News Tuesday, APRIL 25th, 2000

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Good morning and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

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

CZECH-EASTER-PRIEST

The Catholic priest Tomas Halik says Czechs are not indifferent to the religious message of Easter. The popular priest, who earned his reputation even among non-believers after the fall of communism 10 years ago, has told Czech Radio that Czechs have long been told that Easter is a celebration of spring while its actual, religious message was deliberately suppressed by the communist regime.

But as Father Halik said, it is difficult to tell whether, and how soon, the Czech people will abandon their rejection of religious matters. He said the Czech society was almost totally atheistic, this in spite of the multitude of forms a spiritual life can assume.

CZECH-EASTER-EGGS

In Moravia, rural ornaments, well wishes but also political slogans graced traditional painted Easter eggs donated by womenfolk to men on Easter Monday. "From the government this egg will roll away, may all those merry gentlemen call it a day," was one of the slogans crafted in calligraphy by Ms. Svatava Halova of Vizovice near the northern town of Zlin.

This folk artist earned quite a reputation under the communist regime. One of her creations at that time was a black-painted egg with the inscription: "Where there is no help there's no Council of Mutual Economic Assistance -- the allusion being to the official name of the Moscow-controlled COMECON economic cartel, which collapsed in the early 1990s.

CZECH-WORLD-BEER

Again, after a long hiatus, I am proud to announce to all and sundry that Czechs are the world's greatest beer guzzlers. This according to the French weekly L'Express, which reported at the weekend that per capita beer consumption in this country is just a little under 160 litres a year.

Germans come a poor second with their 130 litres, and the Belgians are also runners-up, averaging a sorry 99 litres, with the help of their women and infants. Britishers, Aussies and Yanks drink the second league.

But as though somebody poured acid into the Pilsner Urquell -- the preferred beer brand in the Czech Republic -- the celebrated lager has recently been bought by South African Breweries -- of all the unlikely bidders of the world, the French weekly reports. How sad, says I.

CZECH-SENIORS

Most senior citizens in the Czech Republic are saving money to be able to come by in their country's tough monetary squeeze. This according to a survey conducted this past week by the pensioners' union attached to the main national labour organisation.

Most seniors do not spend on theatre tickets, clothing, footwear and durable goods. More than a third of those asked said they skipped meals. The association has called on the government to discuss the situation.

CZECH-CHARITY-DISABLED

Throughout Prague, over 13,000 symbolic bricks have been bought thus far under a project designed to help a group of mentally-handicapped people to build a home for themselves. The organising agency Portus said at the weekend that the project, launched early this month, had helped to raise well over a million crowns.

The aim is to help handicapped citizens to rebuild a house at Slapy south of Prague to accommodate around 10 residents.

At the weekend, the Prague city transport had several unscheduled trams running, with their drivers selling those bricks to the passers-by.

CZECH-VATICAN-RIGHTS

Dozens of people here in Prague have signed a petition urging Pope John Paul II to help save aboriginal nations around the globe. The petition was launched by the Association to Save Original Populations, an informal gathering of Czech globetrotters.

The Holy See has not responded to a similar petition launched three weeks ago.

CZECH-WEST-RUSSIAN

The spa belt in Western Bohemia has degenerated into a capitalist bastion from where money flows without control into the former Soviet Union. This according to the German weekly Der Spiegel.

On Monday, the magazine quoted the Karlovy Vary Mayor Josef Pavel as saying his city now hosts thousands of Russians onj a spending spree. The Russian-language local newspaper, Karlovarskie Novosti, puts the number of the newly rich Russians in town to 15,000, saying up to 90 percent of Czechs fear the immigrants are connected with the Mafia and the former Soviet KGB.

CZECH-SKIING

Believe it or not, the skiing season in the Czech Republic is definitely over. All ski lifts in the northern Krkonose or Giant Mountains were closed on Monday.

However, a metre of snow still graces cross-country trails in this region and there is a fair prospect for cross-country to continue well into the merry month of May.

CZECH-WEATHER

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

A cold front will bring a colder spell on Tuesday here in the Czech Republic, bringing along scattered showers and thunderstorms. Daytime highs between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius, dropping to between nine and 13 degrees in the night.

Saturday will see a renewed influx of hot Mediterranean air although it will be a fairly wet day with early morning lows between six and 10 Celsius, and daytime highs between 20 and 24 degrees.

Thursday will be a hot day, with maximum temperatures up to 27 Celsius.

I'm Libor Kubik and that’s the news.