News Monday, JANUARY 10th, 2000

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Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Jana Kotalik. We begin as usual with a look at the main news headlines:

Those were the headlines. Now the news in more detail:

GDP drop in 1999

The Czech Statistics Office has confirmed that Czech GDP fell by 0.5% in 1999. According to the statistics, the second half of 1999 saw increased economic activity which slowed the GDP drop in 1999, and this positive trend should continue into the year 2000, bringing an estimated 1.6 % growth in GDP. The Czech Statistics Office also reported on Monday that year on year inflation was 2.5 % in December 1999.

Flu Epidemic in Prague

Czech Chamber of Physicians preparing for battle The Czech Chamber of Physicians has described the government's recent decision to lower prices for medical services paid to doctors by insurance companies for the first half of the year 2000 as incompetent and plans to file a complaint at the Czech Competition Policy Office and the Constitutional Court. The statement follows a weekend meeting of the board of representatives of the Czech Chamber of Physicians. The Chamber's spokesman David Rath told the Czech News Agency that this attempt at regulation is badly designed and will lead to a decline in the quality of medical care in the Czech Republic. A crisis team set up by the Chamber of Physicians plans to ask health insurance companies to disregard the government's decision at a meeting of their representatives on Monday.

'Thank you, now get out' civic association to be formed

37 regional delegates of the signatories of the ´´´Thank you, now get out´´ petition met in Prague on Saturday where they adopted the statutes for a new civic association to be formed under the same name. Signatories of the appeal plan to register their association at the Interior Ministry this week. The ´´Thank you, now get out´´ petition - already signed by some 200, 000 Czech citizens - was written two months ago by former student activists of the 1989 Velvet Revolution and calls for the resignation of many of the country´s top politicians and early elections. The decision to form a civic association came after much debate among the authors of the appeal, some arguing it would be more productive to form a new political party. An opinion poll just published by the Sofres-Factum agency suggests that if a new political party emerged from the "Thank you, now get out'' appeal, it would receive 24% of the votes, placing it ahead of all other Czech political parties.

Sexual Harassment is the norm in Central Europe, according to The New York Times

According to an article in Sunday's edition of The New York Times, sexual harassment is deeply rooted in Central Europe and legal protection still lags behind that of the countries of the European Union. The newspaper cites a study revealing that almost half of all Czech women have reported sexual harassment in the workplace, a figure which may be too modest, since many women do not report incidents of harassment. Legal action in this area is still relatively underdeveloped in Central Europe, according to The New York Times, although the Czech government has already prepared legislation on sexual harassment which is currently in its first reading in parliament.

Truck with food aid to head to Yugoslavia

A truck carrying food aid is set to head to the Serbian city of Subotice by the end of this month. The food collection, organized privately by citizens in several cities in Northern Bohemia, is currently being stored at the Czech branch of the Red Cross in Jablonci nad Nisou. According to one of the actions' organizers, the Serbs are in need of help, but may be too proud to ask for it directly.

Czech population down in 1998

The Czech population fell by approximately 0.2 % in 1998, according to figures published recently by the Czech Statistics Office. In that year, the Czech Republic counted over 90, 000 births and 110, 000 deaths. The Czech population currently stands at almost ten and a half million people.

'Beer Barrel Polka' voted best Czech song of the Century

The popular Czech song composed by Jaromir Vejvoda accompanied by a text from Vaclav Zeman called 'Skoda Lasky' and known around the world as the 'Beer Barrel Polka' has been awarded the prize of the Czech Hit of the Century. The prize was accepted by the sons of the late composer at a gala concert in Prague on Saturday. The song which represented the year 1945, but was in fact written in the early 1930s, was chosen by listeners of Czech Radio from a list of one hundred songs pre-selected by music critics.

Weather

And finally we end with a brief look at the weather here in the Czech Republic. Skies will remain cloudy on Monday with the possibility of snow flurries. Daytime temperatures will range between minus two and plus two degrees Celsius, dropping to as low as minus five overnight.

I'm Jana Kotalik and that's the end of the news.