Today in Mailbox we air your views on a possible toll system on Prague's Charles Bridge, ground squirrels in the capital, plans by the US to build a radar station in the Czech Republic - and is it Lesser Town or Mala Strana? Listeners quoted: Glenn White, Steve Wisensale, John Novotney and Peter Andrews.
As you may know from our broadcasts one of Prague's most important historic landmarks - Charles Bridge - has celebrated its 650th birthday this month. In connection with the anniversary, some experts suggested a toll system should be introduced on the bridge to help raise funds for the maintenance of the monument. Glenn White from Florida has sent us his view on the matter:
"How about a system where Czech citizens can use the bridge free with a state issued ID card and only tourists pay? I, as a tourist, would be more than happy to pay a nominal fee to help maintain such a wonderful structure."
Steve Wisensale from the United States is reacting to a recent story by Dita Salavova on how ground squirrels might hinder the building of the Olympic Village in Prague - that is if the Olympics were ever to be held in the city.
Thank you for your concern. It's not clear whether you really mean ground squirrels that live on the site of the potential Olympic Village, or the European Red Squirrel which is quite abundant in parks around the city in both its red and grey varieties. Scientists have been noticing that the latter have been moving from wild forests to towns and cities lately. For the second year in a row now, children in Prague have been encouraged to take part in a unique project called "Prague Squirrel", aimed at counting the number of squirrels in the Czech capital which will help scientists to monitor the squirrel population.
"My question is: Specifically why are the mayors so adamantly and vehemently opposed to the radar site? There is no problem with being opposed to anything in a democratic society, but it's quite another thing to have solid, defensible, credible, reasonable, rational reasons to be in opposition. What is the grounds of the mayors' strong stand against the radar? What part does emotion play?"
I'm afraid you would have to ask the mayors themselves for the details but as representatives of their municipalities, the mayors are voicing the views of the citizens who said a clear No in local referenda. Let me just quote one of the mayors, Jan Neoral, who told this to Radio Prague in February:
"Brdy is a lovely region and we don't want it destroyed by some radar base, just a kilometre away from our village. I don't know a single citizen who is in favour of the base. We have experience from previous decades with German and Soviet units in our area when whole villages were erased from the map and people displaced. Also in the event of an attack we would be a target."
And finally Peter Andrews from London has this comment regarding our broadcasts:
"Why does Radio Prague repeat the mistake made by so many text books?
If you try and Google the expression "Lesser Town" you will get 137,000 results so, obviously, it is not only Radio Prague who uses it - as a matter of fact it is mainly tourism websites. It is a literal translation of an older name for the district which was "Mensi Mesto". Lesser Town is not a preferred term at Radio Prague and we generally use the Czech name but if we stuck to your rule of not translating proper names, we would have to say "Praha" and "Ceska republika" rather than "Prague" and "the Czech Republic", wouldn't we?
And before I say good bye, here's our regular listeners' competition question:
We would like to know the name of the Czech-born psychiatrist and psychologist who was born in Prague in 1931 and is considered to be one of the founders of transpersonal psychology. He devoted his career to exploring altered states of consciousness, first using LSD and later special breathing techniques.
You still have more than a week to send your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, the Czech Republic or [email protected]. Until next week, good bye.