News

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Solana urges EU to debate US missile shield, MEPs split on missile shield plan

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has urged European Union member states to debate US plans to install part of its missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. Speaking in the European Parliament on Thursday, Mr Solana said it was ultimately up to EU capitals to decide whether they joined the United States in the project but they were obliged to ensure that any such participation did not undermine overall security policy in the EU. The US plans to site a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland sparked a fierce debate among MEPs on Thursday, highlighting the risk of an EU rift over the project.

Parts of the anti-missile shield are already in place in the United States, Britain and Greenland, and Pentagon officials say the plan is to have the system operational by 2013. Washington acknowledges that the system primarily protects US soil from attack by "rogue states" like Iran but that it would also shield some, though not all, European allies.

Topolanek: wire-tapping claims vindicated

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said that his claims on the eve of last year's general election that the Social Democrats had spied on political rivals have been vindicated. Before last June's general election, Mr Topolanek had alleged that the Social Democrat administration had bugged the phones of several people after a report by top police official Jan Kubice had been leaked, which suggested that there were links between organised crime and officials in the then Social-Democrat government.

Interior Minister: 46 phones bugged in "Kubice report" case

In related news, Interior Minister Ivan Langer has revealed that in all 46 phone numbers were wiretapped in the case of the leaked "Kubice report", some belonging to lawyers and also to children. Minister Langer says former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and former Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan were responsible for what he called "unacceptable police procedure". People whose phones were tapped include MPs, city councillors, a mayor, lawyers, businessmen and also the teenage daughter of the mayor of Olomouc and her classmate.

Czechoslovak pensioners entitled to Czech pensions

The Constitutional Court has ruled that Czech citizens who were employed by Slovak companies during the existence of Czechoslovakia are entitled to the same pensions as if they had been employed in what is now the Czech Republic. The ruling was based on the case of Anna Weiszova from the eastern town of Opava. She was employed in Slovakia and as she was born in Slovakia she receives a Slovak pension which is lower than that of her Czech colleagues.

Leading Chinese TV maker starts production in Czech Republic

One of China's leading TV manufacturers, Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., has opened a production facility in the central Bohemian town of Nymburk. The project, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, is the first overseas production base wholly owned by a Chinese home electrical appliance enterprise. The 15-million-dollar project has a designed annual production capacity of one million sets, mostly flat-panel and high-definition TVs. The company aims to gradually expand the production to also include air conditioners, refrigerators, cellphones and set-top boxes, in order to sell all Changhong products in Europe.

Czech police complete investigation into illegal organ trading

The Czech police have completed an investigation into the illegal export of human skin taken from dead donors, the Pravo newspaper reports. According to the daily, investigators are to recommend that five medical workers and one other person be charged with illegally exporting skin taken from a tissue bank at the Brno Faculty Hospital. The accused face up to eight years in prison if found guilty. It is the first case of its kind in the Czech Republic.

Mlada fronta Dnes: sharp increase in property prices

Prices for flats and apartments in the Czech Republic have risen sharply according to Mlada fronta Dnes. The newspaper reports that property prices have increased by more than ten percent in many large Czech towns and cities, with prices for apartments in Prague increasing by as much as one third. Among other things, the daily attributes the price increases to easily available mortgages and foreign property speculators.

World sudoku championship opens in Prague

The second world sudoku championships opened in Prague on Thursday with 140 entrants from 32 countries competing to become the top player of the popular numerical logic game, organisers said. Current world champion, 32-year-old Czech, Jana Tylova, said ahead of the competition that she expected a much tougher contest than in Italy last year, when she took the title ahead of 87 opponents from 22 countries. Sudoku fans worldwide have been invited to follow the tournament's progress on line on the website www.sudoku07.com. President Vaclav Klaus, a keen player, is expected to attend the finals on Saturday, organisers added.

Football: Czech press step up pressure on Bruckner

The Czech press stepped up the pressure for the country's veteran manager, Karel Bruckner, to resign on Thursday after the team's uninspiring 1:0 victory against Cyprus on Wednesday. The team had previously lost at home to Germany on Saturday in another Euro-2008 qualifier. Newspapers above all reproach 67-year old Bruckner for always preferring the same group of players and being unable to impose discipline on some of them. The whole squad was fined 1 million crowns (almost 48,000 dollars) after several players celebrated with a drinking session into the early hours of Sunday morning, hours after their 2:1 home defeat against Germany. The tabloid daily Sip alleged on Monday that prostitutes took part in the celebrations to mark the birthday of one of the players.

Vaidisova crashes out of Miami tournament

Czech tennis player Nicole Vaidisova lost to Serena Williams in their Miami Open quarter-final on Tuesday. The world number eight was brushed aside by the American in straight sets 6:1, 6:4.

Weather

The coming days should be partly cloudy with daytime highs between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.