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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off

The 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off in the west Bohemian spa town on Friday night with a red-carpet ceremony at the Thermal Hotel. Among the festival’s guests this year is US actor and director Mel Gibson who is set to receive a Crystal Globe award for lifetime achievement. Seven films will have their world premieres at the festival including the Czech movies All My Tomorrows and the documentary film Magic Voice of a Rebel. The Karlovy Vary festival runs until July 12.

Social Democrats launch inner-party referendum on ballot nomination rules

The coalition Social Democrats have launched a first ever referendum on changes to the inner workings of the party. Ballots were sent to some 22.500 party members on Friday, asking them whether election candidates should be approved by all party members in their voting district, whether to introduce a 40-percent quota for women on Social Democrat ballots, and whether the party should spearhead legislative efforts to limit the number of paid public offices held by one person. Social Democrat party members have until August 3 to return the ballots. Prime Minister and party chair Bohuslav Sobotka said he hoped the vote would revive the party and attract new members.

New car registrations up by 16 pct between January and June

More than 94,000 new cars were registered in the Czech Republic in the first six months of the year, which was some 16.4 percent more than in the same period last year, according to figures released on Friday by the country’s Car Importers Association. Sales of trucks, light utility vehicles, and buses also registered an increase. Škoda remains the most popular brand in the Czech Republic with a 30-percent market share, followed by Volkswagen with 9.3 percent and Hyundai with 9.1 percent. Analysts expect car sales for the entire year will see a 5-percent annual increase. However, only 4 percent of the country’s vehicle fleet are annually renewed, one of the lowest rates in Europe, according to the Car Importers Association.

Apolinář hospital opens ward for children with alcohol and drug addictions

Apolinář hospital in Prague has opened a special ward for minors suffering from alcohol, drug or gambling addictions. A survey among doctors revealed a growing need for such a facility with 5,000 potential underage patients in Prague and central Bohemia alone. Children sample their first alcoholic beverages at around 11 years and come into contact with drugs at around 13 years of age on average. 60 percent of Czech teenagers reportedly drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Heavy storms with hail to hit parts of Czech Republic

Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms with hail and torrential rain that will hit parts of the Czech Republic on Saturday. The storms should first reach southeast and southwest Czech Republic and move towards northeast across central and eastern Bohemia and the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. Rivers and streams in the affected areas are likely to swell and possibly flood roads, streets and houses, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute said on Friday.

Tens of thousands expected at Cyril and Methodius celebration

Up to 30,000 pilgrims from the Czech Republic and abroad are expected to mark the anniversary of Saints Cyril and Methodius at Velehrad, in South Moravia, over the weekend, the news website novinky.cz reported. The event, commemorating the Christian missionaries, kicks off on Friday with a concert; on Saturday, Cardinal Dominik Duka and Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner will celebrate a mass at the Velehrad basilica. The Byzantine brothers Cyril and Methodius arrived in Great Moravia in 863, preaching the Gospel in a Slavic language.

Czech scientists patent new method of neck, head cancer treatment

Scientists from Prague’s Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences have patented a new method of biological treatment of neck and head cancer, the head of the research team, Karel Smetana from Charles University said. The method, which is much less devastating for patients than those currently in use, is based on supressing the activity of genes that convey information between cancer cells and connective tissue cells in areas affected by tumours. If clinical tests confirm the method’s effectiveness, it could be introduced in some 10 or 15 years’ time, the scientists said.

Police: Suicide attempt behind Havířov gas blast

The police have charged a 47-year-old man over a gas explosion that occurred in the north-eastern town Havířov on Monday. Investigators believe the man set fire to gas in his apartment which resulted in a blast that damaged the building. No one else was injured in the incident but the police said at the lives of least 12 people were at risk. If convicted, the man would face up to eight years in prison.

Czech police arrest three men suspected of dealing with terrorists

The Czech police have arrested three men suspected of cooperating with terrorists who are wanted by the US authorities. The two African and one Ukrainian national are in custody in Prague. The three reportedly attempted to sell drugs and weapons to the tune of 160 million crowns to two undercover US agents posing as Colombian terrorists. The suspects face charges of drug-trafficking, money laundering and illegal arms trafficking.

Czechs knocked out of Wimbledon doubles

Czech Republic’s Radek Štepánek and Leander Paes of India were knocked out of Wimbledon doubles after they lost to the Canadian-US pair Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the tournament’s semi-finals on Friday. In the semi-finals of ladies doubles, the Czech-Chinese pair Andrea Hlaváčková, Jie Zheng lost to the Italians Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-2.