The government agency CzechInvest has announced the creation of a large Czech-Israeli fund for the support of cooperative research. The 600 million crown fund is intended primarily to further security research in unmanned aerial drones, detection of explosives and toxic substances, and nanotechnology. According to CzechInvest, the Czech Republic does not have a similar contract with any other state, and Israel cooperates in a similar way with only 15 other countries. The programme is to be officially announced by Prime Minister Jan Fischer at an event highlighting Czech and Israeli science and technology in Prague next week. The Czech Republic has historically strong commercial and military ties with the Israeli state.
Czech households connected to central heating spend considerably more on utility water than they should, a study by the Technical University of Liberec has shown. According to the study, the reason for the over-expenditure is imprecise gauges installed in flats which have error rates of up to 40%. As part of the study, which was financed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the university has also developed new technology for better measurement of hot water use. The study estimates that discrepancies caused by faulty water gauges amount to 200 to 500 crowns per flat per month, and up to 100,000 crowns a year per building.
Justice Minister Daniela Kovářová told journalists on Thursday she is assembling a group of experts to begin introducing reference charts for setting the amount of child support in divorce proceedings. Ms. Kovářová also wants a system by which divorcing parents who manage to agree on the amount of child support independently could have their cases finalised by social workers rather than the court, in an effort to relieve the latter’s workload. According to the minister, roughly 30% of divorcing couples reach such an agreement. Ms Kovářová hopes to have the proposal ready for the approval process by the end of the election season, in which case the system would take effect in 2011.
The health ministry has announced it believes the number of deaths in which the H1N1 swine flu virus was a contributing factor is at 22. The most recent death was reported Thursday by Ostrava Hospital, which said a 31-year-old man had died the day before after a long period of hospitalisation for pneumonia. Another 72,000 dosages of swine flu vaccine arrived in the country on Wednesday; health care workers have begun vaccinating select, high-risk patients, including children over the age of 10 with chronic illnesses. A number of doctors and nurses have recently publicised negative opinions of the vaccine and have come under fire from vaccine specialists who say it can save the lives of those most at risk.
While the number of internet users in the Czech Republic continues to rise, the country itself remains behind most of Europe in the total number of users, according to a study released by the Czech Statistical Office. 58.4% of Czechs used the World Wide Web in 2008; the average in the European Union altogether is 65.5%. Neighbouring Slovakia, for comparison, has 66% internet use. Only 46% of Czech households were connected to the internet in 2008 making the Czech Republic fifth to last in home internet use among EU states.
A Prague villa frequented by the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been returned to its previous owners, Mozertová obec, 23 years after it was confiscated by the state. The two-hour handover saw some continuation of the disputes that have kept the property case in the courts since 1991: Mozertová obec was shocked at the state of the mansion, which they accused the town hall of having plundered of everything from the sinks to the light bulbs. The previous tenant says that the building was in desperate condition when he moved into it and that the missing items had belonged to him.
Two Czech scientists have admitted plagiarising material for a book they wrote together. The 75-year-old university professors apologised on Thursday for using 130 lines of text from a psychology book written by another Czech author without properly citing the reference as per the copyright act. The plagiarised author says he had waited nearly two years for the matter to be addressed, and that the rectification came only after he threatened a lawsuit. The publishing company in question, the Charles University press Karolinum, also apologised for an exceptional “human error”, and said the authors would not be fined.
Thirteen activists from the environmental organisation Greenpeace staged a protest on Thursday at an electrical power plant run by Czech energy giant ČEZ. Greenpeace said the activists, who played dead in front of the entrance to the Prunéřov plant, were symbolising the casualties that could be attributed to the power station over the last six months. According to Greenpeace, the Prunéřov power plant is the largest source of greenhouse gasses in the Czech Republic. In June, organisation members climbed a 300-metre smokestack, calling for more eco-friendly technology for coal burning.
Doctors in Hloubětín in Prague found a child left in the “baby box” there. The roughly 1-year-old boy was the 14th child – and the oldest - left in that particular box since its inception. In the Czech Republic overall, 27 infants have been left anonymously in baby boxes, which were introduced to some controversy in 2006. There are currently 30 boxes in the country.
Minister of Finance Eduard Janota said on Wednesday that he might consider
resigning should all the changes to the 2010 state budget that were
suggested in the lower house’s annual session be approved. He added that
if all the changes went through, none of the original money saving measures
would remain untouched.
The Czech lower house was holding a second session to discuss the
distribution of next year’s state budget on Wednesday and will vote on
the budget in a week.
The Social Democrats, which suggested changes in budget distribution that
would amount to 12 billion Czech crowns, and the Communist Party oppose
cuts of the budget for social services, and both are demanding a higher
budget for the Ministry of Agriculture.
In related news, European ministers of finance warned the Czech Republic that if it didn’t lower its state budget deficit to less than three percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2013, it could face serious sanctions.