Czech fans of the late Michael Jackson held a dance spectacle in Prague Saturday as part of a worldwide event marking the pop musician’s birthday. A crowd of 700 danced to the song “Beat It” in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, where Jackson stayed for his last performance in Prague 13 years ago, and at several other locations in the Prague city centre.
The 2009 harvest in the Czech Republic is expected to be about 10% lower than the previous year, the minister of agriculture, Jakub Šebesta, announced Saturday. With the cereals and corn harvest almost in, the ministry expects a total volume of 7.4 million tonnes, with 5.3 sufficient to cover domestic demand.
Medical experts have said they believe the amount of swine flue vaccine purchased by the state is insufficient. Last week the Czech government ordered one million doses of the vaccine, or one-fifth of the number originally planned, at a cost of 220 million crowns. The amount covers 5% of the population, ensuring vaccination for those responsible for critical state infrastructure, including health care workers and those providing energy, water and food supplies.
Around a hundred soldiers from the Texas National Guard will be arriving in the Czech Republic in September with six F-16 fighter jets for a ten-day training exercise with Czech pilots. In addition to training, the Ministry of Defence said the Squadron Exchange exercise at the Čáslav military base is intended to allow Czech pilots returning from the first foreign mission of the Czech Air Force Fighter Squadron to exchange information with their American counterparts. A similar exercise was held with Belgian pilots in 2007.
A survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre suggests that Czechs’ confidence in state political offices is declining. According to the survey the greatest loss of confidence was in the office of president, which dropped by seven percent over the summer months. Still, at 59%, President Klaus enjoys far greater confidence than members of parliament, whom only 22% say they trust, a fall of 3%, or senators, who fare only 1% better. 43% of people said they have faith in their local regional representatives. Only one-tenth of the 1165 respondents said they were content with the current political situation in the Czech Republic.
Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolánek has said he is in favour of dissolving the Ministry of Regional Development. Speaking at a press conference regarding historical monuments, Mr Topolánek criticised the fact that monuments are controlled by the Ministry of Culture while the closely related aspect of tourism is managed by the Regional Development Ministry, and added that if tourism were to be managed by the Ministry of Culture as well, an agency rather than a ministry would suffice to cover what few responsibilities would be left to the Regional Development Ministry. The former prime minister also said that the only reason no such change had been made under his government was that the Christian Democratic Party was in charge of both ministries.
A Czech Airlines plane made a diverted landing in Prague Friday after the pilot reported non-standard responses from the flight instruments. The nearly 200 passengers on board the flight from the Greek island of Corfu were transported Saturday morning to their original destination of Brno by bus. Czech Airlines stated the flight was diverted to Prague because the company lacks the appropriate repair facilities in Brno.
Czech President Václav Klaus has recommended citizens stock up on classic 100 watt light bulbs ahead of an EU regulation banning their sale. Speaking at the launch of his latest book, a critique of the environmental movement called “Blue Planet Under Threat”, Mr Klaus said that if he were a normal citizen and shopper he would buy a lifetime supply of “good, old Edison bulbs” to avoid joining the modern bandwagon. Beginning September 1, manufacturers will no longer be able to supply light bulbs of 100 Watts or higher, which are to be gradually replaced with more energy-efficient bulbs. Ecologists, including several from Mr Klaus’s former party, the Civic Democrats, have called the remarks “absurd”, and opined that the president is simply against any regulation that comes from Brussels.
The Prague clubs Slavia and Sparta have both qualified for the group stage of European football’s second-tier competition the Europa League. Slavia lost 2:1 away to Red Star Belgrade on Thursday but went through 3:2 on aggregate, while Sparta beat Maribor 1:0 at home, making it 3:0 on aggregate. Slovan Liberec, Baník Ostrava and Teplice were all knocked out.
The environmental group Greenpeace unfurled a banner on Prague’s Old Town Hall on Friday morning at the precise moment the Czech president, Václav Klaus, was launching a new book attacking Green politics at a café across the street. The Greenpeace sign pointed out that there were only 100 days until a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and said action had to be taken. Mr Klaus questions received wisdom on global warming, denying that mankind is responsible for it. He also accuses environmentalists of impinging on people’s freedom. The title of the president’s new book translates as Blue Planet Under Threat; it follows 2007’s Blue Planet in Green Shackles.
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