The post of US ambassador to Prague has been unoccupied for almost a year, longer than it has ever been vacant before. American media outlets have reported that a previously tipped candidate, billionaire Marc Nathanson, will not now be taking up the position. The Washington Post reported that Mr Nathanson, who is a media tycoon, had had problems passing a security screening.
A Czech woman arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday has been expelled. Eva Nováková, who has been described as a pro-Palestinian activist, arrived in Prague on Tuesday. A Czech diplomat said Miss Nováková had been arrested after overstaying her visa, a suggestion denied by her lawyer.
Israeli security forces arrested a Czech pro-Palestinian activist in a raid in the West Bank town of Ramallah in the early hours of Monday, the AFP news agency reported. The woman is believed to be twenty-eight-year old Eva Novakova, who works as a media coordinator for the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement. According to the AFP report Israeli soldiers and immigration police forcibly removed her from her apartment, claiming they were searching the place for weapons. After being interrogated by immigration police, the woman was taken to Tel Aviv airport from where she was to have been deported. The activist’s lawyer stressed that the Israeli immigration police had no authority to be search apartments in areas occupied by the Palestinians.
The Supreme Administrative Court has started deliberations on a government
proposal to ban the far-right Worker’s Party. The court hearings are
expected to last for four days and hundreds of policemen will be asked to
This is the second time that the court is looking into a government
proposal to ban the far-right party. A previous attempt in 2009 was
rejected on the grounds of lack of evidence. According to the government,
the Worker’s Party is a threat to democracy and is offensive towards
The government’s prosecuting attorney told the court on Monday that the party had moved from verbal insults to physical violence against minorities who often had to be protected by the police and likened some of its marches to pogroms. He said the party’s main objective was to spread racist and xenophobic views. Head of the Worker’s Party Tomáš Vandas called the process political. A verdict is expected as early as Thursday.
On Monday, the government approved an anti-corruption package put forward by Interior Minister Martin Pecina. The proposed measures include the use of agent provocateurs and an amendment concerning the position of chief witnesses. In addition, the package will also introduce a more liberal policy on wire-tapping, adding new crimes to the list of those where wire-tapping is legally permissible. Prime Minister Jan Fischer’s government has declared the fight against corruption one of its top priorities.
Several days of heavy snow have disrupted rail and road transport around the country. Fifteen centimeters of fresh snow fell overnight, bringing snow levels in towns and cities to between 25 and 38 centimeters. Thousands of people were late to work on Monday morning as Prague’s public transport system struggled to remain in operation. Trams encountered the most problems, since the tracks have to be cleared by hand. The situation at Prague’s Ruzyně airport is now under control, with flight delays of less than an hour. The railway system is also feeling the effect of the weather and some trains are reaching their destination three hours late. Meteorologists are expecting that snow will stay on the ground in the capital until the end of January.
The situation was worst in Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic, where some roads had to be closed and trains were delayed or cancelled, while thousands of households suffered power outages. Some regions have declared a state of emergency. On Sunday morning, a 62-year-old man was found frozen to death on the street, bringing the death toll resulting from the cold snap to two.
Insurance companies in the Czech Republic are expecting to pay hundreds of millions of crowns in damages related to the cold snap and heavy snow that the country has seen in the past four days. A spokesman for the country’s largest insurance company Česká Pojištovna told the daily newspaper Právo that since Friday, 150 claims related to ground freezes and snowfall had been filed. He added that the number of minor traffic accidents that are resolved without police assistance had tripled in the last few days.
According to figures published by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on Monday, the national unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percent in December as compared to November, bringing the overall unemployment figure to nine percent. Over 530,000 Czechs are currently unemployed, that’s about 180,000 more than in 2008, when only six percent of the population was out of work. The increase in unemployment affects all regions of the Czech Republic. A ministry spokesperson said that a rise in unemployment towards the end of the year is not altogether unusual. He explained that often seasonal work and employment contracts end around that time of the year.
On Monday, President Vaclav Klaus appointed 50 new judges. For the first time, he also appointed the head of Central Bohemia’s regional court. Of all courts in the country, the Prague 1 district court will see the biggest increase in staff. According to the latest data, which is from December 2008, there are 3042 judges in the Czech Republic.