Roughly 800 film professionals have so far been accredited for the 42. Karlovy Vary International Film Festival which got underway in the Czech spa town on Friday. Visitors include everyone from script editors to directors and producers. The information was released by Andrea Szczukova on Sunday - speaking for Film Industry - in charge of setting up contacts and other details during professionals' stay. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is the most prestigious film event in the Czech calendar. Special guests this year include Hollywood actress Renee Zellweger; legendary actor/producer Danny DeVito is also slated to attend. The festival lasts until July 7th.
Former president Vaclav Havel, speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday, has suggested parties should get their act together if they wish to field a strong candidate in next year's presidential elections. Anyone vying for the post of president will face current Czech head-of-state Vaclav Klaus, who, polls have repeatedly suggested, remains one of the country's most popular political figures. Mr Klaus announced his intention to seek re-election back in February. Mr Havel suggested on Sunday that a younger candidate than someone of his and Milos Zeman's generation should be fielded, adding it would be "excellent" if a woman ran. He said he thought that the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens should agree on a joint candidate.
Experts from UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, meeting in New Zealand, have suggested Prague should reconsider the planned construction of several new skyscrapers in part of the city. The Committee said plans should respect the skyline of Prague's historic core. Lada Pekarkova, from Prague city hall's heritage department announced the news on Saturday. Currently, developers are preparing to build several new skyscrapers in Prague's Pankrac neighbourhood; local associations have protested against the idea. The International Council on Monuments and Sites, an advisory body to UNESCO, is reportedly also against. Ms Pekarkova said a final position would be taken at the end of the committee's session, which would be conveyed to the Czech Republic through diplomatic channels.
In related news, statistics have revealed that 106 people died on Czech roads in the month of June, the highest number of road accident deaths since November 2005. Traditionally June ranks as one of the most dangerous months on Czech roads. This year the month saw a total of 15,238 car accidents. Along with the 106 fatalities, 416 people were seriously injured, while 2,334 escaped with light injuries.
Agriculture Ministry spokesman Stanislav Kozak has said that so far no new cases of bird flu have been uncovered in eastern Bohemia, after outbreaks in Tisova and Norin. Mr Kozak referred to the cases while speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday. Neither H5 nor H5N1 strains have shown up. The head of the State Veterinary Office, Milan Malena, said on the same programme that H5N1 on a turkey farm in Tisova had most likely been transmitted through the clothing or boots of a worker to a chicken farm in Norin - where 28,000 specimens were culled this week.
Star ice hockey goaltender Dominik Hasek has not yet reached agreement with the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL, but the team's general manager, Ken Holland, has expressed tentative optimism. Earlier reports suggested that if he signed on for another season, Hasek stood to earn 2.5 million US dollars, plus a million dollar bonus if the Red Wings advanced to the playoffs. That would mean a marked rise in the goalie's salary from last year, which stood at 1.65 million. The Red Wings confirmed on Saturday that the proposal currently under negotiation saw Hasek earning more than last year, although no figures were disclosed. Mr Holland said he thought the two sides would reach "a fair compromise".
Fire fighters and soldiers are continuing to clean-up damages from a blaze that destroyed a tire warehouse in the area of Uhersky Brod in southern Moravia, burning 10,000 tonnes of material this week. The fire, which broke out on Thursday, took twenty-eight hours to put out. Losses to the owner have been estimated at around 20 million crowns. Around fifty personnel are using heavy machinery to clear remaining debris. Crews on Saturday took preventive measures to block contaminated water on the site from spreading to nearby fields. Locals in the area have been asked to avoid areas hit by smoke, and have been recommended not to open their windows. A mobile laboratory in the area has also monitored the quality of the air, but found no evidence of any toxins exceeding acceptable levels.
The first weekend since the beginning of the summer holidays brought grim numbers: five deaths on Czech roads. During the same period last year, two people lost their lives; in 2005, twelve. Last year's drop in road-related deaths on the first holiday weekend was attributed to the introduction of a new drivers' point system - part of tougher road legislation. One of the fatalities this weekend was not a passenger but a pedestrian hit by a driver.
Former prime minister and current head of the Social Democratic Party Jiri Paroubek has confirmed that he and his wife Zuzana Paroubkova have agreed to divorce. The couple has been married since 1979. Mr Paroubek and his wife sent a statement to the CTK news agency on Sunday, saying they had reached the decision several months ago. The Paroubeks indicated their agreement was an amicable one, saying they had agreed on the division of property. In his statement, Jiri Paroubek also revealed that Petra Kovacova - a former English-language interpreter at the Office of the Government - had become his new girlfriend. Ms Kovacova had been spotted several times by Mr Paroubek's side at recent events. The politician's announcement on Sunday followed earlier speculation in the Czech tabloids. Blesk, for example, reported on Mr Paroubek's alleged extramarital affair earlier in the week.
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.
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