The condition of the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, who was hospitalised with heart problems early on Monday has stabilised and his doctor says he is expected to be released on Thursday morning. Shortly after boarding a plane for an official visit to Italy on Monday, the president complained of an irregular heart rhythm and was rushed to a Prague military hospital for treatment. A former chain smoker, who spent years in Communist prisons, the Czech president underwent major cancer surgery in 1996 and has been plagued by frequent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia ever since. He was last hospitalised in February 2001, after cutting short a trip to Kuwait. The president has been in office since 1989 and plans to retire in early 2003.
Czech citizens are more critical of democracy now than they were in the past few years, according to the results of a public opinion poll conducted in September. The poll, carried out by the STEM agency, concluded that 34% of Czechs are no longer happy with the Czech Republic's democratic system. 57%, on the other hand, said they believed the country had made progress in building democracy. These figures are the lowest since 1993. The poll also showed that the last seven months had seen a rise in the number of citizens unhappy with their representatives' decision-making - two thirds of those polled have said that most politicians made their decisions undemocratically.
The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has sent a letter to the leader of the Four-Party Coalition, Karel Kuehnl, demanding a public apology. During a television show, last week, Mr Kuehnl said the government's privatisation of the energy sector lacked transparency and was most probably corrupt. Mr Zeman said the statement was offensive and immoral and has called on to Mr Kuehnl to either back his allegations with proof or make a public apology. Mr Kuehnl, however, has responded by saying he did not see why he should apologise. In his defence, he said that as an MP, it was his duty to point out a potential for corruption before it would be too late.
Officials have said it will take until the end of the week to clean up an oil spill that has contaminated part of the Vltava river in the Prague-East district. The 15 x 20 metre spill was most probably caused by a leak of either motor or fuel oil from a local sewer. This, however, is yet to be confirmed by the police and environmental inspectors who, along with local firefighters, have been cleaning up the oil leak since Tuesday morning. So far, there has been no sign of a threat to the lives of any fish.
Czechs in some 180 towns and cities around the country dug into their pockets on Tuesday to donate money for the establishment of a new children's unit for bone marrow transplants at the Prague Motol hospital. Students from 220 secondary schools spent the day selling a total of 320,000 symbolic yellow hearts. This is the second national collection, the first, on October 3rd last year, raising a total of 3.6 million Czech crowns (just under 100,000 USD). Estimates as to how much was raised this year will be known on Friday.
The Marian bridge near the North Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem, has been named as one of the decade's ten best constructions in the world by Structural Engineering International magazine. The bridge was ranked alongside famous buildings such as Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers and the Millennium Dome in London. The cost of building the bridge, which was opened to traffic in July 1998, totalled some 800 million Czech crowns, twice as much as originally estimated. Structuring Engineering International, with its headquarters in Zurich, based its chart on the results of an internet poll, conducted with 4,000 experts.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Wednesday shall be a rainy day throughout the country, with temperatures between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius. Wednesday night should continue to see cloudy skies with occasional showers. Night-time temperatures should range between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius. Thursday shall see overcast skies with less rain - scattered light showers - with temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius.
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