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Events of the past week – 28 March – 2 April

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>>> Obama mania and spring temperatures have hit the Czech Republic. Fans wishing to see US President Barack Obama’s public address at Hradčanské náměstí this Sunday must leave behind umbrellas, coolers, animals in bags, weapons, backpacks and metal objects. Early arrival is recommended. Prague City Hall has banned some 2,000 opponents of radar to march through Prague this coming Sunday due to Obama’s visit.

>>>A historian and genealogist living in the United States, Míla Rechcígl, found out that Barack Obama’s family tree goes back to the duke Bořivoj, the founder of the Přemyslid dynasty and the first historically documented Czech ruler.

>>>The Czech Republic seems to have been toughening its overall security measures of late, as a special anti-terrorism centre designed to gather and analyse information on possible terrorist activities opened on Monday. A new CZK 500 banknote with improved security features was put into circulation by the Czech National Bank on Wednesday. Starting on April Fool’s Day, Czech media are banned from publishing information from leaked police wiretaps, as well as the identity details of the victims of crimes. Problem students at primary and secondary schools would face temporary expulsion under the new amendment of the Education Ministry to be now voted on in the lower house.

>>>Hospodářské noviny calculated that the last pub in the Czech Republic would close down in 2075. Flat prices will continue to fall this year until they reach the 2006 level, an analysis by consultancy Deloitte and mortgage broker Hyposervis said. By contrast, the Czech foreign debt has risen in late 2008, amounting to more than CZK 1.5 trillion, some CZK 182.1bn more than a year earlier.

>>> “We conquered Prague,” said the Slovak football coach Vladimir Weiss after the Czechs suffered a humiliating defeat 1:2 to Slovakia in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier. Prague has been rated as having the 19th best business and living environment of 37 cities in the European Cities Entrepreneurship Ranking.

>>>Defending his “road to hell” comment from last week, the outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek called one man’s plan another man’s poison in The Times on Tuesday. Topolánek said on Thursday he refuses to be exploited by ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek and his piling demands and disputed the agreement he had allegedly made with Paroubek late on Tuesday night regarding the even distribution of ministerial posts between the coalition and Social Democrats in the new caretaker cabinet. Paroubek threatened with President Václav Klaus’ intervention.

>>> In commemoration of Barack Obama’s Czech visit, Česká mincovna mint has started issuing gold and silver medals that have met with a strong interest of collectors.

>>> A Czech psychologist came out of a nuclear protection bunker in northern Bohemia last Thursday after having spent ten days in absolute darkness as part of a darkness therapy. On Tuesday Czech press reported on Czech scientists participating on an international experiment Mars 500 by committing to spend three months isolated in a capsule in Moscow that will simulate conditions for a manned mission to the Red Planet.

>>> Some 6,500 runners took part in the Hervis Prague Half Marathon last Saturday, with four men and four women breaking the existing racecourse record. Almost 256,000 Prague households that are supplied with heat from Pražská plynárenská, will pay less from this Wednesday. None of the bidders for the Prague Airport might eventually succeed in the tender, as the opposition on Tuesday managed to push through the lower house a bill that would block the privatisation of the airport as intended by the Czech government. “I would have done many things differently,” said in an interview with Tuesday’s Hospodářské noviny Anthony Denny, head of second-hand car dealer AAA Auto, whose company has been one of the biggest disappointments on the Prague stock exchange. Increasing demand for new cars has made the car manufacturer Škoda Auto consider launching Saturday work shifts, the press reported on Tuesday.

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