News Sunday, MARCH 19th, 2000

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

NATO newcomers meet to assess past year

The Czech, Hungarian and Polish foreign ministers have met in Budapest to assess their first year of NATO membership. The Hungarian foreign minister Janos Martonyi described the experience as "a trial by fire" saying that the three countries had surpassed expectations in upholding NATO policy and taking on their share of responsibility in the Yugoslav war. After this we no longer deserve the label "newcomers" Martonyi said. The three foreign ministers signed a joint declaration saying that Europe's security depended on NATO and that the past year had strengthened and consolidated the alliance. They expressed support for NATO's further expansion eastward and called for closer ties between NATO and the EU.

President on the mend, ready to go home

President Havel, who was hospitalized with chronic bronchitis six days ago, is said to be on the mend and is expected to be released from hospital on Sunday. The President's chief physician said his temperature was now down to normal and his breathing problems had disappeared. The President, who lost part of his lungs in cancer surgery four years ago and has had several bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis since, is now hospitalized at the first sign of potential chest problems. He has continued working through much of his hospital stay, meeting with politicians and remaining involved in political developments via his spokesperson.

Hospital negligence causes injuries

Five women are to be compensated for injuries sustained through alleged negligence of hospital staff at a hospital in North Bohemia. The women who all underwent surgery at this hospital within the space of five months all suffered temporary paralysis from the waist down, followed by months of painful rehabilitation. It was later revealed that all these injuries were caused by faulty technical equipment in the operation theatre. Since the fall-outs were occasional hospital staff are said not to have registered the fault for nearly half a year. The women have expressed outrage but none are taking the hospital to court, settling for out of court compensation. Two of them are still using crutches.

Should animals be banned from circuses?

A group of animal rights activists staged a demonstration outside the Ales Circus in Pilsen on Saturday, attempting to dissuade visitors from attending the show. This is part of a wider campaign on the part of animal rights activists who are pushing for Parliament to approve a ban on the use of animals in circuses. They received no sympathy from visitors though and the head of the circus felt no great concern for his livelihood. A control inspection by a group of vets last year showed that the animals were well-fed, well treated and showed no signs of torture. They all perform within their potential and within the regulations set by the European Union, the report said.

Finally a look at the weather

Sunday is expected to bring partly cloudy skies and day temps between O and 5 degs C. We may expect rain and scattered snow showers especially in Moravia, the Eastern part of the Czech Republic. A slight warming is expected at the beginning of next week. Maximum day temps on Monday are forecast at 8 degs, Tuesday's at 12 degs C.