The Czech Senate rejected the purchase of 24 Gripen fighter planes on Friday, turning down a proposal made by the government last month. The planes were to be supplied by the British-Swedish consortium BAE-Systems-Saab for a total of 60 billion Czech crowns or 1.7 million U.S. dollars in return for the consortium's investment of an equal or larger sum in the Czech Republic. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik who was hoping for the Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets to replace the Czech airforce's fleet of ageing Soviet-made MiG fighters, said that he would not be sending a new proposal before the June elections and that the future of the Czech Republic's air defence would be in the hands of the next government.
A 47 year old man entered the office of his dentist in Prague on Friday morning and shot him in the head. He then turned the gun on himself. The man died in hospital several hours later after suffering serious brain injuries. Although the police are still looking for a motive behind the attack, it is believed that the man was unhappy with the work of the dentist.
The former U.S. President Bill Clinton will not be visiting Prague to participate in the first Czech-American conference on trade and investment next week. According to an organiser of the conference, Mr Clinton called off his visit in reaction to an article in the Czech press that claimed his presence would influence the upcoming general elections. Some of those who will participate in the conference include the Czech politicians Vladimir Spidla, Ivan Pilip, and Cyril Svoboda, as well as international names such as the chief coordinator of Bill Clinton's economic policy Gene Sperling and former U.S. ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is currently in Casablanca, Morocco, representing the Czech Social Democrats at a conference of 140 left-of-centre parties from all over the world. The meeting, which began on Friday with the Middle East conflict as the main topic of discussion, attracted protesters against Israel. According to Mr Zeman, however, the only effective initiative the international socialists can take is that of promoting communication between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Saturday will be partially clouded in most parts of the country with overcast skies and occasional rain in the north-east. Temperatures will range from 17 to 22 degrees Celsius.
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