42,000 people attended a concert by Madonna in Prague on Thursday night. The American pop singer was promoting her most recent album Sticky and Sweet. She had performed once before in the Czech capital (in back-to-back concerts) three years ago. On Thursday Madonna performed on a green area in the Chodov district of Prague which had not previously been used as a concert venue. On Friday organisers said the show had proven that the Czech capital could stage similar large-scale events; but some fans complained on Thursday of suffering long delays before being allowed onto the concert grounds.
Canada has issued 2,503 visas to Czechs in the first month of renewed visa requirements and only rejected three applicants, the Canadian embassy in Prague told the Czech news agency, ČTK, on Friday. Canada reimposed visas on Czechs on July 14th in response to the high number of asylum applicants from the Czech Republic – mostly from within the Roma community. The reinstatement came less than two years after visa requirements were dropped.
A small plane (a Cessna) crashed during landing at Prague’s Letňany airport on Friday, leaving four people injured. The accident took place just before 1 pm on Friday. Ambulance crews were called in to assist. By all appearances, the pilot mishandled the landing: the plane lost a wheel and ended up nose-down in a grassy area.
A new poll conducted by the RCA research agency has suggested that more almost 50 percent of Czechs are in favour of Ukraine joining the European Union. 49.5 percent answered in the affirmative in the poll, while 33 percent of respondents were against, the agency said. By comparison, support for Ukraine’s joining NATO is lower: the survey found that only 37 percent of Czechs agreed with Ukraine joining the organisation, while 35 percent were against.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has signed an amendment that will allow the military to immediately discharge personnel for any connection to neo-Nazi or other extremist movements. The bill also tightens anti-corruption measures in the army and raises financial compensation for families who lose a loved one during service. Until now, military families were entitled to 120,000 crowns in payment; that figure has now been doubled.
The police have charged four men with racially-motivated attempted murder in connection with an arson attack against a Romany family in Vítkov, north Moravia. Officials announced the developments on Friday, having arrested and questioned a total of 12 individuals (nine men and three women) earlier this week. Only the four, who are in their twenties, are being held in custody. The suspects have connections to right-wing extremism and are believed to have thrown Molotov cocktails at the Romany family’s home in April – an attack which shocked the country. Three people were injured in the ensuing blaze, most seriously a two-year-old girl, who suffered severe burns to 80 percent of her body. She remains in hospital. The police on Friday said the attack was planned over a number of weeks. If found guilty of the crime the four could face up to 15 years in prison; they could also receive exemplary sentences, longer in length.
More than 100 customs officers have been checking for fake brand products at a market in Brno. The market, located in Olomouc Street, is the largest of its kind in Moravia, not open to the public but selling to Vietnamese retailers. Customs officers regularly uncover and seize tonnes of counterfeit items at the location; in its last operation, in July, officials uncovered fake brand goods worth several million crowns.
Official data has shown that the Czech economy emerged from recession in the second quarter, growing by 0.3 percent. A strong influence has been the auto industry picking up, with increased sales in export markets. On a 12-month comparison, the Czech economy still plummeted by a record 4.9 percent. Analysts confirmed that the data had been expected, saying that the Czech economy had hit “rock bottom” in the first quarter and could now begin to bounce back. But others have cautioned against overly-optimistic scenarios. Just last week, the Czech central bank forecast a sharper full-year slump and slower recovery than expected previously. The bank now expects the economy to shrink 3.8 percent, compared to the earlier 2.4 percent predicted in May.
The Czech energy giant ČEZ has announced profits of CZK 32 billion (over USD 800 million) in the first half of this year. Despite a rise of 11 percent in consolidated net profit, analysts said they had expected slightly better results. The head of ČEZ Martin Roman said he believed the company was still on target to make a profit of 50.2 billion crowns for the whole of 2009.
Skin specialists are pushing for a law which would bar people under the age of 18 from using sun beds. The head of the Czech Society of Dermatology, Petr Arenberger, said regular use of sun beds at a young age increased the risk of contracting skin cancer by 75 percent. Mr Arenberger also said the group had prepared a guide for users of solariums, alerting them to the health risks involved. A recent study by the Czech Trade Inspectorate found that eight out of 10 solariums in the Czech Republic breached safety regulations.
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