And now the news in more detail.
The Czech National Bank has expressed satisfaction that the upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, has rejected a controversial bill to limit the bank's powers. A bank spokesman said that the Senate shared the bank's view that the bill had three main flaws - firstly that it would block the bank's day-to-day running, secondly that it was at odds with European Union standards and thirdly that it went against the Czech constitution. The Senate's rejection came as a surprise, because in the lower house the bill enjoyed the full support of both the Social and Civic Democrats, which hold the majority in both houses. The bill will now go back to the lower house, and will still become law if the majority of deputies vote in its favour.
Czech car exports have risen for the first half of this year by over fifteen percent. This is an important statistic for the Czech economy, as Skoda cars are the biggest single Czech export, amounting to over eight percent of the total figure. Germany was the largest market followed by Britain and Slovakia. At the same time, car imports have increased by a similar figure, reflecting a gradual increase in Czech consumer confidence.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has requested a meeting with the Czech Deputy Interior Minister to discuss the Czech Republic's asylum policy and the situation in Czech refugee camps. The call follows an incident at the Cerveny Ujezd camp, where asylum seekers from the Russian Federation staged a protest after an outbreak of the Hepatitis-E virus. A UNHCR spokeswoman said that the protest was nothing exceptional, but it reflected the frustration of asylum seekers who face a long wait for their applications to be processed. She said that the main priorities were to speed up this process, to improve conditions in the camps, and to improve communication with the asylum seekers.
Police in the western town of Plzen have questioned four youths suspected of a violent attack on a twenty-year-old man in the town on Tuesday evening. Police say that youths, who are all under eighteen, allegedly also shouted racist slogans at the man and attacked him for no apparent reason. The victim was treated for head wounds.
For the first time in several months the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is expected to rise for the month of July. Experts have made the prediction due to young people leaving school and university at the end of the academic year. Although most observers say that this is normal for the time of year, there is some speculation that the rise will be well above official estimates. Official unemployment statistics for the month have yet to be published.
A group of organisations opposing communism has submitted a proposal to President Vaclav Havel, demanding that the Communist Party, the third biggest party in the lower house of parliament be dissolved. The group includes organisations representing former political prisoners, forced labourers and other victims of political and religious persecution under the communist regime. In their letter to the President, the signatories claim that the current party carries the name "Communist" and is hence a direct successor of the pre-1989 Communist Party, which is now illegal under Czech law.
Saturday will be cloudy with showers and the occasional thunderstorm and temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius. It will be brighter on Sunday, but showers will persist, and temperatures will stay much the same.
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