Written by Pavel Vondra
GONE WITH THE WIND are lives of 14 people killed over the weekend across four European countries including the Czech Republic by the windstorm Emma.
An 11-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree branch in Líbeznice, just north of Prague, on her way to visit a cemetery with her grandmother. The emergency helicopter couldn’t be sent to the place of accident, due to the strong winds, and the girl succumbed to her injuries.
Second Czech victim was an 80-year-old priest struck by flying metal sheets in front of his church in Sadská, just east of the Czech capital.
Thousand of people were left without power as the winds reaching up to 150 kilometers per hour in the higher altitudes brought down high-voltage grid pylons, blocked highways and railway tracks with fallen trees and caused material damage which the insurance companies expect to reach hundreds of millions of Czech crowns.
Raging of the untamed elements aside, last week was also a busy one for the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who now has one less thing on his to-do list with the White House visit box already checked.
As he put it after meeting its current tenant George W. Bush, the US-Czech agreement on hosting an American radar base in Brdy region west of Prague as part of the US anti-missile shield is only “three words away”.
Aside from that, PM brought home agreement between the two governments on lifting the visa requirements for Czech citizens visiting United States. It is expected to come into force as soon as next fall.
Coincidentally, Canada might re-impose the visa on Czechs at around the same time, because the number of asylum-seekers is well on its way to surpass the two per cent of the total number of Czech visitors since the visa system had been lifted last year, Aktuálně.cz has learned.
While still in the US, Mirek Topolánek conferred a prime ministerial award on the controversial Mašín brothers, who famously fought their way out of communist Czechoslovakia soon after the 1948 coup d’etat. He thus made it clear he considered them heroes, not murderers, as many people in their native land do.
Mirek Topolánek’s mentor, the Czech President Václav Klaus, who recently renewed the lease on Prague Castle for five more years, also had an eventful week.
He vetoed his first law in the second term, made a warning speech about the lessons of February 1948 and set off to make another one in New York City later this week, on his favorite subject of late the climate change, or rather the folly of imagining there is one, as he sees it.
Czech Neo-Nazis continued with their marching season over the weekend, this time parading in the beer capital of Pilsen, taking advantage of a recent court ruling which confirmed their freedom of expression cannot be taken away by city officials. As usual, the young right-wing extremists were highly outnumbered by riot police in full gear.
It may now be turn for renowned Czech-born, London-based architect Jan Kaplický to seek help from court against overbearing city officials.
One year after winning the international competition for the new National Library building with his futuristic “blob” design, the construction still faces resistance from Prague councilors, who are now ready to wage a legal war against it.
With no councilors to deal with, two younger but equally competitive Czechs made their global mark last week. First there was Markéta Irglová winning an Oscar for the song she wrote and performed in the low-budget independent cinema hit Once with her Irish partner Glen Hansard.
And then cross country skier Lukáš Bauer won yet another classic-style World Cup cross country ski race in Lahti, Finland, over the weekend, effectively clinching the overall World Cup title for this year as the first Czech Nordic skier ever.