EXTREME drought has caused shipping companies to suffer extensive financial losses.
Global warming a reality
SLOVAK climate experts have said changes that took place in the country over the last century have left visible marks on the central European state and have contributed to global warming.
Since the start of the 20th century, the average annual temperature in Slovakia has risen 1.1 Celsius. Other changes, however, are more visible.
"Precipitation has, over the last 100 years, decreased by 5.6 percent, and in the south of the country, by even more than ten percent," climate expert Milan Lapina from the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMU) said to the Slovak daily Pravda on August 27.
An increase in extremely dry seasons and floods is expected for the country in the coming years.
"Since 1989 we have seen record heats and dramatic dry seasons coming in a row. At the other end is the threat of floods," Lapina said.
According to SHMU's Oľga Majerčáková, Slovakia should prepare for the increased possibility of regional and local floods caused by heavy rainfalls and melting snow.
Climate experts expect that by 2075, the average annual temperature may increase by 2 to 4 Celsius, which would in turn change the existing precipitation cycle in the country.
Women torture men, say men
THE UNION of Tortured Men (ÚTM) says women demand high living standards from their (male) partners, and that as much as 50 percent of Slovak men are tortured by their spouses.
The ÚTM, an organisation based in the western Slovak town of Nitra, has 70 members. Despite what one might infer from their title, none of the members have actually been beaten by their wives.
According to the ÚTM's president, Imrich Gallo, however, there are plenty of women in Slovakia who misuse their men.
"They [women] only care about having men to secure them a comfortable life," Gallo said to the Slovak daily Nový čas on August 27.
"Friends, coffee, expensive holidays - that is their style. And a husband is supposed to secure that. One of our members had to work two jobs so that his wife could have an expensive holiday by herself. It later turned out that she went there with her young lover," Gallo said.
"When the husband wanted a divorce, she accused him of beating her and their daughter. She pressed charges against him and was allowed to keep everything - the child, the house, the car, and her lover."
The ÚTM also protests that in divorce procedures, it has become almost automatic that the mother keeps the child.
The ÚTM plans to approach Slovak men and build international contacts to provide better protection for men and to help its members solve their family problems.
EXPERTS estimate that there is one rat per each inhabitant in the eastern Slovak town of Košice.
Košice has 242,000 inhabitants, and municipal authorities are saying that a large-scale deratisation may be on the way, since rats have multiplied dramatically since the most recent extermination two years ago.
The Košice municipal office is considering this measure to respond to the fact that rats can spread salmonella and tuberculosis.
"According to the city statute, the city districts are obliged to secure deratisation," said Košice city hall spokeswoman Zuzana Bobríková.
Cruel mother sentenced to five years
A 40-YEAR-OLD mother has been sentenced to five years in jail for torturing her 12-year-old son. Banning him from the house, she refused to give him food and forced him to resort to sleeping in a dog kennel.
In an appeal verdict on August 26, the Bratislava regional court also ordered the mother, Jana Ižová from the Tureň village, in western Slovakia, to undergo treatment for alcoholism.
Ižová, a mother of five, was found guilty of abuse for denying food to one of her children, refusing to wash his clothes, and when she was drunk, throwing him out of the house.
In one instance, when the mother expelled her son from the house, he was forced to sleep in a stable. On other occasions, he would creep inside a kennel and cuddle with their dog to keep himself warm.
The boy's six-year-old sister told the court that she secretly fed her older brother with biscuits.
The boy's father was also sentenced to one year in jail for brutally beating the child with a leather belt.
IQ champion MPs
"LIVING smart is nothing particularly special," said Rudolf Žiak (left), the MP with the highest IQ.
TWO opposition MPs, Róbert Kaliňák of the Smer party and Rudolf Žiak from the People's Union (ĽÚ), are believed to be the most intelligent men in parliament, scoring IQs of 148 and 156, respectively.
The Slovak daily Nový čas found that both MPs are members of the Slovak Mensa club, the bright persons' society that unites all who score more than 130 on their IQ tests.
