The Czech National Bank announced on Thursday that it is to take the 50 heller coin out of circulation. The coin, which is worth around 3 US cents, will cease to be functional at the end of August next year. There are currently 410 million 50 heller coins in operation, though only around 10% of these make their way back to the bank. Banks will exchange these coins for valid currency until September 2009.
Only one quarter of those who spend a night in the Prague drunk-tank subsequently pay for their stay. Up to 17 people can be housed in the drunk-tank, which charges around 1800 CZK (90 USD) a night. The majority of those that end up there, though, are homeless and don't have the money to pay. So far this year, the debt racked up by drunken visitors is around 3.9 million CZK. The drunk-tank is subsidised by Prague city council to the value of 8.5 million CZK a year.
The national airline, Ceska Aerolinie, approved plans to sell its freight terminal at an extraordinary general meeting on Thursday. Central European Handling is expected to buy the terminal, in a deal which is thought to be worth more than 750 million CZK (37 million USD). Ceska Aerolinie is selling the terminal to cut its losses, which were posted at 400 million crowns last year. Analysts predict that with the sale of the terminal, and the airline's catering services, the company could make a slight profit of 42 million crowns in two year's time.
Czech police and anti-drugs groups have warned that use of the drug cocaine is on the rise. According to a spokesperson from the National Anti-Drug Centre, one gram of cocaine now costs around 2000 CZK (100 USD), which is much cheaper than in the past. Despite the rise in cocaine's popularity, the number of addicts seeking treatment is still extremely low. Since 1997, only 0.5% of those being treated for drug addiction in the Czech Republic have been addicted to cocaine.
It is five years ago this month that the Czech Republic suffered the worst floods in living memory. A record 73 billion CZK (3.6 billion USD) were spent on repairing the damage caused by the floods. The deluge saw 225,000 people evacuated from their homes, and claimed 17 lives. The worst affected areas were Southern Bohemia and Prague, where the damage added up to more than 27 billion CZK. Five years on, and the capital is not entirely safe from such a catastrophe happening again. Flood barriers are still to be constructed in the southernmost part of the city, and in Prague's Troja district.
Humanitarian aid to help Albanian and Macedonian fire-fighters arrived in the Balkans on Wednesday evening. The Czech Republic donated over 1 million CZK (50 thousand USD) worth of material aid to help battle forest-fires in the region. The aid has taken the form of fireman's helmets, protective shoes and gloves. Macedonia, who originally asked the Czech Republic for help, has declared a state of emergency.
The new Czech NATO assistant secretary general Jiri Sedivy has criticized what he called the Czech Republic's 'inefficient defence spending'. Mr Sedivy made the remarks during an interview on Czech Television on Wednesday. He said that the Czech Republic spent less than the recommended 2% of GDP on defence, and that the money that was spent, was spent ineffectually. Mr Sedivy was himself the Czech defence minister, between September 2006 and January 2007.
Czech football club Slavia Prague drew 0:0 with Slovakia's Zilina in the
first-leg of a Champions League second round qualifying tie on Wednesday.
If Slavia can win the return leg in Prague next week, they will enter the
third and final qualifying round. The club, who reached the semi-finals of
the UEFA Cup in 1996, have never made it into the more lucrative and
prestigious Champions League.
It should be quite sunny over the next couple of days, with temperatures reaching up to 27 degrees centigrade.
The Czech Republic has come fourth on a list of countries where British travellers need the most consular help, behind Thailand, Australia and India. The list was released by the British Foreign Office on Thursday. Between April 2005 and March 2006, 845 Brits needed consular assistance, 445 lost their passports, 36 were arrested and 52 went to hospital in the Czech Republic, mostly in Prague. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office linked the large number of accidents to the 'massive influx' of British stag and hen parties to the capital.
The first case of a Czech citizen paying to have his life ended has been registered in Switzerland, reported Mlada Fronta Dnes on Thursday. A further four Czechs are on the clinic's books, waiting to be consulted, the paper adds. Euthanasia is currently illegal in the Czech Republic; the only European countries where it is permitted are Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.