The Czech team at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver has taken its first medal, gold for speed skater Martina Sáblíková in the 3,000 metres. She set a course record of 4 minutes 2.53 seconds in Sunday’s race, finishing over two seconds ahead of her nearest rival. Sáblíková, who is 22, has become only the second Czech woman ever to win gold at a Winter Olympics. Next week she will compete in her preferred event, the 5,000 metres, in which she is also the favourite.
The newly appointed archbishop Dominik Duka met with his predecessor, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, on Monday. The two discussed the need for continuity in the archdiocese as well as Mr. Duka’s official initiation ceremony. It is to take place at St. Vitus cathedral on April 10, the first Saturday after Easter. Mr. Duka also met with Czech President Václav Klaus at Prague castle earlier on Monday. The president stated that Duka’s election was a gain for the church as well as for the Czech state. He congratulated the archbishop on his new office and added that he believes this will be the first of many meetings between the two.
A Czech expert will probably be sent to work for the American Missile
Defense Agency for a year, a spokeswoman of the Czech Ministry of Defense
told the Czech news agency ČTK on Monday. The expert will collaborate with
the agency in establishing how to engage the Czech Republic in the American
anti-missile defense system to be installed in Europe. In November,
negotiations with US Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow
confirmed that there would be a Czech expert on the American agency’s
team. The US had originally planned to install a radar in the Czech
Republic as part of its missile defense system across Europe, but President
Barrack Obama scrapped the plan in October of last year.
In related news, Czech-American relations have been blossoming in the past months. The US Ministry of Defense is sponsoring a number of Czech scientists and a branch of the American center for marine science is to open in Prague in late February.
The Ministry of the Interior has been taking increased advantage of the European Union’s structural funds in the past six months, dispersing fears that the EU grants would not be spent within the set time limit and the Czech Republic would have to return part of the money. Minister of the Interior Martin Pecina told journalists on Monday that all funds slated for 2007 and 2008 had been spent, a sum of over 5.8 billion Czech crowns. The director of the ministry’s structural funds department added that the main reasons for the slow start in spending were badly designed proposals and a lack of communication, which lead to a change in guidelines for the distribution of such funds.
Czech actor Kryštof Hádek will accept the Shooting Star award at the Berlin Film Festival on Monday night. Czech actress Aňa Geislerová was part of the jury for the Shooting Star category and will also be hosting the awards ceremony. Ms.Geislerová, who was a recipient of the award herself six years ago, denied allegations that she was favoring the Czech nominee. The award is meant to honor young and emerging European actors and actresses. Past recipients include successful names such as the German actress Franka Potente or the latest James Bond, Daniel Craig.
Four cats saved their owner’s life last Friday in the North Moravian town of Krnov, the website novinky.cz reported on Monday. The animals alerted their owner to a house fire by meowing loudly and licking her face. The woman left her house at the last minute. She suffered light burns but was able to call the firefighters, who extinguished the fire within 20 minutes. This is the second incident within a week of an animal has saved the life of its owner. Last Wednesday, a German shepherd woke its owner because the dog could smell the smoke of a house fire that had just broken out.
A small passenger airplane en route from Prague to the Swedish town of Karstad crashed in Germany on Sunday night. The two pilots on board the Cessna Citation 550 plane were both killed in the crash. The website novinky.cz reported that its owner, former race driver and entrepreneur Antonín Charouz, was not on board. According to the website, he had rented the plane out to Time Air, a company that provides air taxi services. The plane entered German territory around 8 p.m on Sunday night, but the tower never established communication with the pilot and the plane disappeared from the radar briefly after. It crashed in a mountainous part of the German Saxony region which is difficult to access. Police and ambulances set off around midnight but didn’t get to the site of the accident until the early morning hours.
After last October’s crack-down on child pornography that lead to the arrest of 40 suspects in Prague alone, police have now charged three more men with possession and dissemination of child pornography. A total of eight suspects have been charged with the crime since last October, and another ten or more may soon follow, pending results from the cybernetics office, a spokeswoman of the Prague police told the Czech news agency ČTK. Allegedly, two policemen and three employees of the Ministry of Defense are amongst those charged with possession of child pornography. In October, police raided a total of 150 homes and secured 342 computers and digital storage devices. Experts are still evaluating the secured materials.
The majority of Czech political pundits agree that the upcoming trial on
the future of the far-right Workers’ Party on Wednesday will probably end
with a ban on the party, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Monday. The
report also mentioned that most political experts consider this second
proposal to ban the party to have been much better prepared by the
government than the first one. Miroslav Mareš, an expert on extremism,
said he believes it’s fairly certain that the court’s decision will go
in favor of the government’s proposal. He added that the case was
well-documented, even though the government missed a critical period for
collecting evidence in 2008.
A ban on the party, which would be the first court decision of this kind in the Czech Republic, would not however prevent members of the party from running for political office as candidates of other parties.
A team of security experts from several Czech universities and the Ministry of Defense has dismantled a dangerous world wide virus network with the name Chuck Norris, a spokeswoman of the Ministry of Defense told journalists on Monday. The network, which is called a botnet by experts, attacked computers and stole private data from users. Its victims were mostly households and smaller companies, which in many cases do not have the same standard of anti-virus protection of bigger companies. Among the data stolen was sensitive information such as passwords to online banking, email accounts and other online services.