In an interview for Czech TV on Sunday, former Czech president Václav Havel said people would yet have to wait for a real political change to happen in the country. Mr Havel said people’s frustration with politics was manifested in last year’s general, Senate and local elections, as the gap between politics and the civic society in the Czech Republic was growing wider. However, the elections also showed that the political system was open, and provided opportunities for new groups and parties. The former president said he supported the reforms of the country’s pension and health care system, planned by the centre-right coalition government. Václav Havel also expressed the view that the country’s president should be elected directly, and that the Czech Republic should adopt the single European currency, euro.
Czech Airlines denied on Sunday that their carrier’s landing gear caught fire during landing at the Karlovy Vary airport on Saturday evening. The news website idnes.cz reported that the incident happened shortly before 9 PM when the plane’s break pads caught fire; flames reportedly began bursting from the lading gear as the plane with 187 people onboard was approaching the runway. The plane’s pilot was alerted by a warning system; he turned on extinguishing and landed the plane. The airport’s fire fighting unit then made sure the fire was out. However, Czech Airlines spokeswoman said they got in touch with the plane’s captain and technicians at the airport, and said no problems whatsoever had been reported.
The Czech Catholic Charity launched the 11th annual Three Kings’ Collection on Sunday. Groups of three children volunteers, dressed as the three wise men who, according to the Bible, brought gifts to newborn Jesus, took to the streets of Czech cities and towns, collecting money for charity. The collection will go on for another two weeks, and the proceeds will be used to assist the sick and handicapped, single mothers, retired people, and others. The Three Kings’ Collection is the biggest volunteering event in the Czech Republic with thousands of children taking part. Last year, the collection fetched more than 67 million crowns.
The speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Miroslava Němcová, would like to change the way bills are passed in the Chamber of Deputies, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. All documents should be delivered to deputies in electronic formats, and any amendments would require a written approval by the bill’s sponsors. Also, only groups of deputies should be allowed to table amendments; MPs would then have longer periods of times before the final vote. The legislative process would last several weeks longer, but Ms Němcová said she hoped the planned change would curb lobbying in the lower house.
The Czech version of the search engine Google acknowledged on Sunday the 45th anniversary of Večerníček, Czech TV’s daily bedtime fairy-tales programme. Google’s logo on Sunday displayed the Večerníček character, a boy with a paper hat sitting on a rocking horse. Czechoslovak Television first aired the programme on January 2, 1965; since then, the 10-minute programme has featured some 300 mostly animated series. The opening sequence, which has changed little since the 1960s, is the oldest running in the country.
The first dog café in the Czech Republic has opened in Plzeň, western Bohemia, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. Dog-owners can enjoy refreshments in the café while their pets are being groomed; the establishment features a dog salon, offers consultations with a vet, and sells dog treats, outfits cosmetics, and other things. The owners said they first wanted to open a café, and then thought of additional services. In the two weeks since the café first opened, around half of its customers came to have their dogs groomed, while the rest just stopped in for a coffee.
A man who noticed his car is being broken into ran in the street and opened fire at the thieves in Prague on Sunday, a police spokeswoman said. Both thieves run away; no one was hurt in the incident. The police have launched a search for the two men. Every day, dozens of cars in the capital are stolen or broken into.
In first such event in more than four decades, Pardubice beat Kometa Brno 4:2 in an open-air game of the Czech top hockey division on Sunday. It was snowing heavily throughout the first period but both team agreed to go ahead. Kometa scored first, and was leading 2:0 at the end of the first period. But the hosts came back after the break, and put in three goals in the second. In the final part, Kometa failed to convert a penalty shot; with two minutes to go, the visitors pulled the goalie and played with an empty net. However, the hosts gained control of the puck and scored an easy fourth goal. The open-air game, which was held at a speedway stadium near Pardubice, eastern Bohemia, drew 17,000 viewers and broke the season’s attendance record.
Czech President Václav Klaus delivered his New Year’s address on
Saturday in which he backed the reform agenda of the country’s
centre-right coalition government. The Czech Republic, just like other EU
countries and the US, was living beyond its means, Mr Klaus said, noting
that the government’s austerity measures that will take effect in 2011
not themselves guarantee that similar steps will not have to be taken
in the future. The Czech president also said that if government reforms
implemented quickly, rationally and with courage, the public will
understand and support them.
In his traditional televised address, Mr Klaus also criticized organized campaigns leading to mass departures of professionals, although he did not explicitly mention Czech physicians who are threatening to leave the country in a bid to get higher salaries.