The Vrtbovský palace in Prague’s Lesser Town district, which also used to belong to the Thurn und Taxis noble family, will be reconstructed into a university building after more than a decade of standing vacant. Prague 1 authorities will invest 143 million crowns in the reconstruction of the building, which will be rented out to the private Anglo-American University, which already occupies a number of buildings in the surrounding area. The Thurn-Taxis or Vrtbovský palace was built at the end of the 17th century and belonged to a number of European noble families.
The American internet shopping giant Amazon will set up its Central European distribution center in the small town of Dobrovíz near Prague’s Václav Havel airport, according to the E15 daily. Most likely, Amazon will build a new 1,000-square meter space with the help of the developer company Panattoni, which already has a large storage complex in Dobrovíz. Although neither Panattoni nor Amazon have confirmed the deal, the only other company competing for this contract told E15 that they are out of the running. Amazon is planning to employ around 1,000 people in its new distribution center, which it plans to open in a year’s time.
Two Czech mountain climbers have been missing in the Himalayas since last week. Jakub Vaněk from Plzeň and Petr Machold from Teplice attempted to scale the Baruntse mountain, which is next to mount Everest, earlier this month. The climbers wanted to reach the 7,162-meter summit from the west side, which has only been done successfully once before by a Russian expedition in 1997. According to Vaněk and Machold’s two Czech colleagues, they began the ascent on 9 October in good weather conditions, but in the next few days heavy snow caught them in the second camp. The bad weather did not permit for air evacuation right away, but when the helicopters arrived at the camp on 18 October, the rescue team found only a torn up tent with no people in sight. It is yet not clear if and how the search for the missing climbers will continue.
In one of the biggest drug busts in Czech history, the police have arrested six members of a drug gang, which produced methamphetamines in the Czech Republic on a large scale. Two Czechs and four Vietnamese nationals have already been charged. They were also able to secure 14 kilograms of the methamphetamine called Pervitin, around 100 kilograms of a substances used to make it, and some five tones of toxic waste from the production of the drugs. In total four laboratories in Prague, South Bohemian and Karlovy Vary regions were raided and the police say some of them produced dozens of kilograms of Pervitin per day. A large part of the drugs produced in these labratories was heading for Germany.
The Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright is due to perform at Prague’s grand Estates Theatre on Monday night as part of this year’s Struny Podzimu (Strings of Autumn) music festival. It will be the flamboyant musician’s first appearance in the Czech capital. The 18th century Estates Theatre is most famous as the venue where Mozart conducted the world premiere of his Don Giovanni.
The deputy governor of the Czech National Bank, Mojmír Hampl, is one of the 18 European economists who have put together a manifesto that calls for the division of the Euozone. According to the document, the current model of the Euozone threatens the existence of the European Union and its common market. The group of economists claim that the strongest countries in the Eurozone should leave it, and at the same time a new European mechanism to coordinate currency policies and avoid future currency wars.
The Czech Republic may lose at least 1.1 billion crowns from EU structural funds, because of the failure of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry to use up the money allocated to the Human Resources and Employment program. The outgoing Labor Minister František Koníček told journalists on Monday that part of the undrawn funds could be used by the Interior Ministry. Some of the problems with drawing EU funds developed as a result of some of the projects, such as for example the social benefits S-Card project, having been stopped or changed.
The Czech soccer star Petr Čech played his 300th game for Chelsea on Saturday, helping the London club to a 4:1 win over Cardiff. The goalkeeper, who is 31, has won a slew of trophies with Chelsea since joining them in 2004, including the Champions League. Čech has 105 caps for the Czech national team.
The acting chairman of the right-wing Civic Democrats, Martin Kuba, says his party could enter a coalition government with the Social Democrats. He told TV station Prima that similar alliances had been forged in recent times in the neighbouring states of Austria and Germany. However, the Civic Democrats’ election leader, Miroslava Němcová, said she could not envisage such a coalition. The Social Democrats have ruled it out entering a cabinet with either her party or the other main right-wing party, TOP 09.
The Czech Republic has the third worst situation in Europe when it comes to modern slavery, according to a report by the Walk Free Foundation. The human rights group says there are almost 38,000 people in the country who can be regarded as modern-day slaves. The Walk Free Foundation includes in its definition of modern slavery forced work, the sale or abuse of children, debt bondage in which children are forced to work for adults to whom their parents owe money and trafficking in people. In Europe, only Albania and Montenegro received a lower rating in the Global Slavery Index, while Hungary tied with the Czech Republic in third.