Prague councillors have rejected a call to end the sprinkling of salt on the capital’s pavements to keep them safe for pedestrians in freezing weather, saying it was the most cost-effective approach. However, they said salting the streets would only take place when conditions were particularly bad. A petition organised by the Green Party and an animal welfare group calling for the cessation of the practise was signed by over 1,000 people; they said it harmed dogs’ feet and destroyed building foundations and people’s shoes. Salting the streets was banned for many years but reintroduced at the start of 2012.
A fifth of Czechs drank spirits during a two-week ban on the sale of hard alcohol in September, according to a survey conducted by the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and a polling agency. Less than a third of regular drinkers of spirits refrained from consuming them during the ban, which was imposed following a wave of deaths caused by counterfeit liquors containing poisonous methanol. To date 38 people have died from drinking such bootleg spirits.
The captain of Viktoria Plzeň, Pavel Horvath, has been named in the team of the group stage of the Europa League. The midfielder, who is 37, is the oldest player to score in European soccer’s second-tier competition. The former Czech international finds himself alongside the likes of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani in the all-star 11.
Simona Baumrtová took bronze in the 100m backstroke at the World Swimming Championships in the Turkish capital Istanbul on Thursday, securing the Czech Republic’s first medal in the competition in nine years. The 21-year-old beat her own Czech record to come third in a time of 57:08 seconds. Last month she became the first Czech swimmer to bring home four medals from a single competition, the European Short Course Championship in France’s Chartres.
The newly appointed Defense Minister Karolína Peake (LIDEM) announced a number of personnel changes at the ministry on Thursday after officially taking up the post the day before. Ms Peake dismissed the first deputy defense minister, General Vlastimil Picek, the armaments director Pavel Bulant and an advisor. The new defense minister said that she has offered Mr Picek another position at the ministry, but added that she believes that top positions at the defense ministry should be occupied by civilians. Shadow Defense Minister Social Democrat Jan Hamáček criticized Peake for making major changes after announcing on Wednesday that she will not do so.
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Thursday that the Interior Ministry should register Jana Bobošíková as a presidential candidate, after the ministry rejected her application earlier citing an inadequate number of verifiable signatures. The court rejected the appeals of Tomio Okamura and Vladimír Dlouhý whose applications for candidacy were also previously rejected. There are now nine candidates who will be vying for the presidential post in the January elections.
Sixteen students from high schools in České Budejovice will hold a 24-hour hunger strike early next week to protest the naming of the Communist Party member Vítězslava Baborová as the regional councilwoman for education in South Bohemia. Students and teachers in a number of South Bohemian cities held street protests against the regional government coalition between the Social Democrats and the Communists in November, and have met with the regional governor, Social Democrat Jiří Zimola. But the regional council has not responded to their demands to put an end to the coalition with the Communist Party. The students have said they will begin the hunger strike at 6 p.m. on Monday and will continue for 24-hours. A street protest is also scheduled for Tuesday in České Budejovice, which will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of former president and dissident Václav Havel.
The central vehicle registry in Prague, as well as in Pardubice, Karvina, Kladno and Brno, has collapsed after the system was electronically connected to the government databases of people and property addresses. The vehicle registration system has had numerous functionality problems ever since it was launched this summer. The current outage means that the vehicle registration office is unable to complete most of the visitors’ requests. During this time of the year, 250 to 300 people go to the registration office daily. The former Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš was pressured to step down from his post due to problems with the central vehicle registry.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said that the Czech Republic will not join the European Banking Union, which was agreed on on Wednesday night by European heads of state. According to Mr Nečas’ statement, the Czech Republic has no reason to do so yet. Sweden, Poland and Hungary are also considering not joining the union at this point.
In a mock presidential election held at nearly 450 Czech secondary schools this week, Vladimír Franz received over 40 percent of the vote. Jan Fischer, a favourite in the polls ahead of January’s real presidential election, came in second with some 19 percent of the mock student vote, while Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg finished third with more than 14 percent. Party candidates – Civic Democrat Přemysl Sobotka and Social Democrat Jiří Dienstbier, finished last. Commentators believe the results reflect deep mistrust for political parties in the society. The mock election was organized by the human rights group People in Need to educate students and familiarize them with democratic elections.
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