The Czech President Vaclav Klaus has welcomed the re-election of George W. Bush as President of the United States. The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said the victory of George W. Bush in Tuesday's U.S. presidential elections was good news for the Czech Republic. Shortly after Senator John Kerry conceded the election, Foreign Minister Svoboda said that the majority of American voters had supported Mr Bush in such key issues as the fight against terrorism and involvement in Iraq, a line advocated also by Czech diplomacy. According to both politicians, President Bush's re-election means welcome continuity in U.S. policies.
Disappointment prevailed on Wednesday in the North Moravian village of Horni Benesov where Senator John Kerry's grandfather was born, as the Democratic candidate failed in his bid to become the next US president. One hundred years after his Jewish grandfather, Fritz Kohn, changed his name, converted to Catholicism and left central Europe to seek his fortune in America, many of Horni Benesov's 2,400 inhabitants had been hoping that a Kerry victory would bring prosperity to the once thriving mining town, now struck with high unemployment.
Police have detained a man believed to have threatened Czech hospitals with a bio-chemical attack and accused him of raising false alarm. According to a police spokesperson, the man is deranged and it is likely that he will not be held accountable for his actions in the end. In response to the threats, Health Minister Milada Emmerova on Tuesday sent letters to regional governors asking them to heighten security measures in and around Czech hospitals. Some of the opposition governors said such a procedure was unprofessional and called on the Social Democrat minister to resign.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister Stanislav Gross admitted that the Health Minister Milada Emmerova did not act in a standard way when she sent letters to regional governors to warn them of a possible bio-chemical attack on hospitals. Mr Gross however dismissed the calls by some governors from the opposition Civic Democrats for her to resign, but said that in the future it would be good if a different procedure were followed. Minister Emmerova herself denied making any mistakes in the case and accused the opposition governors of bullying her.
People who attack rescue workers may face tougher punishment in the future. Under a bill passed by the lower house of Parliament an attack against a rescue worker would be viewed as an aggravating circumstance that would merit more severe punishment. In recent years there have been numerous cases of drunks attacking doctors and ambulance workers and there was also a case in which a deranged man who had set his house on fire, started shooting at the fire fighters who were trying to put the blaze out.
The number of tourists visiting the Czech Republic this year is expected to be up to 16 percent higher compared to last year, according to the government agency CzechTourism. By the end of the year, as many as 5.9 million tourists are expected to have stayed at hotels and other accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic. CzechTourism estimates that a further 2 million foreigners will have stayed with friends and relatives, not making it into the statistics. According to private agency Mag Consulting, the increase in the number of tourists in 2004 is estimated at only 8-9 percent, and the total of tourists using accommodation to 5.5 million.
The regional court in Brno has sentenced 41-year-old U.S. citizen Marc Paul Blisac to three years in prison for smuggling the drug ecstasy into the Czech Republic. Four accomplices who distributed the drug in this country were given suspended sentences. Mr Blisac was arrested last year at a Czech-German border crossing carrying more than 14,000 tablets in the spare tyre in his car. Police say he had sold some 26,000 tablets of ecstasy before his arrest. The prosecutor had demanded 11 years in jail for Mr Blisac. She said she would appeal against the verdict.
Thursday should be a partly cloudy day here in the Czech Republic, with occasional rain forecast throughout the country. Daytime temperatures should range from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
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