The 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Canada. During its annual session in Prague on Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Vancouver to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. IOC members began their secret ballot at 1630 CET at Prague's Hilton Hotel and its president Jacques Rogge, announced the winner a little over an hour later. Canada's Vancouver was up against Austria's Salzburg and South Korea's Pyeongchang. Salzburg was eliminated after the first round of the vote.
The German government on Wednesday denied a media report saying it was seeking compensation from the Czech Republic for millions of Sudeten Germans expelled after WWII. According to Walter Lindner, the spokesman for German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, there is not and has not been any talk about compensation payments. Mr Lindner dismissed a report in the German daily, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, as a "distortion" but said there had been proposals in a letter from Mr Fischer to Prague leaders seeking a "humanitarian gesture" for a limited number of Sudeten Germans who had especially suffered during the expulsions. Mr Lindner added that Germany welcomed recent comments by Czech leaders that they wanted to take "moral responsibility" for past actions. He underlined that Berlin did not want events from the past to burden present and future German-Czech relations. In the years after WWII, Czech leaders accused the ethnic German minority of having supported Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland in 1938. Some 2.5 million Sudeten Germans were stripped of their property and citizenship and were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1945 and 1946.
The Chamber of Deputies passed a bill on Wednesday increasing the wages of policemen, firemen, customs officers and Prison Service employees by approximately one-third. With the law applying to some 73,000 workers, the government will have to find around 6.5 billion crowns in the 2005 state budget to implement the bill. While Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross defended it, all other government coalition deputies opposed it as the increase in wages comes at a time when the government will force public sector employees to tighten their belts as part of its plan to reform the public finance system through cuts and savings. If passed by the Senate and signed by President Vaclav Klaus, the new law will come into effect at the beginning of 2005.
The Lower House also agreed on Wednesday, to put a new code of conduct law concerning some 80,000 state employees into effect in 2005, instead of January 2004. The decision was made in order to save close to eight billion Czech crowns from the state budget. The new code of conduct assumes, for example, that public employees will swear an oath of loyalty to the state and be required to pass through regular evaluations. In return, they will have longer and better paid holidays than other citizens and, upon leaving work, will receive five months' severance pay. The main aim of the law, which was passed by Parliament before the general elections last year, is to create conditions for the development of an independent and professional corps of public officials. The lower house decision will have to make it through the Senate and be signed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus before it can be introduced.
Police say they have released from custody the last of three men suspected of a racially-motivated attack against a Roma couple last Saturday. The attack on the married couple took place at their own home, after they opened the door to the youths, who were believed to be drunk. The first two suspects, arrested soon after the attack, were released from police custody on Tuesday. All three men, aged between 18 and 21 years, were released after the court decided they would not influence witnesses.
The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting has extended TV Prima's licence for nationwide broadcasting by twelve years until 2018. TV Prima, the country's second largest commercial station, has to pay 200 million Czech crowns in a period of up to three years for the licence's extension. The station currently has two licences, one for Prague and Central Bohemia and the other for nationwide satellite broadcasting, plus terrestrial transmitters.
Thursday has been forecast with partially cloudy skies and scattered showers throughout the country. Temperatures will reach a maximum of 24 degrees Celsius.
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