Temperatures in the 30s throughout the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12 have led to a huge number of drownings. Over the course of the weekend, 14 people drowned in Latvia. This figure constitutes more than 10 percent of all the people who have drowned this year, which now totals 122, nearly as many as drowned in all of last year.
A charity auction held on Aug. 12 saw a golf ball signed by Latvian NBA star Andris Biedrins, who plays for the Golden State Warriors basketball team in northern California, sell for 700 lats. The chairman of the board at the Latvian division of Hansabanka, Maris Avotins, bought the ball. The auction is traditionally held at the close of the Hansabanka Latvian Open golf tournament, and the autographed golf balls always sell well. The NBA star's autographed ball sold for twice as much as one signed by President Valdis Zatlers, which was bought by Vitauts Tuckus, the president of the Latvian Golf Federation for 350 lats. The money from the auction will go to a children's health care institution.
The Latvian under-18 boys' national basketball team returned to Riga on Aug. 13 after winning the bronze medal at the European Championships in Madrid. It is the best result that the team has ever seen at the event, overtaking a 1998 finish of fourth place. The Latvian team beat Lithuania 74 - 72 on Aug. 12 to take the bronze, a day after losing to the Serbian team, who made a 31 point rally in the fourth quarter of the game to secure a final score of 83 - 71. Serbia went on to win the championships with a 92 - 89 Aug. 12 victory over Greece.
Transport Minister Ainars Slesers told journalists on Aug. 14 that there would be a new postal bank established to handle problems in the postal service. The "Latvijas Pasts" postal service will no longer have separate post offices or work with customer payment services, which will both be handled by the new company. Slesers said that the other option the government was considering, that of subsidizing LP, could lead to lawsuits and so was thrown out. The government decided at the meeting that the transport ministry would be resposible for drafting the necessary amendments, which they hope will go into effect Jan. 1. The sensitive topic of postal workers' wages, which nearly led to a strike among postal workers, was set to be considered on Aug. 15, shortly after The Baltic Times went to press.
Transport Minister Ainars Slesers, the leader of Latvia's First Party, said in an Aug. 14 interview with Neatkariga Rita Avize that the opposition New Era party asked for their help in toppling Latvia's current government. He said they offered his party the post of prime minister if they would join a new coalition with New Era. Latvia's First rejected the offer, Slesers said, as they "are satisfied with [Aigars] Kalvitis as prime minister." He noted that while some ministers may be replaced, a change in the coalition would lead to instability.