News

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Hundreds of police demonstrate against so-called "Service Law"

Around 300 Czech police and other members of the security forces protested in the centre of Prague on Saturday in protest at the so-called "Service Law". The demonstration was organised by police unions, who claim that the law, which has been in effect since the start of the year, leaves many police officers worse off. Their principal grievances include the fact that the law abolished many bonus payments for overtime work and for working on state holidays and weekends. The Czech Minister for the Interior Ivan Langer denies that the law has had a detrimental effect on police salaries and maintains that the wages of 94 percent of police officers have increased since the legislation was introduced.

The turnout was a lot lower than expected, but protest organisers claim that the attendance would have been much higher if some police had not been assigned to a special traffic-safety operation. They also said that the number of people protesting was also affected by the fact that a lot of extra police were on duty amid security concerns surrounding a first-division football match between Slavia Prague and Banik Ostrava on Saturday evening.

Mirek Topolanek: Talks on US radar base proceeding without problems

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said on Saturday evening that negotiations with US representatives on the construction of a proposed American radar base were proceeding without any major problems after holding talks with a delegation from the US Congress on the issue. He also said that a number of obstacles to the negotiations had been removed although he declined to elaborate.

The US delegation, headed by Democratic congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, also met with the deputy prime minister Alexander Vondra and the head of the opposition Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek. Earlier, Ms Tauscher had said that the proposed US missile defence system involving a radar base in the Czech Republic and an interceptor missile facility in Poland must be fully incorporated into NATO and it must protect both Europe and the United States.

The proposed US facilities are intended as part of a missile defence system aimed at countering possible attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iran. Polls show that a majority of Czechs are against the proposal even though it has the tentative support of the centre-right government. A final decision on the base is expected early next year.

Tyden.cz: Czech government in negotiations to sell Budvar

The website of the Czech weekly Tyden has claimed that the American beer giant Anheuser-Busch, which owns the Budweiser brand, is in negotiations with the Czech government over the sale of the state-owned Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice. Citing an article in the German magazine Euro am Sonntag, which is due to be published on Sunday, Tyden claims that an unnamed Civic Democrat MP had revealed that the government was in discussions with the American brewer over the sale of Budvar. The Czech Minister of Agriculture Petr Gandalovic has denied the allegations.

Budvar is the third largest brewery in the Czech Republic and it is one of the country's biggest exporters of beer, distributing the drink to over 50 countries. It has been involved in a number of trademark disputes with the American Anheuser-Busch brewery in various states over the use of the Budweiser brand, a name Budvar also uses for some of its products.

Educational reforms may include changes to school dinners

An advisor to the Ministry of Education has said that the food served to children in Czech schools could change within the framework of proposed reforms to the education system. Educational consultant David Bartusek has said that in addition to offering parents different education programmes for their children, schools may soon be offering alternative healthy meals on their menus as well.

The food served in school dinners is currently set by a ministerial decree. Critics say that the food prescribed by the legislation has too much fat and an unhealthy surfeit of protein, which could be a contributory factor in rising obesity levels.

Jet-ski owners block traffic on Vltava

Jet-ski owners symbolically blocked the Vltava River in Prague for several minutes on Saturday afternoon in protest against a planned amendment to the law on inland navigation, which would ban certain vessels from water courses, including jet-skis. The protesters were also demonstrating against a proposal to introduce charges for recreational navigation on the country's waterways, which has been free up to now.

Tender for Brno incineration plant to be investigated

Brno's municipal waste-management firm SAKO is being investigated by the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition (UOHS) in connection with a tender it held for the reconstruction of an incineration plant in the Moravian capital, according to Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes. It was the fourth tender announced by SAKO for the reconstruction of the plant, which is expected to cost as much as 2.25 billion CZK (113 million USD). The first three tenders were cancelled by the waste-management firm itself and the allocation of the fourth has now been delayed for around a year after one of the unsuccessful bidders lodged a complaint with the UOHS.

The Brno incineration plant has been in need of refurbishment for several years now. Brno's municipal authorities want to obtain funds from the EU to finance part of the project

Search continues for missing mushroom picker

Police in the Pilsen area are still searching for an 86-year-old mushroom picker who went missing in woods north of the west-Bohemian city on Tuesday morning. Several hundred policemen and a helicopter have already been employed in the search. The man was declared missing on Tuesday evening by his son, who had been picking mushrooms with his father that morning when the elderly man inexplicably disappeared.

Weather

The weather is expected to be warm and sunny with occasional cloud. Highest temperatures should range between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.