Fire fighters have estimated that a blaze which broke out in an industrial zone in Otrokovice, near Zlin in southern Moravia on Friday caused damage in the tens of millions of crowns. The fire broke out at around eight pm, spreading across buildings that included a laminate factory, a warehouse storing inflammable liquids, a car repair service, and a scrap yard. It took 20 fire crews most of the night to localize the threat. No was hurt in the incident but nearby residents were advised to keep their windows closed due to smoke. A mobile detection lab monitoring the concentration and chemical make-up of the smoke, meanwhile, said it posed no additional safety threat. Specialists are investigating the cause of the fire.
The Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes has reported that the Czech Republic has the highest retail crime rate in the European Union. Citing a survey by the British agency Centre for Retail Research, the newspaper said that goods worth 9.8 billion crowns (or 374 million euros) disappeared from store shelves last year. According to the survey, losses by Czech firms averaged 1.47 percent of overall turnover in 2009. Shoplifting accounted for more than half of retail crime, while theft by employees was also a major factor. Store items stolen most often are clothes or fashion accessories, followed by alcohol and small foodstuffs and items from book stores such as special edition comic books.
A 90-year-old graphic designer, Petr Tučný, is suing Prague’s Public Transport Company on allegations the firm used, without his permission, a font he designed in the late 1960s. The names of metro stations in the capital are written in an uppercase sans serif lettering known as Metron which Mr Tučný says he designed in the years 1967-69. The transport firm, though, maintains the font was the work of late graphic designer Jiří Rathouský - dating back to the early 1970s. Mr Tučný has countered that the other designer merely modified his original work. Due to high legal fees, Mr Tučný is seeking damages for the use of the font at only one station, Kačerov, on the “C” line. He is asking for 500,000 crowns. If he succeeds in court the complaint could be broadened, his lawyer said.
Czech hospitals say they are bracing themselves for an expected drop in funds from insurance companies next year, stressing they will try to maintain current overall salaries and save through better organisation. Facilities, representatives suggested, will try to secure better deals on medicines and new technology and will try and avoid pay cuts or redundancies. The government plans to lower fixed wages, set according to classification tables, by 10 percent next year as part of planned austerity measures. But the workers’ unions have charged that health care employees will suffer a more significant drop in salaries, in some cases as high as 40 percent, when hospitals slash bonuses. The head of the Kralovské Vinohrady hospital, Marek Zeman, for example, has made clear employees will only receive higher bonuses based on overall performance and efficiency.
The former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who served in the
Clinton administration and is of Czech origin, has suggested nine years
after 9/11 that questions pertaining to the attacks - including what
to be done about terrorism - remain. Mrs Albright, currently in London for
a conference on the 70th anniversary of the founding of European exile
governments during World War II, spoke to the Czech news agency. She told
ČTK that the US made a mistake after 9/11 by not reacting to offers of
help from NATO and other allies. And she said that former president George
W. Bush had erred when it came to Iraq.
In her view, the former president should have focussed more on Afghanistan where plans for the September 11 attacks originated. According to Mrs Albright, the Clinton administration also had a problem with Iraq as no one knew whether the regime had nuclear weapons; but she said the administration had not favoured committing ground troops.
Environment Minister Pavel Drobil has said he will back key changes in the method of fighting bark-beetle in the Šumava Mountains, an approach called for by local mayors and the regions of South Bohemia and Plzeň. In a statement on saturday, Mr Drobil said current strategy needed to see radical changes to tackle the bark-beetle problem head-on, to prevent Šumava’s national park from becoming a “dead zone”. A system of protective areas currently in place, critics charge, creating conditions allowing for the rapid spread of the destructive insect. The minister is planning on dividing the national park into first, second and third zones, reverting to a system in place prior to changes by the previous government. He emphasised it was necessary to define what could be done in individual zones. Mr Drobil told ČTK that he, along with the mayors and regions, will draft a bill on Šumava National Park, which could take effect on July 1, 2011.
Ostrava’s Dům Umění is readying to open a new exhibition on the work of architect Daniel Libeskind, best known for his design of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the original plan (since modified by others) for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York. The show in Ostrava will open on September 16. Besides many well-known designs, never-before seen work is also included, as well as an accompanying documentary. Next year the show will move to Poland. Ostrava cooperated directly with the architect’s studio in New York, but Mr Libeskind is not expected to attend the show’s opening on Thursday. An organiser has said the architect and his wife could visit at a later date.
Czech hockey forward Martin Hanzal has signed a two-year contract worth 3.6 million dollars with the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL. His first three-year contract ran-out in the summer and the signing of a new deal was reportedly delayed for a number of reasons, including financial difficulties at the club. Other teams that had expressed an interest in the player included Edmonton and clubs in Russia. Last season the Czech player racked up 33 points: 11 goals and 22 assists. Hanzal – who hails from České Budějovice – could now play in two back-to-back NHL exhibition games in Prague in October when Phoenix will face the Boston Bruins.
After winning his debut in hockey’s KHL, goalkeeper Dominik Hašek and Spartak Moscow lost to Avangard Omsk, home to another legendary Czech player, Jaromír Jágr. The final score was 4:3. Jágr was unable to score in the game but Czech defenseman Martin Škoula did get a point, assisting on the winning goal.
Czech police will continue to guard the country’s embassies in Iraq and Pakistan, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported. The police are not required by law to protect Czech diplomatic missions abroad, and ending the service would have saved the force 40 million crowns a year. However, Interior Minister Radek John said that after talks with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg it was decided that the police should continue to provide security at the embassies in Baghdad and Islamabad, which are considered to be at risk. The Czech ambassador to Pakistan was killed in a hotel bombing two years ago. The country’s embassy in Afghanistan is guarded by Czech soldiers.