As Sunday marked Holocaust Memorial Day around the world, the six million Jewish victims of Nazism as well as the heroic men and women who fought against the Nazis were commemorated on Prague's Namesti Miru Square. The square is located in the Vinohrady district, which had the highest number of Jewish residents before WWII. At the commemorative event, the names of those who perished were read out and an electronic database and literature on Holocaust victims reminded passers-by of the persecution suffered by the Jews.
Eighteen year old Katerina Sokolova has been crowned Miss Czech
Republic 2007. The brunette secondary school student from the town of
Pruhonice near Prague also won the Miss Silhouette title on Saturday.
One of her priorities, she says, will be charity work with the aim at
improving care for the elderly. Sokolova also hopes to be able to
finish school. Twenty-one year-old Veronica Pompeova from the Bohemian
town of Jesenice is first runner-up and Miss Elegance, while 20
year-old Veronika Chmelirova from Znojmo, South Moravia, is second
runner-up and also Miss Congeniality.
The beauty and talent show's rival, Czech Miss, was held two months ago and was won by 19 year-old Lucie Hadasova from the town of Straznice.
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, intends to review the Czech
government's public finance reform package. According to Czech National
Bank vice-governor in Washington, Ludek Niedermayer, the IMF is
particularly interested in the proposed new fiscal policy because the
state of the national budget is the most sensitive part of economic
development. Fiscal reform is also a condition for discussion on the
adoption of the euro to start.
The government's proposed reform plan is to be presented to parliament in June, where support for the package of ambitious tax reforms and spending cuts is not guaranteed.
The Green Party's national council has elected Matej Stropnicky - one
of the biggest opponents of party leader Martin Bursik deputy chairman
of the council. Mr Stropinicky has been accusing the head of the party
of failing to consult government talks with other party members and not
backing calls by Green Party members to hold a referendum on the
proposed stationing of a US radar system on Czech territory.
The council has also elected Dalibor Strasky as chairman and Jana Drapalova as deputy chairman.
Cabinet, at its session on Wednesday, is expected to discuss an amendment to the road traffic law that lowers a number of penalties, criticised as exaggerated. Under current law, for example, drivers and even cyclists who cause an accident and injure themselves only are penalised. The amendment proposes to do away with the penalty. Under the current law, drivers who park in a spot for people with disabilities are fined and lose their license. The amendment proposes to punish the drivers with a fine only.
Fire fighters are busy trying to put out an extensive forest fire that started close to the north-western town of Chomutov, near the Czech-German border. Several dozen German fire fighters assisted their Czech colleagues until Sunday afternoon. Although the fire has been contained, it will most likely not be put out on Sunday. What started the fire that has already damaged five hectares of land has yet to be determined.
Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is willing to dismiss
Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek from his posts in government only if
he has the backing of Mr Cunek's party. The Prime Minister reacted to
Saturday's resolution passed by the Greens, who are in government with the
Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats, calling for Mr Cunek to either
resign or be dismissed.
Minister Cunek is the only government member in the country's history to face criminal charges. Besides allegations of corruption, he also faces criticism for a number of controversial remarks he has made about the country's Roma community. In a Sunday TV discussion programme, Prime Minister Topolanek said although the time had come for Jiri Cunek to leave government, he did not want to take any action that could threaten the stability of the ruling coalition.
On a related note, the crown of Miss Czech Republic 2007 has been auctioned off for one million Czech crowns. Slovenian national Loris Pozar bought the crown as well as that of Miss Congeniality for a total of 1.2 million. But it will not be another two months before Mr Pozar will have the crowns delivered because they are still being made. The original crowns were stolen before the show; the crowns worn by the contestants on Saturday were borrowed from last year's winners. The proceeds from the auction will go to a children's home.
Most Czechs agree that the country needs fiscal reform but oppose the government's proposed plan, an opinion poll commissioned by Czech TV suggests. In the poll, conducted by the STEM agency, only 24 percent of respondents support the tax reforms and believe that the new plan hinders people from abusing sick leave benefits. The poll also indicates that less than one fifth of the population think that it would benefit from the reform package.
Prague's mayor Pavel Bem, who has taken two months' leave to climb Mount Everest, was stopped by Chinese border police upon trying to enter Tibet this week. It is not known why the mayor and his climbing team were not allowed across the Chinese border. The Tyden.cz server, which reported the news, said it had interviewed a Dutch member of another climbing group who witnessed the incident and said it was obvious to him that the Civic Democratic mayor and his companions were "obviously on some kind of blacklist". Mr Bem is now expected to try and reach Everest via Nepal.
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