Around Slovakia

Big shopping ahead of Easter

AFTER Christmas, Easter is quickly becoming the second most profitable time of the year for food retail chains in terms of sales volume, the SME daily reported.
Shoppers have been spending ever-larger amounts of money on alcohol, soft drinks, smoked meat, special treats and confectioneries, some of which have seen sales increase by as much as a third.
"Sales this Easter have exceeded our expectations, rising by as much as 15 percent year-on-year," said Diana Stanková, a spokesperson for the Hypernova supermarket chain.
Interest has risen in luxury goods, but, according to Stanková, products such as fresh herbs, smoked meat, quality alcoholic drinks and presents are mainly bought by people from Bratislava.
Adrian Ďurček, chairman of the rival COOP Jednota chain, partially attributes the rise to the fact the public is worrying less about debt.

Floods damaged 10,000 hectares of arable land

SPRING floods damaged about 10,000 hectares of arable land in Slovakia.
"Approximately another 10,000 hectares have been harmed by groundwater or are waterlogged," said Slovak Agriculture Minister Zsolt Simon during a visit to southwestern Slovakia.
The minister was unable to estimate the damage suffered, but used his trip to warn afflicted farmers to send their applications for compensation directly to the Agricultural Paying Agency by April 21 at the latest.
"I won't be happy if more damage is caused by neglect of this duty," he said, according to the SITA news agency.

Apollo Bridge nominated for OPAL Award

BRATISLAVA'S fifth bridge over the Danube, the Apollo Bridge, was recently granted the honour of being the only European structure to make the top five nominations of the prestigious Outstanding Project and Leaders (OPAL) Awards 2006.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has been handing out the prize for the last 50 years to extraordinary structures that are made with the use of the most modern technology. Nominees have to fulfill various criteria, including environmental aspects.
Other nominees include the Liberty Bridge (Greenville, South Carolina), reconstruction of the Saluda Dam Remediation Project (Columbia, South Carolina), the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, (Charleston, South Carolina) and the Neutrinos at Main Injector Project (Batavia, Illinois and Soudan, Minnesota), the TASR news agency wrote.
The city of Bratislava and the Metro company were the main investors in the Apollo Bridge, which was constructed by Doprastav and designed by Miroslav Maťaščík from Dopravoprojekt Bratislava. Austrian steel company MCE Linz and Czech Hutní Montáže Ostrava also participated.
The bridge cost a total of Sk4.3 billion (€111 million), all of which was covered by the state budget and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Construction began in February 2003 and was completed in 31 months.

Top court confirms life sentence for triple murderer

THE SUPREME Court rejected an appeal from Henrich Masár, a convicted triple murderer and central figure in a hostage drama that shook the Trnava region in 2003. The decision upholds the life sentence passed down by the original court.
"I sincerely regret everything that happened, but I don't remember anything," Masár stated in his appeal, according to the TASR news agency.
A former drug addict, Masár was arrested on July 16, 2003 in the village of Kaplná, near Trnava, after taking four hostages, whom he later exchanged for his girlfriend and the promise of a heroin fix.
It was later discovered that Masár had killed two elderly women in Trnava and Hlohovec, including a driver who had given him a lift while hitchhiking, and crashed the stolen car into a lorry before fleeing to a nearby house, in which he took the people hostage.
Masár was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Trnava Regional Court on October 12, 2005 for three counts of first-degree murder, hostage taking, illegal possession of a weapon and theft.

Police to probe exam test leak

THE RESULTS of this year's secondary school exit exams are valid and will not be repeated, Education Minister László Szigeti confirmed on April 13.
The comment came in response to media reports claiming that topics and questions from last week's secondary school exit exams in foreign languages, mathematics and Slovak language/literature had been leaked over the Internet.
Szigeti said he reached the decision because students couldn't have distinguished exactly which of the dozens of questions posted on the Internet would appear in the exams.
As far as the probe into the leak was concerned, Szigeti said he would leave that to the police, as an inquiry commission he appointed last week had failed to trace the source. He did promise to take legal action against anyone involved, though.
Both the Education Ministry and State Pedagogical Institute have denied any responsibility.

Police investigating death of girl

THE POLICE have been spending the last two weeks investigating the mysterious death of a 19-year-old woman named only as Eliška from the village of Žabokreky, who died only minutes after release from the Martin Hospital.
Police spokesman Igor Mahút confirmed that the case is being considered a homicide. He said an autopsy had been ordered and further details would be available later.
Eliška died at the hospital while picking up her records with her mother. The Healthcare Supervision Office is also examining the death.

Schools block Internet access

ELEMENTARY schools in the eastern Slovak town of Prešov have decided to block pornographic and extremist websites from all computers accessible to pupils.
The local municipality issued the order after discovering pupils at the elementary school at Sibírska street had been surfing such sites.
Prešov city hall press officer Michal Kaliňák said that the measure would affect all 495 computers the city's 16 municiapity-administered schools use for IT classes, the TASR news agency wrote.

Creek in house

JOZEF Bačkor and his wife from Pečenice, in the southern Slovak district of Levice, live in a house that has a creek flowing through one of the rooms.
The couple live in a water mill, a technical sight that they originally bought as a weekend cottage. They live there permanently now, but their home is still in bad condition, the SME daily wrote.
"We started cleaning the sewerage that comes out of the creek and, years later, water started flowing through it. The water falls from the [nearby] hill through the inside of the stone mill," said Bačkor.
"We resolved the issue of humidity [inside the house] through floor heating, which we have to turn on even when it's raining during the summer," he said.
All changes in the mill are supervised by the site's experts, who showcased the water mill in Pečenice as a positive example of preservation and use of technical sites.

Banská Bystrica
Film award for Slovak eye doctor

PROFESSOR Milan Izák, a reputed Slovak eye surgeon, left San Francisco recently carrying an award for a film he made from 50 edited eye operations.
The award was given by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, which presented it to Izák for the innovative approach, music and commentary, which he wrote and recorded in English himself.
The eight-minute film shows the step-by-step application of an artificial eye lens. To achieve such detail, Izák fixed a mini camera onto a microspore that was connected to a monitor, the Nový Čas daily wrote.
Izák applied the lens - which replaces glasses for shortsighted people and, once implanted, cannot be taken out of the eye - through a 3. 4 millimetre cut.
"I can do the operation in 12 minutes, but each case depends on the individual conditions, of course, " Izák said.
An expert jury ranked Izák's film second out of the 200 specialized films presented at the contest.

photo: ČTK

photo: ČTK

Slovaks followed the usual April tradition of casting their votes in two prestigious beauty pageants. The first chance to savour Slovak splendor came at the beginning of April, when 20-year-old Judita Hrubyová from Bardejov (left, centre) took home the Miss Universe title. The second was while voting for Magdaléna Šebestová, 22, from Bílkove Humence, near Senica, who won the Miss 2006 contest.

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