On Sunday several hundred people took the last opportunity to view the original Devil’s Bible or Codex Gigas, one of the largest manuscripts in the world completed sometime in the 13th century. The tome, once considered the eighth wonder of the world, is the oldest Czech chronicle written in Latin. The priceless bible was stolen by the Swedish army from the Czech lands during the Thirty Years War in the mid 17th century and is now permanently housed in Sweden. It has only been exhibited abroad on three occasions – it was lent to New York, Berlin and most recently Prague. Over 61,000 people turned up to see it at the National Library in Prague.
Czech companies are still very conservative when it comes to raising money for investment and development, according to a survey carried out by the Prague School of Economics. Eighty percent of firms use their own resources for long-term financing or take out a loan for that purpose. Issuing new shares or bonds is rarely considered an option.
Two people were injured in a shooting incident in Prague’s Paříižská Street, just off Old Town Square, on Saturday. Unknown gunmen opened fire on two Russian-speaking men in the middle of the afternoon when the street was crowded with tourists. Both were hit but neither of the injuries was fatal. The police are questioning eye-witnesses.
The first Czech woman ever to win an Oscar, twenty-year old Markéta Irglová has come back to her homeland for a week-long visit. Irglová and her Irish partner Glen Hansard recently won an Academy Award for best original song for Falling Slowly from the low-budget film Once, about a busker and a Czech immigrant who meet on the streets of Dublin and become close as they compose music together. The twenty year old arrived without warning to spend time in private with her family before embarking on a tour of 25 American towns and cities with her partner Glen Hansard.
The opposition Social Democrats have stepped up their opposition to the US radar base. The party leadership is planning a nation-wide petition against the base and the party will hold a second internal party referendum on the issue in the spring. The vast majority of Social Democrats were opposed to the radar base in the first internal party referendum held recently. Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek last week warned party deputies that those who choose to ignore the official party line when Parliament votes on the matter could find themselves off the list of candidates when the next general election comes around.
The leadership of the Green Party has confirmed party leader Martin Bursík’s mandate in the wake of calls for him to resign. Mr. Bursík came under fire from the Olomouc party branch for what they described as his authoritative style of leadership and poor communication within the party. He was also asked to explain a vulgar message that he accidentally sent one of the party members. After a stormy debate regional leaders concluded that while some of the criticism was justified it would be a mistake to recall Martin Bursík from the head of the party. The party leadership also criticized the fact that some party members were using the media to resolve personal conflicts, thus tarnishing the image of the Green party for their own ends.
A 31-year old man fell from the top of Jindřišska Tower, the highest freely-standing belfry in Prague on Saturday. He died on impact. He tower is over 65 metres high and is open to visitors throughout the day offering a spectacular view of the city and a dining room. The police are investigating the fall as a possible suicide.
A deal between Prague and Washington on the siting of a US radar base on Czech territory could be concluded in the spring, Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová told reporters at the end of a fifth round of talks on the radar this week. The latest round of talks focused on conditions governing the presence of US soldiers at the radar base. The Czech government is pushing ahead with the negotiations despite criticism from opposition parties and the public. Public opinion surveys suggest that around 70 percent of Czechs are opposed to the base.
The leaders of the three parties in the Czech governing coalition – the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens - have said they are ready to overcome their differences in order to preserve the three-party alliance. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek called a meeting of party leaders on Friday to ascertain their position after serious differences had emerged both during the presidential elections and over Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek’s possible return to government posts. The Green Party is strongly opposed to Mr. Čunek’s return and the prime minister has said he would only take him back if the two smaller parties in government reached agreement on the matter.
A woman from Ostrava celebrated her 103 birthday on Saturday, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Josefa Odehnalová received good-wishes from the town’s mayor and got a visit from the media. The sprightly old lady jumped onto her spinning machine to show journalists her recipe for longevity and did a dozen squats for good measure, telling newsmen that a shot of brandy a day kept the doctor away.
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A mask-tree as a form of solidarity
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