News Wednesday, AUGUST 09th, 2000

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

Zantovsky takes Kavan to court

Senate foreign affairs committee chairman Michal Zantovsky has filed a suit against foreign minister Jan Kavan for not giving the committee requested details about a business-oriented trip to Iraq. The foreign minister has refused to provide the information on the grounds that it was a business secret. Foreign ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil told newsmen the Foreign Minister would await the court's verdict.

Clean-up operations in Moravia

Clean up operations are underway in many areas of north-eastern Moravia in the wake of Monday's devastating hailstorms and torrential rain. The work is complicated by continuing bad weather and in some regions the state of emergency remains in place. Local observers report that many people have taken leave from work to repair rooftops, windows, hot-houses and cars as well as to secure their dwellings against further damage. The overall cost of the damage has yet to be estimated but it is expected to go into millions of crowns. Police, who have been out in force to prevent looting, say the situation is under control. Repairing the damage will take several more days.

Flight-ban lifted on all but L-29 jets

The commander-in-chief of the Czech Air Force Ladislav Klima has partially lifted a flight ban imposed last week in the wake of a jet trainer accident in which a senior official was killed. Training is to be resumed as of Thursday but L-29 jets will remain grounded until it has been ascertained beyond doubt that last week's accident was not due to technical failure.

Inconclusive investigation

In a separate development, investigation into the crash of two MIG 21 fighter planes in which two pilots were killed last June has proved inconclusive and will not be pursued further. Experts say they found no indication of technical failure and both pilots had strictly followed given instructions right up until the crash. The assumption is that one of the pilots may have briefly lost consciousness and lost control of the plane.

Temelin Austrian protests

With the nuclear power plant Temelin due to go into trial operation shortly, the Austrian Greens are demanding that their country boycott Czech-energy exports. The Green's spokesperson in Vienna, Eva Glawischnig, told newsmen on Tuesday that a reliable Czech source had confirmed one of Temelin's reactors would be activated next week, several weeks ahead of schedule , and accused the Czech power giant CEZ of using the holiday season for the trial operation in order to avoid uncomfortable questions. She insisted that "much had yet to be explained" including the cause of last week's oil leak at Temelin. CEZ has rejected the accusation, saying that the reactor would not be activated until September as planned.

Politicians jostle for TV time

The head of the right-of-centre Christian Democrats Jan Kasal has accused Czech Public Television of being biased in favour of the Civic Democratic Party. By way of proof , Mr. Kasal pointed out that only government and Civic Democratic Party representatives has taken part in a recent TV debate on the state of the country's agriculture. Czech Television has issued a terse statement rejecting the claim and saying that it regretted Mr. Kasal held this view. Meanwhile, Ivan Langer of the Civic Democrats took a shot at his political rival asking him to "drop the hysterics and take a break, at least during holiday time".

New Canadian ambassador

The Canadian embassy has announced the name of the new Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic. Margaret Hubert is to replace the outgoing ambassador Mr. Ronald Halpin in late September. Mrs. Hubert has been in diplomatic service since 1974 and has served at embassies in the Philippines, Japan and Brussels.

Prince of Wales to visit Czech Republic

It has been announced that the Prince of Wales is to pay a three day official visit to the Czech Republic at the end of October. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Prince Charles would be meeting with President Havel and other Czech dignitaries. The Prince has visited the Czech Republic four times since the fall of the Iron Curtain and is a great admirer of Prague's architectural legacy. He is co-founder of and a generous sponsor to the Prague Heritage Fund.

Mushrooms may come at a high price!

The Czechs' national obsession of mushroom picking is proving a very expensive hobby for some. Since July's persistent showers have filled the forests with mushrooms and mushroom enthusiasts thieves have caught on to the opportunities open to them. Police have warned that an increasing number of people are returning to looted cars and are advising day-trippers not to leave car radios, mobile phones, cash and documents within sight.

And finally a look at the weather:

while we can expect an overcast and rainy day the weather should gradually improve into the second half of the week and we can look forward to longer intervals of sunshine. Wednesday's temps have been forecast at between 20 and 24 degs C, Thursday's between 22 and 26 degs.