Barbora Špotáková, specialist in the javelin, has been named Czech Athlete of the Year for the sixth year running, recognition for her gold medal win at the London Olympics this summer as well as her top finish in the Diamond League. The award, in its 50th year, is decided by athletics officials, trainers and sports journalists. Athletes Zuzana Hejnová and Vítězslav Veselý came in 2nd and 3rd.
Customs officials have revealed they arrested two 18-year-old foreigners this week attempting to smuggle roughly eight kilos of cocaine into the Czech Republic. Jiří Barták, the spokesman for the Customs Administration’s central office, revealed the amount the young women were smuggling had been estimated at around 12 million crowns in street value, with one gram selling for 1,500. The suspects, from Iceland, flew from Brazil through Germany and hid the cocaine in hollow parts of their luggage and smaller cases, the spokesman confirmed.
Four people were killed in an amateur automobile race in the Slovácko area in the Czech Republic on Saturday. At around two pm near the village of Lopeník – in a race known as RallyShow Uherský Brod – one of the cars in the race flew off the road and hit a tree before being deflected into onlookers. One of those killed was a child. Police and fire fighters have sent experts to the scene to provide post-trauma counselling. The tragedy, which echoes a similar incident in the Barum Rally at the beginning of September which saw one fatality, is being investigated.
Czech President Václav Klaus reiterated his stance on the European Union and further integration on Friday in a lecture at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague. In a hall packed with students, the president, relishing the chance to speak on academic soil, criticised this year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU, arguing the reasoning behind cause-and-effect was faulty. In his view the EU exists because there is peace in Europe and not because it was a guarantor of it. Mr Klaus, long opposed to further EU integration, argued that further integration was no guarantee of greater economic prosperity, calling it a “dead end”. Mr Klaus steps down as Czech president next March; 11 candidates will face off in a first round in the country’s direct presidential election in January.
Lawyers for Czech lobbyist and businessman Roman Janoušek say they have signed a settlement with the victim of a hit-and-run caused by their client in March. Although no amount has been disclosed, the settlement is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of crowns: several times more the damages assessed by the victim’s physicians. In March, Mr Janoušek struck the victim – a 51-year-old woman – in Prague as he attempted to drive away from the scene of a minor accident he had caused moments earlier. Police determined he had been drinking behind the wheel. If found guilty, Mr Janoušek faces up to 10 years in jail; the settlement could influence the severity of the sentence.
The region of Zlín, south Moravia, represented by Governor Stanislav Mišák and the governor of the Yaroslavl oblast in Russia, Sergei Yastrebov, signed an agreement on Friday promising close cooperation in the future. The move coincided with a memorial hockey game between Zlín and Yaroslavl honouring members of the team and others killed in last year’s Lokomotiv Jaroslavl air disaster. The crash claimed the lives of 44 people, including three Czech players. One of them, Karel Rachůnek, was a Zlín native. Areas where the regions of Zlín and Yaroslavl could cooperate in the future include tourism, the spa business, agriculture, industry, and job creation.
The militaries of NATO member countries should cooperate more after the ISAF mission ends in Afghanistan in 2014, Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Saturday. He stressed that member countries must not give up their own defence at the time of financial cuts. Deeper cooperation would help NATO members retain their military capabilities, he added. The three-day session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which is a counselling body, began Friday. Committees consisting of delegates from the parliaments of allied countries are discussing current security challenges and international affairs.
Fire fighters are keeping a close eye on a blaze that broke out at a dumpsite in the region of Liberec, north Bohemia, preventing it from spreading to similar nearby facilities. Burning in a sheet metal hall are between 2,500 to 3,000 tonnes of textiles thought to originally have been from Germany. Experts estimate that it will take two or three days for the fire to run its course. The fire broke out on Friday afternoon and spread rapidly throughout the hall, the mayor of Bulovka, the village hosting the dumpsite, confirmed. The mayor refused to speculate whether the fire had been set intentionally. The hall is 60 by 20 metres; textiles inside are piled five or six metres high. According to experts the temperature inside is over 1000 degrees Celsius.
An Emirates flight from Dubai to Amsterdam made an unscheduled landing at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Friday morning after a passenger collapsed on board, a spokeswoman for the airport said. Emergency teams tried to revive the passenger after landing, which occurred at 11.25, but she was pronounced dead soon afterwards. The plane left for its original destination at 13:15.
The High Court in Prague on Friday asked the lower house of Parliament to strip Civic Democrat MP Roman Pekárek of his immunity so that he can take part in a court appeals hearing. Mr Pekárek, who only became MP on Wednesday after he replaced a party colleague of his who stepped down, had previously been sentenced to six years in prison in connection with bribery during his time as deputy mayor of Kolín. The embattled MP on Friday requested that his party membership be suspended, the head of the Civic Democrat deputy group, Zbyněk Stanjura, said.
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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