DRAMA IN A BANK. Wednesday was a lucky day for two bank officers when they were released after being held hostage.
But first, it was a bad luck day.
An armed robber stormed a Komerční banka branch in Prague, took two bank employees hostage and demanded 3 million CZK in ransom.
The robber released one of the hostages - bank advisor - unharmed later on.
Two hours later a plain-clothes policewoman diverted the robber's attention and the police gained control over the situation.
The perpetrator asked for a loan in the same bank the previous day but lacked proper credentials. The bank staff concluded he was not a trustworthy fellow.
DEFICIT BIGGER THAN EXPECTED. With money we will stay. After a day of wrangling, Czech lawmakers passed a 2010 budget which contains higher deficit than originally proposed.
Evidently disappointed finance minister Eduard Janota warned he would resign but PM Jan Fischer and president Václav Klaus convinced him to stay.
"The austerity package was entirely destroyed. I wanted to take the first steps to consolidate the public finance sector but have failed to do so," Janota told in an interview for Czech Television.
Janota's austerity package was approved by lawmakers in September. To trim the deficit the package aimed to cut wages in the government sector, social services and lower taxes. But left-wing MPs pushed through increase in social services, such as pensions and maternity leaves and direct payments to farmers.
Janota originally proposed a 163 billion CZK deficit, now it may be up to 175 billion CZK. Experts warn the sky-high deficit may lower the country's rating next year. Something investors do not like to see.
LOWER FUNDING FOR SCIENTISTS. While European Union staff went on strike to get their wage increase, the Czech scientists will have to keep silent. As advised by president Václav Klaus, the Czech scientists should reconcile with the lower funding for next year.
Speaking at a meeting of Czech Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, Václav Klaus challenged the scientists to bear in mind the unfavorable economic situation.
Badly underpaid, the scientists can hardly understand the crisis impact and huge budget deficit the next year may bring. The Academy head Jiří Drahoš found sharp words for the Czech government's cuts in funding basic research in 2010.
SUFFERING THE WHOLE LIFE. Czech PM Jan Fischer visited three-year old Natálka who suffered from burns in April this year in a brutal arson attack. Doctors said it was a miracle she survived, as the burn injuries covered 80 percent of Natálka's body.
The girl spent almost eight months in a hospital, was put in induced sleep for some time and underwent dozens of plastic surgeries.
As happy the family reunion has been, nonetheless, little Natálka will suffer from her injuries for the rest of her life.
"The battle is not over yet. She is going to face consequences of the attack and it is not going to be easy for her," Fischer said after the visit. "The pain she has gone through is reflected in her eyes. It would be great if people helped to send more money for her home treatment," he added.
The bank account number for donating funds to her family is 43-4619960257/0100.
PAYING THE PRICE FOR STAYING INSIDE. While Czech children are among the most obese kids in Europe, the most wanted Christmas present among them is computer.
In a new study conducted by the Economic Cooperation and Development every tenth child suffers from overweight and in terms of percentage of obese kids the Czech Republic has taken the ninth place out of 23 countries.
According to the experts the obesity problem is not caused by consuming too much of fat and fast food but rather by the lack of physical activities outdoors, reports Mladá Fronta DNES daily.
Having taken the third place from last, Slovak children must spend much more time outdoors than the Czech or American kids. The latter ended up right on top.
Fearing to send their offspring outdoors, Czech urban parents frequently complain about the lack of sports facilities and parks in towns that would be safe for their children.
Staying indoors with computers is much more fun anyway, deem the Czech kids. About a quarter of their wish lists contain PCs, internet online novinky.cz reported.
POKER DREAM COMES TRUE. But one of the best Christmas presents was won by a twenty-three year old student who won 17.5 million CZK at the European Poker Tour.