25-10-2003

Czech teenage pranksters have devised a new game: nicking a policeman's cap and running off with it. Is it just high spirits or plain theft? The former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says: no more pork, sauerkraut and dumplings, please! And, do your wife and mistress fail to treat you with the respect you deserve - your deputy will knock some sense into them! Find out more in this week's Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Czech teenage pranksters have devised a new game: nicking a policeman's cap and running off with it. Many of these prank-thefts are filmed by friends and the most successful can be found on a certain Czech web page along with the rules of the game. The thefts are then given "points" based on style and daring. The kids claim it is the latest adrenalin sport - but the police see it otherwise. According to private TV Prima the police say it is plain stealing and the web page operator can be charged with inciting people to steal. Lawyers point out that the motive to enrich oneself is missing and that this is a mere prank which can only classify as a misdemeanour. In any case the police are keeping a sharp eye on youngsters in their vicinity and on seemingly abandoned motorbikes -which these kids most often use to make a fast escape. And, they are holding onto their caps- fast!

Millions of new stamps bearing President Klaus's portrait will have to be withdrawn from the market and scrapped. The Czech Postal Service made the fatal mistake of rating the stamp 6 crowns 40 hallers despite the fact that it was common knowledge that the 10 and 20 haller coins would be taken out of circulation at the end of October. As a result around 10 million of the new Klaus stamps will have to be scrapped. One thing is certain - thanks to its short life and bizarre history the stamp is sure to become a collectors' item.

Madeleine Albright, Photo: CTKMadeleine Albright, Photo: CTK The former Czech born US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who visited her homeland this week to launch the Czech translation of her memoirs "Madam Secretary" spent hours signing copies for fans in bookshops in Prague and Brno. Despite a packed agenda, Mrs Albright found time to attend the fashion show of a well known Czech designer Beata Rajska and Pakistani designer Hassan Sheheryan - described as a meeting of East and West. She proclaimed herself delighted with the evening, as with the rest of her stay in the Czech Republic. She had just one complaint to make telling the media that she was going to put on pounds because everyone here wanted to serve her vepro, knedlo zelo - pork, sauerkraut and dumplings - the country's national dish.

A giant beech tree has been voted the Tree of the Year. This is the second year in which the competition has been held and the organizers' intention was to increase environmental protection awareness. The idea proved unexpectedly successful. Thousands of people have been writing in, sending snapshots of their favourite tree. Anyone can send in entries to the environment ministry and the winner is the tree which gets the most votes from the public. The winning beech tree is 110 years old, 19 metres tall, 21 metres wide in the crown, with a trunk circumference of 4,5 metres. It got 6,000 votes out of 26,000 sent to the ministry - and the prize is that the tree will be given expert care and protection free of charge.

Over 120 children and many more grown ups attended last weekend's Kite Flying Jamboree on Prague's Letna Plane. This is an annual event and children prepare for it weeks in advance making their own kites in a vast variety of shapes and sizes. Everyone has their own theory about which construction flies best - with fathers assisting in the technical side of the process, and mothers joining in the creative side of things. Among the most admired were a flying saucer, dragon and butterfly. And for those whose kites wouldn't go up -due to some manufacturing defect - the organizers had 100 kites to hand out for free.

According to a research institute Czech children are raised predominantly by their mothers. It is generally the mother who tends to the children's daily needs feeds them, buys their clothes, accompanies them to the doctor and reads bedtime stories. Fathers see less of their children, joining in sports activities and family outings. They are often perceived as the figure of authority in the family and involved in meting out punishment. The CVVM institute which published the study says that men rarely use the opportunity to go on parental leave, and often take on extra work to make up for the loss of their wife's wage. Men in the Czech Republic still make more than women -and are perceived as the breadwinner- which is the reason why it is almost always the mother who devotes herself to raising the offspring, the report says.

An army of ticket inspectors in being sent out on night raids of trams and buses. The Public Transport Bureau says the number of black passengers during night hours is very high because nobody ever expects an inspector to appear at 2 am. The fine is 400 crowns and inspectors annually collect 50 to 70 million crowns in fines. "It's not the money that we care about - we would like to improve people's morale" the director of the bureau told the CTK press agency.

Like most other European countries the Czech Republic will make the transition to winter time this Sunday. The time change was first introduced in this country in 1915 but it lasted only a few years. It was reintroduced in the years between 1940 and 1949 and then again in 1978. People are still divided over the change although the transition to winter time generally evokes fewer grumbles since people get an extra hour of sleep. Those who happen to be at work are out of luck - their work hours are an hour longer without the benefit of extra payment.

All Parliament deputies have weekly consultation hours in their respective constituencies - and they are expected to help resolve all kinds of problems. Probably the most bizarre case of all is reported by deputy Jaroslav Zverina, an MP for the opposition Civic Democrats, who says that he received a visit from a local businessman who arrived with both his wife and mistress in tow. The local big-shot wanted Zverina to knock some sense into them because they were not treating him with the respect due to a man who was keeping them in clover. The deputy failed to say how he resolved that particular case.

25-10-2003