The Czech crown stood at less than 20 to the US dollar for the first time in its history on Friday, the financial website Patria Online reported. The dollar was trading at 19.98 crowns for a few hours, thought it later rose to 20.04. Analysts put the development down to the dollar's fall on world markets. At the start of 2007 the dollar was worth 20.67 crowns.
The Czech Republic will be able to ask the United States to remove a radar base the US is planning to build in central Bohemia, Lidove noviny reported. The planned contract on the base will be open-ended and can be terminated by either country at any time, it said. An unnamed source told the daily that Washington was aware political changes in the Czech Republic could necessitate the removal of the base within a few months. Prague is set to decide early next year whether to allow the base, which would be part of a US global anti-missile defence system.
Growth in the Czech economy slowed slightly in the second quarter of this year, according to figures released on Friday. While year-on-year growth in gross domestic product stood at 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2007, in the April to July period it fell to 6 percent. However, the second quarter growth was faster than expected; it has been attributed to household spending and gross fixed capital formation.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in north Moravia due to flooding, while other areas are under flood alert following heavy rains. Around 200 people were forced to leave their homes in Bruntal on Thursday night, as were 100 others in nearby towns. The evacuees are being put up in local schools. Meanwhile, soldiers have been dispatched to help shore up flood defences with sandbags. A state of emergency has been declared in several areas of north Moravia and Silesia.
The state investment agency CzechInvest has closed its office in California's Silicon Valley, Hospodarske noviny reported. The closure comes despite the Czech government's stated aim of making the development of innovation and information technology a priority, the paper said. The head of CzechInvest, Roman Cermak, said the Silicon Valley office had been closed because it had poorer results than the agency's other US office, in Chicago.
Prague will introduce a pilot congestion charge system in the historical centre of the city in 2009, the city's mayor Pavel Bem told the iDnes news website. A full congestion charge would then be launched a year later, the mayor said. Motorists would pay the toll by way of a microchip, with a fee likely to reach between 50 and 150 crowns a day.
The most extensive publication to date documenting the Charter 77 protest movement is to be launched next week. The three-part collection entitled Charter 77: Documents 1977-1989 is the result of years of research by the Institute of Contemporary History at the Academy of Sciences. It contains detailed information about the Charter's signatories and their persecution by the Communist authorities.
The Ministry of Transport plans to create a team of inspectors to help raise standards on Czech trains, Hospordarske noviny reported. The inspectors will check whether there is running water and toilet paper in toilets, as well as monitoring the punctuality of trains and checking whether the temperature in wagons reaches at least 18 degrees Celsius, the paper said. The Transport Ministry will levy fines for failure to meet the required standards.
Areas of north Moravia and Silesia are under extreme threat of floods. The levels of rivers in the area, as well as parts of northern Bohemia, have risen considerably due to extensive rain - and surrounding areas are on highest alert. In some areas, 20-year old water has already broken banks, leading to flooding in parts of some village homes: namely cellars and basements. Some roads have been closed off. Meteorologists have said that a warning of heavy rain and strong winds will remain in effect until Friday. On Wednesday night, fire fighters had to intervene in many regions, mostly east Bohemia and north Moravia, removing fallen trees from roads and high voltage electric lines. Technicians were called in to repair lines in 230 places in east Bohemia alone. Extensive rain on Wednesday also raised water levels in some rivers in southern Bohemia.