Last Week – 2/2010

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said goodbye to the function of Archbishop of Prague by having lunch with the homeless. The Spaniards took over the EU Presidency from the Swedes. Ivan Medek died. The media reported that a Jordanian doctor and al-Qaeda double agent had killed seven CIA operatives in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, and the CIA called it a “catastrophe whose impact on the war on terror would be extremely difficult to reconcile.”

“Al-Qaeda drew a new breath,” a headline in the local press commented on the event. Prague-Ruzyně Airport tightened security measures after a Nigerian al-Qaeda member’s failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-operated Airbus flying from Amsterdam to Detroit using a bomb smuggled on board in his underwear.

“We have reached the limit in the number of people controlling passengers. Now it’s time for new technology,” said Prague Airport security director Martin Hlava, explaining why passengers will have to submit to security screenings via a “strip search” scanner. Octavia sales overtook Fabia sales. Thanks to the efforts of tireless road workers delivering artificial snow to the city center, the third annual Tour de Ski cross-country ski race took place in Prague. “Czech industry is growing again. But barely,” a Hospodářské noviny headline informed readers. Domestic entrepreneurs concluded that the recession is not over yet and announced that salaries would not rise this year. President Václav Klaus signed the 2010 state budget with a record deficit of 163 billion crowns. The number of mortgage defaults increased and the government rejected a proposal under which the state would help the unemployed make their payments. The price of gasoline went up. News agencies reported that in an attempt to suppress large-scale anti-regime protests, police had killed at least eight citizens demonstrating in the streets of Iranian cities for an end to the reign of dictatorial ayatollahs. Avatar burst into cinemas.

“We chose a symbolic date – the Epiphany and, what’s more, exactly 33 years since we published Charter 77,” the first Czech President Václav Havel explained to journalists why he, Václav Malý and Pavel Landovský tried to deliver a petition to the Chinese Embassy in Prague on January 6, 2010, condemning the recent sentencing of Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo to eleven years’ imprisonment for “subverting” China’s communist regime; embassy officials refused to take the petition from the three Charter 77 ambassadors. Beer flowed through the streets of Příbor when a truck filled with kegs crashed. Anti-Nazi resistance heroine Freya von Moltke died in Vermont at the age of 98. The new Penal Code took effect. “What would you wish for yourself and for others in 2010?” the Czech daily MF Dnes asked prominent politicians in a poll.

“I wish we’d have fewer Rychlíks to ruin our lives,” replied former Minister of Culture and current MP for the Social Democrats Vítězslav Jandák, who was angry that stage and film director Břetislav Rychlík had written and published a satirical essay about him shortly before the poll. A 19-year-old snake-breeder fought for his life in the Přerov Hospital after being bitten by a viper while cleaning its terrarium. Two homeless men died near the hot water pipes under the bridge on the outskirts of Frydek-Mistek while attempting to get drunk on antifreeze for cars. Google arrived on the Czech cell phone market. The Environment Ministry postponed its verdict on whether the power giant ČEZ will have to heed Greenpeace’s call for it to abide by the law and use the latest – and thus also most expensive – technology in reconstructing the Prunéřov Nuclear Power Plant; ČEZ rejects the demand, as its management does not deem replacing boilers and turbines for nearly 30 billion crowns major reconstruction and therefore contends that the legal requirement of using the best available technology does not apply. A faulty gas flow-heater killed a man in Dolní Bělá. Chaos surrounding the collection of tolls in Slovakia clogged the Czech-Slovak border. Believing he was taking aim at a wild beast, a hunter shot a fellow huntsman in the back near the village of Bedrč, causing him serious injury. Moravia was blanketed in snow. Lipna Reservoir’s ice cover thickened, and authorities announced that it would be strong enough to carry a soldier and horse with full armor. A survey revealed that the number of “very happy people” in the Czech Republic had doubled over the 17-year period from 1991-2008. A patient kicked another patient to death in a closed ward of the psychiatric clinic in Prague-Karlov. Fifty years passed since the death of Albert Camus. Twin Peaks started airing on television.