Czech soldiers in Iraq say security around their base close to the southern city of Basra has been worsening, with missile and mortar attacks threatening them and their mission. Military contingent commander Jiri Neubauer, whose unit has just completed its 3-month mission in Iraq, told journalists on Tuesday that tension between the different streams of Islam has made Basra the second most dangerous city after Baghdad. The Czech Republic has had a military presence in Iraq since December 2003. A Czech 100-member military police contingent operates as part of a multinational force with Danish and British soldiers.
The US pop star Madonna, who will appear in the Czech Republic for the first time in Prague's Sazka Arena on September 6, will stage one more concert at the same venue a day later, the Interkoncerts agency announced on Tuesday. Madonna's first concert in Prague was sold out in a record time of less than two hours after the Sazka company launched ticket sale from its terminals at non-stop petrol stations last Thursday night. The tickets to the other concert, which cost between 3,060 to 5,010 crowns (136 to 227 dollars), will be sold in the same way. The Sazka terminals will open at 01:15 on Friday.
The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek has said his party is close to signing a coalition agreement with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. After a meeting of the newly elected MPs for the Civic Democrats on Tuesday, Mr Topolanek also said his party is not considering forming a minority government tolerated by the Social Democrats, the second biggest party in parliament, but he did not rule out the possibility either. The emerging three-party coalition would be one seat short of a majority in the lower house and would need support from the opposition to win a vote of confidence in the lower house.
The Czech football player Jiri Jarosik has signed a three-year contract with the Scottish Premier League champions Glasgow Celtic. The midfielder, who is 28, joins Celtic from Chelsea, where he failed to win a place in the first team. Jarosik could well face another Czech in Glasgow's famous Old Firm derbies' Libor Sionko recently signed for Glasgow Rangers.
Health Minister David Rath has issued a directive that extends the minimum daily office hours of general practitioners and dentists to seven hours. Up to date, doctors were only obliged to open their doors to patients for four hours and used the remaining time for administrative tasks or visits in patients' homes. Mr Rath says the number of doctors with short office hours is too high and hospitals have suffered as a result. While they should be attending to patients with serious medical problems, hospitals are often overwhelmed by patients with common health problems who seek their help because their doctors' offices are closed, Mr Rath says. Doctors' associations disagree with Mr Rath's decision and say it will harm the patients.
Czech Republic striker Milan Baros returned to full training on Tuesday after struggling with a foot injury and could play in Thursday's Group E match against Italy. Coach Karel Brueckner told reporters there was a chance Milan Baros will be fit for Thursday's match with Italy. The return of Baros would be greatly welcomed by the Czech team, who are much depleted ahead of the match, which they need to win to guarantee a place in the knock-out stage. Baros, top scorer at Euro 2004, had not trained properly since sustaining the injury in a June 3 friendly.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel and South African Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu have urged the United Nations to pass a resolution against Burma's human rights violations. Burma has been under a military dictatorship since 1962. In a letter sent to the UN, the two peace activists say that the lack of international action gives regimes like the military regime in Burma a "sense of impunity". The letter was sent on the occasion of the 61 birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Laureate who has been under house arrest or similar forms of detention for over a decade.
Two Czech prisoners, who were found guilty of drug trafficking in Thailand in 1996, have been granted amnesty by King Rama IX and will be serving less time. The 42-year sentence for thirty year-old Emil Novotny has been reduced by six years and Radek Hanykovics' 25-year sentence by 3.5 years. Both men were transferred to Czech prisons in 2003 but Mr Hanykovics has not served his time for reasons of ill health.
Czech NGOs have joined their counterparts from Poland, Austria, Denmark, and Spain to mark July 19 as a day promoting equal opportunities for women and men. The day is marked for the first time this year and was designated by the Czech Gender Studies organisation. With various events and information campaigns, attention is brought to the different roles that men and women play at the work place and in the family.
The Independent Democrats, led by TV magnate turned politician Vladimir Zelezny, have filed a complaint with the Supreme Court in Brno against Czech TV's pre-election coverage. In the weeks prior to the elections, Czech Television aired a series of debates with leaders of the parties taking part in the election. The Independent Democrats, a smaller party, say they were not given the same amount of opportunity to promote their agenda as representatives of larger parties.
Czech president burns giant red underpants at press briefing
Restoration work on Prague’s Astronomical Clock reveals hidden secrets
Czech restaurants and pubs facing serious shortage of workers
Václav Klaus: Russia not a threat to Czech Republic, unlike EU
Ozzy Osbourne performing in Prague with Hollywood Vampires, featuring Johnny Depp