The number of police wiretappings dropped to 4,500 in 2009 from 5,000 the previous years, according to figures published by the interior ministry. At the same time, the number of people shadowed increased by a third. The drop in wiretappings is being attributed to a 2008 amendment to the law which has made it more difficult for the police to tap someone’s phone. The interior ministry is not happy about the restriction. Only last month the ministers of interior and defence put forward a joint proposal for an amendment to the law which would allow the military police to wiretap suspect persons. At present only civilian police investigators have that right and the military police must request their cooperation in cases where wiretapping is considered essential.
Customs police cracked down on three Prague open air markets on Saturday, confiscating a vast amount of fake goods. They were accompanied by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek who said the fight against counterfeit goods and tax evasion was a big priority. Many of the predominantly Vietnamese stalls had to be opened by force because their owners had disappeared. The CTK news agency said customs police confiscated tens of thousands of packages containing fake goods produced in China. The exact amount – including a damage estimate – should be known within a week. Minister Kalousek said the raids on dishonest salespeople would intensify in the coming months.
Atlanta Thrashers Czech goaltender Ondřej Pavelec is said to be in stable condition in hospital after collapsing on the ice during the opening minutes of a National Hockey League game on Friday. The 23-year-old from Kladno fell backwards and lost consciousness during the opening minutes of the game between Atlanta Thrashers and Washington Capitals. Medics worked over him for ten minutes before he was wheeled off the ice. The team said in a release shortly after that initial tests had come up negative as to a possible cause of the collapse and that Pavelec would be kept in hospital for observation. After a delay of twenty minutes, Atlanta went on to win the game 4-2.
Police statistics reveal that between January and September of this year traffic police fined over 10,000 drivers for drink-driving. Due to the growing number of alcohol-related road accidents in past years the police issued a regulation saying that a breathalyzer test should be an obligatory part of any road check. A recent proposal that the road law should be amended to allow drivers a small amount of alcohol- such as one or two beers – was rejected on the grounds that it might worsen the country’s already serious problem with drink-driving.
For a fourth consecutive season, Czech opera buffs will be able to enjoy productions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York beamed live in high-definition to 28 theatre houses and cinemas around the Czech Republic. Starting Saturday with Wagner's "Das Rheingold," the line-up taps some of the biggest stars on the Met's roster, including Bryn Terfel, Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming. The series will be broadcast to more than 1,500 venues in 47 countries. The idea has met with great enthusiasm in the Czech Republic where close to 50 000 people viewed the satellite transmissions in past years.
The Hydro-Meteorological Institute says it may call a smog alert in parts of Moravia after registering excessive pollution levels in 9 cities. The concentration of dust particles per cubic meter has twice exceeded the set norms. People have been warned to stay indoors as much as possible and keep their windows closed. A smog alert would enable the authorities to restrict car traffic and ask the main polluters in the region to scale down production.
Clerks and office workers from state and private companies on Saturday took part in their annual Office Workers’ Rat Race –a mock sporting competition in which they compete in throwing office files or racing down the square on office chairs. All participants must adhere to a strict office dress code and come armed with at least one mobile.
Prague City Hall is marking the 600 anniversary of its famous Astronomical Clock, also known as Orloj, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. Later, presumably around 1490, a calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures. To mark the anniversary Prague City Hall has mounted a big screen on its southern wall where people can watch a documentary about the clock’s history.
Interior Minister Radek John on Saturday decorated four police officers and three civilians for bravery in connection with last week’s incident in the Knov shopping mall. All of them helped prevent carnage when they helped disarm a robber who was armed with a pistol and several hand grenades. Seeing him about to explode his last remaining grenade one of the police officers threw himself on top of the robber, pinning him down and covering him with his body. The explosion tore the man’s body to pieces and seriously wounded the offer. Experts said later that had it not been for his timely action the explosion would have been devastating. Two of the injured officers remain in hospital.
Young people in the Czech Republic are fast losing interest in print media and focusing almost exclusively on web media, the CTK news agency reports. The trend is obvious in the plummeting sale of teen magazines many of which have been forced out of the market. The agency notes that this is not the case with other dailies and specialized interest magazines which are still selling well despite having online versions.