News of Radio Prague

Czech authorities, People in Need begin Afghan earthquake mission

The Czech authorities together with the People in Need foundation have begun sending humanitarian aid to the Afghan province of Baghlan, which is recovering from Monday's powerful earthquake. The Czech government has earmarked almost 2.5 million crowns for aid relief, and People in Need is sending 24 tonnes of foodstuffs to victims of the earthquake in the northern town of Mazar e Sharif. People in Need said one of its employees was in the severely-hit town of Nahrin, to help co-ordinate efforts with other humanitarian organisations. Monday's earthquake devastated mountain villages in northern Afghanistan, a region already hard-hit by hunger, drought and war. Around 1,000 people were killed, and some 30,000 have been made homeless.

MPs to discuss polling booth time zone problem

Czech MPs are to discuss amending the election law to overcome problems with Czechs voting abroad. The law was recently changed to give Czech citizens living abroad the right to vote, but only recently did officials realise that the difference in time zones could complicate June's general elections. The polls in the Czech Republic will close at 2 p.m. local time, but polling booths in the west coast of the United States, for example, would not close for another nine hours. Election results cannot be published until all polling booths have closed. MPs are to discuss plans to change the law, allowing Czechs living abroad to vote a day earlier.

Kavan: more than 70 countries support U.N. candidature

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has said more than 70 countries have expressed support for his bid to become Chairman of the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking in the Finnish capital Helsinki, Mr Kavan said by the end of May he wanted to be the only candidate for the position. At present, the Czech Foreign Minister's sole rival for the post is from Belarus.

State attorneys to monitor National Security Office screening

A committee of five state attorneys from the Supreme State Attorney's Office will check the results of security vetting carried out by the National Security Office, under an amendment which was passed by the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. Under the new legislation, those who fail the vetting procedure will be able to file an appeal with the committee; at present they may only do so with the head of the National Security Office. Vetting is required for civil servants and other state employees handling classified data. The bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the President.

Seventeen-year-olds charged with murdering unwanted baby

A 17-year-old girl from the northern town of Decin has been charged with murdering her new-born baby. A 17-year-old boy was also charged. Police said the two left the baby boy to die and then tried to dispose of the body in a plastic bag. The baby's body was found near a local depot on March 16th.

Serial hamster-smuggler caught by Polish border guards

A Czech man has been fined after attempting to smuggle 150 hamsters and 100 mice into Poland. Polish Radio said the man had hidden the rodents inside a spare tyre and under the front passenger seat of his car. Polish customs officers at the Owsiszcz crossing on the Polish-Czech border discovered the animals, foiling his attempt to avoid paying customs duty. He was fined around 75 dollars and sent back to the Czech Republic. Customs officers said the man was familiar to them - earlier this week he was caught red-handed trying to smuggle 800 hamsters into Poland.


And finally a look at the weather. After another chilly and damp night Thursday will again be a mostly cloudy day, with snow in the mountains and some early morning fog in places. Temperatures in the daytime will rise to highs of eleven degrees Celsius, falling on Thursday night to lows of minus four degrees.