News

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Cabinet approves valuable environmental clean-up contract

The cabinet has approved the issuing of a valuable tender to clean up environmental damage caused by former state-owned companies, according to press reports on Tuesday. The contract, which will go to one company, could be worth up to CZK 115 billion – over USD 7 billion. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek admitted awarding the huge tender to one firm involved the risk of corruption. But he said the fact it would receive so much attention lessened that danger. Minister Kalousek said a one-contract approach was necessary, as otherwise the Czech Republic would not succeed in repairing environmental damage by 2015 and would face sanctions.

Economic growth slows to 5.3 percent in first quarter

The Czech economy grew by 5.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2008, according to revised estimates released on Tuesday. That represents the slowest GDP growth since the end of 2004. The slowdown has been attributed to reduced domestic demand. Analysts expect GDP growth for the whole of 2008 to fall to around 4 percent due to high inflation, which limits household spending.

Czech crown sets another record against euro

The Czech crown set a record of 24.50 against the common European currency on Tuesday morning. The new high was reached despite the fact GDP growth for the first quarter had earlier been revised down from 5.4 to 5.3 percent. The Czech currency has set a number of records against both the euro and US dollar in recent months.

Chamber overrides objections of president and Senate over conflict of interest law

The Chamber of Deputies has overridden a veto by President Václav Klaus and passed an amendment to the law on conflict of interest. Mr Klaus, alongside the Senate, rejected the bill because it demands that even head teachers declare their property holdings. However, the minister of education, Ondřej Liška, said he would draft an amendment exempting principals from such declarations. The law was broadly intended to allow the public access to the property declarations of politicians.

Health unions calling one-hour strike in protest at reforms

A one-hour strike is set to take place in Czech hospitals on June 24, a Czech doctors leader told reporters on Tuesday. The strike – which will not affect patients who need emergency care – has been called in protest at health reforms introduced by the government. Unions say the reforms have led to marked price rises for Czech patients.

Czech woman dies after car overturns in canal in Ireland

A young Czech woman died on Sunday night after driving into a canal in Ireland, the Irish Independent reported. The woman, who was in her 20s, was trapped under water for more than an hour when the vehicle overturned in the canal, which is beside the River Boyne in County Meath. A passenger in the car managed to get out of the vehicle and raise the alarm, though emergency services, including divers, failed to save the driver, who has not been named.

Czech footballers travel to Geneva for second Euro 2008 game

The Czech Republic’s footballers have travelled to the Swiss city of Geneva for their second game at Euro 2008 against Portugal on Wednesday. The Czechs, whose base camp is in the Austrian Tyrol, won their opening game on Saturday, beating Switzerland 1:0. The sports sections of the Czech Republic’s newspapers have devoted a lot of attention to the question of how to stop the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bookies are reporting many more bets being placed on the Portugal game than on the Czech Republic’s opening match at the European Championship. Most punters are backing the Portuguese to win.

Meanwhile, the Czech defender David Rozehnal has signed with the Italian club Lazio, who had taken him on loan from Newcastle mid-way through last season.

Daughter of former tennis player Korda qualifies for prestigious golf tournament at 15

The daughter of former Czech tennis star Petr Korda has qualified for a prestigious women’s golf tournament at the age of 15. Jessica Kordová made it into the US Open after doing well at a qualifying tournament in Florida. Petr Korda won tennis’s Australian Open in 1998, though soon afterwards became the first well known player to test positive for a banned substance.

Bob Dylan plays first show in Ostrava

The US singer Bob Dylan played a concert in Ostrava on Monday night. It was his seventh visit to the Czech Republic, though it was his first concert in the north Moravian city. Dylan’s set spanned his four-and-a-half-decade recording career and featured several songs from his most recent album Modern Times.

Weather

The temperature is set to drop somewhat in the next few days, with highs of no more than 20 degrees Celsius expected. It should be wet with some sunshine at times.