A Czech military pilot died on Thursday after his fighter plane crashed west of Kolín in central Bohemia. The pilot was returning to base from exercises when his Czech-built L 159 one-seater aircraft came down in an unpopulated area and burst into flames, a spokesperson for the General Staff told reporters. His body was found in the wreckage. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
November 22 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of one of Prague’s best-known buildings, the Municipal House (Obecní dům). A popular landmark today, its combination of the French Baroque style with Art Nouveau decoration split opinion among architects and the city’s residents at the time of its opening in 1912. The Municipal House was originally conceived as a cultural centre and it remains one, hosting concerts at its grand Smetana Hall and occasional exhibitions. It is also home to a Viennese style café and a French restaurant.
A zookeeper was attacked by a white tiger at the zoo in the north Bohemian town of Liberec on Thursday morning. He sustained head injuries but his life is not in danger, a spokesperson for the local emergency services said. Two other zoo employees were slightly hurt as they tried to rescue their colleague. After the attack, the escaped seven-year-old tiger moved about the zoo for about an hour before being tranquilised and recaptured. Liberec zoo is known for its white tigers, a rare breed believed to no longer exist in the wild.
The Ministry of the Interior is preparing to announce which of 20 aspirants to the post of president have fulfilled the requirements to win a place on the ballot in January’s first direct election. Some would-be candidates may be disqualified for having false signatures among the 50,000 minimum required to stand if they do not have the support of a party in parliament. Which aspirants have made the cut will be announced on Friday afternoon. Those denied a place on the ballot have until the middle of next week to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Speaking in Brussels just ahead of a key summit on the EU’s next seven-year budget, the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said he would fight a proposed cut in the bloc’s cohesion fund; the Czech Republic has had EUR 26.7 billion at its disposal between 2007 and 2013, with the money available to all regions except Prague. Mr. Nečas said plans to reduce that sum to EUR 19.5 billion between 2014 and 2020 were unacceptable. He said the Czech Republic, unlike a number of states, was not threatening a veto, but, he added, neither would it approve any plan whatsoever.
A regulation under which casual workers have to undergo a medical examination even if they will only hold a job for one day has been voted the “Absurdity of the Year” in a poll conducted by the business daily Hospodářské noviny. If firms hire the same person for a second day’s work at a later date they are required to get a fresh doctor’s certificate. The annual survey is intended to highlight nonsensical administrative duties forced on businesses by state agencies.
The art group Ztohoven have sparked controversy by inviting gallery goers to send anonymous mobile phone text messages to Czech politicians. Their installation Moral Reform in an exhibition at Prague’s DOX Centre of Modern Art features the mobile numbers of numerous politicians and a free, untraceable phone. One target, the minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek, told the iDnes news website that he had received hundreds of SMSes, some of them vulgar and threatening. Mr. Kalousek said, however, that he had had his number for over a decade and had no intention of changing it. Ztohoven have frequently come into conflict with the law; one member, Roman Týc, was imprisoned for a month this year after amending traffic lights to show the red and green figures in various poses.
A Czech government bill to return billions of dollars worth of property confiscated from churches under the Communist regime is set to go into effect, after the president, Václav Klaus, said that he had not vetoed it. However, neither did the president sign the legislation, saying he wished to distance himself from the plan, which has proven divisive among Czech society. Under the bill, the state will return part of the land and property seized by the Communists in the 1950s, while it will repay the rest of the original value in the form of monetary compensation over a period of 30 years. Both the Social Democrats and the Communist Party say they will take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Milan Štěch from the Social Democratic Party has been re-elected as chairman of the Czech Senate. The deputy chairpersons elected on Wednesday were Social Democrats Alena Gajdůšková and Zdeněk Škromach, along with the former senate chairman for the Civic Democrats Přemysl Sobotka. Christian Democrat senator Jiří Čunek did not receive enough votes in either of the two rounds of voting. According to the head of the Christian Democratic club in the Senate, this invalidates an agreement between the senate clubs made after the October senate elections. The club will have to find a new candidate for the position.
The bishop of the Plzeň diocese, František Radkovský, has asked legal counsel to prepare a request addressed to the Vienna auction house im Kinsky to hand over an 18th century statuette that was stolen from a church in the town of Úterý in the Plzeň region. The sculpture of a saint was stolen in December of 1991, before the Plzeň diocese was founded. The Czech clergy learned of the statuette’s whereabouts after im Kinsky announced the auction of the piece last week. The auction house took the statuette off the roster after being informed by the police that it is a stolen item.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery