News

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Social Democrats say they will not enter a coalition with centre-right parties

A meeting between representatives of the would-be coalition between the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, and leading members of the Social Democratic Party has brought no end to the ongoing political deadlock. The Social Democrats refused to formally enter the coalition government, meaning the three-party coalition remains one seat short of a majority. Civic Democratic Party chairman Mirek Topolanek says that the goal now is to establish guidelines by which the Social Democrats would tolerate the three-party coalition, and to set these conditions in writing. Talks between the political leaders are expected to continue this week, with Tuesday's meetings focusing on economic issues and decreasing the unemployment rate.

A fifth attempt to elect a new chairman of the lower house is also set for Friday, and Social Democrat Lubomir Zaoralek is expected to stand for the position.

Czech national park partially closed after blaze

The Czech National Park authority has decided to close a portion of the Ceske Svycarsko (Czech Switzerland) National Park after a destructive fire over the weekend. On Sunday afternoon fire fighters managed to contain a fire in the park, situated in the northwest of the country, after some 20 hectares of forest had been destroyed. Tourists are being warned that they must stay on marked hiking and biking trails, and police are not allowing anyone into the zone affected by the fire. The fire is the largest there in thirty years, and damages run into the millions of crowns. Firefighters expect to be at work for at least the next three days, neutralizing the situation. Experts say the risk of forest fires is extremely high in the current hot and dry weather.

Foreign Ministry urges Czechs in Lebanon to contact embassy

The Czech Foreign Ministry has called on all Czech citizens who have decided to leave Lebanon amid the continuing Israeli military operations to contact the Czech Embassy in Beirut by phone or email. A ministry spokesman said that out of some 150 Czechs who were in Lebanon prior to the attack, only some 20 to 30 have stayed. He urged them to stay in touch with the embassy.

Telefonica 02 registers mid-year profit

Telecommunications operator Telefonica 02 Czech Republic—formerly known as Cesky Telecom—has recorded gains of more than fifty percent at the half-way point in the year. Profits have reached 4.3 billion Czech crowns, or over $191 million USD. Meanwhile, the company's financial director, Juraj Sedivy, announced that there will be further staff downsizing before the end of 2006, but he refused to offer specifics. The Spanish company Telefonica holds roughly 70% of shares in Telefonica 02 Czech Republic.

Jan Bulis signs with Vancouver Canucks

Czech hockey player Jan Bulis has signed a contract to play with the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. The Pardubice native will earn $1.3 million USD in the one-year deal. Although the 28 year-old forward was originally looking to play for an American-based team, Bulis told reporters that he is happy with Vancouver because "it's an excellent hockey club, and the city is one of the most beautiful in the world." Since beginning his NHL career in 1997, Jan Bulis has played for Washington and most recently for Montreal.

Weather

The hot and sunny weather is expected to continue in the coming days with daytime highs of up to 31 degrees Celsius, and scattered thunderstorms throughout the country. Meteorologists are predicting that the tropical heat wave in the Czech Republic will continue into August.