News

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US president signs bill which could allow Czechs to travel visa-free to US

The Czech Foreign Ministry on Friday welcomed the signing of a US security bill by President George W Bush which could make it easier for Czechs to travel visa-free to the US. But the ministry also expressed reservations, saying expectations had not been met. The legislation has retained targets which could prove difficult to meet. Under the bill, countries hoping to satisfy US visa-waiver requirements must have visa refusal rates no higher than 3 - or in exceptional cases - no higher than 10 percent. In recent years, Czechs have had a rate of around 9 percent of their visa applications rejected annually. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova made clear on Friday that the refusal rate criteria was one reason why the Czech Republic, along with other countries such as Poland and Slovakia, would continue seeking further changes.

Klaus: government should respect public opposition to radar base

President Vaclav Klaus has said that the government should respect public opposition to a US plan to station a radar base in the country. He made the comment while speaking on a broadcast for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In the broadcast, the president also criticised special government spokesman, Tomas Klvana, for simplifying the issue. The United States have formally asked the Czech Republic to host a radar base on its territory as part of a broader missile defense system in Europe. But public opinion polls have repeatedly suggested a majority of Czechs remain against the idea. Villages and towns near the proposed site for the radar have also expressed their opposition through a number of symbolic referenda.

Listeria bacteria uncovered in bacon at Prague outlet

The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority has uncovered a new incidence of the potentially deadly listeria bacteria in Czech-produced bacon. The bacon was being sold at a supermarket, part of the Kaufland chain in Prague. Almost 700 kilograms of the bacon was taken off the shelves and customers who had already bought the product, dated with an expiry date of August 3rd, have been urged not to eat it. Inspectors are conducting a thorough check of the Premium meat production plant - which packaged the bacon - in west Bohemia. Listeria is potentially deadly especially for the elderly. Last year saw 80 cases of infection; 14 proved fatal.

Driver in passing car in bus accident questioned

The driver of a Skoda 120, passing an Austrian bus on Friday, which ended up sliding and overturning down a slope, has been questioned by police. Investigators are trying to determine the car's role in the accident. The bus crashed shortly after 11 am, requiring emergency services. The latest information revealed says a total of 7 people aboard suffered serious injuries; 16 escaped with lighter injuries. The bus crashed near the south Bohemian town of Rozmberk nad Vltavou; it had been headed for Cesky Krumlov.

Pravo: Police charge five in ministry corruption case

Police have charged five people in connection with alleged corruption in public tenders at the defence ministry, the Saturday edition of Pravo has reported. One of the individuals charged is said to be a ministry official, while the other four are from the business sector. According to Pravo, all five will be charged with fraud, which may have caused damages between 500, 000 to 5 million crowns; if found guilty, each could face between three to eight years in jail. In addition, the paper writes, members of the group will also be charged for bribery and for abusing the powers of a public official.

Doctors operate Kosovar baby boy

Czech doctors had to operate early on one of the two Kosovar baby boys who were brought to Prague for heart surgery. The baby boy, Albion, underwent surgery three days ahead of schedule due to his worsening state, Prague-Motol hospital's spokeswoman Eva Jurinova said on Saturday. The three-month-old boy suffered from a complex heart defect that was corrected during Saturday's six hour operation. The spokeswoman said the boy's heart trouble was over unless post-operation complications occurred. It is not clear when the baby patient will be able to return home. The other newborn boy, three-week-old Edonis, was operated on immediately after his arrival in Prague. That operation, like Albion's, was successful.

Zip wire ride made safer

A high speed suspension wire ride at a resort in eastern Moravia, where a woman was injured last week, has reportedly been made safer. The director of the company running the wire ride told the CTK news agency that special padding would now provide protection at the end of the ride should anyone fail to brake. Last week one rider broke both legs when she failed to slow down before the final ramp. In all, four people suffered injuries on the ride over the last three months. A total of around 3,000 visitors have tried the 232 metre ride this year.

78-year-old killed in quarry fall

A 78-year-old man fell fifty metres to his death while walking in the area of a former quarry in the area of Beroun, near Prague. The man apparently slipped while viewing the quarry; tragically, a tree he caught onto failed to support his weight. It is the second fall at the quarry in two days. On Friday, a young man suffered head injuries after falling six metres.

Daily: Koller could leave AS Monaco

Czech international striker Jan Koller is reportedly considering quitting French first division football club AS Monaco after being sidelined from the first team, the Czech daily Sport has reported. The striker told the sports paper he is thinking about leaving, saying he would have to look for a different engagement if he remained in the substitute class. According to Koller, Monaco only want to play with one attacker up front with French striker Frederic Piquionne preferred. Czech national team coach Karel Bruckner has reportedly checked up on the situation of his first choice striker, as the Czechs face a key European Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in September.

Weather

Sunshine and mostly clear skies are expected to continue into the weekend; daytime temperatures over the weekend are expected to reach highs of up 26 degrees Celsius.