The annual Mene Tekel festival began in Prague on Monday. In its seventh year, the festival commemorates political prisoners from the 1950’s and points to the dangers of totalitarian regimes. Mene Tekel is comprised of a number of exhibits, film screenings, discussions and meetings with former dissidents and prominent figures. One of the exhibits, entitled Letters from Siberia Written on Birch Bark, chronicles the tragic moments of Latvian history in the 20th Century.
The famous singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen will appear at Prague’s O2 arena on 21 July as part of his 2013 Old Ideas World Tour. Sazka will be selling the tickets for the concert starting on 1 March. The singer’s latest album was at the top of the Czech charts last year. His last live concert in Prague was in 2009, which was attended by thousands of fans.
The oldest gorilla living in the Prague zoo survived serious complications during childbirth on Sunday, although the baby did not survive. The 40-year-old Kamba had already had a complicated birth six years ago, when her life was in danger and the baby also did not survive. A team of veterinarians and human doctors were on-call around the clock for the past two months, since the childbirth was expected to be complicated and potentially dangerous to Kamba’s health.
Air pollution in the Moravian-Silesian region in the north-east of the country exceeded permitted levels on Sunday. All measuring stations in the region reported excessive levels of particulate matter in the air; the area of Frýdek Místek has been most affected, according to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. The region is one the most polluted in Europe, mainly due to heavy industry, traffic and the use of household furnaces. Meteorologists don’t expect the situation to improve in the coming days.
Up to 16 cm of fresh snow fell in the Czech Republic on Saturday, disrupting traffic in most parts of the country. Hundreds of road accidents occurred over the weekend which killed three people and left dozens of injured. Most roads continue to be covered with snow and ice on Sunday, mainly in the elevated Vysočina region; the authorities have asked drivers to take extra care or stay off the roads if they can as more snow is expected in the western part of the country. Two flights from Prague’s Václav Havel Airport have been cancelled.
The Czech Education Ministry has come up with new legislation that should curb the practice of placing disproportionately high number of Roma children in special schools, the news website idnes.cz reported on Sunday. The Czech Republic has been consistently criticized for including many Roma children into programmes for children with light mental disabilities. The new legislation will oblige school directors to report the number of pupils in such programmes, a statistics that is now not available. The ministry also wants to increase control over institutions diagnosing schoolchildren, and introduce standards to make sure only mentally disabled children are included in the programmes. The new legislation should come into force in July.
Czech hospitals have registered little interest in “above-standard” care and services since January 2012 when new legislation allowed them to offer such options for extra fees, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. Few patients are willing to pay more for higher-quality contact lenses, lighter plaster casts, some vaccines or another 15 items approved by the Health Ministry. Most of those willing to pay extra do so to be able to get better rooms during their hospital stays. The ministry estimates that nationwide, between 30 and 40 million crowns was collected for “above-standard” services, a small fraction of annual health care costs that amount to around 300 billion.
The Czech cinematographers’ association handed out their annual awards in Prague on Saturday. The prize for best camera in feature film went to Marek Jícha for the movie Love is Love while Petr Koblovský won the award for best camera in TV film for the film Applause. Petr Polách, who died last year, was recognized for his life-time contribution to cinematography.
The police have arrested a man who injured a doctor in a hospital in Tábor, in southern Bohemia, a spokesman said on Sunday. The incident took place on Friday, when the patient assaulted the doctor, stabbing him with a knife. The attacker then ran away but was detained a few hours later. The man, who was reported to be in poor mental state, was taken to a Prague psychiatric hospital.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych lost 6-3, 6-7, 4-6 to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final of ATP tournament in Marseilles on Sunday. The Czech, ranked sixth in the world, failed to win his first title of the season despite earning a match point in the tie-break of the second set. Meanwhile, the leading Czech woman player, Petra Kvitova, won her first title this season after she beat Italy’s Sara Errani 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 in the final of a WTA tournament in Dubai on Saturday.