A third of the 50 or so concerts in this year's Prague Spring music festival have sold out, organisers said. In all 70 percent of the tickets for this year's festival have been sold. Prague Spring begins on May 12 with the traditional Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana, performed by the Czech Philharmonic and conducted by Zdenek Macal. It runs until June 3.
The government would like the ombudsman's office to oversee the implementation of a law against discrimination due to be introduced next year. The Czech Republic is required to adopt such legislation as part of its accession to the European Union. If the government plan is approved by both houses of parliament, it would represent a considerable broadening of the powers and remit of the ombudsman's office, which currently only investigates complaints made by individual citizens. Government representatives said they had considered setting up a new anti-discrimination watchdog, before deciding it was a better idea to increase the powers of the ombudsman.
The funeral has taken place in Prague of the popular actor Svatopluk Benes, who died at the weekend at the age of 89. The main hall at Olsanse cemetery was packed out for Thursday's funeral service, which was attended by several of his friends from the worlds of film and theatre. Svatopluk Benes, famous for his good looks and chivalrous personality, was one of the leading Czechoslovak film stars of the inter-war period.
The movie star Angelina Jolie is in Prague to begin work on a new film called Wanted, which also stars Morgan Freeman. The actress arrived in the Czech capital on Tuesday evening with her husband Brad Pitt and their four children. Shooting in Prague is set to last for 20 weeks, before production moves on to Budapest.
President Vaclav Klaus is opposed to the construction of a controversial National Library building on Prague's Letna Plain. The green blob-like building has been designed by London-based Czech architect Jan Kaplicky. Speaking on a visit to Prague 9, Mr Klaus went so far as to say he would fight to prevent the construction of the building with his own body, in a similar fashion to Austrian opponents of the Czech Temelin nuclear power station.
The government is to accept a settlement of 1.1 billion CZK (53m USD) from the company Setuza. Distraint was declared at Setuza in November, with the chemicals and foods company owing the state 4 billion CZK. Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic recommended the acceptance of the settlement proposed by its new owners, and the government approved the move on Wednesday. The minister had rejected a lower offer in January.
Former Czech football international Patrik Berger is set to stay at English Premiership club Aston Villa for another season. Villa manager Martin O'Neill said he would offer Berger a new contract after being impressed with his performances in the second half of the season. Berger, who is 33, has had a number of injury problems in recent seasons but has been playing regularly this year.
The rock group Kabat have left Prague for the Finnish capital Helsinki, where they will represent the Czech Republic in the annual Eurovision song contest. It is the first time the country is taking part in the international competition. Kabat bass player Milan Spalek said the fact his band play hard rock could work against them in the Eurovision. The Czech group will appear in the semi-final on May 10 and will be hoping to reach the final two days later.
The Czech economy is four times more demanding in terms of energy consumption than the European Union average. According to a new European Commission report, the Czech Republic was the fifth worst country in this respect in 2004. The Czech economy required 852 kilogrammes of oil to produce gross domestic product of 1,000 euros; the average in the EU as a whole was 200 kilogrammes.
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