News of Radio Prague

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U.S. Ambassador tours flood-devastated areas

The U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic has began a tour of flood-affected regions to assess the degree of damage from last week's devastating floods. Mr Craig Stapleton visited the town of Plzen on Tuesday, which bears historic ties with the United States having been liberated by U.S. troops in WWII. He will also be travelling to southern and north Bohemia in the next few days. Speaking to journalists, he promised to get help not only from the U.S. government, but also from firms, foundations, unions, and U.S. citizens. Despite the extensive flood damage that the Czech Republic has suffered, Mr Stapleton was confident in Prague's ability to host the NATO summit in November. In light of the summit, he added, U.S. aid will have to be provided fairly quickly. Whilst the immediate focus is to be on disinfectants, medicine and other material, there will also be other forms of aid such as affordable loans from U.S. banks or insurance companies, and an effective way to reconstruct infrastructure and private property.

Hygienists warn of infectious diseases as mosquitoes multiply

Czech hygienists have warned of another threat of infectious diseases as mosquitoes multiply in flood-affected parts of Moravia. Most fears are directed to a lake covering 1,500 hectares of land that has formed in a field between the villages of Hevlin and Novosedly. According to the South Moravian Hygiene Office, dead animals are already floating in the water as the weather gets warmer, creating an ideal breeding environment for insects. With the water levels failing to fall, the warm weather has resulted in decomposition. Residents in the area have been advised to stock up on insect repellent and insert mosquito nets. Despite the hot weather, they are also advised to wear clothing that covers the entire body. After the floods in 1997, residents in the crisis area were plagued by ten mosquito bites a minute.

DM cuts back on expenses by cancelling plans of sending more soldiers to Afghanistan

Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said on Tuesday that the Czech Republic will not be sending any more soldiers to Afghanistan for the time being. The reason is the country's lack of finances as much of its budget will have to be used for the rebuilding of the flood-damaged country. Although all Czech soldiers on missions abroad will not be called back, no new units will be sent out. There are currently two hundred medical unit soldiers on a mission in a field hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul. The Czech Republic has also sent a chemical unit to Kuwait to join the international fight against terrorism. The financial strain, however, has been immense forcing the government to dig deep into its budget and acquire a debt of several million Czech crowns.

Communists propose amendment to law on presidential pardons

Members of the Communist Party have proposed an amendment to the president's constitutional right to pardon people who face criminal proceedings or jail sentences. According to the proposal, presidential pardons should only be granted with the signature of the Prime Minister or an authorized government official. In order for the proposal to make it through parliament it would have to be supported by 120 of the 200 members of the lower house. Although the president's right to pardon has become one of the most controversial aspects of Vaclav Havel's presidency, none of the proposed amendments ever made it through the lower house of parliament.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Wednesday is expected to start off with mostly clear skies that will gradually turn cloudy, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms towards the evening. Temperatures are forecast between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius.