Damages from floods earlier this year have been assessed at 300 million crowns - the equivalent of around 13 million US dollars - in the agriculture and forestry sectors. According to the Agriculture Ministry floods in late March and early April damaged thousands of hectares of fertile land, damaging a number of crops. Wheat, barley crops were among the hardest hit, as well as some orchards. Fish farms also suffered some 51 million crowns in damages.
The cabinet has approved a 1.4 million crown (64,000 US dollars) subsidy for NATO's training mission in Iraq - the Czech Republic also provided a subsidy for the mission last year. At its summit in Istanbul two years ago NATO chose to establish a military training academy near Baghdad: Germany, the Netherlands and the US are the main contributors. Five Czech military instructors are part of that mission, while the largest part of the Czech contingent operates on the British base Shaiba in northern Iraq. About 100 Czech military policemen train local officers there.
Ice hockey goaltender Milan Hnilicka did not take part in a practice session on Wednesday following a back muscle pull during a qualifying match against the United States at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga. Despite losing 3:1 on Tuesday the Czechs qualified for the knock-out round. They next face Russia. Hnilicka has said that he hopes to be ready for the game which takes place on Thursday. If not, the post in goal will be taken by back-up Adam Svoboda.
The Czech power utility CEZ has signed a contract with Russia's TVEL, after the corporation was chosen following a year-long international tender. From 2010 to 2020 TVEL will supply some 400 tonnes of fuel for two reactors at South Bohemia's Temelin nuclear power plant. The current supplier is Westinghouse. The contract awarded this week is worth an estimated several billion Czech crowns.
Czech footballer Libor Sionko has agreed a three-year contract with Glasgow Rangers, after leaving Austria Vienna on a free transfer. The former Sparta Prague player has 17 international caps; he is on standby for the Czech Republic's World Cup squad and may yet be called up if another player drops out.
The results of an opinion poll just out indicate that half of all Czechs would be in favour of legalizing euthanasia. Thirty percent of respondents were strictly against it, the remaining twenty percent said they did not have a firm view on the matter. Under present legislation euthanasia amounts to murder and only one party - the Freedom Union - is in favour of its legalization. The Christian Democrats, Communists and the Green Party are strictly against it. The Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party are divided over the matter. A single previous attempt to get it legalized was blocked by the Senate.
Doctors who are planning a week of protest actions against the policy of health minister David Rath, starting this Saturday, say that the planned events will be largely symbolic and will not restrict care or in any way damage patients. The week-long protests against the minister's reforms will involve demonstrations in the three largest cities Prague, Brno and Ostrava, the distribution of leaflets and debates with the public. The protesters say that the minister's reforms are harming both medical staff and patients and have worsened the quality of health care afforded in many areas.
The South Korean car-maker Hyundai has put off indefinitely the beginning of construction work on a huge new plant in Moravia, the Seoul-based Jonhap news agency reported. It said the decision was connected to an investigation into corruption allegations against some senior representatives of the company. However the Czech minister of industry and trade, Milan Urban, has strongly denied the claim, while the head of the state agency CzechInvest said he had been assured by a Hyundai official that building work would begin as planned. A Czech delegation headed by Mr Urban is going ahead with plans to travel to South Korea for a signing ceremony on Thursday.
The police have started investigating the circumstances surrounding the purchase of high speed Pendolino trains by Czech Railways on suspicion of breach of trust in property administration. No charges have been brought as yet. A recent audit revealed that the contracts signed with the Italian company Alstom were disadvantageous for Czech Railways and the company's management has requested a police investigation.