The 18th annual CIAF international aviation festival in the city of Hradec Králové attracted thousands of visitors over the weekend. The two-day event is the largest exhibition of military aviation technology in the Czech Republic with planes of all categories on display, from transporters to turboprops and jets from 11 countries. The highlight of the event was an air show by acrobatics pilots such as Breitling Jet stream from France, the Czech Republic’s Flying Bulls or the Baltic Bees Jet Team.
Hundreds of tourists gathered around Prague’s famous astronomical clock on Saturday night for an audio-visual programme video-mapping the highlights of Czech history on the clock tower. The show, similar to that organized last year to mark the clock’s 600 birthday, will become a regular feature over the next seven weeks and can be seen on Saturdays between 8 and 10pm. The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. Later, presumably around 1490, a calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.
A newborn baby girl who was found in one of Brno’s baby boxes on Saturday is reported to be doing well. Doctors said the baby had been abandoned shortly after what was clearly a home birth. The baby has been named Eve, after the doctor who was on duty at the time of her arrival, and the authorities are waiting to see whether she will not be reclaimed by her biological mother before launching adoption proceedings. She is the 54th child to be placed in a baby box since they were introduced in the Czech Republic in 2005. There are now 44 of them in operation.
Toxicologists have warned people not to risk their lives by picking mushrooms they do not know. On average up to 500 Czechs end up in hospital every summer with more or less serious symptoms of mushroom poisoning. The national laboratory for toxins, says it now gets on average five specimen of mushrooms a day from hospitals requesting information about the type of poisoning involved. Mushroom picking is a national pastime in the Czech Republic with hundreds of people heading for the forest every day. Toxicologists say storing mushrooms in plastic bags, even for a few hours, can also result in serious health complications.
The Czech Republic’s national football team drew 2:2 with Scotland on Saturday in their Euro 2012 qualifier. Twice the Czechs came back from a goal down, the second time on a penalty kick. In the 90th minute, Michal Kadlec sent the ball just under the crossbar, giving the Scottish keeper no chance and allowing the Czechs to earn a point from the game. The draw means the Czech Republic still has a chance to finish second behind Spain in group I, with the possibility of qualifying for the European Championship in the playoff round.
A series of quakes reaching 3,5 points on the Richter scale were registered overnight in the west of the country. The quake’s epicentre was near the town of Nový Kostel which experienced smaller tremors about a week ago. No injuries or damages are reported. Seismologists say there may be more small quakes in the coming days, but they are not expected to exceed 4 points on the Richter scale or do serious damage. The area is known for minor seismic activity, though the current quakes are the strongest in 100 years.
Police are out in force in the town of Varnsdorf which has witnessed growing ethnic tension between the majority population and the Roma minority. For the second day in a row hundreds of people took to the streets to protest against rising crime and the presence of the Romany minority in the town. Public anger reached a head following several serious incidents of racially motivated violence and street wars between Romany gangs. The local authorities are struggling to deal with the situation and there is concern that neo-Nazis could turn it in their favour.
A 36-year old woman who is believed to have killed her four children before attempting to commit suicide on Friday has reportedly regained consciousness in a Hradec Králové hospital, but doctors say she is in no condition to be questioned by police. The woman’s live-in partner came upon the scene of the tragedy on returning home from a trip. The four children, aged between 2 months and 8 years, had all been stabbed and bore the marks of strangulation. The woman, who is the prime suspect, had tried to hang herself in the barn. The tragedy is the worst in the country’s criminal history.
The website WikiLeaks on Friday released a large number of unedited US diplomatic cables relating to the Czech Republic. According to the daily Lidové noviny, which has published a number of excerpts in its Saturday edition, the cables refer to corruption in the Czech Republic and report that Marek Dalík, a close aide to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, solicited a huge bribe from the Austrian weapons manufacturer Steyr. One of the cables is a lowdown on President Vaclav Klaus ahead of his official visit to the US in which he is described as “instinctively pro-American, but unafraid to criticize, a man overly proud of his intellect who likes stirring up controversy. ” Five prominent news organizations including the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel magazine have condemned the website for making more than 250,000 sensitive diplomatic cables public.
Three comic strips reflecting the life of the Romany minority in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have just hit bookshelves in France, published by the Ca et La publishing house. The work of Romany students, the strips are “documentary” in character and tell the life-stories of a 60-year-old ailing and poverty-stricken Romany man, a 12 year-old Romany girl from Prague and a 45-year-old Romany woman who spent most of her life in various Romany settlements in Slovakia. The work was co-financed by the European Cultural Fund.