The European Commission has revised downward its growth forecast for the Czech economy for both this and next year. According to figures released on Thursday the EC expects the Czech economy to grow by a mere 1.8 percent this year, from an earlier 2 percent forecast, while next year’s growth estimate is now at 0.7 percent down from a previous 2.9. The predictions are more dire than those released both by the International Monetary Fund and the Czech Finance Ministry. The ministry’s latest growth predictions speak of a 2.1 percent growth this year and a 1 percent growth in 2012. However Finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said that a worse result could be expected next in view of the economic slow-down in Europe.
A baby gorilla born at Prague’s Troja Zoo this week and rejected by its mother remains in an incubator. Vets say it is not in immediate danger but are concerned about its fate if its mother persistently refuses to care for it. Keepers say they will make another effort to get the sixteen-year-old western lowland gorilla to accept her first young, despite the fact that it could put the life of the baby at risk. So far the facility has raised three gorillas born there since 2004.
Employees of the Prague City Gallery are packing up the last five canvasses of Alfons Mucha’s 20-strong Slav Epic in Moravský Krumlov and are expected to see them on their way to Prague on Thursday night. The fight over Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic has soured relations between the Czech capital and Moravský Krumlov which fought in vain to be allowed to keep the collection, pointing out that Prague had not fulfilled the conditions under which the famous Art Nouveau painter bequeathed the Slav Epic to the capital city: building a special pavilion which would do the outsize collection justice. No date has yet been set for when the paintings will be put on display in the Czech capital.
One of the legends of the Czech underground, poet Ivan Martin Jirous known to his friends as Magor, has died at the age of 67. The author of numerous poetry collections (first published in samizdat in the 1970s and 1980s) Ivan Jirous is perhaps best-known as the artistic manager and spiritual leader of the underground rock band The Plastic People of the Universe. His battles with the communist regime resulted in eight and a half years behind bars. In 2006 he was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert Prize for literary achievement, among others for a 500-page collection of his letters from prison.
Goalkeeper Petr Čech has tried out a specially-designed mask to protect his broken nose and allow him to try to play for the Czech Republic in their Euro 2012 playoff against Montenegro on Friday. The Chelsea player, however, was not completely confident of being ready for the first leg of the playoff, telling journalists on Thursday that even with the mask he could not guarantee a 100 percent performance. Čech broke his nose against Blackburn Rovers in a Premier League game on Saturday. Coach Michal Bilek, already without suspended midfielder Tomas Hubschman, said Čech’s presence on the pitch would be a big boost for the team. If Čech cannot play Bilek will turn to Hamburg SV's Jaroslav Drobny.
The police have brought kidnapping charges against a sixty-one-year old woman who tried to make off with a pram parked outside a store in the town of Nachod. A five-year-old boy who was minding the baby while his mother was in the store quickly raised the alarm and the mother caught up with the woman in time. She was allegedly undergoing a family crisis and was unable to explain her behaviour. If convicted she could face up to three years in prison.
WWII veteran and hero Marie Ljalková-Lastovecká died on Monday at the age of 90, the Czechoslovak Community of Legionnaires as announced. A Czech from the Ukrainian region of Volhynia, Ljalková-Lastovecká was the first Czechoslovak woman to be put into battle in the war. She served as a sniper during the Battle of Sokolovo, where she neutralised four Nazi machine gunners and gained fame in the Soviet and Anglo-American press. For that deed and thirty other successful kills she was awarded the Czechoslovak War Cross and the Soviet Order of the Red Star. Last year she received the highest distinction of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion, from President Václav Klaus.
Three people are reported dead and one injured after a man went on a shooting spree on the grounds of Aircraft Industries in Kunovice on Thursday. The attacker shot dead two men and injured one woman before turning the gun on himself. According to media reports the attacker was the brother of the arms magnate Pavel Musela who suffered irreparable brain damage during an accident at a hunt in 2008. Police are searching for a likely motive and there is speculation that it could have been revenge in connection with his brother’s accident.
A British court has sentenced a Czech truck driver to five years in prison for manslaughter. He caused an accident that killed two people after running a red light. He was also found to have been speeding and had an open notebook on the seat next to him which apparently distracted his attention. It is not clear if he plans to appeal the verdict.
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