Prague City Hall officials called Sunday for police to break up an anti-Islamic meeting outside the Saudi Arabia embassy in Prague. They said the meeting was an abuse of religion and had departed from its original goals. Several dozen participants led by anti-Islam activist Martin Konvička gathered outside the embassy and stoned a portable toilet placed there in a parody of the practice at Mecca and the black stone or Kaaba. Konvička said his lawyers would be taking action against the city authorities. The meeting coincided with the 15th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Konvička had accused Saudi Arabia of being one of the main sponsors of terrorism worldwide. A previous meeting organised by Konvička in Prague’s Old Town Square at the end of August where he and some of his supporters dressed as Islamic State leaders caused controversy as well over whether it should have been banned or allowed to go ahead.
Thirteen people were injured, some seriously, according to preliminary reports when a bus was involved in an accident on the highway between Prague and Kutná Hora on Sunday afternoon. Firemen reported that the bus ended up in a field on its wheels beside the road. Three people were taken to hospital by helicopter. The bus was on a regular bus route serving the district.
Czech universities, institutes, and the private sector are involved in a four year project to find a strain of wheat which will better withstand drought conditions and high temperatures. The Mendel University in Brno, Palacký University Olomouc and Crop Research Institute outside Prague have teamed up with the Znojmo-based company RAGT for the research. Most of the work will be focused on trying to develop strains with better developed root systems. The options for European wheat are limited as strains must also frequently deal with late frosts. The research is taking place with an eye to expected climate change and increasingly variable weather conditions.
The Czech Republic could end this year with a balanced state budget, according to finance minister Andrej Babiš. Much depends on how many ministries will spend cash earmarked for them in the remaining months, he added. The state budget recorded a surplus 80 billion crowns at the end of August. A spending spree by ministries at the end of the year is a normal occurrence. The planned budget deficit for this year is 70 billion crowns, though it pretty clear now that figure is exaggerated. A shortfall in spending of around 30 billion crowns in infrastructure, especially transport investments, is one reason for the prospect of a balanced budget. Another is the low level of unemployment, now at its lowest level since August 2008.
The funeral of legendary Czech gymnast Věra Cašlavská took place on Thursday at the Šumperk crematoria with out the public and media. Last respects were given earlier at a Catholic church at nearby Bělá Pod Pradedem, in the north-east of the country, the news server Echo24 reported. Cašlavská, the winner of seven gold medals at the Tokyo and Mexico Olympics in 1964 and 1968, died at the age of 74 on August 30. A one hour tribute to the most successful ever Czech Olympic competitor will be paid in Prague’s National Theatre on Monday. Cašlavská was also know for her support of reforms ahead of the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and was persecuted by the Communist authorities afterwards for refusing to renounce her earlier views.
In ice hockey, the Czech Republic won their return match against Russia at the O2 Arena in Prague on Saturday night 2:1 after penalties. The win is revenge for the 3:4 defeat in Moscow on Thursday. The two matches are warm ups for the World Cup of Hockey being hosted in Toronto from September 17 to October 1. The Czech team begins the tournament against hosts Canada. On Wednesday, the warm up games continue in Pittsburgh, US, with a game against a North American team.
Karolína Plíšková failed in her bid to win her first Grand Slam tournament. She lost 3:6, 6:4, 4:6 to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final of the US Open. Plíšková started nervously and lost the first set but fought back to draw the match in the second. Plíšková said after the match that she was proud of her achievement, pointing out that noone would have expected her to get to the final two weeks ago. Trainer, Jiří Vaněk said that a few balls alone made the difference for the final result. He said that Kerber was like a ‘wall.’ Kerber, already the winner of the Australian Open, is now the new world number one.
A more then 30-strong delegation from the Czech Republic flew to Roma Saturday to present a statue of Czech patron saint Anežka to the Vatican. The delegation included Minister of Culture Daniel Herman. The statue will be placed in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica. The donation was first mooted five years ago on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s presumed birth. She was canonised in November 1989. The 160 cm high modern statue is the work of students from the Hořice school of sculpture.
In football, former national captain and Arsenal midfield star, Tomáš Rosický, played in front of his home fans for the first time at Sparta Prague on Saturday. Rosický was brought off the substitutes bench on the 72nd minute to loud applause from the around 14,000 fans. But Rosický, who last played for Sparta 16 years ago, was unable to make the difference in a disappointing home performance against Mladá Boleslav with the final score 2:2. Sparta now trail the surprise league leaders, Zlín by a point.
Fire warning s have been issued by the Czech weather office for large parts of the country as a result of high temperatures and drought. Temperatures were expected to reach around 30 degrees Celsius on Saturday and remain high on Sunday. A ban on starting fires in fields or near forests now applies in the Central Bohemia region. Fire warnings for an indefinite period also apply to the Prague, Hradec Králové, and Pardubice regions. Steam locomotives were as a result of the risk banned from taking part in some planned activities over the weekend in Central Bohemia. The hot dry period is set to continue in the next days with temperatures of up to 31 degrees Celsius possible.
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