The need to bring water purification facilities up to EU norms is likely to send the price of water in many Czech towns up by as much as 50 percent in the coming months, Saturday’s Lidové noviny reports. A spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry has confirmed that around 160 water purification facilities are to be built or reconstructed in the course of this and next year in order to meet EU regulations. Approximately 50 percent of related expenditures can be covered from EU funds, the rest must come from local budgets. The overall cost is being estimated at around 23 billion crowns.
Two German supermarket chains have withdrawn rabbit meat imported from the Czech Republic in protest against the conditions in which the animals are bred. The Real and Edeka chains said they had made the move on the grounds of a report about animal cruelty from animal rights’ activists. The Czech firm Rabbit Trhový Štepánov which exported the goods says it has standard breeding conditions and is prepared to take legal steps. It received a GGE export certificate in September of 2009 and has reportedly passed inspection by the regional veterinary authority. The firm claims that the German supermarket chains have come under pressure from German animal rights’ groups and are trying to avoid being linked to a negative campaign in the media.
Hundreds of Michael Jackson fans gathered on Prague’s Wenceslas and Old Town squares on Friday evening to commemorate the first anniversary of the pop idol’s death. They came with candles and flowers, many of them dressed in typical Michael Jackson style and sang and danced some of his famous hits. The highlight of the evening was a concert in his memory at Prague’s Hybernia theatre attended by some 900 people.
The opera ensemble of Prague’s National Theatre is preparing for the highlight of the season –the premiere of Leoš Janáček’s Kata Kabanová directed by the avant-garde American stage director Robert Wilson. The management of the national theatre said it was impressed with Wilson’s work with colour and light and hoped that his contribution would bring a new dimension to this Czech classic.
A nationwide search is on for a 12-year-old boy form the town of Olomouc who has gone missing for over 24 hours. The boy is reported to have gone out to ride his bike and has not been seen since. The news has raised public concern especially in connection with an earlier case this week in which an 11-year-old girl was kidnapped and taken to a forest where she was tied and strapped to a tree. The girl managed to free herself and was found wondering in the woods by soldiers who were taking part in a training exercise. Police are still searching for the culprit.
The emerging centre-right coalition is planning to change the system according to which doctors and nurses are paid. It wants to do away with the system of salary brackets which limit the amount that can be paid to a doctor or nurse depending on time served in the profession. In this way older doctors automatically get higher pay than their younger colleagues, regardless of their skills or hours spent at work. The emerging government wants to give hospital heads a free rein in how much they want to pay an employee depending on how valuable they are for the institution. Hospital heads are pleased with the plan, but the Medical Chamber fears this could bring about a drop in salaries for many people in the profession.
Czech castles and chateau which opened to visitors on April 1st, report a very slow season so far with a 50 percent drop in the number of visitors as compared to last year. The lack of interest is being ascribed to tight family budgets, job uncertainty and, not least, the rainy weather. Castle administrators are hoping that the summer holidays and a campaign by Czech Tourism for people to holiday at home this year will help mend their losses.
The 6th annual music festival Prague Proms will kick off with a Beatles Night concert on Saturday evening. The month-long string of events in churches, concert halls and jazz clubs will offer visitors a wide range of genres – from jazz and chamber music to opera and film music. The festival will also mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Czech composer Gustav Mahler.
An estimated six hundred people took part in Saturday’s Queer Parade in the Moravian city of Brno. The march for gay rights was accompanied by a massive police operation to protect participants from attacks by over a hundred and fifty ultra-right radicals who were determined to disrupt the event. Six hundred officers, including mounted police and helicopters –were out in force for the parade creating a barrier between the two groups. Six extremists were detained. Many shops in the city centre were closed for the day and traffic was re-routed. Young Christian Democrats held their own march through the city a few hours earlier in support of traditional family values. The organizers of Queer Parade said they wanted to call attention to the fact that gays and lesbians still face discrimination in the Czech Republic. Although they can enter into registered partnerships, such couples cannot adopt children and their rights are not on par with those of heterosexual married couples. The first gay and lesbian march in Brno took place in 2008.
Several hundred people turned out for Friday’s Czech Street Party in Brussels, the Czech event of the year in Belgium. A number of popular bands –including Support Lesbians, Niceland and Bek Ofis provided entertainment while visitors sampled Czech wine and beer and various regional specialties. The street party, now in its fourth year, also serves to promote Czech products and tourist destinations.