In the News 26.1.09

In the News 26.1.09

Aktuálně.cz CzechNews



WE DO IT OUR WAY. Six months after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) opposed the new skyscrapers at Prague’s Pankrác, City Hall has issued a planning permission approving the criticised high-rise buildings.

The World Heritage Committee, whose representatives visited Prague in the spring of last year, said the problem was that the new buildings are too high, and as such would damage one of the best preserved historical city centre skylines in Europe. The two new Buildings in Pankrác should be 80 and 104 metres high.

Now, it looks like Prague is trying to avoid the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation by confirming the planning permission regarding the two Pankrác skyscrapers at the end of last year.

Civic associations that have criticised the construction of high-rise buildings in Pankrác for a long time are about to take further steps against these plans.

“We will notify UNESCO again, and in any case we will file lawsuits against the planning permission,” Martin Skalský of Arnika told Aktuálně.cz. He added there is a real threat that Prague could be eliminated from the prestigious list of world heritage sights.

**

BULGARIA NOT PART OF ČERNÝ’S EU MAP. The provocative artwork of Czech artist David Černý installed at the European Council building is not that provocative any more.

The part which depicted Bulgaria as a Turkish squat toilet was covered up trying to avoid all media’s attention but you know how it works – the more you try to conceal something, the more they are watching you.

And Bulgaria just won’t let go and came up with its own version of the Czech Republic – good old soldier Švejk defecating on his own nation. But as Petr Fischer, editor-in-chief of Cultural Department in Hospodářské noviny says in an interview for Czech public TV, the Bulgarians are using a symbol used in tourist guides, so it is more of an invitation than offence to the Czechs.

Meanwhile, Černý agreed to give the government back CZK 1.9 million he received for the work and lower the monthly rent the Czech government was supposed to pay from CZK  1 million to CZK 1. Quite a good deal for all the promotion, isn’t it?

**

GOMORRAH IN LITVÍNOV. The north Bohemian town of Litvínov that became infamous for the violent demonstration of neo-Nazis against the local Roma community shows much more serious ills.

As Aktuálně.cz learned, some of the local authorities not only receive lucrative commissions from the town hall but also are connected to people in the underworld.

People who want to testify against the local mafia get suddenly beaten up, threats, including Aktuálně.cz reporter who received an sms from one of the local politicians who did not like being “mentioned” in the story.

Not long ago a Bristih investigative journalist who filmed a documentary film about the Czech underworld pointed out that Czech politicians are often linked to mafia guys and apparently no one seems to be surprised. He also advised the Czech public to be more inquiring asking questions about dubious projects and men with controversial past.

**

PUBLIC FAREWELL TO BLOB CREATOR. Tuesday January 27 will see a public farewell to Jan Kaplický who died aged 71 on January 13. It will take place in St. Anne’s Church’s Pražská křižovatka (Prague Crossroads) at 1 pm.

Jan Kaplický was an author of the design for the National Library’s new building that was originally planned for Prague’s Letná Park but later ran into the opposition of the city’s leadership.

But the blob story is not over yet – you can contribute if you are a fan of modern architecture in Prague. See more details here.

**

YEAR OF OX AND BUFFALO. Today marks the year of the ox or water buffalo, depending on whom you consult. But both communities – Chinese and Vietnamese – are afraid that this year may not be as bullish as they would like it to be.

The Czech Vietnamese community invited a bunch of journalists to celebrate the New Year with them and to discover the charms of Vietnam’s most popular holiday called Tet.

But the economic downturn that has mercilessly hit the world, including the Czech Republic, is on the local Vietnamese minds too.

The signs are too visible to be ignored – Czech factories are massively sacking employees and foreign workers are the first ones to lose their jobs.

According to humanitarian organizations, hundreds if not thousands of Vietnamese happen to be in a dire situation, not having a job nor money to return home.

A help is under way, though – the Czech government has prepared a plan to help the desperate foreigners, waiting to be discussed and approved. Either they will get a ticket and a bonus of euro 500 or just a ticket or will be expelled. There is no other option, is there?

**

WAS HE OR WAS HE NOT POISONED? It reads like a historical detective story: A team of Danish scientists want to exhume a body of a famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe who lived at the Czech king’s court in the 16th century.

The Danish scientists believe the brilliant observer of the stars was poisoned with mercury. And what more – he was murdered by his own relative on the Danish King’s order!

Now, the murder mystery story gets a little twist – until now it was universally believed that Tycho Brahe died of “blocked up” bladder.  While attending a banquet at the king’s court, Brahe had a strong urge to urinate but he did not dare do so out of politeness.

Whether the Danish scientists will be allowed to open the grave and exhume poor Tycho’s body remains equally unanswered at the moment, but you can write your own answer. If any of you, dear readers, aspire to become a Hollywood script writer, here is your big chance!


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