Kaliňák said, he had initially taken an IQ test six years ago after a friend convinced him to join her because she did not want to go for the test alone.
Žiak, who was perceived as the right hand of former PM Vladimír Mečiar, underwent a test ten years ago when the state was looking for qualified staff and part of the enrolment process considered IQ test scores.
Žiak admitted that he had been pleasantly surprised when he found out about his high IQ, but that "living smart" was nothing particularly special.
"I live a normal life. I don't perceive [the high IQ] as an advantage or as a handicap," Žiak said.
Big bug collection
THE OWNER of a massive collection of 20,000 bugs, possibly the biggest of its kind in Slovakia, feels his hobby gives him much to be proud of.
Rudolf Gabdzil, 44, from Michalovce in eastern Slovakia, discovered his love for bugs 20 years ago, and his collection not only includes local insects but also several foreign samples.
As a hobby entomologist, Gabdzil has travelled to South Africa, South America, and Asia. Recently, he returned from Peru, where he studied and photographed various local bugs.
Gabdzil said to the Slovak daily Nový čas on August 28 that his family is also excited by his hobby: his wife likes to accompany him on expeditions, and his daughters have occasionally brought him bugs as presents from their journeys abroad.
Deputy mayor suspected in loan sharking scam
THE DEPUTY mayor of the eastern Slovak village of Žehra was recently added to a list of alleged culprits who, in a trio, are suspected of loan sharking.
Police confirmed that the deputy mayor, named only as M. M., has been investigated under the suspicion of lending money to the local Roma community and requesting high interest rates to be repaid over a long period of time.
One Roma, named as Ivan M., told the Slovak daily SME on August 30: "They [the accused] are rich people. They take money from people when social benefits are due on the 19th of each month. Some give them Sk8,000 (€190), others Sk10,000 (€240)."
"When the Roma don't pay them, they threaten them with beatings and even with death," he said.
According to the village's mayor, František Hadušovský, loan sharking has been a "long term matter here and it is essential that we find a way to eliminate it.".
"People must start giving information [about these crimes] to the police, but this is hard because they are being threatened," Hadušovský said.
The Cabinet's plenipotentiary for Roma issues, Klára Orgovánová, admitted that even she is powerless to help the Roma with the problem.
"Poverty is placed in the background [of loan sharking]. Unfortunately, I am not able to deal with this. It is a matter for the police and investigators," Orgovánová said.
Schoolkids prefer beer over soda
POLICE, as well as bar owners, say that schoolchildren have become frequent guests in local bars and restaurants, often ordering a glass of beer rather than a soda.
The Slovak daily Pravda has reported that a number of bar owners in the southern Slovak town of Rimavská Sobota said that schoolchildren, some of whom were under 14, have, during the summer holiday that only recently ended, been notorious patrons in their establishment.
Ordering a beer, they said, was not uncommon for the youths. It remains questionable, however, why the children were served alcohol. According to Slovak laws, it is illegal to sell alcohol or tobacco to youths under 18 years old.
According to the head of the local police, Ján Uhliar, many guests buy alcohol such as beer because it is often cheaper than soda or fruit juices.
"It is a result of the purchasing power. In a district like ours, which is very poor, people, including children, prefer to buy cheaper drinks," Uhliar said.
Thief badly burned
A 16-YEAR-OLD male suffered massive burns after he lit a match when manipulating an open canister of gas.
The victim, whose name was withheld by police, along with a 14-year-old accomplice, managed to get hold of keys to a local fire-station, in the eastern Slovak village of Hendrichovce, and stole a 20-litre canister of gas.
When they wanted to pour the gas into two smaller canisters, in the dark, the 16-year-old lit a match in order to better see what he was doing. Shortly thereafter, he caught on fire and suffered burns to 60 percent of his body. He is now in intensive care at a hospital in Prešov.
8. Sep 2003 at 0:00