Hello and welcome to a special programme celebrating the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Charles was born in 1316, and reigned as Emperor from 1385 until his death in 1378 at the age of 62. During his reign, Charles put Prague on the map as a major royal seat of power, as well as a major centre of culture. He founded Charles University, and also started construction on Prague’s famous eponymous bridge. He also established a number of castles, including the famous Karlštejn Castle near Prague.
With the arrival of spring the country’s many castles and chateaux open to visitors, offering exhibitions, concerts and theatre performances in period dress. This year the events are particularly colorful paying tribute to the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. I spoke to Simona Juračková of the National Heritage Institute to find out more.
Air pollution is reported to have worsened severely in Moravia and Silesia in the past 24 hours with the concentration of dust particles exceeding permitted norms at all monitoring stations in the regions. The authorities are watching the situation closely and may ask big industrial firms to scale down production. The problem is also aggravated by coal heating which is widespread in the area. Moravia and Silesia have a persisting problem with air pollution in the winter months and there are medical studies proving that this is affecting the health of the population including newborns.
Smog alert has been declared in seven out of the country’s 14 regions. The areas worst affected by air pollution include the north-eastern Moravian-Silesian region, as well as Central Bohemia and the northern Ústí region. However, levels of dust in the air have meanwhile decreased in most parts of the country. Meteorologists believe pollution levels should further decrease early next week with the expected arrival of stronger winds and higher precipitation.
There has been a significant increase in the number of flu cases around the country. The number of people admitted to hospitals with the H1N1 strain of the flu has risen several-fold with the Plzen region reporting an epidemic and the Moravian and Silesian regions reporting a 32 percent increase in the number of flu patients. Many hospitals have closed their doors to visitors and the health authorities are urging elderly and chronically ill people to get a flu shot while there is still time. Only around five percent of Czechs get vaccinated against the flu.
Two more victims of methanol poisoning have been hospitalized in the region of Moravia-Silesia. A 60-year-old man was admitted in critical condition on Thursday morning. A 64-year-old man who had been drinking with him was also hospitalised later on, making the 33rd case of methanol poisoning in that region alone. With 17 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in September, Moravia-Silesia has been the region hardest hit. Starting Thursday, a ban was imposed on the sale of Tuzemák rum produced by Czech company Likérka Drak and distributed by Verdana, after 7,600 bottles of Tuzemák rum containing 50 percent of methanol were discovered in a warehouse belonging to Verdana.
The location of the Czech-Polish-Slovak tri-border can be described in a number of ways. Geographically, it’s in the Beskydy mountain range. Politically, it’s Silesia, the oft-forgotten “third” region of the Czech Republic, a strip of mixed Czech, Polish, German and Jewish heritage straddling the north-east border. 20th century conflict though renamed southern Silesia “Zaolzie”, a Polish-perspective place name that means “beyond the Olza River”. 21st century reality though has left the names Poland, Slovakia or the Czech Republic with little real
Czech meteorologists have issued flood warnings for the Regions of Liberec and Ústí nad Labem, where heavy rainfall is expected on Sunday. Alerts have also been issued for the regions of Moravia-Silesia. Current forecasts for the mountain regions expect between 25 and 110 mm of rain between Sunday and Monday. Meteorologists say there is a chance of level one inundation levels in isolated cases.
The Social Democrat leader of the South Moravian region Michal Hašek has strengthened his bid to become the leader of the party after party meetings in four regions on Saturday. Mr. Hašek won support from two of the regions, Zlín and Ústí with Moravia and Silesia refusing to make and recommendation and Plzeň backing both himself and his main rival Bohuslav Sobotka. Delegates from the regions will vote for a new leader at a meeting in Brno in March. Former party leader and prime minister Jiří Paroubek stepped down after elections to the lower house of parliament at the end of May when results fell well short of expectations and the party was not able to take the lead in forming a coalition.