Daily news summary News Wednesday, AUGUST 11th, 1999

11-08-1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.

CZECH-ECLIPSE-WEATHER

An almost full eclipse of the sun, the first to be observed from the Czech territory in almost 300 years and the last in this millennium, will be largely obscured by bad weather and thick clouds. For the next full eclipse, Europe will have to wait till the year 2135.

The totality belt, more than 100 kilometres wide and stretching across Europe from France to Romania, passes just a few kilometres south of the Czech border.

An eclipse is usually marked by a drop in temperature and other effects. The sun's vanishing act should not be watched without the use of special protective glasses.

In a recent poll, one Czech in five believes that eclipses and other celestial abnormalities may have adverse impacts on human lives. Most of those polled associated the eclipse with natural disasters, especially in light of the approaching Friday, August 13.

CZECH-KOSOVO-REFUGEES

The first of an estimated 900 Kosovo Albanians who found refuge in the Czech Republic may be repatriated as early as on Friday. The first in a series of repatriation flights to the Kosovo capital Pristina will leave Ostrava's Mosnov Airport on that day. Marie Masarikova from the Press Section of the Ministry of the Interior said on Tuesday all refugees were expected to return home by the end of September.

She said every returnee would receive a lump sum of 1,000 German marks as a free gift from the Czech Republic. She said the flights will be organised on regional basis so people from the same areas can fly together.

CZECH-BRITISH-VISA

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is stepping up efforts to stave off the threat of re-imposing the visa requirement on its citizens by British authorities.

Officials in Prague fear that a new wave of ethnic Roma asylum seekers could make Britain re- introduce the entry visa duty from which Czechs were excepted in the early 1990s.

Last month, about 400 Romas from the Czech Republic asked for political asylum in Britain, citing fears of racial intolerance at home -- a remarkable increase on the previous month.

CZECH-BRITISH-AIRCRAFT

British Aerospace, one of the firms vying for contracts on the delivery of advanced fighters for the Czech Air Force, says it will present Prague with a finalised offer by the end of August regarding the Gripen plane, built jointly with the Swedish firm SAAB.

The Czech Air Force needs at least 36 supersonic fighters. Its obsolescent MiG-23s were phased out last year and the service life of the MiG-21s expires in two years.

The other contenders are France's Dassault Aviation with the Mirage 2000, and two U.S. manufacturers -- Lockheed Martin with the F-16s and Boeing, which produces the F-18.

CZECH-PRAGUE-AIDS-SHELTER

Prague opens its first asylum house for AIDS victims on Wednesday. The House of Light in the city's Karlin area is also first of its kind in the whole Czech Republic.

Vaclav Strouhal from the Czech AIDS Help Society told correspondents on Tuesday that as well as providing medicine, rehabilitation and a gathering place for HIV-positive patients, the new centre will also run consulting services on the prevention of AIDS.

Our correspondent says the number of HIV-positive patients registered in the country has exceeded 500. More than 120 have fallen ill and 80 people died.

CZECH-DISSATISFACTION-POLL

Most Czechs say they are not satisfied with the situation in the country and its prospects apart from noticeable progress made in the field of democracy and culture.

An IVVM poll conducted in July and published on Tuesday shows that pessimism and scepticism are on the highest level since November 1993.

Ninety percent of those polled said they are worried by their economic prospects, nearly 80 percent feel socially insecure and the same percentage of those asked are unhappy about their standard of living.

CZECH-GERMANY-SOCCER

Football -- and 500 policemen will be on alert on Wednesday in the North Bohemian town of Teplice whose local team plays against Borussia Dortmund in the preliminary round of Champions League.

Police spokesperson Martina Cimrmanova told correspondents six mounted policemen would be present in the stadium and reinforcements had been called from all around the region.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.

11-08-1999