In the News 15.9.08

Beetlegate, Romany in Canada and gold-winning Kacanu

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews


PURE ECONOMIC REASONS. Minister for Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities Džamila Stehlíková is a busy woman these days. If 30 more asylum seekers appear in Canada, the country will re-impose the visa restrictions for Czechs.

Being very unhappy about it, the Czech government decided to act. Stehlíková is scheduled to visit Canada in October, in the meantime most of Czech politicians are quick to set the record straight – Czech Roma are in no way discriminated against in the country and it is pure economic reasons that drives them to Canada. Interesting.

The question why the Romany get a job in Canada and actually work there, while there are high numbers of unemployed Roma people in the Czech Republic, seems to be left aside. Or why, for example, the city of Rokycany near Pilsen is planning to set cameras in public places in order to monitor neo-Nazis´ attacks on the local Roma people that have ocurred in the past few weeks?

As much as Minister Stehlíková is trying hard to help the Roma communities by setting an agency to tackle the Roma ghettos, she fails to admit one fact – some Czech Roma community members have a chance equal to zero of getting a decent job and face humiliating living conditions, or to see certain Czech politicians staying in power despite their not-very-polite remarks on the Roma community and their culture. 


ENTOMOLOGISTS OF THE WORLD, UNITE. Even if larvae, insect and butterflies say nothing to you, you can join a protest this Thursday that is to demand acquitting of Emil Kučera, a Czech lay entomologist, who was sentenced last Wednesday to three years in prison by an Darjeeling Court in India.

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Kučera and Petr Švácha, a world renown entomologist, were arrested and jailed in India for illegal collecting rare specimens of insect at the end of June.

While Švácha was acquitted later on, Kučera was found guilty of violating the Wildlife Protection Laws and sentenced to three years behind bars.

Czech entomologists together with their foreign counterparts plan to stage a protest against what they call an unfair verdict for Kučera.

The entomologists are expected to rally in front of India´s embassies in Prague, Vienna and Ottawa on September 18 to put pressure on the Indian auhtorities to acquit also Kučera.


ATHLETIC LATEBLOOMER. Eva Kacanu has become the first Czech gold winning athlete in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. She won the F54-56 Classification women’s shot put with a record-breaking throw of 6.73 m.

What is fascinating about her life story is the fact that she only started to do sports three years after her spine injury which she suffered in 1996, joining the world of top sports in 2000 at the age of 35.

“It was a doctors´ mistake but I prefer not to talk about it. It happened and life goes on,” says ever-optimistic Kacanu. It is an incredible achievement and we all wish her all the best.


CZECH PRESIDENT AS FREEDOM-LOVING SPEAKER. Whenever the Czech President is invited to a conference on a global state of things, it is very presumable what Václav Klaus is going to talk about. This time it was Tokyo that saw president Klaus preaching against what he calls climatism.

“Our response to this ideology [scientific climatology] should be clear and uncompromising, because we are convinced that we know enough about the delicate and vulnerable human society, and how dangerous all efforts are to direct it from above,” Klaus is going to announce in Tokyo.

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ALL WORK AND NO PIES. Believe it or not, but Czechs are among the hardest working Europeans. This is what transpires in the latest report drafted by the European Foundation (Eurofound) for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

The message is pretty clear – while the former EU15 states work less and have more holidays, the new member states work much longer hours for less vacation time.

Bulgarian, Romanian and Czech full-time employees work the longest hours per week (41.2), while the lowest levels are reported in Italy, Denmark and France (37.7).

Meanwhile, the average number of fully paid holidays in Europe is 25.2 days per year, the Czechs take on average 21.9 days. It seems we are sticking to the popular Czech saying “Bez práce nejsou koláče” – literally translated “No work, no pies.”


CZECHOSLOVAK SOLDIERS INVADE CZECH CINEMAS. War-time movies used to be a practical tool of the communists to educate children about the hero achievements of our fellow countrymen during world wars. Those who grew up at least partly under the communist regime would have to see the same films with the same actors and the same message every year.

Now, theese times are gone and the war topic has ceased to be a propaganda instrument in the films. In the sea of all the war films made by Czechoslovak film makers, one topic remained undiscovered up until Czech film director Václav Marhoul found it –  Czech soldiers fighting in the desert near the Libyan port of Tobruk.

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Marhoul bravely combined the second world war subject and an anti-war book written by an American writer Stephen Crane Red Badge of Courage, topped with an atmosphere of Terence Malick´s movie Thin Red Line and Soviet film Go and look!

The film captures the everyday life of the soldiers in the desert, their nonstop waiting for the enemy that almost like Godot never comesonly with one exception and the overall atmosphere of the place.

While shooting in the African desert, Marhoul fell in love with it. “The desert is like the ocean and I have fallen in love with it. All we had there was ourselves and the film,” Marhoul confessed.

The high level of concentration of the actors and the film crew played a crucial role for him. “There was no TV, no internet, no Čunek,” adds Marhoul. What a lucky man.

Aktuálně.cz got hold of pictures from the times of Tobruk, chronicling the real soldiers who fought in the Libyan port, which you can see in a photogallery here

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