Czech legislators have voted to reject a government proposal which would authorise the cabinet to issue laws needed for accession to the European Union without parliamentary approval.
The lower house voted 116 in favour of the amendment, short of the 120 votes necessary in the 200-seat chamber for constitutional changes.
The government draft had also called for simplification of procedures needed to send Czech troops abroad and to allow foreign troops to enter Czech territory.
The proposal was expected to be rejected after sharp criticism from opposition parties that dominate the lower house. Prague has been criticised by the European Commission for a slowdown in preparations to join the EU. The government has blamed a lengthy legislation process for a part of the delay.
But the main opposition Civic Democratic Party of Lower House speaker Vaclav Klaus failed to defeat the long-awaited bill on the institution of ombudsman, an official who is appointed to investigate complaints against the state administration.
The bill went into its second reading after the house defeated the Civic Democrats' motion which would have killed this draft legislation, and the legislators have sent the whole project into the committees.
The ombudsman bill has been debated in parliament many times during the 1990s but all attempts to date to see it through have been unsuccessful.
Twenty ethnic Roma families in the North Moravian city of Ostrava said on Tuesday they were going to sue the Ministry of Education and Ostrava's School Authority over what they said was illegal relegation of their children to special-education schools, designed for under-achievers.
Markus Pape from the European Romany Rights Centre said both institutions were clearly violating the Bill of Basic Rights and Liberties a Constitutional Czech document.
Pape told journalists that the psychological tests applied by the ministry did not take into account the cultural and linguistic differences between Roma children and their Czech contemporaries.
According to the Centre's report, more than half the Roma children in Ostrava attend such special schools, compared with less than 2.5 percent receiving standard elementary education.
The Czech non-profit humanitarian foundation People in Need is organising a collection of toy cars, teddy bears and other cuddly toys for children of the Kosovo refugees.
The foundation, which is attached to Czech Television, is working together with several boy and girl scout groups in Prague, Brno and Plzen. Our listeners in the Czech Republic can find the addresses on the internet and the collection is open through Thursday.
The organisers have stressed they are not interested in toy weapons, bicycles and baby carriages. All donations which do not comply with customs and import regulations in Albania and Macedonia will be returned to the donors.
The People in Need Foundation has to date raised over 45 million crowns worth of humanitarian aid to Kosovo.
Doctors and paramedics from the Czech field hospital deployed in the Albanian coastal town of Kavaje last month gave treatment to more than 1,300 patients. The Czech news agency CTK reported on Tuesday that the bulk of the hospital's work is for refugees from Kosovo.
Meanwhile, NATO has said it will suspend its bombing of Yugoslavia just before the United Nations adopts a resolution to settle the Kosovo conflict agreed by Russia and the West on Tuesday.
The Czech Republic has banned imports of many Belgian meat products in the wake of a crisis over the contamination of meat, eggs and dairy products with cancer-causing dioxin.
Countries around the world have closed their doors to Belgian meat and dairy products and some, including the United States, have widened temporary bans to all EU countries.
The Czech veterinary office has banned imports of live pigs, cattle, sheep, pork, beef, mutton and fats, as well as feed and other products made from such animals. The ban applies immediately.
Dioxins are among the most toxic substances produced by modern industry. But our correspondent reports that although there are more than 200 different dioxins and similar molecules called furans, less than 20 among them are toxic. They are produced mainly through incineration and by chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Soccer and the Czech Republic beat Scotland three goals to two in their European under-21 championship group nine qualifier played in Teplice on Tuesday.
The two countries national teams meet in Prague late on Wednesday.
Now for a look at the weather.
And the 8th of June of course was Saint Medard's day and we Czechs have several important proverbs linked to early June. One of them claims that if Medard comes with rain, we'll have wet rainy weather for forty days. This one predicts the beginning of the prevailing west-oceanic atmospheric streams.
On Wednesday, early morning lows between seven and nine degrees Celsius will usher us into a rather wet day with afternoon highs from 18 to 22 degrees.
On Thursday and Friday, we expect a colder air intrusion into Central Europe but the daytime temperatures will be still around 20 degrees Celsius on both days.
I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.
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