Tests have confirmed the Czech Republic's sixth case of BSE, or mad cow disease. The State Veterinary Authority said an eight-year-old cow from a herd near Prachatice, South Bohemia, was infected with the disease, the sixth confirmed case since 2001. A further 34 animals will be put down and examined for traces of BSE. Meanwhile the State Veterinary Authority said they were examining a possible seventh case of mad cow disease, found in a herd near Lomnice nad Popelkou, near Liberec in North Bohemia. Almost half a million cattle have been tested for BSE since the first case was confirmed two years ago.
The three-party ruling coalition has agreed to provide a total of two billion crowns (around 75 million US dollars) to the country's most indebted regional hospitals. Financing of regional hospitals was recently made the responsibility of the fourteen regional self-governing authorities, rather than the central administration in Prague. However many were transferred with huge debts that the regions say they can't afford to pay back.
President Vaclav Klaus arrived in Slovenia on Tuesday for a two-day visit to the country. Mr Klaus held talks with his Slovene counterpart Janez Drnovsek, discussing mutual co-operation after both countries join the European Union in May 2004 as well as future co-operation within NATO. President Klaus told reporters after the talks that he did not believe small countries in the EU should form alliances against larger EU members. Mr Klaus said he was willing to work with any country that would fight what he described as Brussels bureaucracy, centralism and the diminishing importance of nation-states.
Meanwhile the country's Ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, has said he is only partially satisfied with an explanation by Mr Klaus of his recent scathing criticism of the body, which defends civil and legal rights in the Czech Republic. Mr Klaus explained in a letter that his words were not meant as a personal attack on Mr Motejl, but rather as a criticism of the Office of the Ombudsman itself. President Klaus told Czech Radio recently that the Ombudsman was nothing more than a cushy job for retired politicians. He also said the office had achieved almost nothing in the three years since it was established.
The Czech and Indian defence ministers have signed an agreement whereby Czech military experts are to help train Indian military forces to combat nuclear-related acts of terrorism. The agreement signed in Prague by Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka and his Indian counterpart George Fernandes followed an inspection of the Czech nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons detection unit in Liberec. The unit played a key role in protecting U.S.-led forces from non-conventional weapons during the invasion of Iraq, and is part of the new NATO Response Force which was formally established last week.
A Czech-born Jesuit priest has become one of 30 Vatican priests elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II on Tuesday. Tomas Spidlik, who's lived in exile for more than 50 years, was appointed cardinal in a ceremony in Rome. Reverend Spidlik is 83, and therefore too old to be a "cardinal elector" - one of the cardinals who will elect a new Pope.
Wednesday will be mostly cloudy with rain in places. Daytime temperatures will range from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of -2 to -7 degrees.
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