News 'Zemanites' to be dropped from party name
In related news, Mr Veleba indicated that - going forward - his party will drop the word 'Zemanites' from its name, becoming known only as Citizens' Rights. The party was originally largely founded to help Miloš Zeman re-enter the political arena, which proved successful. But now, the new chairman said, the party needed to 'emancipate itself' and to work on its own image. The president will stay on as honorary chairman. Mr Veleba confirmed the party was not running in the upcoming European elections but would focus instead on communal elections in the Czech Republic this autumn.
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A nine-day moratorium on the removal of munitions from the damaged facility in Vrbětice runs out at midnight on Sunday. If no uncontrolled explosions are heard, the job to begin clearing live munitions from the unstable site can begin. The storage facility, being guarded by the Czech Army, became an unexpected threat after an initial blast in October cratered part of the site and killed two employees. The government has scrambled to find a solution, calling in the military to ensure safety and security as the size of the problem became apparent.
One person was killed, another injured, in a shooting incident in Vysoké Mýto, east of Pardubice, shortly after 12 AM on Saturday. The deceased and the injured man were reportedly part of security at a local discotheque. The police detained two others at the scene and confiscated a firearm for forensics testing. According to one source, the shooter was a member of the local municipal police. The news was confirmed by the town's mayor, who said the officer had not been on duty and that the gun was not a service firearm but privately owned.
Members of an extended team searching for pieces of a bright meteorite, which recently blazed across the night sky and crashed in the area of Zd´ár nad Sázavou in the Czech Republic, have seen success. According to the Czech News Agency, on Saturday they recovered a piece - just a centimetre in size - in a field. The find will still have to be tested in the laboratory. If confirmed, the sample will be 23rd meteor in the world whose celestial orbit and area of origin are known. According to the astronomer Pavel Spurný of the Czech Academy of Sciences the main piece, if found, will be about the size of a fist. Originally, prior to entering the earth's atmosphere, the meteor weighed 200 kilos. Its flight was spotted by hundreds in the region of Vysočina on December 9.
Czech Railways has acquired 50 older train cars from Austria's Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) at the cost of 14.4 million euros, news sit iDnes reports. The train carriages will be used mainly on routes including Prague to Žilina and Budapest and Bohumín and Břeclav. The transport firm reportedly beat out private competitor RegioJet which also had an interest.
Ski jumper Roman Koudelka finished second in the FIS World Cup event in Engelberg, Switzerland, on Saturday, the third time he has finished on the podium this season. On his second jump he landed 136.5 metres but was deducted points (due to headwind). He was narrowly beaten by Germany's Richard Freitag.
Pavel Bělobrádek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party (one of three parties in the current government) has confirmed he will seek another term as chairman at an upcoming party congress. Mr Bělobrádek suggested several months ago he might consider giving up politics for family reasons. He has strongly denied health reasons could play a role (the party head and deputy prime minister suffers from multiple sclerosis). He allowed it was probably his last run for the post for some time. So far, Bělobrádek - who successfully led his party back to national politics in 2013 - faces no challengers.
A muddy, not white, Christmas is what Czechs can expect in a few days, meteorologists have said, issuing a forecast for next week featuring unusually-mild daily temperatures exceeding 10 degrees Celsius with a probability of rain. According to the forecast, freezing daytime temperatures will only arrive in mid-January.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority has issued a warning to consumers to avoid a children's porridge by German bio producer Alnatura, which was found to have traces of atropine - a naturally-occurring tropane alkaloid which is toxic at high levels. The inspection authority ordered all of the goods in question be removed from store shelves; Alnatura preventively pulled all of its children's line containing millet, a spokeswoman for the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority said.The product is sold at DM drugstores in the Czech Republic.
A US military plane with a supply of Czech ammunition for Kurds fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq took off from the airport in Pardubice before noon on Saturday, the spokeswoman for the General Staff of the Czech Army confirmed. Some 5,000 anti-tank shells for RPG 7 launchers were provided. The plane's destination was Irbil. A day earlier, a Czech military CASA plane brought equipment as well as American personnel to Pardubice from their base in Ramstein, Germany, who helped prepare the payload for the journey, the Czech news agency said. At the end of August, the Czech government approved the donation of 41 million crowns worth of ammunition against IS (also known as ISIS and ISIL). The first munitions deliveries took place in September.
European Commission president to attend commemorative event in Czech Republic marking liberation of Auschwitz
The head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, together with almost two dozen speakers of parliament and deputy speakers, will attend a commemorative event in the Czech Republic in January marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in neighbouring Poland in WWII, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday. According to ČTK, citing the US Embassy in Prague, US President Barack Obama had spoken to his Czech counterpart to say he would not be able to attend. Russian President Vladimir Putin, another invitee, is also expected to decline. From heads of state, only Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has confirmed his participation officially. A two-day international forum, organised by the European Jewish Congress and other organisations, will be held in Prague and Terezin, north Bohemia, on January 26-27.