Local municipalities in the Šumava area have said they will hold a “happening” on Sunday, expressing support for the Šumava National Park management – at odds with ecological activists who for weeks this summer held blockades to try and prevent continued logging. Activists have chained themselves to trees in protected areas of the park (between five to 10 remain) to prevent loggers from felling trees or stripping bark – steps they say are illegal. The move has been commissioned by the park’s management to try and prevent further devastation by the bark-beetle. Representatives organising Sunday’s event say that they expect several hundred people to take part.
Waste production in the Czech Republic in 2010 dropped by half-a-percent year-on-year to 24.1 million tonnes. But municipalities accounted for 3.3 million tonnes of waste – the equivalent of 317 kilos per head, a rise of 2 kilograms per inhabitant. Year-on-year communal waste rose by one percent. The numbers were released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. In the long-term, more and more Czechs are recycling: back in 2002 roughly six percent of all gathered communal waste was set aside for recycling; in 2010 the number was 16 percent. Dangerous waste materials, meanwhile, dropped by 10 percent last year due to changes in industry.
The highly-respected Czech philosopher and priest Tomáš Halík will be presented an award for Europe’s best theological book for 2009/2010 at an international convention of theologians in Vienna next week. ČTK announced the development on Friday saying it is the first time the award will go to a writer from “Eastern” Europe. Mr Halík’s book is entitled “Patience with God” and has been translated into Polish, German and English. Last year it was named a book of the month by the US Catholic Book Club.
The famous Spanish tenor and conductor Placido Domingo will perform in the Southern Bohemian town of Česky Krumlov on Saturday. His concert will be the highlight of the International Music Festival Český Krumlov’s 20th anniversary edition. Organizers expect some 7,000 people to attend. The opera star said at a news conference in Prague on Thursday that he regards singing in the quaint Czech town a challenge and that he was very much looking forward to it. The singer is a 12-time Grammy winner and has performed both in the baritone and in the tenor range. He garnered international fame as one of the Three Tenors with José Carrera and the late Luciano Pavarotti.
Football club Sparta Prague lost 2:0 in the first-leg against Romania’s Vaslui – a preliminary round match-up for the Europa League. Temwanjera opened the scoring against the visitors in the 13th minute, a play in which Sparta goalkeeper Blažek was crashed by Gerlem. The Sparta goalie had to be treated for potential injury and looked shaky on Vaslui's second goal, also in the first half, when he mishandled the ball into his own net. In the second half he was replaced by Švenger. Sparta’s loss on Thursday was the Czech club’s first on Romanian soil since 1982.
Czech road-racing cyclist Roman Keuziger – who broke his arm during this year’s Tour de France has resumed training even though he still has a cast on his left hand. The rider, who has had finishes in the top 10 in the Tour de France in the past but fared poorly this year, announced on his website that he had gotten back in the saddle and despite initial discomfort was now riding three hours or so per day. Kreuziger rides for Team Astana and is training in the area of Plzeň in the Czech Republic.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called on the Education Minister, Josef Dobeš, to distance himself from the statements made by his ultra-conservative advisor and HR chief Ladislav Bátora. The prime minister added that it was simply unacceptable that a conflict over the insults by Mr. Bátora would get in the way of cabinet sessions. Mr. Nečas is planning to address the situation with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg when he returns from his holiday at the end of the month. Mr. Schwarzenberg had become the target of Mr. Bátora’s insults following his colloquially-phrased criticism that he was inappropriate for his position. In response, Mr. Bátora called him a “poor little old man.” Due to the dispute, cabinet members of the TOP 09 party, of which Mr. Schwarzenberg is the chairman, walked out of a Wednesday meeting of the government and threatened to leave the coalition altogether unless the Education Ministry rebukes Mr. Bátora and dismisses him from his post.
In related news, Finance Minister and deputy chairman of the TOP 09 party Miroslav Kalousek has made it clear that he would not support a planned tax reform in the lower house unless either Education Minister Josef Dobeš or his ultra-conservative advisor and HR chief Ladislav Bátora resign. Until then, Mr. Kalousek insists, none of the TOP 09 party’s ministers will attend government sessions. He added that government posts should not be abused for the propagation of extremist views and that a government official should not be able to get away with insulting a member of the cabinet. Next week, the three-party, right-of-center coalition is set to discuss a planned tax reform that would introduce the taxation of gambling. Radek John, the chairman of the junior coalition partner Public Affairs, has warned that if the reform is not approved next week, the government will not be able to introduce taxes on gambling, which would cost it some seven billion Czech crowns.
Health Minister Leoš Heger has assured doctors and nurses that he will do everything in his power to secure salary raises for them in 2012. According to an agreement signed by the minister and the doctors’ unions six months ago, wages for doctors and nurses are to be increased by ten percent next year. The health minister added that despite initial difficulties, doctors’ salaries already saw a growth of 20 percent on average this year. However, health insurance companies have announced that they will reduce their coverage of patients’ hospitalization, which could lead to a budget deficit in the health sector. In addition, a change in value added tax to take effect next year will reduce the health ministry’s budget by four billion crowns in 2012.
According to its yearly report published on Thursday, the government’s advisory board NERV will be addressing current events such as the debt crisis in the euro zone as well as the union’s new draft budget for the years 2014 to 2020. Among NERV’s priorities is examining how the euro zone’s debt crisis may affect the domestic market. The board announced that its six groups would be working together more closely. In addition, NERV will form ad-hoc work groups devoted to debt-related issues as well as the EU budget. NERV was established in January 2009 as an expert advisory board for the government of Mírek Topolánek.