with Cardinal Miloslav Vlk on
Friday evening in hopes of ending a 13 year long dispute between the
Catholic Church and the state. Both claim to be the rightful owners of
St. Vitus' Cathedral, one of Prague's main landmarks. Last week, a
Prague district court ruled in favour of the church but the state plans
to appeal the verdict.
The two-hour meeting between the prime minister and the cardinal failed to produce a compromise solution. Mr Paroubek proposed the Church declare the Cathedral is owned by the Czech nation but plays an important role in its management. The Catholic Church on the other hand recognised St Vitus' Cathedral as part of the cultural heritage of the Czech state and a symbol of Czech nationhood but insisted ownership rights be decided by a court.
The Animal Liberation Front says it is responsible for releasing into the wild over 1,000 foxes and minks that were bred at a fur farm near the eastern town of Svitava. Animal rights activists have welcomed the move but some fear the foxes will find it hard to survive in the wild. The farm owners say they have lost over one million crowns (a little under 41,000 US dollars) and will have to close down the business before they acquire new breeding animals.
The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is facing criticism from a number of
politicians, who say Friday's address marking the 87th anniversary of the
foundation of Czechoslovakia was too political. Besides stressing that
Czechs should value their independence, President Klaus warned of European
integration and EU rules and regulations.
To Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek such anti-EU sentiment was misplaced as it is not shared by the majority of Czech citizens. The Communist Party's Pavel Kovacik believes the President took the opportunity to use the address as a pre-election speech - the general elections are to be held next year and the chances of a victory for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, which Mr Klaus founded, look promising. Most of the leading Czech press also criticised the presidential address, saying that Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president, would have supported European integration.
A reception organised in Havana to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia had to be relocated to the Czech Ambassador's residence, the AFP news agency reported. The event, which initially was to be held in a luxurious hotel, was dubbed as counter-revolutionary because it was attended by wives and close friends of Cuban political prisoners. Hotel management refused to host the event following orders from the Cuban authorities.
An anonymous bomb threat was also called in to the Prague headquarters of US broadcaster Radio Free Europe at around 3pm on Friday. The building was evacuated as a precaution and police reportedly found a suspicious package on the grounds. RFE was forced to disrupt its transmission. Police have not said if the caller gave a motive, but the radio headquarters have been considered a likely target for a terrorist attack, and the building at the top of Wenceslas Square has been under armed guard since 2001.