Czech president Vaclav Klaus has become the face of a media campaign questioning the impact of global warming. The campaign is run by the free-market think-tank Heartland Institute. It features pictures of Vaclav Klaus and former US vice-president Al Gore under the headline "Global Warming Is No Crisis". It also draws attention to Mr Klaus' speech that is to take place in two week's time at the UN conference on global warming. I spoke to Tom Swiss of the Heartland Institute and started by asking about the campaign's aim.
Jiri Boudnik is a Czech architect who has been living in the United States for the last 20 years. On September 11th 2001, he witnessed the fall of the Twin Towers from his office in Brooklyn, and rushed to the scene to help. In the days following on from the September 11th attacks, he continued to assist the emergency services in their hunt for survivors. How? By designing a computer model of the World Trade Center as was, to help the rescuers find their way through the rubble. To mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11, Jiri Boudnik spoke to us earlier
The US Embassy has confirmed that a team of American experts will come to
the Czech Republic on Monday to examine the conditions for stationing a
possible US radar base at the village of Misov, some 90 kilometres
southwest of Prague, which was chosen as the most suitable location.
Municipalities near the Brdy military area, where the radar base is to be positioned, are against the plan, fearing the radar could affect the environment or the health of local residents. They have repeatedly rejected the base in locally- held referenda.
Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek plans to marry his new partner
The chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, is planning to marry his new partner Petra Kovacova once he divorces his wife Zuzana Paroubkova, Pravo reported. Speaking to the daily, Mr Paroubek indicated that all of the media would have to write about Miss Kovacova "decently", referring to the fact that some tabloids had called his partner his "mistress".
The opposition leader announced a month ago that he and his wife were divorcing after 28 years and that Ms. Kovacova, some 20 years his junior, was his new girlfriend.
Guns from Ceska zbrojovka arms producer were stolen during their transport to the US in the past few days. The damage amounts to more than 80,000 Czech crowns (USD 4,000). According to the Pravo daily, it was the second arms theft from the delivery over the Atlantic Ocean in the past months and the third in the past year.
The Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, has said that some parts of the security bill recently passed by the American Senate don't make much sense. The bill, which may eventually lead to inclusion of the Czech Republic as well as other Central European countries in the visa-waiver programme, also introduces the duty to accept former citizens of the country for repatriation from the United States, even though they would not be their citizens. Speaking on Czech Radio on Monday, Mr Kolar described this as a difficult legal issue. The changes in the visa waiver programme still need to be signed by the U.S. President.
This week was without question an important one for US-Czech relations. The reason? On Wednesday both houses of the US Congress agreed on changing US legislation to allow potential exceptions within the country's visa waiver programme. Under the proposed changes, it is thought Czechs could begin travelling visa-free to the US in two years time. Initial reports were even more optimistic, citing a one year timeframe. But there the Czech Foreign Ministry has expressed caution, saying such a timetable was probably unrealistic.
The Foreign Ministry has indicated that earlier reports that the Czech
Republic might be eligible for the United States' visa waiver programme in
one year's time were too optimistic, estimating that such a move would
realistically take about two years. The ministry nevertheless noted
progress on the issue of visa waiver in the US this week. Both houses of
the US Congress on Wednesday discussed visa-free conditions, and
unofficial reports have suggested legislation changes agreed could see
exceptions made for countries not meeting a current 3 percent threshold.
Under the waiver programme, rejected US visa applications per country must
not exceed 3 percent over three years.
But under proposed changes, countries not breaching a ten percent threshold over one year could potentially be eligible. The Czech Republic, for example, sees around nine percent of its applications for US visas rejected annually.
Czech Defence Minister Martin Bartak told journalists on Wednesday that the government had approved an agreement with the United States on the destruction of aging Czech anti-aircraft missile systems. According to Mr Bartak, the Americans will pay around 600,000 dollars to the Czech Republic for the destruction of outdated Soviet-made missiles and launching pads. The US government fears that if the missiles are not destroyed they could be sold to third parties, which could increase the risk that some might end up in the hands of terrorists.
The sounds of the American anthem welcomed US President George W. Bush to Prague Castle on Tuesday for talks with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, as well as with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The talks were the first stop of Mr Bush's European visit, which includes, first and foremost, attending the G8 Summit in Germany, where Mr Bush will head on Tuesday evening. Mr Bush's stop-off in Prague, though brief, was not unimportant: he was in the Czech capital to discuss a number of issues, among them a US request to station part of its
George Bush has been all over the media in the Czech Republic since he arrived on Monday evening. However, many ordinary Czechs are perhaps talking less about his visit and more about a bizarre gift Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova was planning to give the US president - a CD supporting a planned US radar base on which the minister herself sings backing vocals.
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