News Saturday, MARCH 27th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

NATO planes using Czech airspace

Czech foreign ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil has confirmed that NATO planes are using Czech airspace on their Kosovo mission. He said that to his knowledge these were only unarmed tanker planes and pointed out that since it was a case of air transit it acquired only the approval of the Czech government.

Klaus says: stop warmongering

Speaking on behalf of his Civic Democratic Party , party leader Vaclav Klaus on Friday expressed concern over what he termed the warmongerers among Czech politicians and journalists. The air strikes against Yugoslavia are not going to resolve the drawn out conflict, Klaus repeated rejecting the idea that in view of the Czech Republic's fresh membership in NATO he was being disloyal to the country's new allies. It is our right to question the use of force in the circumstances and we are doing no more than many politicians in other NATO member states.

He further added that the results of an opinion survey according to which 48% Czechs did not support the air strikes did not surprise him since he said people were not blind to the facts.

Some Social Democrats urge a return to diplomacy

In a related development, two high placed Social Democrat politicians have called for an end to the military strikes against Yugoslavia. Speaking at a party press briefing Friday environment minister Milos Kuzvart and Senator Petr Smutny urged that the use of force be replaced by diplomacy. Smutny recalled that Yugoslavia had expressed solidarity with Czechoslovakia when it was invaded by Warsaw Pact troops in 1968 and that he felt intensely for the suffering of the common people. The officials in question stressed that they were not speaking on behalf of the party since it was divided over the issue.

Freedom Union slams Klaus

There has been a backlash from some of the politicians who support NATO air strikes. The Freedom Union issued a statement criticizing the government's lukewarm stance regarding the Kosovo crisis and the Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus' evident opposition to NATO policy. The Freedom Union said Klaus' statement was outrageous and his stance was a blatant display of disloyalty to the values which Western democracies held dear. The Czech Helsinki Committee also emphasized the fact that it supported NATO action and considered the strikes to be "the only possible alternative" under the circumstances. It called on the Czech government to publicly condemn the terrorist practices of the Milosevic regime.

Help for addicts on the way

The governmental anti-drugs commission is working on a series of drug prevention projects for which the Cabinet has earmarked 45 million crowns. The expenditures remain under the premier's direct supervision since he is on the commission, along with the ministers of health, education and social affairs. The projects should cover not only prevention but help for addicts in terms of effecting a cure and helping them to return to a normal life.

Now on a lighter note: Pope is a hit!

Music stores in the Czech Republic report a heightened demand for the Pope's rap CD Abba Pater. Pavel Vysek of Sony Music Bonton said that after a week of sales the CD was near the top of the sales list. Young people have latched onto it as something different, original and even incongruous. The Pope is now as popular as Offspring with Czech teenagers, Vysek noted.

Time-change can make you sleepy, irritable and bad-tempered! All of us are bracing for a change to daylight saving time - that is setting the clock forward by one hour - this weekend. Some people barely notice the change but according to the Sofres Factum agency over one third of Czechs have problems with the time-change. The complaints include exhaustion, sleeplessness, and reduced concentration . This concerns largely middle aged and elderly people but apparently some of these symptoms also reported among schoolchildren.

Making babies is fun!

And finally, I don't know how you spent Thursday night but in the town of Novy Hradek it was a night fraught with activity. Apparently that was the ideal time to work at having a 2,000 baby. The race to have the first baby born in the year 2,000 has not gone unnoticed in this country and some Czechs are reportedly trying very hard indeed. In any case the nursery school in Novy Hradek went out of its way to support the towns inhabitants by organizing a night shift at the nursery school. Out of the 27 regular attenders 20 tots were bundled back to nursery school that evening by enthusiastic parents. Seems like Novy Hradek stands a chance!

Now a look at the weather:

It seems that the spring weather will hold for the weekend and we can expect temperatures between 13 and 17 and 11 and 15 degs on the two respective days.