Civic Democrat Martin Kuba will become the new industry and trade minister, a government spokesman said on Tuesday. Mr Kuba, who heads the centre-right party’s organization in South Bohemia, will be appointed by President Václav Klaus on Wednesday. The 38-year-old Petr Kuba, a medic by profession, has for the last three years served as deputy governor of the South Bohemian region. His predecessor at the ministry, Martin Kocourek, was last week forced to step down after he failed to explain the origin of millions of crowns suddenly appeared in an account belonging to his mother.
The Czech Republic’s economic growth slowed down to an annual 1.5-percent rate in the third quarter of this year, according to a report by the Czech Statistical Office released on Tuesday. Compared to the previous quarter, however, the country’s GDP growth contracted by 0.7 percent. Analysts forecast a lower growth rate for the final quarter of 2011 when the Czech economy might even slip into recession. The Czech Finance Ministry is sceptical about the economy’s performance next year too, hinting that a 1.0 percent growth rate would be a success.
Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra on Tuesday threatened to cancel a 3.5 billion crown contract with the producer of the CASA military transport aircraft if they are not fully functionally by May. In 2009, the Czech military bought four CASA planes from the Spanish manufacturer. However, the aircraft have been plagued by technical defects and were grounded in October after one of them experienced an engine failure during landing.
Czechs aged 15 to 24 remain Europe’s top consumers of cannabis, according to the annual report by the European Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction released on Tuesday. Compared to the European average of around 30 percent, more than 54 percent of young Czechs smoked marihuana at least once last year, followed by the French and the Spanish. The report suggests that cannabis consumption in the Czech Republic, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and some other eastern European countries is on the rise, contrary to western Europe where it is declining. The centre also registered a record number of 41 new synthetic drugs that appeared in Europe last year.
The Czech Republic is plagued by air pollution and adverse weather conditions. The industrialized regions of northern Moravia, central Bohemia and Ústí are among the worst hit, with pollution levels exceeding legal limits. The city of Plzeň experienced the fallout of condensated waste vapour, known as “industrial snow”. The authorities in cities across the Czech Republic have declared smog alerts, restricting traffic and industrial production. Several flights to and from Prague’s Ruzyně airport have been cancelled. Meteorologists have warned that the situation is not likely to improve before the end of the week.
Member of the Prague 1 local council, and MP for the Public Affairs party, Kateřina Klasnová, screened gay porn at a public hearing in protest against leasing property to a gay sauna. Ms Klasnová said she screened several partially blackened out images of gay sex to show that rather than seeking sauna services, clients come to the establishment for casual sex which is explicitly forbidden by the terms of the lease. Prague 1 mayor Oldřich Lomecký criticized Ms Klasnová for screening the images and said a recent inspection to the sauna found no breaches of the contract. The owner of the gay sauna denied Mr Klasnová’s claims although its website advertises “opportunities to meet new friends”.
The Al-Ahli hospital in Qatari capital Doha has staged a recruiting event in Prague this week to hire Czech health workers, the news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday. Some 80 doctors and nurses have undergone interviews; 90 percent of them were successful and will start working in Qatar in February and March 2012, one of the event’s organizers said. Czech health workers are reportedly sought after also in Austria and Germany.
In the last academic year, 765 Czechs studied at universities in the United States, which was 7 percent less than in the previous period, according to a report by the US group Institute of International Education. Most Czech university students in the US attended bachelor programmes. Jakub Tesař from the Fulbright Commission, which organizes stays at US universities, said high costs were the major obstacle for Czech students intending to study in the United States.
The British synthpop duo Erasure are going to appear in Prague on Tuesday night after a pause of 14 years with a selection of their greatest hits and songs from their latest album “Tomorrow’s World”. The Prague concert at Incheba Arena is part of the band’s world tour which started in Florida in August. Singer Andy Bell and multi-instrumentalist Vince Clark have played four concerts in this country, the first one back in 1988.
The Czech national football team plays Montenegro on Tuesday in the second leg of the EURO 2012 playoffs. The Czechs won the first leg 2:0 in Prague on Friday, boosting their hopes of advancing to the final tournament as the hosts need a three-nil win. The game in Podgorica starts at 8:15 PM. If successful, the Czech national team will be seeded in Pot 4 for the tournament’s final draw.