Heavy storms caused widespread damage throughout Bohemia on Saturday night. Firemen were called out to hundreds of sites in those regions and in Central Bohemia, where most of the problems involved fallen trees and flooded cellars. Part of a road by the Vltava collapsed near Český Krumlov. The D11 motorway connecting Prague and Hradec Králové remained partially blocked on Sunday afternoon as a slope on the side of the road slid into the motorway. More than 50 people had to be evacuated from a children’s camp near Kutna Hora.
Politicians and hundreds of onlookers attended an annual celebration of Czech and Slovak brotherhood on Sunday at Velká Javořina mountain on the border of the two states. Representatives of the two states of the former Czechoslovak federation, among them prime ministers Petr Nečas and Robert Fico, spoke of the above-average relations between their countries. Mr Nečas, who grew up near Slovakia, said that Slovaks were truly a brother nation and that it would be hard to find two states in Europe that enjoy the same kind of friendship. A meeting of the Czech and Slovak governments is to take place in the autumn.
Anti-government Syrians in the Czech Republic are forming an ‘opposition embassy’ in Prague. The newly elected chairman of the association of Syrians in the Czech Republic, Andar Shaker, told the Czech Press Agency that the aim was to facilitate the creation of a new Syrian representation in Prague should the regime of President Bashar al-Assad collapse. The association also plans to cooperate with non-governmental organisations to send humanitarian aid and teams of Czech doctors to Syria. Mr Shaker said the association’s anti-Assad demonstrations has been closely monitored by the Syrian embassy in Prague, which he said worked as a secret service rather than an embassy.
The Prague cemeteries administration has released a web application allowing visitors a virtual tour of the Vyšehrad Cemetery. The application at www.hrbitovy.cz offers information and photographs for all of the nearly 1300 graves in the cemetery and will include more information on the Cezch personages laid to rest there. The graveyard on the historic hill of Vyšehrad is a sort of pantheon of important Czechs, among them composer Antonín Dvořák, Karel Čapek, Jan Neruda, and Božena Němcová.
Czechs are low on the list of regular blood donors in Europe, according to research from the European statistical office. Around two-fifths of Europeans have donated blood, with the most donors in Austria followed distantly by France, where more than half have donated. The Czech Republic is in 22nd place, with only 30% of the population over the age of 15 having ever donated blood.
Higher hospital registration fees this year will not mean better catering for patients, according to the health insurance company VZP. While many have expected that hospitals would be using the extra income to increase the comfort of patients, the company’s spokesman points out that the law stipulates no such thing and hospitals receive money for patients’ catering from insurance companies. The law states that the regulation fee is the income of the hospital and must be used for running and modernising the hospital. Patients have paid for hospital stays since 2008; the original fee of 60 crowns a day was raised to 100 at the end of 2011.
In the London Olympics, shooter Lenka Marušková advanced to the final round of the air pistol only three points away from first place but ended up eighth overall. Backstroker Simona Baumrtová set a new Czech record in the 100m race, finishing just under one minute and advancing to the semi-final. Gymnast Kristýna Pálešová lost her chance to qualify for the multi-disciplinary final, finishing eighth out of 14 in the first group.
Syrian officials have freed a Czech citizen being held since the end of June. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the press on Saturday that Sandra Bitarová was safe and in good health. According to Czech Television, Bitarová lives permanently in Syria, where her father is from, and works in an advertising agency. She was detained for a day once this year already and Czech diplomats received no explanation. Her family says she is not politically active.
Around three dozen supporters of the Czech Pirate Party gathered in front of the Office for Personal Data Protection on Saturday to protest the European Indect project, aimed at connecting and assessing data from surveillance cameras. The Pirate Party maintains that the project jeopardises personal freedoms as the system regards them as potential criminals under the guise of thwarting terrorism.
Despite tough going in the actual arena on the first day, the Czech Olympic team scored fashion points at the start of the London games on Friday with original and witty uniforms. The 133 athletes appeared during the opening ceremony wearing blue and white suits topped off with wellington boots and parasols. While ‘wellies’ trended high on Twitter throughout the evening, the New York Times summarised the fashion spectacle as ‘Lauren vs. Rubber Wellies’ – comparing the Czech accessory to the US team’s, reportedly ‘controversial’, choice of berets and blazers by Ralph Lauren. BBC commentators themselves were also amused at the fashion quip on English weather.
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