News Friday, AUGUST 18th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the program with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.

Foreign ministry understands U.S. caution to tourists in Prague

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs says understands U.S. calls for tourists to avoid Prague during the joint meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, scheduled to take place late next month.

The ministry's spokesman Ales Pospisil has said no other governments have warned their citizens in a similar way. But he said this country did not have to fear a slump in tourist revenues.

The United States advised Americans earlier this week to reconsider visiting Prague for fear of violent disturbances by thousands of anti-globalisation protesters, similar to those in Seattle early this year.

MP's continue probe into failed bank case

A key witness has testified before a parliamentary commission of inquiry in the case of the Czech IPB bank, which almost collapsed in June and was subsequently taken over by its rival CSOB. However, nothing has been disclosed apart from the fact that the witness was the IPB's forced administrator, Mr. Petr Stanek.

The parliamentary probe is focusing on the role of the State and the central bank in the case. IPB was placed under forced administration in mid-June but CSOB then bought the bank in a matter of days.

The opposition parties have described the transaction as non-transparent and demanded immediate investigation.

Defence Ministry on sacking top aide

The Czech Defence Ministry's Spokesman Milan Repka says the recent sacking of a top aide was solely due to the fact that he did not meet the security standards required for access to classified documents and became a security risk.

The spokesman denied the sacked aide's accusations that he had fallen victim to intrigue and scheming within the ministry's bureaucratic system.

Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy sacked his deputy for recruitment policy Petr Tax late on Tuesday.

Mr. Tax was a former Social Democrat shadow minister of defence. An opposition leader has lately described him as the most senior political commissar of the former Communist Czechoslovak People's Army.

First Couple back from Portugal holiday

The Czech President Vaclav Havel and the First Lady, Dagmar Havlova, have returned from a holiday in Portugal.

The First Couple have spent two weeks in the Atlantic coast resort of Fara, overseeing maintenance work on a mansion they bought recently. Mr. Havel's spokesman says the Czech President will use the villa for the occasional health- improving holidays.

Heatwave takes toll of mushrooms

The tropical heatwave affecting the Czech Republic is taking its toll on mushrooms. Following a record-breaking mushrooming season earlier this summer, when it was easy even for the inexperienced to pick basketfuls of mushrooms -- most of them edible, the latest reports from the Czech woods say the harvest may be over.

Experts warned on Thursday that poisonous mushrooms are now growing in larger- than-usual quantities and are easily mistaken for the autumn varieties of edible mushrooms that have now begun to grow.

Czech weather

Talking about weather, here's the forecast for the next few days.

Friday will be an overcast but hot day here in the Czech Republic, although daytime maximums will not be distributed evenly. Because of a cold front, the afternoon highs in the western parts of the Czech Republic will be between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius, but in Moravia and Silesia, the highest temperatures will reach up to 30 degrees. Nighttime lows will be between 14 and 18 Celsius.

The weekend will be very, very hot although experts say these will be the last twitches of summer. On Saturday, we will have to brace ourselves for a searing 35 Celsius and Sunday may be even hotter. In the evening the temperatures will drop to a more bearable 18 degrees.

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