The Czech National Bank cut its key lending rates on Wednesday to the lowest levels in a decade. The central bank said it was trimming its two-week repo rate by 0.25 percentage points to 2.25 percent, and also reduced the Lombard rate to 3.25 percent and the discount rate to 1.25 percent. The Czech economy has experienced moderate growth in recent months, with GDP rising by 1.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.
A proposal by the Communist Party to abolish the so-called "lustration law" has been defeated in parliament. The law, which prevents senior officials of the former Communist regime from holding important public posts, has been in place since the early 1990s. The proposal to abolish the law was rejected in the first reading, although some MPs from the ruling Social Democrats voted in favour. The Communists want the law to be abolished by May 2004, when the Czech Republic joins the European Union.
A 52-year-old man has died in hospital after setting himself on fire, the 14th incident of its kind since March. The man, described as unmarried and living alone, died in hospital in the South Moravian town of Kromeriz after suffering burns to 90 percent of his body. There have been a series of deaths by self-immolation since March, when a young man set himself alight on Prague's Wenceslas Square.
The deputy Prime Minister Petr Mares, who recently proposed clearer and more liberal drugs legislation, has admitted to experimenting with marijuana. Mr Mares, head of the right-of-centre Freedom Union, said in an on-line interview that he had tried marijuana but had not, as he put it, "suddenly become addicted." Mr Mares recently proposed new legislation to both clarify and increase how much marijuana was allowed for personal use. At the moment possession of "more than a small amount" of marijuana is illegal. Mr Mares also denied he was using the marijuana issue to gain votes. He joked that heavy marijuana smokers were too "chilled out" to even notice that elections were taking place.
Thursday will be another mostly sunny day, with some patches of cloud in places. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 21 to 25 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 14 degrees.
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