Magazine

24-07-2004

The German play about a famous Czech sea lion, the traffic officer who shocked Pilsen and, the summer menace for holiday makers across the country. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova

A traffic police officer in Pilsen caused a panic when he fired a shot on a busy street after a pedestrian ignored his warning not to cross the street on a red light. The man was on the street, dodging passing cars when the policemen brought out his gun and fired a warning shot in the air. "He was shouting at the man to get off the street and when his orders were ignored he first fired a warning shot in the air and then aimed straight at the pedestrian and shot again" an eyewitness told reporters. The second shot hit the side of a passing car and narrowly missed injuring the driver. According to several people present the policeman was so enraged that he chased the pedestrian up the street before other officers intervened. "It seemed as if he just lost his mind, he really went beserk, one eyewitness said later. The matter is being investigated. The policeman has been suspended from duty and will be charged with endangering the public. The pedestrian has disappeared.

 

KampaKampa People living on Prague's picturesque Kampa in the Lesser Town were in for a shock this week. On Tuesday afternoon the water level started rising at incredible speed, putting yards and outdoor restaurants underwater. "It was horrifying," a restaurant owner said - by the time I got through to someone competent to tell me what was wrong the water level was up by over a metre and the chairs and tables outside were floating". The flood was allegedly caused by a stuck sluice which regulates the water level in that arm of the river. Although the water level is now back on its old level - the inhabitants are still in shock - the rising water level brought back a lot of bad memories from the 2002 floods.

 

And, speaking of the floods, one of the flood victims of the 2002 - the sea lion Gaston is going to be the star of a shadow and light theatre performance in the state opera in Dresden, Germany. The children's play is called "Swim, Gaston, Swim!" and tells the story of a brave sea lion who had a great adventure trying to swim to freedom down the Vltava river and the Elbe. On its internet pages the opera describes the performance as "the dramatic adventures of a sea lion who had to overcome numerous hurdles and challenges on the road to freedom". Although he never achieved his goal, the authors claim that Gaston's strength and determination gave him "human characteristics". Germany was captivated by Gastons's flight to freedom two years ago and there's even been a book published about him - which ends by saying that although Gaston died in his attempt to reach the sea - he became the Czech Republic's national hero. The devastating floods of 2002 put the Troja Zoo in Prague almost completely underwater and the twelve year old Gaston was one of four sea lions swept from his pool into the turbulent waters of the Vltava river. His three mates were soon captured and brought back but Gaston managed to avoid his keepers, playing games with the crew who followed him down the river, feeding him fish to try and entice him back into captivity. After he crossed the border into Germany, German officials joined in the chase hoping to catch the sea lion before he came to some harm. By the time Gaston was eventually captured he had swam 400 km and he died of exhaustion several hours later. Zoologists say his chances of survival in the cold water of the Vltava and Elbe rivers, which at the time were contaminated and filled with debris as a result of the floods in central Europe were slim. But his flight to freedom made headlines around the world.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Prague Zoo welcomed its 500.000 th visitor this weekend - Radomir Rosenkranz from Jihlava - and he and his family all got VIP treatment: a ride on the back of an elephant and a chance to feed some of the animals in their cages. This year the zoo boasts a record number of visitors -not least thanks to the opening of the African pavilion. In September the zoo has promised visitors a new treat - an Indonesian Jungle pavilion.

 

A Czech citizen who took part in the Czech Who Wants To Be a Millionaire contest -and lost one and a half million crowns after allegedly failing to give the correct answer is filing charges against TV Nova, which is hosting the show. Karel Lupomnesky saw his dream disintegrate when he seemingly chose the wrong word denoting a military unit in the Roman empire. The contestant allegedly consulted historians and was told that the term he chose and that which the station claimed to be the only correct answer were synonymous. Mr. Lupomensky is claiming two and a half million crowns in damages. It is the first court case of its kind in the Czech Republic.

 

A nation-wide crackdown on bad drivers this week resulted in thousands of speeding fines. Those who violated the speed limit close to the Prague auto club were in for a surprise. The officers let them chose whether they wanted to pay a hefty fine or take a test on the crash simulator at the nearby club. The possibility to try this out sparked plenty of interest - and the chances that those drivers who undertook it will be caught speeding without having fastened their seatbelts is much smaller than if they'd just forked out several hundred crowns. Statistics show that the Czech Republic is lagging behind the rest of Europe in this respect. While 80% of people living in Western Europe fasten their safety belts automatically - even for short journeys - in the Czech Republic less than 50 % of all car passengers take the trouble to do so.

 

Map showing tick-infested areas, graph: CTKMap showing tick-infested areas, graph: CTK Czechs love spending time out in the country but with every passing year they are increasingly at risk of getting seriously ill from getting bitten by an infected tick. While in the past no one even knew that ticks were around - or what exactly ticks were - now every single Czech is aware of the danger. The reason why ticks have suddenly become dangerous is that an increasing number of them are now infected with a virus that can cause either an inflammation of the brain or Lyme disease, a sickness that affects the locomotive system. There are infected ticks all over the country and Czechs are now hearing warnings from all sides. Doctors are appearing on television to explain the details and answer people's questions and newspapers and magazines are printing vast amounts of information on the issue, including maps showing areas with a high incidence of infected ticks. Czechs are urged to get immunity vaccines - and warned that an untreated tick bite may result in death. As a result of this widespread campaign the number of infected people is slowly decreasing year by year - even if the number of infected ticks is on the rise. Ticks are a menace across Europe - so wherever you are spending your holiday - don't underestimate the danger and get informed.

24-07-2004

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)