The 62nd Prague Spring music festival has got underway in the Czech capital. It will feature around 50 concerts and around a dozen theatre performances between now and June 3. Around 50,000 tickets are sold during the festival, which originally grew out of celebrations marking the end of World War II. Since 1952 the Prague Spring has opened on May 12, the anniversary of the death of Bedrich Smetana, with his cycle of symphonic poems Ma vlast.
The European Women's Lobby has asked Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek for a public apology for remarks he made about gender equality. Speaking at an event launching the European Year of Equal Opportunities, he said women can freely decide whether to have children or not, which means they have the same opportunities as men. In a letter to Mr Topolanek the president of the European Women's Lobby, Kirsti Kolthoff, described his comments as shameful and degrading to women, adding that it was unacceptable for a senior representative of a European Union state to make such remarks.
Czech and American negotiators have concluded two days of talks on the possible building of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. They will resume talks at the end of May when the focus will be on the main treaty on the deployment of the radar. A Czech Defence Ministry spokesperson said negotiations would probably last for a year. An opinion poll this week suggested that 61 percent of Czechs were opposed to the US radar base, which would be part of a global anti missile defence system.
A 14-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after the metal backboard of a basketball hoop fell on him at a school in Kravare, north Bohemia. The newspaper Denik reported that the boy sustained serious injuries after the construction fell on his head. He was flown to hospital in Liberec after the accident occurred on Friday.
Firefighters were called out three times more often than usual on Friday as winds of up to 140 kilometres an hour hit many parts of the Czech Republic. A 71-year-old woman was killed in Dvur Kralove when she was hit by a falling tree in a wooded area. Two people were injured by falling trees in the Karlovy Vary region.
Almost 1,000 drivers have had their licenses confiscated since a points system for driving offences was introduced last July, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. Over 400,000 drivers have picked up at least one point, the daily said. Those who receive 12 points are barred from driving for one year. The measure was introduced in an effort to curb the high number of road deaths in the Czech Republic.
Prague is set to get its own version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Lidove noviny reported. There are plans to place the hand prints and signatures of film greats such as director Milos Forman and cameraman Miroslav Ondricek under thick glass on Na prikpe Street in front of Slovansky Dum, home to a multiplex cinema. In the mid 1990s a Walk of Fame was planned in front of the now closed cinema 64 U Hradeb, but the project never came to fruition.
An architects firm which was beaten by Jan Kaplicky in a tender to design a new National Library building on Prague's Letna Plain are considering suing, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. Architects HSH, who came third in the tender, say Mr Kaplicky's winning design breaks one of its conditions because it would place ten million books underground. The firm has sent a letter of protest to the director of the National Library and is considering taking the matter to the Office for the Protection of Competition. If they do not receive satisfaction they may take the matter to court, said Mlada Fronta. The green blob-like design by Mr Kaplicky's company Future Systems has come in for a good deal of criticism. It should be completed by 2010.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer appears to have back-pedalled over the idea of introducing a civilian neighbourhood watch scheme. Its inclusion in an Interior Ministry reform plan raised eyebrows, as it reminded many Czechs of the communist era when some people were recruited to spy on their neighbours. But Mr Langer told Pravo that he had not actually proposed the idea but merely raised it as a topic for discussion. His predecessor Frantisek Bublan described the neighbourhood watch idea as a "return to a police state".