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.
The Czech's EU Commissioner, Pavel Telicka, first learned that he may be replaced in Brussels by outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla from a friend. Mr Telicka told the CTK news agency that he only received official news of that possibility on Friday, after a public news conference. The post of EU commissioner was first offered to Mr Spidla by the acting head of the Social Democrats and Prime Minister-designate, Stanislav Gross, who is now putting together a new cabinet. The Christian Democrat party, which will be part of the new government coalition, has pushed for Mr Telicka's replacement due to his past membership in the Communist party.
Czech mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena, one of Europe's most sought-after classical vocalists, has left her husband, French baritone Vincent Le Texier, and will move from Paris to Berlin to live with her lover, Sir Simon Rattle. After numerous reports about their relationship appeared in the tabloid press, a spokesman for the couple confirmed for the German paper Bild that the two artists were together and said the pair's spouses were aware of the situation, but would not comment further. Sir Simon, currently the artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic, is considered to be Britain's foremost conductor.
The outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has been offered the post of European Commissioner, according to reports published in the Czech press on Thursday. According to the dailies Mlada fronta Dnes and Lidove noviny, Mr Spidla could replace current commissioner Pavel Telicka, whom the Christian Democrats, one of three government coalition parties, want to remove. The dailies say the post was offered to Mr Spidla by the acting head of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, who is now responsible for putting together a new cabinet. The outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has refused to comment on the matter, saying the priority now is to form a new government.
Another suspected case of BSE, or mad cow disease, has been reported in Podhorni Ujezd, near Jicin, East Bohemia. The animal suspected of suffering from the condition is a five-year-old cow. The State Veterinary Authority said further tests would be carried out. If confirmed, it would be the Czech Republic's thirteenth case of the disease since 2001. Some 143 head of cattle, either offspring of the cow or animals born in the same year will have to be killed as a preventative measure.
The government on Wednesday also rejected a Senate bill that would introduce tuition fees at Czech state universities. The bill would transform universities into incorporated companies that provide education and applied research. They would also be freed of paying revenue taxes. The bill was drafted and approved by the Senate in response to growing dissatisfaction on the part of teachers and students regarding poor financing of universities. The strongest party in government, the Social Democrats, is strictly against the idea of tuition fees on the grounds that they would limit access to higher education for socially weaker students. The bill will now go to the Lower House.
A judge who was to decide whether to re-open the case against the country's most notorious criminal Jiri Kajinek has postponed the hearing until September, because a key witness failed to show up. Kajinek is serving a life sentence for two murders, which he claims not to have committed. His lawyer now says she has fresh evidence which should help clear Kajinek of both crimes. The new evidence allegedly points to the fact that Kajinek may have been framed.
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