News

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Heating costs set to rise considerably

Household heating costs in the Czech Republic could rise by up to a third next year. A spokesman for the country's heating association, Pavel Kaufmann, said producers were hoping that such a big increase did not occur. In any case prices will rise by at least ten percent. Coal, natural gas and biomass are all now more expensive, while water costs for heat producers have also risen. From January there will be a new environmental tax and a hike in the VAT rate, while emissions permits will also cost more.

Baby mix-up couples drop idea of exchanging infants on first birthday

Two couples whose babies were mixed up by hospital staff in Trebic have not yet agreed on when they will exchange the infants. The families had planned to begin bringing up their own biological babies from December 9, the children's first birthday. However, after sessions with a new psychologist the couples have decided not to set a concrete date in advance of the swap; it is believed this approach would be less stressful for the two mothers. The case received the attention of the world's media after being uncovered earlier this month.

Most Prague citizens like Blob

The majority of people living in Prague like the design of a planned new National Library building, suggests a poll carried out by the STEM agency. Sixty percent of the Prague citizens surveyed last week said they liked the green-and-violet octopus-like design by the world-renowned Czech architect Jan Kaplicky. However, the building - nicknamed the Blob - will probably not be built at the original site selected on Prague's Letna Plain, as city councillors say the modernistic building would be too near the historical centre of the city. There have been suggestions it could go up elsewhere in Prague, though there is a good chance Mr Kaplicky's plan will never be realised.

Meanwhile, National Library director Vlastimil Jezek said on Sunday that if the Blob is built it could cost around CZK three billion, rather than the two billion originally envisaged.

Schwarzenberg to present report on UN vote failure to cabinet

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is on Monday going to present a report to the cabinet on the Czech Republic's recent failure to win a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Czech Republic withdrew from the vote after the country's rival for the post Croatia gathered more support. It will occupy the post for two years, starting in 2009. Mr Schwarzenberg said there were several reasons Prague had lost the vote; however, he said, the fact the Czech Republic is to assume the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2009 was not among them.

Sixteen-year-old dies when parachute fails to open

A sixteen-year-old girl died when her parachute failed to open during a jump at Erpuzice, west Bohemia on Saturday. A police spokesperson said the teenager had fallen from a height of 600 metres. An investigation is being conducted into her death. Under Czech regulations young people can do parachute jumps from the age of 15, but those under 18 must have the consent of their parents.

Cech among candidates for European footballer of the year

The Czech football goalkeeper Petr Cech is among 50 players nominated for European Player of the Year. Cech, who is 25 and plays for the English club Chelsea, finished 14th two years ago in the poll organised by the magazine France Football. Two Czechs have won the Ballon d'Or in the past: Josef Masopust in 1962 and Pavel Nedved in 2003.

Weather

It will gradually get a bit warmer over the next few days, with temperatures expected to reach up to 12 degrees Celsius. Skies will be grey and it will be wet.