The 42nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has gotten underway in the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia. The opening ceremonies were held at the grand hall of the Hotel Thermal on Friday. The venue was packed with high-profile attendees including the Czech President and his wife. Among those kicking off the festival was Hollywood actress Renee Zellweger, known for her roles in Chicago, Bridget Jones' Diary, Cold Mountain and Love and a .45.
125cc motorcycle racer Lukas Pesek completed the Netherlands Grand Prix on Saturday in 7th place, not enough to earn him additional points in the overall World Championship standings. Saturday's race was won by Italian Massio Pasini. Pesek fared better than in the three previous races, beginning in second spot, but his finish in 7th spot has seen him drop to 4th place in the overall standings.
Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes has written that changes proposed by the Civic Democratic Party within planned government fiscal reforms, including taxing the Czech president's salary. Compared with incomes of other politicians, the salary of the head of state is not subject to taxes, the daily points it. One of the architects of the Civic Democrats' latest proposals, former finance minister Vlastimil Tlusty, told the daily "all incomes should be subject to the same tax system", adding there was "no reason" for any exceptions. The president's salary, Mlada Fronta Dnes reports, is 204,700 crowns a month (the equivalent of around 9,000 US dollars), plus a monthly special bonus of 190,500 crowns.
Fire fighters, and members of the Czech army, have now gotten a fire - which broke out earlier this week in the area of Uhersky Brod - fully under control. The blaze, reportedly the worst southern Moravia has seen in ten years, broke out at a tire warehouse on Thursday, leading to black clouds of smoke in the area. Strong winds have pushed smoke and fumes through Uhersky Brod as well as several nearby villages. Authorities said that fumes were present in the area on Saturday, warning residents - especially children and the elderly - to remain indoors and to keep windows closed. Experts in a mobile laboratory are monitoring air quality in Uhersky Brod for the presence of harmful toxins: but acceptable limits so far have not been exceeded.
Hundreds of fish on a small river in the area of Novy Jicin were killed by poisoning from an as yet unknown substance. An exact number of fish found dead in the water and the full extent of damages is not yet known. The specimens died in a stretch of water close to the nearby Massag factory; officials have suggested a spill from the facility may be behind the poisoning. Water samples have been acquired for testing.
In related news, Ms Zellweger also gave out the first prize of the festival, a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for legendary Czech animator Bretislav Pojar. Mr Pojar, who is 83, directed more than 70 animated films during his career. He also collaborated on other projects such as Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Bear, creating several animated scenes. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival continues on Saturday, offering more than fifty screenings.
Authorities have completed a clean-up operation at a poultry farm in Norin, east Bohemia, where tests earlier in the week confirmed the presence of H5N1 bird flu. Around 28,000 chickens were culled to prevent further spread of the disease, potentially deadly to humans. The carcasses of the dead birds were destroyed in special containers and the farm was then disinfected. So far, tests within 7 kilometres of the farm have revealed no additional bird flu cases. But veterinarians will monitor areas in a radius of up to 10 kilometres in case there are additional outbreaks of H5N1 there over the next thirty days.
39-year-old Czech kayaker Stepanka Hilgertova won the World Cup slalom on Prague's artificial slalom course in Troje. Austrian racer Violetta Oblinger-Peters came in 2nd, while Britain's Fiona Pennie was 3rd. Stanislav Jezek won the canoe slalom in Troje on Saturday, his first World Cup win in eight years. Slovakia's Michal Martinkan was 2nd, and Britain's David Florence was 3rd.
Two girls (10 and 14) suffered injury at a fair in the east Moravian city of Ostrava on Saturday after falling from one of the attractions. Part of the mechanism reportedly broke, tossing the girls from the ride. They fell roughly five metres: one suffered light injuries to her head, the other to her hands. They were taken to hospital for treatment. The police are investigating the cause of the break which led to the girls' fall.
The number of police wiretappings increased by about 200 cases in the Czech Republic in 2006, compared to the previous year. Interior Minister Ivan Langer told journalists on Friday had wiretapped more than 7,500 phone numbers in 2006. He said that while wiretapping was indispensable for police work firm legislative limits were needed. As an opposition politician until last year, Mr Langer repeatedly criticised what he called the excessive use of wiretapping under the previous government.
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