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Respekt Weekly Roundup

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Last Week – 51/2009

The U.N. Climate Change Conference opened in Copenhagen, and its organizers kicked it off by announcing that the current decade is the warmest since 1850 when instrumental temperature records were standardized. “Saving banks from collapse due to pressure from the financial crisis cost an estimated five percent of the world’s GDP. Combating global warming will require approximately one percent,” the financial daily Hospodářské noviny noted in its report from the conference. Stores started offering Christmas discounts. Jan Škampa, 23, a student studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences, won 17.5 million crowns at the European Poker Tour. Ondřej Liška was confirmed as chairman of the Green Party.

“I will not say because all seven members of the Commission joined on the condition of remaining anonymous,” said Czech Statistical Office Deputy Director Jiří Křovák, explaining why he declined to tell Hospodářské noviny the names of those who ranked Hewlett-Packard first in the tender for a half-billion-crown technical support contract for the Czech census; Vladimír Kovář, director of the local IT company Unicorn, also a tender participant, said this week that shortly before the tender came to a close he had received a text message offering him a chance to buy two votes from the seven-member committee for 20 million crowns; and the prime minister’s adviser Vladimír Mlynář sent an internal message to Czech statisticians warning them of an analysis by Telefónica O2 that the entire census contract was “tailor-made” for Hewlett-Packard, which ultimate won the tender. The government decided that people growing or holding up to five marijuana plants or 40 magic mushrooms would not face imprisonment but could be fined.

The American company Westinghouse denied reports that it would be seeking the contract to complete construction of the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant in a joint venture with Russia’s Atomstroyexport. “We’re interested in Temelín, but cooperation with the Russians is not on the agenda,” stated Westinghouse executives. The media reported that the German manufacturing sector, which had recently experienced a revival, fell again unexpectedly. “The recovery is weakening,” Lidové noviny informed readers in a front-page headline. This year’s budget deficit ballooned from the 38 billion planned last year and currently stands at 175 billion crowns. Following in Dubai’s footsteps, Greece found itself on the verge of collapse, and domestic analysts warned that unless the Czech Republic reins in its spending or gets more revenue, it can expect to be bankrupt perhaps as early next year. Social Democratic deputies, in cooperation with their Communist colleagues, pushed through approval of three proposals for next year’s budget that raise the deficit from 163 to 174 billion crowns, and Finance Minister Janota called their actions “thwarting his work.” Snow fell in the mountains and the lowlands. A funeral was held in Blazim for an 80-year-old woman who was beaten to death by two local youngsters when she caught them stealing potatoes from her garden.

“I was glad that she could smile but the battle is clearly far from over – she is going to face the consequences of her injuries for the rest of her life and it’s not going to be easy for her. It struck me that her big brown eyes are not those of a child, the pain she has experienced are reflected in them. It would be great if people continued to send money for Natálie’s home treatment,” said the son of Prime Minister Jan Fischer after visiting 3-year-old Natalie Siváková, who suffered extensive burns this spring after Czech neo-Nazis perpetrated an arson attack on her family’s home in Vítkov, and who has finally come back home to her parents after dozens of plastic surgery operations at the hospital in Ostrava; the bank account number for donating to Siváková’s continued care is 43-4619960257/0100. The price of gasoline went up. One-third of the country’s tanning salons went bankrupt due to suddenly awakened fears of cancer. Bearing signs with the slogan “Wear your own skin,” naked activists from the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demonstrated against snakeskin and crocodile skin purses and fur coats on Charles Bridge in Prague.

“I am strict, not cold,” Livia Klausová, the wife of Czech President Václav Klaus, told the daily Právo. News agencies reported that an 8-mm-long feather had been found in a piece of limestone from the Swabian Alb mountain range that an unidentified feathered dinosaur had shed there some 158 million years ago. The exhibition Chelsea Hotel: Bohemian Ghosts opened in Prague’s DOX Center for Contemporary Art.

Author: Ivan Lamper
Translated by: Martha Joy Sullivan

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