The current cult of economic growth at all costs may harm civilization, the former Czech president Václav Havel said in an interview for Z1 TV, a Czech digital television channel, on Monday. Reflecting on the global financial crisis, Mr. Havel said the cult of consumerism, growth and permanent change could lead civilization into an abyss. The dissident-playwright-turned-president suggested that a certain degree of market regulation here and there could help prevent serious economic crises but it would not change people’s growing obsession with money. He said an existential revolution of some kind was needed to make people recover their wits and re-think their priorities.
An exhibition of rare photos showing the crushing of the Prague Spring reform movement in 1968 is on display at a gallery in Vienna. The photographs were taken by Austrian photographer Franc Goess who worked for Paris-Match magazine and happened to be in Prague at the time of the Soviet led invasion. He made 100 shots of the groundbreaking event but they were never published, languishing for decades in an archive. Following an April premiere in Prague – to mark the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia – the collection is now on show at the Westlicht Gallery in Vienna. It will remain on display until mid-October.
The Prague Stock Exchange on Monday registered the biggest daily loss since it was established in 1993, with shares falling by a record 8.46 percent. The PX index fell to a three-and-a-half year low of 1,102.9 points. Financial analysts say it is possible that the decline will continue. Markets worldwide retreated sharply on Monday amid concerns that the spreading financial crisis may push the global economy into recession.
The Czech Finance Ministry is currently not considering raising guarantees for bank deposits due to the word financial crisis, its spokesman Ondřej Jakob has said. Bank deposits have been insured up to 25,000 Euros, which is in line with the law on banks from the year 2001. The Czech National Bank said it didn’t see any reasons for raising the limit either. Ireland and Germany have recently said they would guarantee all deposits in banks in order to raise confidence in the banking sector. Denmark and Austria too plan to adopt these measures.
The car maker Škoda Auto is to reduce output at its plant in Mladá Boleslav due to a fall in demand. No cars will be produced in the last week of October, amounting to a fall of around 13,000 vehicles. Škoda Auto had previously announced plans for a two-day halt on its production lines. A representative said the company expected a marked fall in sales growth next year, noting that the days of double-figure growth were over. On Saturday, it was reported that the truck maker Tatra was also reducing its output and shortening workers shifts.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has been recognized by Emerging Markets magazine as the finance minister of the year in the post-communist countries. Mr Kalousek will receive the award on Friday within the framework of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting to be held in Washington at the weekend. The Czech finance minister was chosen for promoting tax changes, supporting growth and improving the condition of Czech public finances.
Czech soldiers serving in Afghanistan complain about the poor quality of their Dingo 2 armoured vehicles, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Monday. Soldiers say the Dingo has a weak engine and is very sensitive to the type of fuel used. The daily cited a Czech soldier saying that the Dingo can barely keep pace with a convoy driving at a speed of 60 km/per hour. The Czech military currently has four Dingo vehicles in its arsenal and the Defence Ministry in September signed a contract on another 15 Dingoes, at the price of some 30 million crowns (approximately 1,600 000 US dollars) each.
The antenna on top of the TV tower in Prague’s Žižkov district, which provides a signal to viewers in the Czech capital, was replaced by a new one on Monday morning. The upgrade of the device is part of the changes in television broadcasting from analogue to digital broadcasting. Streets in the tower’s immediate vicinity were closed during the operation and people were told not to open their windows for security reasons. All analogue broadcasters in the Czech Republic are expected to make the transition to digital between the years 2010 and 1012.
The 34th annual Ekofilm festival got underway in the South-Bohemian towns of České Budějovice and Český Krumlov on Monday. One of the oldest festivals of its kind in Europe, Ekofilm is entirely devoted to environmental issues and issues relating to the country’s natural and cultural heritage. In addition to film screenings, Ekofilm offers various seminars, discussions with film-makers and other events.
The annual Designblok festival showcasing both Czech and international furniture, accessories and fashion gets underway in Prague on Monday. The festival takes place at a host of venues around the city, in particular in the district of Holešovice and Karlín. The tenth Designblock will introduce over 200 participants and a selection from the best showrooms, designers, galleries, and fashion designers in Prague. The event will continue until the end of the week.