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Last week’s events – 19-25 June

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>>> “The picking of mushrooms and berries was noticeably below average” last year, according to preliminary results presented by Luděk Šišák of the Czech University of Life Sciences, who was quoted in Právo Monday. In 2007, Czechs gathered their biggest amount of mushrooms in the last 14 years: 30 million kilograms. Several new political parties mushroomed on the political scene in the last week: while the pirate party (ČPS) wants to fight for bigger liberalisation of the internet, the party called Blob is propagating the construction of the National Library according to the late Jan Kaplickýs’s design. Civic Democrats on Monday joined the new anti-federalist faction in the European Parliament: the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

>>> Summer started with freezing temperatures in some parts of the Czech Republic on Sunday. Forecasts warned of heavy rains hitting the whole country from Monday to Wednesday. At least six people have drowned, and four more have died of health complications from floods since Wednesday. More than 200 people drown in the Czech Republic annually, Právo reported on Monday. Two people died in tandem skydiving on Sunday. The number of Czechs infected by swine flu has increased to nine.

>>> The ODS has caught up with the Social Democrats in voter preference, a STEM poll published last Friday found. A CVVM poll published yesterday sees the ODS winning the upcoming elections by five percentage points over the ČSSD if a vote were held now. Jiří Paroubek’s popularity among the general public fell sharply in June compared to the previous month, according to another STEM poll. “I recommend that our chairman smile more while presenting our proposals in the election campaign rather than frown. I’m sure he can also be a smiling person,” said ČSSD deputy chair Bohuslav Sobotka, who came out in the poll as the most popular politician, advising Paroubek on how to improve his popularity among the public.

>>> The Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and French actress Isabelle Huppert will be coming to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the event’s president, Jiří Bartoška, said on Tuesday. The 73-year-old ex-president Václav Havel will direct a film next year based on his last play, Leaving, Mf Dnes reported on Monday.

>>> Fewer and fewer children are afraid of the grades that they will receive on their school reports, at least if measured by the fact that the number of children calling the Linka bezpečí helpline has been in decline, according to Tuesday’s Právo. The majority of Czech primary school students will be rewarded with money for their grades, according to a survey conducted by GE Money Bank. Two hundred and thirty-three police officers are overseeing pedestrian crossings in the vicinity of Prague schools this week. Twenty percent of children do not eat in school canteens but rather go to fast food restaurants and are therefore gaining weight, the insurer VZP said last Friday. The age limit for criminal liability, as well as the age of consent, will remain at 15 years old, the lower house decided on Friday. Seven thousand secondary-school students protested against standardised leaving exams on the same day.

>>> The preparations for the 2020 Olympic games have cost Prague more than CZK 100 million and not CZK 70 million, as had been announced by City Hall last week, opposition city councillor Jiří Witzany said on Wednesday. Insurers assessed the damage caused by fire to the Industrial Palace at Prague’s Výstaviště last autumn at CZK 181 million, five times less than the damage announced earlier by City Hall.

>>> Prague’s main train station opened a new departure lounge resembling a modern airport passenger terminal on Wednesday. Prague Airport is launching a check-in service via mobile phones today. The Slovak SkyEurope Airlines, the second largest regular airline in Prague after Czech Airlines, was granted protection from creditors on Monday. The state has decided to extend the deadline for submitting bids in the ČSA privatisation until 15 September.

>>> The Tesco food store was moved back into the newly reconstructed basement of the department store at Národní třída on Monday, Právo reported. Chewing gum brands popular in socialist Czechoslovakia – Bajo, Pedro and Sevak – are postponing their return to the market, Mf Dnes reported on Tuesday. The producer of Prima ice-cream is for sale, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday.

>>> The crown was at a 2009 high early this week. Several exchange offices ran out of euros on Wednesday due to a low crown-to-euro exchange rate that encouraged sales. This year’s prices of holiday packages abroad will be up to 12% lower than last year’s.

>>> The ArcelorMittal steelworks has asked the state for financial aid worth millions of crowns. The American investment fund Colony Capital is to save Orco Property Group as it is planning to buy up to 30% of the company. The South Korean Doosan is considering buying the Czech turbine provider Škoda Power for about CZK 12 million, press reported on Tuesday. Natural gas supplies should be more fluid in the future, based on an agreement between the state-run Mero and Russia’s Transneft.

>>> Gays and lesbians marched peacefully through the town of Tábor on Saturday. One hundred and seventy-nine thousand people visited at least one of the 55 institutions open on Saturday during the Prague museum night.

>>> According to a forecast published by the OECD on Wednesday, the Czech Republic’s GDP should fall by 4.2% this year, but will be up by 1.4% in 2010.

>>> Klaus wants to have the very last word in all of the EU on the Lisbon Treaty, the president said on Tuesday.

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