Hundreds of people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday night to celebrate the Astronomical Clock’s 600th birthday. Prague City Hall prepared a special audio-visual programme video-mapping the clock’s history on the clock tower itself. (Part of the show can be viewed on you Tube.) 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.
Czech right-winger Radim Vrbata scored twice to hand the Phoenix Coyotes a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins as the National Hockey League continued its European season-opening tour in Prague on Saturday. The 29-year-old Vrbata sent the 15,000 crowd frantic eight minutes into the game with the opening goal, adding an assist and then finding the empty net two minutes from the end. The teams will meet in Prague again on Sunday, then move back to America for the rest of the season which started simultaneously in America and Europe on Thursday.
A full sixty percent of Czechs fear losing their jobs, according to the results of a poll by the job portal Onlineprace. The poll conducted in mid-September indicates that only 16 percent of Czechs have no reason for concern in this respect, saying they are certain of their job. Nine percent said they felt very uncertain about their future prospects because of recent lay-off in their company. The exceptionally high degree of concern is attributed to the government’s cost-cutting measures which has led many public institutions and state-owned companies to lay off staff.
Authorities in north-eastern Moravia have warned companies they will be asked to scale down production on Monday if the smog-situation does not improve in the coming hours. Excessive pollution levels are registered in nine cities with toxic substances in the air twice exceeding set norms. People have been warned to stay indoors as much as possible and keep their windows closed. The situation is worst in the town of Bohumín where the concentration of dangerous substances per cubic meter has reached 131 micrograms; 150 would allow the authorities to call a smog alert and order restrictive measures.
Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Ondřej Pavelec is doing well, but is concussed after collapsing and losing consciousness in Friday's game against the Washington Capitals. The Thrashers said in a statement that the 23-year-old was fully alert and doing well, but he would remain in the hospital to undergo further testing. Pavelec said in an interview for the online daily Novinky.cz that a brain scan and cardio tests had not revealed anything amiss and doctors wanted to subject him to stress tests as well.
A seven-year-old Czech girl who got lost in the Austrian city of Linc is safe home. The girl, whose parents were in Linz visiting relatives, wandered away from a playground in search of adventure and was unable to find her way back. Police combed the vicinity and the nearby river but in the end the girl herself found the courage to ring someone’s bell at 3am and ask for help.
The leaders of the Civic and Social Democratic parties have agreed on the need to limit parties in the amount of money they spend on election campaigns. In a panel debate on Czech public television the leader of the Civic Democrats Petr Nečas said the matter would be easily negotiable on condition that all parties would agree to make public the amounts they had spent on previous campaigns. He also stressed the need to set down guarantees that would prevent parties from circumventing the set limit through what he called “anonymous campaigning” and other means.
A twenty-two year old driver who attempted to evade a late-night police road-check is reported to have died in a subsequent accident. The driver, who was banned from driving until 2013, put his foot on the gas pedal when police flagged him down. In the chase that followed he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. A police spokeswoman said the officers had not violated any regulations and were not responsible for his death.
Interior Minister Radek John has come under fire from opposition parties for making a trip to Moravia by helicopter at a time when money is tight. Acting Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said it was shameful of the interior minister to order a helicopter at a time when the police force is seeing its petrol rationed. Prime Minister Nečas said on Sunday he would inquire into the matter since at a time of austerity measures any indulgence on the part of the government sent the wrong signal to the public.