An amendment to the lottery bill which is being prepared by the Czech finance ministry seeks to reduce the number of gambling machines by up to one third, TV Nova has reported. Municipalities will no longer have the authority to permit the use of the machines but instead will be able to ban all gambling on their territories. Gambling machine operators will have to apply to the ministry for the permission. In the Czech Republic, about 56,000 of these machines are currently in use; last year, a record of over CZK 50 billion (USD 2.5 billion) was spent on them.
The June visit to the Czech Republic by U.S. president Bush cost the Czech army and police forces nearly CZK 30 million, or USD 1.5 million, the Czech Television has said, making it the most expensive official visit ever. Most of the amount, about 20 million, was spent on flights by four Czech military aircraft in the sky over Prague, while the rest was used to guarantee Mr Bush's security on the ground. A defence ministry spokesperson said that money was paid by the ministry's training budget, and would have been spent anyway.
The attitude of the Czech Republic to the payments for the Libyan families of HIV-positive children is "reserved", according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Libya claims the children were infected by five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who have been held in custody for eight years and sentenced to death. Libya came up with a proposal according to which four Europeans countries, including the Czech Republic, should drop their debt claims, which may make the Lybian Supreme Court change the sentences and let the foreign medics serve jail time instead. According to the ministry spokesperson, the Czech Republic wants to participate in humanitarian aid programmes that have no connection with the cause.
Daniel Dvorak has been appointed the new director of the National Theatre in Brno. He was named by the Brno City Hall and will assume the post in August. Dvorak was the head of the Prague's National Theatre for four years before being dismissed by the minister of culture last September which raised much criticism among theatre experts. The National Theatre in Brno, founded in 1884, has three venues in Brno and works with a budget of CZK 270 million (over USD 13 million). Dvorak previously said that this is far from enough.
The Czech veterinary authorities, aided by the police, are looking for a person who might be spreading the bird flu in the Pardubice region in eastern Bohemia. They suspect that someone could have visited the two farms where the H5N1 strain of the bird flue first appeared in June, soiled his or her shoes with the birds' droppings and infected another two farms in the area, a veterinary authority spokesperson said. The person might be a careless vet or a maintenance man, he said.
About 30 people who were later arrested for being involved in terrorist activities had visited the Czech Republic in the last two years, the weekly Respekt reports. Quoting information from the police and the BIS, the Czech intelligence service, the weekly says Czech security experts only learnt about this after the persons were arrested elsewhere. The police and the intelligence service believe that possible meetings of terrorists in the Czech Republic suggest no terrorist attack is planned in the country. However, U.S. authorities have not denied a report by ABC television earlier this month that Prague was a terrorist target along with Glasgow. Security measures for some sensitive buildings, such as the Radio Free Europe headquarters, have been tightened as a result.
The Prague football club Viktoria Zizkov which will play in the first division in the coming season will play their home matches at the usual 10:15 on Sunday mornings following a long standing tradition. Other clubs refused to accept this at their session in June, but Viktoria have managed to convince the other teams that kicking off early on Sundays will make it easier for the other three first division clubs based in Prague.
Transparency International is looking into suspicious commissioning of small public orders by officials of the Czech Finance Ministry, the Czech Business Weekly reports. The Ministry of Finance has been contracting companies to remove environmental burdens but Transparency International found out that some of these companies establish subsidiaries to be able to participate in several commissions at once. A ministry spokesperson denied the accusations and said that the Supreme Auditing Office had not come across any suspicious orders.
The Czech Republic is going through a heat wave at the moment culminating on Monday with temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius. This is caused by an inflow of hot air from Africa which increases temperatures by 3 to 4 degrees, a climatologist said. With 36 degrees measured at Prague's weather station Klementinum, a temperature record set in 1928 was broken on Monday afternoon. The heat wave is expected to end towards the end of the week and over the weekend.
The Czech Republic will ask the EU to cover half of the expenses on combating bird flu in eastern Bohemia, Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic has said in Brussels. Gandalovic claimed the Czech Republic is entitled to the refund of about CZK 15 million. According to Minister Gandalovic, Czechs will not ask for any more assistance unless European countries start closing their markets for the Czech chicken.
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