One hundred and four cases of swine flu have now been detected in the Czech Republic. Nine new cases of the illness were recorded on Friday, the health ministry said. Around ten fresh cases have come to light every day recently and the country’s chief hygiene officer said he expected infection numbers to increase by the hundreds in the coming weeks. Nobody has yet died of swine flu in the Czech Republic and none of the cases detected to date have been regarded as serious.
Czech industrial output in June fell by 12.3 percent compared to the same month last year, according to preliminary data released by the Czech Statistical Office. That is being seen as relatively good news as it represents the smallest drop in the last six months: in January industrial output fell by 23 percent, while in May it decreased by 22 percent, year-on-year. Analyst Jiří Škop told the Czech News Agency that June’s results were a very pleasant surprise. He said the Czech economy, which relies heavily on the auto industry, was benefiting from car scrapping incentives introduced in export markets. Meanwhile, the president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, Petr Kužel, said Czech firms probably had the worst of the financial crisis behind them.
The Czech high jumper Jaroslav Bába came third at a Super Grand Prix meeting in Stockholm on Friday night. The 24-year-old took bronze with a jump of 227 cm. It was the last competition for Bába before the World Athletics Championships in Berlin this month, whose biggest success to date was a bronze medal at the Olympics in Athens.
The soccer player Patrik Berger appeared for Sparta Prague in a 0:0 draw against Bohemians 1905 on Friday, just weeks after he feared his career was over. Berger said if a knee injury he is suffering from had required surgery he would have had to quit the game. The left-footed midfielder, who is 35, has played for Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Aston Villa, though he has been out a lot in recent years with injury problems.
The first annual River Film Festival has begun in the south Bohemian town of Písek. The 10-day international film festival, which runs until Sunday week, includes 170 feature films and 150 shorts. Among the special guests are the US film director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. The River Film Festival also features a number of accompanying events, including live music concerts and theatre performances.
The American musician Moby was among the headliners at the Sázavafest music festival at Kácov in central Bohemia on Friday night. Around 20,000 people – a record – attended the second of three nights at the outdoor music festival, which has been running for nine years. The British pop singer Jimi Somerville and the German band Die Happy are due to play on the closing night on Saturday.
The American State Department has said that the U.S. is considering alternative locations outside the Czech Republic and Poland for the potential construction of part of its missile defence system. At a hearing on US-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Vershbow told the House of Representatives that the Czech Republic and Poland are not the only places where the mission could be performed. The construction of an American radar base in Bohemia has been one of the hottest issues in the Czech Republic in recent years, with polls suggesting most Czechs are opposed. Russia has also expressed intense opposition to the plan. The Obama White House has put the plan on hold while it is reassessed by his administration.
Newspaper photographs of top Czech politicians sharing a yacht in Italy with energy lobbyists are causing a stir in the Czech Republic. Among those featured on the photographs are former Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, CEO of the energy company ČEZ Martin Roman, and Social Democratic MP Milan Urban. Czech media outlets, aside from speculating on who is most likely to benefit from the rather expensive detective work, have also made frequent reference to the recent passage of a carbon emissions deal in parliament that resulted in a multi-billion-crown windfall for the energy giant, ČEZ. A number of those featured on the photographs have said the meeting was a chance encounter in a popular holiday area. Compounding the discussion around the photographs is the fact that they were released by Karel Randák, the erstwhile chief of the Czech civilian intelligence agency. Mr Randák has declined to shed more light on the procurement of the photos, saying only that no intelligence agents were involved, and that his decision to release them was taken in order to “show how things work in this country.” Mr Randák was dismissed from his position in 2006 by Mr Topolánek’s government.
Romanian Roma camping by a lakeside near Prague for the last week have moved to a tract of land offered them by a private owner. The invitation ends a rather tense dispute between the campers, of whom there were originally about 150, and the local municipal office, which has been protesting their stay in an area that is a natural reserve and their mistreatment of the grounds. The group, which now numbers 30, came to Prague from Romania one week ago to support a young relative they call their prince, who nearly drowned while swimming in the Czech Republic. The 17-year-old remains in hospital in critical condition.
The primary east-west thoroughfare in the Czech Republic, the D1 motorway, is to be closed for more than 24 hours during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The Ministry of Transportation said Thursday that during that time, from September 26 to 27, the motorway is to serve as a car park for the more than 2,000 buses expected to bring up to 150,000 people to Brno for the pope’s mass. The ministry is working with police to prepare detours.