President Vaclav Klaus, who is on a visit to the United States, is going to meet the US Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday to discuss global issues, including the situation in Iraq. On Wednesday, President Klaus gave a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and in the afternoon met with Senator Richard Lugar for talks about bilateral and international relations.
An amateur palaeontologist has uncovered the first dinosaur bone ever in the Czech Republic, found within the vicinity of a quarry in Kutna Hora. Michal Moucka, a doctor, was walking with his children when he spotted a bone in the ground that brought to mind it might be a dinosaur's, later confirmed by professionals. The bone comes from a specimen known as Inguanodontide, a herbivore that lived around 95 million years ago. It was between 2.5 to 3 metres tall and 4 to 5 metres long. Experts are speculating the specimen may have been about twenty years old when it died. Interestingly, the bone has revealed tooth markings left by a primitive shark. Palaeontologists are now hoping to research the bone fully to construct a model of the specimen that would be displayed at Prague's National Museum.
The Czech field hospital in Basra is to leave the country before the end of the year, having completed an eight month long mission in the southern Iraqi city. The hospital treated both civilians and soldiers, conducting over 200 operations and treating over 10,000 people. Making the announcement in Prague on Wednesday, Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka said the hospital staff had done a great job and its work was much appreciated both by the allies and the locals. The field hospital is to be replaced by a Czech military police unit to be deployed 25 kilometres from Basra. The unit is to help train local police officers.
The police is investigating an anonymous bomb threat which prompted a Czech airliner bound for the US to make an emergency landing in Iceland on Tuesday evening. The CSA flight, carrying 174 passengers, was forced to land in Keflavik after the US embassy in Prague received a hoax threat claiming there was a bomb on board. A search of the plane revealed no explosive. The flight's passengers and crew were housed in Iceland overnight and continued the flight to New York on another CSA plane on Wednesday afternoon.
The president's spokesman Petr Hajek has revealed that Czech president Vaclav Klaus has signed four bills, out of a total of eleven, related to the launching of the government's finance reforms. Three of the four bills signed Tuesday will provide amendments to existing laws on health insurance, social security, and a tax on the transfer of real estate, while the fourth will freeze wages for elected officials over a three-year period. The government is hoping, for example, that its amendment to social security will help cut down on social security fraud while stiffening conditions for financial support, motivating the unemployed to search more actively for work. Meanwhile, the real estate tax amendment shall make the transfer of real estate cheaper as of July 2004, cutting the current tax from 5 to just 3 percent.
Austria's Ministry for the Environment has expressed protest at plans by the Czech Ministry for Industry and Trade to build a third and fourth reactor at Temelin, one of the Czech Republic's two nuclear power plants. On Tuesday Austrian officials said they had issued a protest at the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry, through the Austrian ambassador to Prague. The protest is said to have stressed that presently the Czech Republic already produced a ten-percent surplus of electricity for the home market. Those numbers, Austria says, could rise to as high as 50 percent with the addition of two new reactors, a move seen as controversial by Vienna because of the full liberalisation of the electricity market in 2007.
The Czech Republic has commemorated the fourteenth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the peaceful movement that brought down the communist regime in 1989. Special ceremonies took place across the country on Monday to mark the anniversary. Top officials, including President Vaclav Klaus, laid flowers and lit candles on Narodni Street in Prague where the communist police brutally cracked down on a peaceful student demonstration on November 17th, 1989. The event triggered a series of demonstrations and strikes which eventually brought an end to four decades of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
A record low turnout has accompanied this weekend's second round of the Senate by-election in Brno. Just over 10 percent turned out to vote in the final round, electing Karel Jarusek, a member of the main opposition Civic Democrats, as the city's new senator. In the end Mr Jarusek won by just 21 votes. Saturday's turnout was the lowest ever in any election to the Senate, which suffers from a lack of public trust.
Residents of three South Bohemian villages are taking part in the country's first ever referendum on nuclear waste. The people of Nadejkov, Bozetice, and Prestenice are being asked to vote on a government proposal to build an underground nuclear waste storage facility in the area. Similar referendums are planned in five other villages in areas also considered as potential sites. At present, waste from the country's two nuclear power plants at Temelin and Dukovany is stored at the plants themselves.
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