News Sunday, AUGUST 13th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

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


The biggest Czech aircraft producer, the Moravia-based company LET Kunovice, is facing imminent closure unless it gets bailed out by the Consolidation Bank.

Company sources have told the regional press that executors have begun seizing company assets. Most of the firm's 14 hundred employees have been sent on forced leave and LET reportedly owns two billion crowns to the Consolidation Bank.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the firm's General Manager Turner Bostwick's personal effects have been flown to the United States.

LET, which builds fairly successful commuter planes, is owned by the American firm Ayres Corporation.


The leader of the opposition Freedom Union's local branch in Blansko near the Moravian city of Brno, Mr. Jiri Skaroupka, resigned on Saturday -- a few days after he accused the district branch of his right-of-centre party of padding up membership statistics and reporting fictitious members.

The Freedom Union, one of four centre-right parties opposed to the power-sharing pact between the ruling Social Democrats and main-opposition Civic Democrats, recently faced a similar scandal in Brno.

In the latest case, local party officials have reported more members from a nearby village than the actual number of its residents.


The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's governing People's Party is against linking the debate over the Benes Decrees with Czech EU entry. The Austrian news agency APA said at the weekend that this is in sharp contrast to the views held by their coalition partners, Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party.

More than two million ethnic Germans, mainly residents of the border areas formerly known as the Sudetenland, were expelled from Czechoslovakia under the decrees issued after World War Two by then President Edvard Benes. The move was later approved by the Potsdam Conference.

The post-communist Czech governments have refused to abolish the Benes Decrees, as demanded by Sudeten Germans in Germany and Austria, saying they are an integral part of the Czech legal system, though they are obsolete.


Three Czech nationals were killed in a road accident in France on Saturday. They died as their car plunged into a truck on Highway A4 near the eastern town of Sommedieu.

The AFP news agency quoted police sources as saying a married couple and their 11- year-old child had been on their way from Paris to Metz. The truck driver escaped without injuries. No further details have been released.


Most Czechs believe that their road police are too weak to punish driving offences with enough vigour. This according to a public survey commissioned by Czech Radio from the STEM polling agency.

The poll, released on Saturday, comes hard on the heels of a parliamentary debate on whether to impose stricter regulatory measures on drivers and passengers.

Some of the more bizarre motions put forward in parliament this past week include calls for mandatory child seats for persons not taller than 150 centimetres, and the recommendation that in order to minimise fatal encounters with pedestrians in towns and villages, motor vehicles should drive through as fast as possible.


And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Sunday will be a very hot day here in the Czech Republic, with daytime highs between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius and scattered thunderstorms.

Monday's will be even hotter, with early morning lows between 11 and 15 degrees, and afternoon highs between 28 and 32 Celsius. But again, we should be prepared for some thunderstorms.