Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, at the start of a visit to Russia on Thursday, supported his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's opposition to an expansion of US missile defence sites on European soil. The United States says a defence shield, parts of which it hopes to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic, will protect against missile attacks launched from "rogue states" such as Iran or North Korea. Moscow says the defence shield is really targeted at Russian defence capabilities and forces Russia to consider aiming its own missiles at Europe. President Chavez praised what he called Mr Putin's "brave resistance" against the United States.
Twice Olympic 10,000 meters champion Haile Gebrselassie has broken a world mark at the "Golden Spike" grand prix athletics meeting in the Moravan city of Ostrava. The 34-year-old Ethiopian ran 21.285 km in 60 minutes to surpass Mexican Arturo Barrios's previous mark of 21.101 km, set in La Fleche, France, on March 30, 1991.
Lesy Czech Republic, which manages the country's state-owned forests, says it has yet to clear 20% of the trees that were damaged when strong winds swept through the Czech Republic earlier this year. In January, hurricane Kyril devastated some 5.1 million cubic metres of wood. But while Lesy Czech Republic has until the end of the year to clear the damage, the management at the Krkonose National Park had until the end of June. With 6,500 cubic metres of wood to go, it has asked the Environment Ministry to postpone the deadline by a month.
A fire that has been raging at a storehouse for tyres has covered the town of Uhersky Brod with a black cloud of smoke. The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon. With dozens of thousands of tonnes of rubber burning, it is the biggest fire that the South Moravian region has experienced in the last ten years. Due to an insufficient number of fire fighters, the fire is being put out with earth.
Tests have confirmed that a dead swan found in Moravia had the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu. The news came hours after around 28,000 chickens with the same strain of bird flu had to be culled at a farm in east Bohemia. Poultry breeders in the area have been asked to count their stock and are strictly prohibited from taking the animals outside a protective zone.
Figures released by Eurostat - the statistical office of the European communities - suggest that the living standard in the Czech Republic came a bit closer to the EU average last year. Based on first preliminary estimates, Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant expressed in Purchasing Power Standards in the Czech Republic was some 20 percent below the EU average. Overall, the figures varied from 37% to 280% of the average across the 27 member states. Revised estimates will be published in December.
On Friday, police officers in Prague will be on alert in selected areas of the city. Children will be getting their report cards and statistics have shown that many who get bad grades take to alcohol to gather the courage to face their parents. Officers will be patrolling areas around school compounds and nearby parks. The Prague emergency services will also be on alert. The head of the services, Zdenek Schwarz, says a significant number of drunken children are taken to hospital every year on their last day of school.
The Czech Police Force honoured its best officers at a ceremony at Prague's Zofin palace on Thursday. The honours were given for the protection of human rights, solved serious crimes, and assistance in battling forest fires. Two police officers received Officer of the Year awards for rescuing an 8-year old boy who almost drowned in a frozen-over river.
The number of people on subutex, a substitute drug used to get off heroine, have increased six fold in the last four years. Unlike methadone, subutex can be prescribed by a general physician and the drug, which is also easily accessible on the black market, is injected more and more frequently experts warn. While there were some 2,700 registered users of subutex last year, the real number of users of the drug is estimated at around 30,000.
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