The German embassy in Prague will open its doors to schoolchildren and other visitors on Thursday to mark 25 years since communism in Europe began to collapse. The embassy will recall what grew into a flood of East German refugees in 1989 travelling to Prague and climbing over the then-West German embassy walls to escape totalitarianism. By September, thousands had done so, camping on the embassy grounds, before they were allowed to seek refuge in West Germany. The embassy will be open to the public on Thursday afternoon and will see discussions with former East Germans who fled, former officials who helped them, and others including author Jaroslav Rudiš and artist David Černý.
More than three-quarters of Czech parents share the opinion that their children do not get enough hours learning foreign languages both at the primary and secondary school levels, according to a new poll conducted by Data Collect. Two-thirds of those questioned also said the quality of teaching languages was erratic, varying from teacher to teacher and upon methods used. Many consequently sign their children up for afterschool lessons or find other means of bolstering learning. Of those who took part in the survey, a full 80 percent said they preferred when teachers of English used only English in the classroom. Ninety-seven percent said they wanted their children to learn English first as a second language, followed by German, Russian, French and Spanish. Two percent of parents said learning Chinese was important.
The country’s health and social care unions are pushing for a pay increase next year of five percent, rejecting the 3.5 percent promised by the government. At a press conference Wednesday, union representatives pointed to the low wages earned by those who care for the elderly or disabled, warning of a worsening of quality. Union leader Dagmar Žitníková charged that long term the situation had only grown worse, saying that jobs in the social services were among the most poorly paid. According to Žitníková, government cuts, higher VAT and the weakening of the Czech crown had all affected the sector negatively.
More than 300 police officers on Wednesday have been taking part in an extensive search operation in the area of Louny in the hopes of finding clues in several ongoing missing person cases. It is the largest such operation in the Ústí region in two years. The search is primarily for the body of Jana Pourová, a mother-of-four who disappeared in February 2013. Her husband is suspected of her murder but police have not been able to gather evidence to press charges. Two men in the Louny area have also been missing since 2010 and 2011. Along with sniffer dogs, police are relying on a remote-controlled helicopter drone, complete with a camera, to scan hard-to-reach terrain.
The American film I Origins will open the upcoming 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival organisers have announced. Top guests will include actor Michael Pitt, actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, and director Mike Cahill. The science fiction film, awarded at Sundance this year, tells the story of a molecular biologist who makes a significant and unexpected discovery. Actor Michael Pitt returns to Karlovy Vary after nine years: he also attended back in 2005 when the Gus Van Sant film Last Days, inspired in part by the life and death of rock star Kurt Cobain, was screened.
Ten people were injured on Wednesday in a bus crash shortly before noon in the area of Nový Jičín. A police spokesman confirmed that not far from a local recreation site the bus went off the road and flipped over. One of the injured was trapped inside and had to be freed by an emergency crew. A helicopter was also sent to the scene.
The Regional Veterinary Authority in Ostrava found no evidence on Tuesday of negligence on the part of the Princ circus in the death of a sea lion it was transporting. The animal died en route during a major heat wave this week. A second specimen survived but had to be cooled with water. Both animals were being transferred in dry tanks. There are indications that the animal that died had a heart problem. Although there are no “maximum limits” regarding daytime temperatures the veterinary authority said he personally would have postponed the transport of the animals until the heat wave had passed. Temperatures in the Czech Republic in recent days have soared well over 30 degrees Celsius.
Austrian and Czech police are searching for a 38-year-old Plzeň resident and his two sons aged six and ten. The man faces several criminal charges, including kidnapping. The father of two chose to ignore an Austrian court ruling granting custody of the children to their mother. She has not seen her sons since last June while an Austrian official saw them in mid-February. The police have issued information such as license plate numbers of the suspect's vehicles, a Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, asking the public for help in trying to pinpoint his location. Police suspect the man remains in the Plzeň area.
The chairman of the Czech Football Association, Miroslav Pelta, says the country’s failure to reach the World Cup in Brazil has cost Czech soccer at least CZK 300 million. Speaking in Wednesday’s edition of Mladá fronta Dnes, Mr. Pelta said a third of that sum would have been spent on participation in the competition, but the rest would have gone to the Czech FA. He said the team, then managed by Michal Bílek, had failed to qualify from a relatively easy group because they had lost points in home games.
The Czech rock band Lucie played to an audience of 16,000 at Prague’s O2 Arena on Tuesday night in the first of three consecutive concerts at the venue. Tickets for the opening show sold out within hours. Lucie, who were one of the biggest Czech groups in the 1990s and ceased activities in 2004, are in the middle of a comeback tour that is expected to see them perform to more than 100,000 people.