News

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Swapped babies return to their biological parents

The two baby girls who were accidentally swapped at birth almost a year ago have returned to their biological parents. The parents have originally planned to exchange the babies on New Year’s Day, but psychologists have advised them to do it as soon as possible, as the girls start to be increasingly attached to them. The girls were mixed up by hospital staff soon after their birth on December 9 last year. The parents learnt of the accidental swap in October after one of the fathers secretly ordered a DNA test, fearing that his daughter was not his biological child. When the mother’s subsequent tests came out negative as well, the hospital admitted its mistake.

Greens approve Liska’s nomination for education minister

The Green Party have nominated their deputy chairman and member of parliament Ondrej Liska for education minister. The approval of the 30-year-old Liska was preceded by a long and heated debate in the broader leadership of the party. The Greens’ partners in government, the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats, have expressed their agreement with the candidacy. President Vaclav Klaus will appoint Mr Liska on Tuesday. Last week he expressed his concerns regarding Mr Liska’s relatively young age.

The search for a new education minister has taken more than two months, since Dana Kuchtova resigned having failed to secure billions of crowns worth of EU funds which had been earmarked for the Czech Republic. The search for her successor has split the Green Party, with some deputies insisting that she should be re-instated.

Half of school employees expected to take part in Tuesday’s strike

About half of the Czech Republic’s school employees, some 100 000 people, are expected to take part in a strike on Tuesday to demand increased funding for the education sector next year. The unions say three billions crowns is needed for teachers' salaries and training and school equipment. According to union leader Frantisek Dobsik, some 80 % of Czech schools are expected to be closed. The caretaker education minister, Martin Bursik, said after a meeting with union leaders on Saturday that the government would not allocate more money for the education sector despite the strike.

Czech exiles planned to abduct Czechoslovak president Benes after 1948

A group of Czech exiles considered abducting Edvard Benes from Czechoslovakia after the 1948 communist takeover, the Lidove noviny reported. It said the plan had been dropped due to the poor state of Benes’s health. Former resistance fighter Radomir Luza told the daily that he had proposed the plan to the French military intelligence. Edvard Benes was one of the politicians who contributed to the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Between 1940 and 1945 he was the head of the Czechoslovak exile government seated in London. Mr Benes resigned as president in June 1948.

EU funds to help renovating Romany ghettos

Prefabricated blocks of flats from the housing estates inhabited largely by Czech Romanies may be renovated, using the funds from an EU operational programme, according to the government council for the Romany community. The project managed by the Local Development Ministry should take place between 2007 and 2013 in five localities with over 20,000 residents.

In related news, a new agency was set up to battle social exclusion and to improve housing conditions of Romanies. As of January 2008, the agency will conduct pilot projects in 12 Czech ghettos. It will aim to establish cooperation between authorities, NGOs and residents of the localities. There are currently over 300 ghettos in the country, mostly inhabited by Romanies, with as many as 80,000 people living in them.

Number of Czech households with Internet access smaller than EU average

Number of Czech households with Internet access has increased by six percent since last year to 35%, but the Czech Republic is still lagging behind the EU average. According to a new survey conducted by Eurostat in 27 European countries, the number of EU household with access to Internet increased from 49 % last year to 54 % at the beginning of 2007. The Czech Republic is followed by Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania.

Trebon carp protected by EU

Trebonsky kapr, or carp from Trebon, has been added to the EU’s list of protected food products. The label Trebon Carp has been used for more than 100 years. According to Rudolf Provazek, head of carp producers Fish Market, the label will help sales in other countries where people are prepared to pay for quality. Nine other Czech products are already on the EU protected list, including Horice rolled wafers, Budvar Beer and Czech hops.

Record sum stolen in Prague

A security agency employee is suspected of having stolen half a billion crowns (some 27 million US dollars) in cash from the agency’s office of Saturday. According to a spokesperson for the Prague police, it is probably the biggest robbery in the country’s history. The police have launched a nationwide search for the suspect. Previously the highest sum stolen in cash was 153 million crowns, which was taken when an armoured car carrying money from a bank in Prague was held up in September 2002. The robbers were never found and the investigation was shelved this year.

Film version planned for new Havel play

Vaclav Havel's new play Odchazeni or Leaving, which will be premiered in spring at the Divadlo na Vinohradech Theatre, will also be made into a movie, Mr Havel said on Friday. Czech director Jaroslav Brabec will start filming next summer in cooperation with costume designer Theodor Pistek and stage designer Borek Sipek. The film should feature Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar.

Czech football fans accused over Sunday riots

Seven football fans from Czech Republic and Poland have been accused of hooliganism over clashes that evolved after Sunday’s match between Czech clubs Banik Ostrava and Sparta Praha. The fans demolished the stadium, tearing away more than 300 seats and throwing them at the police officers. None of the policemen suffered serious injuries.

Czech rivers rise after weekend rainfall

Water levels in some regions of the country have risen after heavy rains and the thawing of snow in the mountains at the weekend. Flood alerts have reached the second highest level in the Otava and Uhlava rivers in South Bohemia. Meteorologists have issued a warning that continued rainfall could further increase water levels in other parts of the country on Monday.

Weather

The following days should be mostly cloudy with occasional rainfall. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach highs between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.