A train carrying equipment for the Czech chemical detection unit which is to help protect the Olympic Games in Athens has left for Greece. The 35 cars carrying special containers and equipment for radiation and chemical detection and decontamination are guarded by ten soldiers, while the group of 90 specialists will follow by plane. The team of specialists from the Liberec-based NATO rapid response unit will operate in Athens from August 1st till September 30th. The core of the group is made up of Czech specialists but there will also be chemical experts from Italy, Hungary, Spain and Poland.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed the acting leader of the Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross the country's new Prime Minister. Mr. Gross heads an old-new Cabinet of three coalition parties, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the right wing Freedom Union. The new Cabinet will have a thin one-vote majority in the Lower House, and the new Prime Minister has obtained a pledge in writing from each of the 101 coalition deputies that he can rely on them to back the new administration. Later today, the new Prime Minister is to meet with the leaders of the two smaller parties of the governing coalition to debate government policy and personnel matters. The thirty-four year old Stanislav Gross is the youngest Prime Minister in the country's history. He has replaced his party colleague Vladimir Spidla who resigned several weeks ago, after narrowly surviving a vote of no-confidence as party chairman.
The police have arrested two youths who attacked and seriously injured a man who objected to their yelling Nazi slogans in public. The thirty three year old man was eating at a restaurant when two youths, sitting close to him, started yelling Nazi slogans and doing the Nazi salute. When he asked them to stop the youths both attacked him, punching him in the face and repeatedly kicking him when he fell to the ground. The man is in intensive care, having sustained severe head injuries. The youths have been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and supporting a movement which aims to restrict human rights and freedoms.
The driver of a Czech tourist bus was killed and 31 passengers were injured in a collision with a Polish truck on a major highway in eastern Belgium early on Monday. The accident allegedly occurred near Hasselt on a highway that links the Belgian port of Antwerp and the German city of Aachen. Eleven of the injured have had to be hospitalized.
Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, who has been in Austria since Friday to attend the Salzburg Festival, met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer on Saturday, ahead of Mr Fischer's official trip to Prague next month. While the two politicians chose not to discuss sensitive topics such as the Czech Republic's nuclear energy plan or the controversial Benes decrees, both men agreed it was necessary to uphold close cooperation between the Central European countries. Mr Pithart noted that the Czech Republic was engaged in much more dialogue with its neighbour Germany than with Austria and suggested the two countries' experts, historians, and politicians should come together more often to discuss their past, present and future.
The Czech Republic's European Commissioner Pavel Telicka, who came to Prague on Friday to find out why the ruling coalition parties decided to have him replaced by outgoing prime minister Vladimir Spidla, leaves for Brussels on Sunday without an explanation. Mr Telicka was hoping to get an explanation from acting leader of the Social Democrats and prime minister-designate Stanislav Gross but Mr Gross is out of town and will not be back before Monday morning. Although the news of Mr Telicka's dismissal was made official on Friday, Mr Telicka says he himself has neither received an official notice, nor an explanation. He is expected to meet with Mr Gross next weekend.
Karel Gott's family, friends, and fans came together to wish him a happy belated birthday at a gala night in New York's Astoria World Manor on Saturday. The popular Czech singer, who celebrated his 65th birthday on July 14th, was accompanied by his two daughters and his partner Ivana Machackova. Among his birthday presents were a Happy Birthday song from popular singer Lucie Bila, a globe to help him keep track of where he is, and a birthday cake with a portrait of him in chocolate.
The Czech Republic's European Commissioner Pavel Telicka has arrived in Prague, where he hopes to meet with acting leader of the Social Democrats and prime minister-designate Stanislav Gross. On Friday, the ruling coalition parties agreed to replace Mr Telicka by the outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. This means that Mr Telicka could loose his post in Brussels as early as in one month. Mr Telicka first heard about his replacement from a friend just before the news was made official at a press conference on Friday.
The 26th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) at which several thousand astronomers from around the world come together to debate about the state of the universe will be held in Prague. According to Pavel Suchan from the Academy of Science's Astronomy Institute, the assembly is scheduled for 2006. The last time Prague, a city with a rich astronomical history going back to the mid-14th century, hosted the general assembly was in 1967. It has attracted many of the world's greatest astronomers and physicists including Albert Einstein (from 1911-1912), Johannes Kepler (from 1600 - 1612), Christian Doppler (1835 - 1847), and Tycho Brahe who is buried in the city's Tyn church.
Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka on Friday awarded overseas service medals to 97 military police officers who had been deployed in Iraq as well soldiers returning from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, who had served with the U.N. peacekeeping force SFOR. Five of those who served were also awarded the Cross of Merit. The military police contingent was deployed in southern Iraq from April to June this year. They trained over 2,000 Iraqi police officers and police instructors. The Czech military contingent served mainly in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.