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Roundup of 2009

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News agencies reported that the Hubble telescope had spotted the cosmic “Hand of God” 17,000 light years away from Earth. The Virgin Mary appeared before thousands of people gathered in Prague’s Chodov amphitheater. The Czech Republic’s foreign debt vaulted over the one-trillion-crown mark. The Czech Republic presided over the European Union for half a year. “Like Charles IV once did, I, too, want to defend the interests of Europe, not just the Czech Republic,” Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told members of the European Parliament on the occasion. An unidentified vandal knocked off the toes on the front paws of the “dragon” hanging beneath Brno’s Old Town Hall. Four Czech neo-Nazis threw Molotov cocktails into a Roma family’s house in Vítkov, causing a fire, which in turn caused burns all over the body of a two-year-old girl, who proceeded to fight for her life in an Ostrava hospital for the next eight months. Marek Edelman passed away. The city of Humpolec granted honorary citizenship to Ivan Martin Jirous. “Good, because I depend on it,” Dutchwoman Maryze Schoneveld van der Linde, 39, who has had a rare neuromuscular disorder, Pompe disease, for years and whose life-sustaining drug costs nine million crowns annually, replied when asked by the Czech newspapers, “How does it feel to use such an expensive drug?” A coalition comprised of the Social Democrats, the Communists and several defectors from the Civic Democratic and Green parties, all led by President Václav Klaus, overthrew the government in the middle of the Czech presidency of the European Union. “The unexpected fall of Topolánek’s cabinet added weight to France’s arguments that small and ill-prepared countries are unsuitable for presiding over the strongest economic power in the world,” the Financial Times assessed the event. Jan Fischer, former head of the Czech Statistical Office, was appointed Prime Minister of the interim government. The Czech Republic adopted the Lisbon Treaty. “Thus a civilization question lends itself: What does it say about our society that, even twenty years after the Velvet Revolution, the biggest program on new digital television broadcasting is the old series about the major*s political police force?* editor Jan Pot**ek remarked about the fact that a record two and a half percent of the adult population in the Czech Republic watched the communist secret police series Thirty Cases of Major Zeman on the Barrandov digital TV station. A memorial to the heroes who assassinated Nazi leader and Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich was unveiled in Prague 67 years after the historic event. The Czech Republic expelled two spies from the Russian Embassy, and the Czech intelligence service (BIS) stated in its annual report that Russia is infiltrating local political structures and “returning to Cold War practices.” It became clear that nuclear-arms-building Iran has a precise missile – the Sajjil 2 – that can carry bombs all the way to Europe. New U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama abandoned his predecessor George Bush’s plans to build a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic’s Brdy Hills. “We are heading towards a mass extinction of marine ecosystems, at a pace not seen since the dinosaurs,” the press cited biologist Carol Turley of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, speaking at a scientific conference in Copenhagen; the biggest news from the conference was a collective warning from scientists that global warming and its consequences are generally much worse than previously thought and that many island nations are in danger of disappearing even faster than their populations had previously feared. Jakub Tomeš from *eská T*ebova became the first armless Czech in history to obtain a driving license. Thousands of people gathered on Národní t*ída in Prague to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Communist regime and the advent of freedom. Pope Benedict XVI visited Brno. The law school in Pilsen was found to have bestowed degrees upon politicians and celebrities for completely plagiarized dissertations. By allocating 25 billion crowns for modern boilers and insulating residential buildings, the Czech government launched a massive stimulus program titled “Green Savings.” A bird-counting effort revealed that the Czech Republic had lost ten million birds over the past three decades. Herman Van Rompuy became the first president of the European Union. “It’s better not to spend so much time on judging ourselves,” said business consultant, IT expert and Italian Buddhist monk Yeshe Silvano Namkhai when asked by Lidové noviny, “Do you think it’s good to take meditation breaks during work?” Centuries after his death, Rabbi Loew appeared at the Prague Castle.

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