Hundreds of Czech police officers will have to go back to school, the Prague City Transport authority is thinking about scenting Prague trams and buses, and Czech cabinet ministers asked to get a swine flu jab in order to set a good example. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Hundreds of police officers around the country are in the unenviable position of having to go back to school. The Interior Ministry recently issued a directive according to which all police officers –with the exception of those over 45 -must have secondary school education by 2015. The percentage of those with only primary school education varies in different regions – with the lowest at around 13 percent and the highest a whopping 36 percent in south west Bohemia. The directive allows officers to choose what secondary school they want to enroll in and many of them go for the less demanding ones – such as those for people who want to work in the restaurant business, tourist industry or become forestry experts. Many of them are said to be put out about being sent back to school in this humiliating manner, arguing that studying for the sake of studying is a complete waste of time. The ministry counters that it will be up to them to chose an higher education that will be useful in their profession but it does not want to restrict the choice of school in order to keep the police-force open to newcomers from all fields. Possibly the only ones who welcome the move are the officers’ children who will now be able to compare their father’s school results with their own instead of always hearing “when I was your age….”

With just over three months to go to May’s general elections, election billboards are starting to appear around Prague, but it is clear that at least part of the campaign will be played out on the internet. TOP O9 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, a member of the old nobility who entered politics a few years ago and is one of the country’s most trusted politicians, is getting help from a most unexpected quarter. Some of his young female fans in Brno have put photos of themselves on the web topless with only their nipples covered by stickers with his photograph. The website has made headlines and left Mr. Schwarzenberg clearly embarrassed about the whole affair. One can’t choose one’s supporters however and his fan club – among them controversial artist David Cerny, the author of Entropa, have set up an unofficial headquarters at a pub favoured by Mr. Schwarzenberg where they are debating other forms of support.

Prague City Transport is said to be preparing a treat for passengers. In order to improve the environment on overcrowded buses and trams it wants to scent the cars through the ventilation system. Apparently they have even discussed the type of scent that would be appropriate – with vanilla, coconut and cherry scents considered best for starters. Many people say this is a great idea and the sooner it is done the better, but it may take a while to implement. City Transport officials are now consulting with doctors about whether such a move would not be problematic in view of people with asthma and allergies.

Czech environmentalists are concerned about the spread of white-nose syndrome among the country’s bat colonies. First documented in the United States in 2007 the disease - named after the white fungus that covers the bat’s muzzles and wings- has since killed hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats across the United States. It has since spread to Western Europe and first appeared on Czech territory a few weeks ago when a regular count of hibernating bats revealed that entire colonies were affected by the fungus. Although tests are still being conducted there seems little doubt that the disease is the white-nose syndrome. Environmentalists say they will not know until spring just how much damage the disease has done but they fear it could destroy up to half of the country’s population of bats. The disease has now been confirmed in neighbouring Slovakia as well.

Photo: CTK
A mystery on the grounds of Rudoltice chateau has stumped the locals. A circle appeared amidst deep snow in the castle gardens from which tufts of fresh green grass sprouted despite the sub-zero temperatures outside. The caretaker of the castle grounds stuck a thermometer in the ground which indicated a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. The local authorities have ruled out hot water pipes or electricity cables, so the only likely explanation would be a hot water spring. The castle’s administration is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and if it turns out to be a hot water spring they plan to make good use of it to attract more visitors to the castle. Even if it isn’t, rumors that the near perfect circle could only have been made by extraterrestrial visitors are already doing a good PR job on their own. Some of the villagers say they remember the exact same circle appearing on the exact same spot thirty years ago.

After the country’s chief hygiene officer recently contracted the swine flu, the health minister is taking no chances. She is reported to have asked a doctor to come along to Monday’s cabinet session to give ministers the flu jab. Health Minister Dana Jurásková, who had the flu shot in front of TV cameras in an effort to dispel widespread fears about possible negative side-effects, said she wouldn’t force anyone against their will, but she is clearly expecting the caretaker cabinet to set a good example.