News Thursday, AUGUST 17th, 2000

Czech doctors support cloning-project

Czech doctors and scientists have expressed support for the human embryo cloning project approved by the British government. The President of the Czech Medical Chamber David Rath said the project held immense hope for the future. If all goes well doctors could successfully treat incurable diseases within a matter of decades and there would no longer be waiting lists for donated organs, he told the CTK news agency. Countering criticism, Rath said that as every new discovery this too could be abused. It depends on us to prevent that while taking advantage of what it has to offer, David Rath concluded.

Zeman pays fine rather than apologize

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has paid a 20.000 crown fine for ignoring a court order to apologize to a political opponent. Zeman publicly insulted a former member of his own party after he had been expelled for breaking ranks in a crucial vote . He reportedly told newsmen that Josef Wagner was so pathetic a politician that even the communists had turned him away when he applied for party membership. The court ascertained that Mr. Wagner had not, at any given time, applied for communist party membership and ordered the Prime Minister to apologize. Mr. Zeman ignored the court order for two years. Lawyers say he was told to pay the fine or face confiscation of property.

Head of Czech Public TV may get sacked

Amid a deepening crisis at Czech Public Television, the Board of Directors is to debate the proposed dismissal of its general director Dusan Chmelicek. Jana Dedeckova, who is a board member has told the media she is planning to urge Chmelicek's dismissal on the grounds that during his six months in the post he had failed to produce results. Chmelicek is criticized for lack of direction, an inability to deal with communication problems and personnel disputes in Czech TV's news department and a failure to produce several important reports, including a report on the station's finances. Czech Public TV has been crippled by a series of shock resignations, highly publicized internal disputes and allegations that persons outside of Czech TV management are enjoying ever greater influence on programme decision making.

Czech ambassador to Great Britain to do a bit of window-cleaning

The Czech ambassador to Great Britain Pavel Seifter has rejected Wednesday's report in the British daily The Times which claimed that he intended to get a part time job as a window-cleaner at Canary Wharf. The Czech ambassador said that while he had every intention of doing some window-cleaning at Canary Wharf the activity was intended as a charity project. Seifter, who is a former dissident told the daily that he wanted to re-capture the feeling of freedom he'd had when he cleaned windows here in Prague. "I want to see if I still have the courage to do this" Seifter said.

Christian Democrats say they will not force Kassal out

The right-of-centre Christian Democratic Party says it has no plans to replace party leader Jan Kassal who will most likely be charged in connection with a car accident for which he has accepted responsibility. Kassal has agreed to be stripped of his immunity and face charges of causing bodily harm to a young woman who sustained back injuries in the collision. According to the Christian Democrat leader he was blinded by the sun as he reached for a cassette and was not able to prevent his car ramming into the vehicle in front . He says he agreed to an alcohol test on the spot and the result was negative. Kassal has the full support of his party colleagues who say it was an accident which could happen to anyone and that their leader was facing the consequences in a responsible manner.

President back from Portugal

President Havel is reported to have returned from his holiday in Portugal in good health and high spirits late Wednesday evening. The President and First Lady spent a fortnight at the sea-resort of Fara where they recently bought a residence. President Havel said the climate did wonders for his health and he revealed that he had spent some time preparing for his upcoming September visit to the United States.

And finally a look at the weather: a long-term forecast says the current heat wave should last until next Tuesday. Short-term - Thursday should be another sweltering day with temps between 26 and 30 degs C -as high as 32 degs in the eastern part of the country. There's a possibility of heat storms in the late afternoon hours.