The administrative section of Europe’s Galileo global navigation satellite system is to be based in Prague. The decision was announced after a meeting of ambassadors to the European Union, and should be confirmed by ministers in Brussels on Friday. The Galileo office will be located in the former headquarters of the Czech Consolidation Agency in the Holešovice district of the capital. The EUR 3.4 billion GNSS project is the biggest joint undertaking to date by EU members, with the system expected to go into operation in three or four years.
The Senate has approved a bill prohibiting the use of laser pointers in the vicinity of Czech airports. Violation of the ban would be punishable by a fine of up to 5 million crowns. Pilots have sent in dozens of complaints about the use of laser pointers which they say momentarily blind them and present a threat to public safety. The bill still requires the president’s signature and should take effect from February of next year.
A poll just out suggests that 10 percent of Czechs sympathize with ultra-right parties and movements. The survey conducted by the STEM polling agency indicates that six percent of Czechs are willing to actively support the far-right by taking part in meetings and rallies. Another two percent of respondents said that while they would not want to get publicly involved they sympathize with ultra-right ideas and would support such a party in elections. A further two percent said they would not support the ultra right but understood their arguments. Seventy percent of respondents said they sympathized with some aspects of the ultra-right, while a mere twenty percent said they were revolted by the philosophy.
Three smaller parties on the Czech political scene have lodged a joint complaint with the Constitutional Court over what they claim was unfair competition in October’s local elections. Public Affairs, a member of the centre-right governing coalition, the Greens and the Independents Association-European Democrats claim that the division of Prague into seven separate voting districts severely damaged their chances in the elections. The division was pushed through by the Civic Democrats when they had a majority on the previous city council. A Prague court ruled last month that the division was not discriminatory.
Police on Thursday searched a stretch of the Vltava river for nine-year-old Anna Janotková who has been missing since mid-October, but found no trace of the child. Following several massive operations on the ground in Prague’s Troya district, the police asked for water levels on the river to be reduced and combed a stretch of the river-bed, near where the girl was last seen. The nine-year-old failed to return home from school one afternoon and all efforts to find her have proved futile. The police briefly arrested and then released a homeless man whose DNA was found on her abandoned schoolbag.
The left-dominated Senate has withdrawn a government-backed bill aiming to give recognition to those who defied the Czechoslovak communist regime. Its critics in the upper chamber said the bill was badly conceived and in many ways problematic. The proposal has likewise come under fire from historians who say it raises countless problems by categorising the types of action being recognized and those disqualified from such recognition. Its withdrawal by the Senate means that the bill will have to go back to square one and be tabled once again in the lower house. Civic Democrat senators slammed the decision as “shameful and arrogant”.
Medical experts have warned people not to place excessive confidence in the HIV home testing kits which have just become available on the market. Doctors point out that it may take two to three months for the virus to show up in a blood test and caution new couples against abandoning other forms of protection until that period has expired. Experts likewise argue that people who get a positive result from a home kit will not get the benefit of immediate professional help, may not see a doctor about medication and could even attempt suicide.
The number of foreigners residing legally in the Czech Republic has risen by 64 percent in the past four years, the Czech Statistical Office reported. Foreign residents now make up 4.15 percent of the population, which is one of the highest rates in post-communist Europe. The biggest ethnic groups are Ukrainians, Slovaks and Vietnamese nationals.
The Czech economy grew 1.0 percent in the third quarter, the Czech Statistical Office said Thursday, revising down from an initial estimate of 1.1 percent. Year-on-year, Czech gross domestic product rose 2.8 percent in the third quarter, down from its initial estimate of 3.0 percent. Last month, the Finance Ministry and the central bank both revised their growth forecasts for 2010 up to 2.2 and 2.3 percent, respectively, from a previous 1.6 percent. But both institutions said they expected a slowdown in 2011 due to the government’s harsh austerity measures designed to mend the country's ailing public finances.
A twenty-eight-year-old woman has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to a female train conductor with whom she got into a fight. The conductor asked to see her ticket and a verbal exchange ensued when it emerged that the passenger did not have one. In a fit of rage the woman punched the conductor in the eye. She was rushed to hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery but were unable to save her sight. Her attacker could face up to ten years in prison.