News Friday, APRIL 14th, 2000

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Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.

CZECH-BIBLE

A project intended to increase interest in he Bible kicks off in the Czech Republic, one of the most secular nations in the world. Volunteers have begun to copy its text by hand.

The Handwritten Bible project will be held on 170 locations around the country. Anyone interested in copying specific verses from the Bible may obtain scrolls of paper in libraries, bookstores, schools or even prisons.

Once the project is completed, the manuscripts are to be bound into six editions based on a sixteenth-century Czech translation of the Holy Book.

A survey taken last year revealed that less than 10 percent of the Czech population regularly attends a house of worship and only about one-third said they believed in a Supreme Being.

CZECH-MINE-STRIKE

Nothing has been disclosed so far about last night's intense negotiations between the owners of the uneconomical Kohinoor brown coal mine in North Bohemia and a prospective buyer.

The talks are said to have dragged on long into the night. Almost 50 miners continue their two- week-old occupation strike twelve hundred feet underground. Their principal demand is for the mine to be sold and their jobs saved.

CZECH-US-MINISTER

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has met in Los Angeles with officials of two U.S. companies bidding for contracts on supplying the Czech Air Force with supersonic fighter jets.

Mr. Kavan met with officials from the California-based firms Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman -- a subcontractor of Boeing.

His spokesman said on Thursday that the government will decide next week whether to call a public tender. He said emphasis would be on offset programmes whereby the winner of the tender would commit himself to invest his proceeds in the Czech Republic.

The winner would be known by the year 2003.

Interest in the largest contract in the history of the Czech Air Force has been shown McDonnell- Douglas/Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the Anglo-Swedish consortium BAe/Saab, the French company Dassault Aviation, and Germany's DASA.

CZECH-NETHERLANDS-EU

Czech Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus has said EU hopefuls the Czech Republic and other countries have no other option but carry on with their integration in the European Union. Although he admitted this will be costly, he said it would be more expensive in the long run to stay away from membership in the EU.

Mr. Klaus was speaking on Thursday at the spring session of the International Finance Institute in The Hague.

A noted Eurosceptic, Mr. Klaus said however that the advantages of being in the EU were less evident if the integration process were to be protracted.

CZECH-VISEGRAD-REFORM

Czech Deputy Interior Minister Yvonne Streckova says her country is trailing behind its Central European neighbours in reforming its public administration system.

Speaking at a conference of interior-ministry officials from the Visegrad Group countries here in Prague, she said on Thursday that while Hungary, Poland and Slovakia had begun implementing reforms, the Czech Republic was still only in the legislative phase of the process.

The Visegrad Group was formed nine years ago when Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland agreed to work together in integrating into European structures.

CZECH-ROCK-SUICIDE

A 24-year-old policeman shot himself dead during Wednesday night's concert of the British rock group The Cure here in Prague.

Police sources say he was found dead in the toilet and no letter was found.

The incident passed largely unnoticed but the atmosphere of the concert was described as rather gloomy. The Cure played songs from their latest album, Bloodflowers, whose main themes are death and despair.

CZECH-HOCKEY

Ice hockey -- and Sparta Prague became national champions on Thursday after a one-goal-to-nil victory over title defenders Vsetin. This is Sparta's historic first cup in the national extra league.

David Vyborny scored for the winning team.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Friday will be a cloudy day with scattered showers and occasional thunderstorms. Daytime highs between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius dropping to between four and eight degrees in the night.

At the weekend, we expect more showers, daytime highs on Saturday between 15 and 19 Celsius, but Sunday will be appreciably colder, with maximum daytime temperatures around 15 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.