The OKD mining company has confirmed plans to close the Paskov mine before the end of the year. Approximately 1,300 employees will be laid off. The information appeared in the company paper on Thursday. Trade unions said they had not been informed of the move. OKD faces severe financial difficulties and had previously announced the closure of three mines altogether. The fate of the other two, Darkov and Lazy remains uncertain.
The technical director of the state-owned forestry company Lesy CR, Vaclav Lidicky, has warned that the country faces the worst bark-beetle infestation in 20 years. Mr. Lidicky spoke of a calamity such as the one experienced in the beginning of the 1990s and said fast action would need to be taken to prevent further spread of the bark beetle before its reproduction cycle in the spring. This will include both the felling of trees which will be left on the ground as “traps” and the deployment of 36,000 pheromone traps. The situation is reported to be worst in Moravia-Silesia. Lesy CR owns half of the country’s forests and the company has earmarked 130 million crowns to get the problem under control.
New electricity tariffs which were expected to come into force in 2017 will not be introduced before 2019, the head of the country’s energy regulator Alena Vitaskova told journalists in Prague on Thursday. A proposal for the redistribution of costs of electricity supply between different categories of Czech households and businesses has drawn widespread criticism and will have to be reworked. The proposal was rejected, among others, by the prime minister who noted that it would severely increase the cost of electricity for 38 percent of households and 91 percent of small producers.
Five of the eighteen Northern bald ibises which escaped from Prague Zoo on Tuesday, have been re-captured the head of the zoo Miroslav Bobek said on Thursday. He asked the public for assistance in retrieving the others which have been sighted in different parts of Prague and further afield. The fifth bird was captured by a post office employee on Wenceslas Square. Another three are reported to have returned to Prague Zoo on their own and have been circling in the vicinity of their aviary. The Northern bald ibis is an endangered breed but experts say that the birds are not in imminent danger since they are hardy and capable of finding food under the present climatic conditions. The birds escaped after their aviary was damaged by heavy snow.
The regional court in Hradec Králové has ruled on a case involving child pornography. The organizer of the child porn ring was sentenced to seven years in jail, the others received two to three year sentences. The group abused over 100 children from socially weak families telling their parents they would be taking photographs for ads and foreign magazines. The ads appeared on paid child porn sites and made the ring over 5 million crowns.
Activists and members of the public gathered in the autonomous social centre Klinika in protest against a decision to force the centre to leave the premises are defying an order to vacate the building. It is not clear if the authorities will use force to evict them. The centre which helps the homeless and migrants was not allowed to extend its lease on the Žižkov building on the grounds that the building is not in good shape. The issue is to be discussed at a meeting of the Prague 3 council next Tuesday to which the district mayor has invited the finance and interior ministers. A demonstration in support of the centre took place over the weekend.
A woman hospitalized with swine flu in the town of Chomutov has died, according to a local daily. The woman reportedly died of multiple organ failure. According to the hospital another woman with the swine flu is fighting for her life. An epidemic of the swine flu broke out at the end of last year in Ukraine where 253 people have died of related complications.
Twenty lawmakers across the political spectrum are backing a proposal to ban fur farms in the Czech Republic. The draft bill envisages a ban on the setting up of new fur farms as of 2017 and would force the existing ones to close by 2018. The ban would not affect rabbit farms where the fur is a by-product. There are currently nine fur farms in the Czech Republic which mainly breed foxes and mink in what activists say are atrocious conditions. Previous efforts to ban the farms have failed. Opinion surveys suggest the majority of Czechs would support the ban.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech has sustained an unspecified muscle injury following the Wednesday night clash between Arsenal and Swansea. Manager Arsène Wenger did not clarifiy details about Čech’s injury but said he would certainly be out for the big game between Arsenal and Tottenham at the weekend. Arsenal lost the home game against Swansea 1:2 and are now six points off the leading club, Leicester.
A motion to give a 100 crown a month higher tax break for second children and a 300 crown a month higher break for each of the following children has been passed by the lower house. The measure could take effect from the start of this tax year. The government is committed to increasing tax breaks for families under its coalition agreement with the Christian Democrats. The proposal will now head to the upper house, the Senate. Some analysts have described the rise as relatively insignificant.