Sculptor David Cerny’s “Hanging Man” causes a panic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A young man climbs up Prague’s famous astronomical clock to win a bet! And ski resorts in the south Bohemian mountain range are working around the clock to make artificial snow for Prague. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
Prefabricated blocks of flats from the housing estates inhabited largely
by Czech Romanies may be renovated, using the funds from an EU operational
programme, according to the government council for the Romany community.
The project managed by the Local Development Ministry should take place
between 2007 and 2013 in five localities with over 20,000 residents.
In related news, a new agency was set up to battle social exclusion and to improve housing conditions of Romanies. As of January 2008, the agency will conduct pilot projects in 12 Czech ghettos. It will aim to establish cooperation between authorities, NGOs and residents of the localities. There are currently over 300 ghettos in the country, mostly inhabited by Romanies, with as many as 80,000 people living in them.
The Czech Agency Against Social Exclusion whose goal is to fight against
ghettoisation will begin operating in 12 Czech towns and selected areas as
of January. The Minister in charge of minority issues and human rights,
Dzamila Stehlikova, made the announcement on Friday. The agency will
operate in six areas in Bohemia and six in Moravia. The government will
officially approve its establishment in December, Mrs Stehlikova said.
According to analysis, there are more that 300 sites populated by the poor, mostly Romanies, that need to be addressed. Up to 80,000 people live in the ghettos. Most of adult residents are jobless, leaving families dependent on social benefits, while children are often sent to “special schools” for less gifted students. The government pledged to establish the agency in its policy statement and has set aside financial means for its operation in its next year's draft budget.
According to Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, two members of the elite Czech military rapid response unit are neo-Nazi sympathisers. The newspaper revealed the names of both, as well as the name of a member of the artillery allegedly known to police for neo-Nazi activism. Mlada Fronta Dnes has written that experts consider their place in the military a serious security risk; the daily also noted that troops with extremist leanings in Czech military units could be more widespread. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova has reacted to the news by stressing that appropriate steps will be taken if neo-Nazi leanings among the soldiers are confirmed.
Remember all the fuss a few weeks ago when a neo-Nazi group tried to march through the Jewish quarter on the anniversary of Kristallnacht? That march was prevented, but led to much discussion about the size and seriousness of the neo-Nazi threat in the Czech Republic. Now a leading Czech newspaper has claimed that neo-Nazis have managed to infiltrate the Czech Armed Forces, and has the evidence to prove it.
The New York-Ukrainian rock group Gogol Bordello describe their music as “Gypsy punk”. It is perhaps appropriate then that they have hooked up with Gipsy.cz; the Czech Romany rapper has done a special remix of the track Alcohol on the Czech release of the band’s latest LP. I discussed that collaboration and more with Gogol Bordello singer Eugene Hutz.
Police involved in the clampdown on a neo-Nazi rally in Prague city centre a fortnight ago are to face legal action. Prague lawyer Klara Slamova has lodged a criminal complaint against the police force which detained several hundred neo-Nazis on their way to a protest in the city’s Jewish quarter on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Nazi pogrom. Mrs Slamova has also brought charges against Prague Mayor Pavel Bem and his deputy Rudolf Blazek. She maintains that city councillors abused their power when they banned the neo-Nazi march, and that police curtailed protestors’ personal freedom when they clamped down on the rally. The protest took place on November 10th, and led to nearly 400 arrests – both far-right extremists and anarchists were detained.
The subject of far-right extremism was also covered in the report. Its authors found that neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic were organised in small groups at regional level and did not have one strong leader. Far-right concerts and other public events decreased in number in 2006, with skinheads preferring to meet at private parties. Meanwhile, the sale of neo-Nazi paraphernalia had moved from gatherings to the internet.
This month, the first lesbian publishing house opened in the Czech Republic. LePress has a portfolio of two titles so far, both translations from American originals. The aim of the publishers is to introduce Czech lesbians to the sort of lesbian fiction that is being written overseas. The woman behind the project is Marketa Navratilova. She told Radio Prague where the idea came from:
The first lesbian publishing house in the Czech Republic has just been opened. The first books to be printed by the publishers, LePress, are two romantic novels by American authors Karen Williams and Karen Kallmaker. The aim of the publishing house, according to owner Marketa Navratilova, is to bring foreign lesbian fiction to Czech readers. At the moment, the books are only available over the internet. According to Mrs Navratilova, the initial reaction to the publishers within the Czech lesbian community has been positive.
Czech researchers develop top-grade respirator for 3D printing
Why Chinese masks destined for Italy were seized (not ‘stolen’) by Czech authorities
A mask-tree as a form of solidarity
Economist Tomáš Sedláček: A positive look at the coronavirus crisis
Government to extend restrictions on movement until April 1st