As every year on this day thousands of believers made a pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the missionaries were based. Addressing a congregation of some 30 thousand believers Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said the Church should move with the times and come closer to the people. He said it was vital to present the New Testament in a manner comprehensible to today's young generation. The mass, served by archbishop Jan Graubner, was held out in the open air and dozens of people collapsed in the scorching heat. Medics on standby said people suffered largely from dehydration and sunstroke.
The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - is holding its 14th all-Sokol meeting at Prague's Strahov stadium this week. The event culminates with a mass gym performance at the stadium involving some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages. Czech expats from around the world are taking part. The Sokol athletics body is one of the oldest organizations in the world. Its modern era began with its revival after the fall of communism but even during the dark period of Czech history ex-pats around the world kept its spirit alive. The all-Sokol meeting takes place once in six years.
July 5th is a national holiday in the Czech Republic commemorating Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Czech lands in 863. They also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form. The two brothers are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, spent July 5th in the Moravian highlands visiting ex-prime minister and former party leader Milos Zeman in order to try to convince him to return to high politics and run for a post in the Senate in the autumn elections. Senate elections are due to take place in 27 constituencies in the autumn and Mr. Paroubek said he felt that a number of strong candidates could increase the party's chances in them. Milos Zeman who was in his time regarded as a controversial leader has allegedly declined the offer.
Czech national team manager Karel Brueckner will sign on for a further two years as the coach of the national Czech football squad, in a deal that is as good as signed, a top member of the national football federation has said. On Tuesday Czech and Moravian Football Federation board member Vlastimil Kostal revealed that only a few formalities now stood in the way of a new agreement. He made the announcement shortly after meeting personally with the coach. The two year extension means that 66-year-old Brueckner will manage the Czech team through qualification for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
A member of the Social Democratic Party may be offered the chance to be
speaker of the lower house. Late Monday, the right-of-centre Civic
Democratic Party - which won last month's general election, and signed
a collation deal with two smaller parties to form the next government,
announced that it will offer the post to a Social Democrat MP in
exchange for support in a vote of confidence. The three-party
coalition, led by the Civic Democrats, is one mandate short of the
majority needed to pass in a confidence vote.
One of the lead candidates for speaker of the lower house from the Social Democrats could be Lubomir Zaoralek, who has held the post over the last four years.
Whether any trade-off becomes reality will apparently still depend on further negotiations: currently the deadlock on "tolerating" the new government has not been resolved. On Tuesday, leaders of the five parties in Parliament - including Civic Democrat head Mirek Topolanek - met to discuss ways of break the stalemate and gain opposition party support. However, the Social Democrats, for example, have so far refused to accept a deal for lower house speaker in return for tolerating the emerging centre-right government. As a result, in the interim the centre-right coalition will propose its own candidate as provisional speaker for the time being: the Christian Democrats' Jan Kasal.
Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel as well as writer
Arnost Lustig have received honorary doctorates from Western Michigan
University - organising annual creative writing courses in Prague. Both
Mr Havel and Mr Lustig were recognised on Monday for their literary
work as well as for their contributions to human rights.
Mr Havel, who is 69, has received a number of honorary doctorates since leaving public office in 2003. Mr Lustig, connected with Western Michigan University's writing courses, said that cooperation between the university and Prague's Charles University formed a connection between America and the Czech Republic. Of Jewish origin, the writer, now 79, survived internment in Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. After the war he worked as a journalist, but left Czechoslovakia after the 1968 invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. Mr Lustig now lives in Washington.
The finance ministry has released figures showing a state budget surplus of 7.6 billion crowns - the equivalent of roughly 340 million US dollars - in the first half of 2006. The figure is almost twice the surplus during the first six months of the previous year. On Monday at a press conference, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced that the outgoing government had decided on a provisional budget deficit amounting to 88 billion crowns for 2007. This would translate into a public spending deficit of 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the finance minister, the proposal is fully in line with the convergence programme agreed for the development of overall debt and public finance deficits between Prague and the European Union, in preparation for adoption of the single currency euro. The Czech Republic intends to adopt the currency in 2010. The proposals will have to be approved by the incoming government. So far, a new government has yet to take office one month after Czechs went to the polls in a general election.
The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the general election last month was fully in keeping with law and its results are valid. The court was responding to around 70 election complaints, lodged by a number of regional politicians. The court also rejected a complaint by a Social Democrat who suggested his party had been harmed by statements made by the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party which won the election. All were ruled legitimate within the general pre-election campaign. The court did point to a number of mistakes made by election commissions, but said those had not influenced the election results.
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