Senate approves sending Czechs to NATO rapid-response forces
The Czech Senate has approved the deployment of the Czech anti-chemical unit in operations of NATO rapid-response forces for the second half of the year. The Senate's vote enables the government to decide by itself on the unit's deployment. However, parliament will have to vote separately on the deployment of around 100 Czech military chemical specialists to Greece to protect the summer Olympic Games, on which the government decided last Wednesday. Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka said Greece was not interested in having the multinational NATO unit guard the events, just the Czech specialists. Minister Kostelka added that the chemical experts would stay longer in Athens than the assumed 60 days, since they will also have to guard the Paralypmic Games scheduled for immediately afterwards. The Senate is due to vote on the deployment at a special session on July 13, shortly before the unit's scheduled departure at the end of the month.
Genetic information should rank among sensitive personal data
Genetic information is going to be included among sensitive personal data, under a draft amendment to the law on personal data protection that was passed by the lower house on Thursday. Approved by the Senate earlier, the bill will take effect once it is signed by President Vaclav Klaus. Under the current law, sensitive information includes people's national, racial and ethnic origin, political stance, trade union membership, religion, criminal record, state of health and sexual life. The amendment changes the fines imposed for breaching the law. Under the current law, the fines range between 25,000 and 20 million crowns. Under the amendment, the lower and the upper limits are 100,000 and 10 million crowns.
Czech Statistics Office: birth rates remain low
The Czech Statistics Office has said that even though nearly 1,000 more babies were born in the first quarter of 2004 than in the same period in 2003, birth rates in the Czech Republic continue to remain among the lowest in Europe and the world. Despite the recent slight increase, the average number of births per woman between the ages of 15 and 49 has not risen, and remains at 1.18 children. During the 1990s, experts explained the low number of births by a tendency among young people to delay parenthood and enjoy the increased career and study opportunities that opened up after the fall of communism. However, after over a decade, the situation remains unchanged. One of the reasons cited by the Czech Statistics Office for Czech women's reluctance to have more children is a lack of part-time employment opportunities.
Lower house rejects rise in TV, radio licence fees
The lower house of parliament has rejected the draft amendment increasing radio and television licence fees. The fees were last raised in 1997, to 75 crowns per month and household for owning a TV set, and to 37 crowns for owning a radio. The public service broadcaster Czech Television says that if the fees do not increase soon, it will have to limit the production of original programmes. Czech Radio has also expressed worries about financial troubles.
4,000 Czechs expected to watch Czech-Danish match
Around 4,000 Czech football fans are expected to arrive in the Portuguese city of Oporto on Sunday to watch the quarterfinal match between the Czech and Danish team in the Euro 2004 football tournament. A representative of the Czech Football Union has said that 3,800 tickets for the match were sold in the Czech Republic, but there may be many other Czech fans in Oporto who bought their tickets from other sources.
Friday should be bright and sunny with daytime temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.