The Czech electricity grid, which suffered an overload on Tuesday, has called off a state of emergency. The network CEPS balances electricity generation with consumption in the Czech Republic and battled its biggest blackout in thirty years. All large companies are still advised to minimise their energy consumption.
Outgoing prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says the centre-right coalition has rejected a generous compromise solution that would have put an end to the political deadlock. The three-party coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens has been trying to form a government but is one vote short of a majority in the lower house of Parliament. On Wednesday, the Social Democrats proposed to name a candidate other than Lubomir Zaoralek for the post of lower house speaker and give up control of a parliamentary commission. The coalition has rejected the offer.
The Czech Railway company is planning to buy more Pendolino trains to cover destinations to neighbouring Slovakia and Austria. There are already seven Pendolino trains travelling between Prague and Ostrava and on the Prague-Brno-Breclav line. Seven more are expected to cover the Prague-Bratislava and Prague-Vienna lines as of December. A trip on the Pendolino, known for speed and comfort, is expected to cut travelling time by up to thirty minutes.
Lebanese children, who are in need of medical care and cannot get it at home because of the ongoing Israeli-Lebanese conflict, may be offered treatment in the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan proposed to increase the budget of the government's Medevac project by ten million crowns (an estimated 445,000 US dollars) to include Lebanon. The project makes it possible for children from war-torn countries to get medical attention in the Czech Republic.
A high-ranking official at the Czech Consolidation Agency has been charged with large-scale corruption. Executive board member Radka Kafkova was arrested in the middle of the night after she made a money exchange, Czech Television reports. The police have been investigating the case, which involves tens of millions of crowns, for three years. One of the Consolidation Agency's main tasks is to bail state-owned companies out of problematic loans.
The Finance Ministry expects the country's economy to grow by 6.2 percent this year. Its projection is up from previous estimates of 5.6 percent. The positive projection is based on external trade and an expected increase in household spending and investments. The ministry says economic growth will slow down next year to reach 5 percent.
Meanwhile, the centre-right coalition put forward its own candidate for the post of speaker of the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday. Christian Democrat Jan Kasal will face the Social Democrats' Lubomir Zaoralek in the election on Friday. The coalition says Mr Kasal will only pull out of the race if the Social Democrats agree to tolerate the coalition's proposed platform.
Police are looking for a person who has been shooting an airgun at random in the Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice. At least four people, among them one child, have been shot since Thursday. None of them were seriously injured. The residents of the Maj residential area are scared to leave their homes as the shots are believed to be fired from a window.
Meanwhile, some Czech senators have been drumming up support for a bill that could lead to early elections. Senators will hold a vote on the amendment to the Constitution that allows for the dissolution of the current lower house at a special meeting in August. One third of the Senate, or 27 senators, would have to vote in favour of the bill for it to be approved. The senators who proposed it are reacting to the political stalemate and are hoping the bill will lead to early elections. However, the bill will also have to gain the approval of the President and the lower house.
Czech police say they have broken up a gang that has been selling drugs to members of the Roma community in the southern Moravian town of Brno. The four men from Vietnam were allegedly supplying heroin to some forty Romany drug addicts. They face up to five years in prison if found guilty of the illegal manufacture of drugs.
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