News Tuesday, JULY 25th, 2000

American ambassador intervenes over Jewish cemetery

The American ambassador in Prague, John Shattuck, has advised Czech Culture Minister Pavel Dostal that not meeting the requests of the Prague Jewish community concerning the preservation of a medieval Jewish cemetery in Prague, could harm Czech Republic's international and business interests. Mr. Shattuck has asked the Culture Minister to reopen discussions with the Prague Jewish community. The cemetery was discovered on the construction site of Ceska Pojistovna's, or the Czech Insurance Company's future headquarters, and a deal was reached in March for the preservation of the remains. The Prague Jewish community was meant to supervise construction work, but says that work has been underway now for two months without the agreed supervision. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has responded to the American ambassador's move by saying that although he respects the views of the United States, this is an internal matter for the parties concerned.

Hruby: Jubilee 2000 statements unacceptable

The government commissioner in charge of preparations for the World Bank/IMF meeting in Prague in September, Zdenek Hruby, has attacked a statement made by the director of Jubilee 2000, Ann Pettifor, saying it is unacceptable. Ann Pettifor stated after the recent G8 summit that as there were few protests at this summit, there will be many more demonstrators than previously expected at the World Bank/IMF meeting. The violence of the protests, Pettifor said, would even exceed the violence of the anti-globalisation demonstrations last December in Seattle. Mr. Hruby said that this statement completely contradicted the mission of Jubilee 2000, which is a Christian and non-violent organisation, and he hopes that an explanation will be forthcoming.

Temelin ready for tests

The first reactor at the Temelin nuclear power plant is now fully linked and ready for testing. The reactor will be inspected by the International Agency for Atomic Energy on Wednesday, and if the agency's approval is given, then tests will be carried out on the plant's containment systems, and following that the company in charge of constructing the plant, CEZ, will apply for permission to begin producing electricity. If this request is met, the first reactor should go on line in the autumn.

Zeman sets government priorities until 2002

Prime Minister Milos Zeman has set the government's priorities for the remainder of its term in office. The prime minister has stated that up to the next scheduled general elections in 2002, the government will focus on investments in education, housing and transport, and will continue with its fight against corruption. The main priority will be education, and according to Mr. Zeman, this includes better working conditions for teachers, and the fulfilment of plans to provide every school with access to the Internet.

Kavan: EC approves of fight against economic crimes

According to Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, the European Commission approves of the Czech government's fight against economic crime, and will praise the government's success in fighting this type of crime in its upcoming report on Czech preparations for EU membership. Mr. Kavan told journalists at a press conference on Monday that according to unofficial sources, the European Commission intends to include this praise in its report, which is due in November. This does not mean, however, said the Foreign Minister, that there is no work left to be done in this area, but that the European Commission is pleased that the Czech Republic has made some progress. In past reports the European Commission has been critical of the Czech Republic's lack of success in fighting corruption and economic crime.

Ammonia leak in Moravia

An unknown quantity of ammonia has leaked into the River Dyje near the town of Znojmo in South Moravia. The leak took place while workers at a local malting house were cleaning refrigeration equipment. Fireman called to the scene found dead fish along a large stretch of the river. According to the district authorities, this places the local environment in a critical condition. The Czech Environmental Inspection Office estimates that the leak may have involved around one hundred kilograms of ammonia, and say that the Austrian authorities have already been informed of the leak.

Police investigate removal of healthy kidneys

Police in the Eastern Bohemian town of Hradec Kralove have been called in to investigate claims that a patient had perfectly healthy kidneys removed in a local hospital in April. The hospital has admitted the mistake, and the police say that if the doctors who operated on the patient committed a serious breach of their duties, they could face up to five years in prison. According to current legislation, the patient may be able to apply for just a few thousand Czech Crowns in compensation.

And finally the weather forecast. The weather on Wednesday should see mostly overcast skies, with rain showers and thunderstorms in places. Temperatures during the day should reach between twenty one and twenty five degrees. Temperatures during the night should be between eleven and fifteen degrees. The weather for Wednesday and Thursday promises to be much the same, but with thunderstorms as well. I'm Nick Carey, and that's the end of the news.