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Respekt Weekly Round-up

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Last Week – 12/2010

After snow and frost, the thaw came. Temperatures rose to fifteen degrees Celsius. Larks and starlings arrived. Price growth slowed, and economists informed the public that there would be inflation this year. “Unacceptable, atrocious, crazy,” said Prime Minister Jan Fischer, commenting on the fact that unknown perpetrators hurled a Molotov cocktail into a Roma family’s house in Ostrava; this arson attack – the fourth on Roma residents in Ostrava in the last year – failed because a 13-year-old girl managed to extinguish the wick when the fire bomb landed in her bedroom after being tossed in through a closed window. The ministry of education proposed that Romani be taught as an elective subject in Czech schools. The Czech Medical Chamber began working on an apology to Czech Jewish citizens for a memorandum that pure-blooded Czech doctors and lawyers drafted in October 1938 – six months before the Nazi occupation –requesting that the government officially ban the Jews in Bohemia from working in the medical and legal professions. Radical and moderate admirers of Stalin had a falling out at the congress of the Union of Young Communists in Prague.

“When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to lie his way out of it, he told the police that he just happened to be cleaning out his car as we drove past, and he got away with only a small fine,” driver Taťána Welchová told MF Dnes, describing how the famous hockey player Petr Nedvěd was made to pay for throwing PET bottles and caps from the window of his Ferrari onto Mrs. Welchová’s car as he hurled insults at her, apparently because she was driving the speed limit and thereby forced Nedvěd to slow down; MF Dnes found that Prague City Hall’s transport department did not punish the famous athlete for his traffic offeneses at all and that this also true of numerous other prominent figures.

“We’ll have to have a look and see who is doing the squealing; those people usually end up like Judas,” replied Jaroslav Opletal, who heads Prague City Hall’s administrative proceedings department, when asked by MF Dnes journalists why Prague authorities penalize ordinary people for their infractions but not the famous and powerful; City Hall later dismissed Opletal for his statement. The Czech Republic’s population reached ten and a half million. Scientists from the Institute of Molecular Genetics, Czech Academy of Sciences, discovered a promising new cancer drug: milk thistle extract, which prevents tumors from absorbing nutritive blood vessels around it, and thus eventually causes the starving tumor to wither away. Chomutov City Hall instituted a ban on drinking alcoholic beverages in public around the city.

“I do not intend to examine any more closely whether Czech Railways’ Director Petr Žaluda is gay or not, and would leave that up to those who know him from his last job,” Jaromír Dušek, of the railway employees’ union leader, sent word to the press after recently revealing in Lidové noviny that Czech Railways and the ministry of transport are run by a group of gay men, in whose proximity he – Mr. Dušek – is “afraid to bend over for a pencil.” Czechs started saving. The defense ministry posted online an interactive world map showing the exact final resting place of 18,274 Czech soldiers who died during the First and Second World Wars. Prince Charles arrived in the Czech Republic as part of his tour to promote green technology throughout Central Europe.

“It is not the love of birds, nor the sometimes inevitable conflict between the nature conservation and the need for economic development, that is so wrong in the Czech Republic. One could even reconcile with our having less biodiversity than Kenya. But the absence of any sense of moderation in managing public money – that is what is truly breathtaking,” economist Miroslav Zámečník commented in Hospodářské noviny on a press report that, in order to protect a local bird sanctuary, the builders of the R 55 highway want to divert the route slightly by building two tunnels through the flat South Moravian landscape near Bzenec at a cost of 12 billion crowns – that is, over six times the amount Kenya Wildlife Service needs to continue managing and conserving some the world’s most biodiverse and precious areas, located in war-ravaged Kenya. A healthy, century-old linden tree located by the chapel in the village of Skoranov in the Ore Mountains was chopped down. MPs voted to reduce funding for solar energy projects. A storm swept across the country and lightning struck 3,798 times. The media announced that Tiger Woods is back.

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