News

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Air pollution kills more Czechs every year

Some 12,500 Czechs are believed to have died last year because of smog, according to a recent report by the Environment Ministry. That means that up to 13 percent of the total number of deaths in the Czech Republic can be attributed to air pollution. The last ten years have also seen an unusual increase in allergies among children. The incidence of tumours is increasing as well, especially in areas affected by higher emissions. In larger towns there are usually about two cases caused by polluted air in every hundred thousand people, while in industrial regions it can be as much as ten in one hundred thousand. The highest concentration of harmful substances was monitored in the North Bohemian region of Ostrava.

Investigation of Martin Bursik unfounded

A police investigation of Environment Minister and head of the Green Party Martin Bursik was unfounded, the state attorney said on Monday. Police started to investigate Martin Bursik and his brother Jiri last week on suspicion of improper business practices. Anonymous charges were reportedly put forward against the politician soon after the Greens threatened to leave the government – if the embattled former deputy prime minister Jiri Cunek was reinstated to the cabinet. The state attorney has ordered the police to hand the case to the relevant tax office, which will subsequently decide whether to carry out a tax and financial audit of Mr Bursik’s accounting.

Speaking upon his return from Bali where he attended a United Nation’s conference on climate change, Mr Bursik said he wanted the State Attorney’s office to publish its decision. He also said he would ask the police to explain the leak of information about the investigation to the media.

Czech teenagers don’t respect minorities

Three quarters of young Czechs have a negative attitude towards the Roma, according to a survey of 12 to 20 year olds. The survey, by non-governmental organization People in Need, indicates that Czech teenagers have a negative view of prostitutes, prisoners, drug addicts and homeless people. At the same time, more than three quarters of respondents said there was no discrimination in the Czech society. According to Dzamila Stehlikova, the minister in charge of human rights, the attitude of Czechs towards minorities is not improving fast enough.

Joint police station to operate on Czech-German border

A joint Czech-German police station has been opened at the Petrovice-Bahratal border crossing in Saxony today, a few days ahead of the Czech Republic’s entry to the Shengen zone. The centre is to coordinate the joint police patrols operating along the border zone as well as the search for wanted persons. It will also be in charge of the extradition of refugees in accordance with the Dublin convention. The Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday that the number of joint patrols operating on the Czech-German border will increase in the future. A similar centre is currently being established in Bavaria.

Czechs to send home last North Korean workers by January 2008

North Koreans living and working in the Czech Republic under a controversial labour programme will be sent home by the end of January 2008, AFP agency reported on Monday, citing the Czech Interior Ministry. It will end the practice of allowing them to work in factories as a source of cheap labour, after some human right groups said they were being used as breadwinners for the authoritarian regime in their home country. 134 Koreans were still working in the country at the end of November, the Interior Ministry said.

Interior Ministry to buy new police cars

Czech Interior Ministry has announced a plan to buy thousands of new cars for the police as of the beginning of next year. It will be the biggest purchase of police cars in ten years. The last time the police purchased such an amount of cars was in the mid-1990s, when they acquired 5,500 Skoda cars. The Interior Minister Ivan Langer has not specified how much the new cars will cost.

Young male teachers rare at Czech schools

Only one twelfth of Czech primary school teachers are younger than 30 years of age, according to a recent report conducted by Czech School Inspectorate, and only 10% of teachers are male. The average age of Czech teachers is currently 42.5 years. Most graduates are discouraged from teaching jobs by low pay. In addition, teachers are not remunerated according quality of teaching but according to years of experience, the report says.

Police crack down on copyright crime

Seven people were arrested and charged with copyright violations in a series of nine police raids that took place in different parts of the Czech Republic last week. The police had seized computers and data-storage equipment with illegal software and pirated music and films. The centre of the illegal network was reportedly based at the Czech Technical University dormitories in Prague's district of Strahov.

Weather

The following days are expected to be chilly with daytime temperatures set to reach highs of around 2 degrees Celsius.