On Sunday the Czech Republic sent its first delivery of humanitarian
aid for victims of hurricane Katrina in the United States. Comprising
some 24,000 blankets, 600 camp beds, as well as a number of hall-sized
tents, the aid is the first of its kind from the Czech Republic to the
US. Its sending was coordinated within NATO, also the first time the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has taken part in organised aid to
the United States.
The US Ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, was on hand at a ceremony on Sunday to accept the aid offer, noting the symbolism of the gesture on September 11th, four years after New York and Washington were struck by the terrorist attacks.
The Czech aid package is worth 25 million crowns, the equivalent of around one million US dollars. The Czech Republic is also ready to provide part of a field hospital, fire-fighters, and experts in removing environmental damage.
Czech ice hockey star has departed for the US to return to the NHL, where he will honour his commitment to the New York Rangers. The forward, who led the Czechs to gold at this year's World Ice Hockey Championships in Vienna, played in Europe throughout the NHL lockout, first for his hometown of Kladno, and then Russia's Omsk. Departing on Sunday from Ruzyne airport Jagr was in good humour, reportedly telling journalists he hoped to shed a few extra pounds during training camp.
An unmanned plane flown at an exhibition during NATO Day on Saturday held in the north Moravian town of Mosnov, crashed shortly after take-off. But, a spokesman has said the public was not in any danger. Further details are to be released by the Czech Army on Monday. The plane, a "Sojka" which weighs some 140 kilograms and has a wing span of four metres, was hit by strung winds before going down.
In related news, a poll conducted by the SC&C agency for the Czech
daily Mlada Fronta Dnes has suggested that a majority of Czechs do not
feel threatened by the possibility of a terrorist attack. Of 381
questioned some 70 percent said similar attacks to those that hit New
York and Washington four years ago, or London this year, were unlikely
in the Czech Republic. Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on
Saturday that that the risk of attacks could never be ruled out,
especially since the Czech Republic is both an EU member and a member
In September Czech officials have planned exercises on the Prague metro line to analyse how effectively the city would respond to a terrorist strike.
Retired tennis star Ivan Lendl will be named on Sunday to the US Open's Hall of Fame. The Czech-born player won the final three times at Flushing Meadows in the years 1985 - 88. In all, Lendl appeared in 8 finals, tying Bill Tilden's record from 1918 - 1925. Lendl, who became a US citizen in 1982, played some of his most memorable matches against US-born player Jimmy Connors and American star John McEnroe.
Czech police say they will send two officials to the Seychelles this week to negotiate with authorities over the possibility to extradite Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, a businessman wanted on fraud charges as well as allegedly planning the murder of a customs official. Krejcir fled the Czech Republic two months ago and was later joined on the Seychelles by his wife and son. On Friday it was revealed that all three now have Seychelles citizenship. The Czech Republic does not have an extradition treaty with that country. The Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has suggested it is unlikely the fugitive businessman will be handed over. Mr Krejcir's wife is also wanted by Czech police.
Jiri Lang, the head of BIS - the Czech counter-intelligence agency - has revealed that the agency recently helped thwart the planning of a terrorist attack within the European Union. Mr Lang made the statement on a news discussion programme on Sunday but refused to elaborate on further details, including whether any Czechs were involved. Public broadcaster Czech TV has pointed to a group recently arrested in Spain for planning an attack. According to BIS head Jiri Lang there are some links in the Czech Republic between individuals and the financing of terrorism. He indicated on the programme that counter-intelligence was following all suspicious leads.
One of the founders of Roma studies in the Czech Republic, Milena Hubshmannova, was killed on Thursday in a car crash in South Africa. One other person, a South African man, also died and three others were seriously injured. Hubshmannova, a professor at Prague's Charles University, was born in 1933 and was one of the Czech Republic's foremost specialists in Roma culture. After the fall of communism in 1989 she helped found the department of Roma Studies at Charles University. Other projects included numerous translations from Romany to Czech. Milena Hubschmannova was 72.
Czech javelin thrower and three-time Olympic Gold medal champion Jan Zelezny finished 4th on Saturday at the World Athletics final in Monte Carlo. The world-record holder threw a distance of 83.98 metres but finished just behind Makarov of Russia. Thorkildsen of Norway was 2nd, while Finland's Pitkamaki was 1st.
The Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Martin Jahn, not affiliated
with any political party, is a step closer to leading the Social
Democratic Party in the Prague riding in national elections next year.
If he takes the post, he will face off against right-of-centre Civic
Democratic Party leader Miroslav Topolanek. An overwhelming majority of
the Social Democrats' regional executive committee put forward Jahn's
name on Saturday.
Not all within the Social Democratic Party agree with the decision: some members say that choosing an independent candidate for Prague will play into political opponents' hands.