Police in the Czech Republic are stepping up security in the wake of US warnings of a possible terrorist attack in Europe. The country’s international airports and other high-risk facilities will be more closely guarded, after reports that Washington had advised American citizens to be vigilant while travelling in Europe because of the threat of an al-Qaeda attack. In a statement, the Czech Ministry of the Interior said there was no evidence that such warnings related to the Czech Republic.
Thousands of people attended a Czech street festival in New York on Saturday. Czech food and drink, books, CDs and DVDs were on sale, while Czech rock bands such as Už jsme doma and November 2nd performed live. The MC was the well-known film and stage actress Zuzana Stivínová, who is now based in New York. The street festival is organised by the city’s Czech Center and takes place on the corner of 83rd St and Madison Avenue in Manhattan once a year.
A spokesman for the Civic Democrats, who lead the Czech government, says the party have not discussed the possibility of removing the leader of the Public Affairs party Radek John from the post of interior minister. The coalition has been shaken by allegations that a security agency linked to Public Affairs minister for transport, Vít Barta, was hired to spy on a Civic Democrat mayor in a district of Prague in 2006. The deputy head of the Civic Democrats told a Czech newspaper on Saturday that Public Affairs could lose control of the Interior Ministry over the matter. However, Civic Democrats spokesman Tomáš Bartovský told reporters that no such change had been discussed. He said it was no coincidence that the matter had blown up two weeks before local and Senate elections, suggesting it was intended to sour relations within the coalition.
A man is reported to have been seriously injured after falling while climbing the walls of a castle in central Bohemia. The man, who is aged 45, fell around 10 metres on to rocks beneath the ruins of Chroustník castle near Tábor on Saturday afternoon, evidently after his safety harness gave way. He was taken to hospital in České Budějovice by helicopter.
The Czech Republic’s women’s basketball team are preparing for their first world championships final in 39 years. The Czechs caused a huge upset to knock out defending champions Australia in the quarter-finals, before overcoming Belarus in a dramatic semi-final clash. Sunday night’s final, which takes place in the Czech town of Karlovy Vary, pits them against the USA. The last medal the Czechs won in the women’s basketball world championships was in 1975 when, while still part of Czechoslovakia, they took bronze.
The Zurich Film Festival presented the great Czech-born film director Miloš Forman with an award for lifetime achievement on Saturday night. The prize was presented by Courtney Love, who appeared in his film Man on the Moon. The festival also screened a retrospective of the movies by the Oscar-winning maker of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. After Zurich, Mr Forman, who is 78, travels on to Lyon, where he will be guest of honour at the French city’s film festival.
A previously unknown recording of the Czech jazz singer Vlasta Průchová, accompanied by renowned accordionist Bora Kříž, has been uncovered. The album Bora Kříž & Vlasta Průchová Malostranská beseda 1982 has been released on the Radioservis label. It was recorded at the Prague venue when the late “first lady of Czech jazz” was 56. Průchová was the mother of jazz fusion musician Jan Hammer, who is perhaps best known for the theme music to Miami Vice.
The Czech Republic’s men’s chess team have come 20th in the Chess Olympiad in the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk. In the final round of the tournament on Sunday the Czech men drew 2:2 with England. The women’s team were beaten 3:1 by Israel and ended up coming 50th. Both teams had been hoping to finish in the top 16. Ukraine came first in the men’s competition, while Russia won in the women’s category.
The Education Ministry has removed an ethics guide from a list of literature recommended for school pupils after a complaint from a gay rights group. The organisation Charlie said the book was homophobic and promoted conservative and religious beliefs; the publication claimed gay people were mentally unstable and in need of treatment, warned against masturbation, and criticised the use of condoms. The ministry said it was taking all books by the guide’s co-author Ladislav Lencz off recommended reading lists.
Staff numbers at Czech hotels and restaurants have fallen by 8.5 percent, according to figures provided by the Czech Statistical Office and the agency Mag Consulting. While 125,000 people worked in the industry at the end of the first half of 2009, at the end of June this year the number was 10,600 fewer. A representative of the Czech hotels and restaurants association said the trend was likely to continue. He said things were particularly hard for restaurants in rented premises.