The new Czech Defence Minister has been given three months to prepare a plan to end conscription and create a professional army. Jaroslav Tvrdik was sworn in as Defence Minister on Friday, after the dismissal of his predecessor on Thursday over funding problems in the armed forces. Prime Minister Milos Zeman immediately told the new minister to prepare the plan, saying that the only reasonable solution for the country was an army that was truly ready for combat. The Czech armed forces have had severe problems in recent years trying to meet NATO standards, and lacks proper funding and weaponry. Currently, all Czech men have to serve one year as a conscript in the army, or eighteen months civilian service.
Agriculture ministers from seven Central and Eastern European countries have called on the European Commission to remove them from a list of countries at risk of BSE, or mad cow disease. The joint statement came at the end of a farming conference in Bulgaria on Friday between the agricultural ministers of the Central European Free Trade Agreement countries, which include the Czech Republic. The list has already been fiercely criticised in the Czech Republic. In the declaration issued on Friday, the agriculture ministers insist that the European Commission review the method used for grading states for the risk of BSE, as they say this has seriously affected the trade in live animals and animal products, and has seriously damaged consumer confidence in their countries.
Violent thunderstorms on Friday in the Czech Republic have left one person dead and another seriously injured. One woman was injured when her car was washed off the road in Central Bohemia. And a seventy-five year-old woman was trapped in the courtyard of her apartment building in the West Bohemian city of Plzen, after flash flooding swept a car in the courtyard into her path, trapping her in a corner. By the time she was discovered she had severe hypothermia and died on route to hospital. Insurance companies are still counting the costs of the damage and some meteorologists have warned that even worse storms could be on the way.
Physicist and international nuclear safety expert Helmut Hirsch has warned that continuing turbine problems at the Temelin nuclear power could be highly dangerous. Temelin has been shut down repeatedly in recent months due to turbine faults. Mr Hirsch says that the company in charge of constructing the plant, the energy utility CEZ, is not telling the truth when it says the turbine poses no threat because it is not part of the primary reactor. According to Mr Hirsch, if the turbine is faulty, the reactor has to be shut off periodically, which could create further faults of a much more serious nature
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Sunday should see overcast skies with scattered showers and thunderstorms in places. Daytime high temperatures are expected to reach twenty three degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Friday are expected to drop to six degrees Celsius.
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