News

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Vaclav Havel wants new Czech constitution

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel says that he would welcome the Czech Republic gaining a new constitution within four to six years. Mr. Havel made the remarks during an interview on Sunday's TV program, Otazky Vaclava Moravce. Vaclav Havel said he wants to see a constitution that would be "brief, concise, and sensible," such that children could learn it in schools, and one that would inject greater fairness into the electoral system. The former president also expressed his disapproval for the recent post-election developments, saying that it took unnecessarily long to name Mirek Topolanek prime minister—according to Mr. Havel, Mr. Topolanek could have been named within days after the June election.

Mr. Havel also commented on the future of the European Union, saying that it must define itself not only in terms of common values, but also recognize its own geographic limits. The former president used New Zealand as an example of a country with "greater European values than some EU members," though it is beyond the EU zone. According to Mr. Havel, future EU expansion could include Turkey which has "one foot in Europe" and is an ally of Europe's, as well as the Balkan states, Ukraine, and Belarus. Mr. Havel was clear in drawing a line at these eastern states, thus excluding Russia, which he indicated belongs to another culture.

The extended TV interview with Vaclav Havel aired just days before the former president, playwright, and human rights activist celebrates his 70th birthday.

Jiri Paroubek supports transparency in police wiretapping

Speaking on Sunday's TV program Nedelni partie, Social Democratic leader and former prime minister Jiri Paroubek said that he would support changing the rules so that a person could learn whether his/her phone conversations are being wiretapped by police. Mr. Paroubek cited the access to information laws of Germany, France, or the United Kingdom as those that the Czech Republic could adopt.

Mr. Paroubek also said that he is pleased that members of the Civic Democratic Party have not been able to provide proof that the former Social Democratic government misused police wiretappings. Mr. Paroubek was referring specifically to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Interior Minister Ivan Langer, and Deputy Prime Minister Petr Necas who suggested that Mr. Paroubek's government requested wiretaps on a number of politicians and journalists. Last week, Supreme Court judge Renata Vesecka said that there had been no politically-motivated request for wiretaps.

Eduard Janota speaks out after his dismissal

Former deputy minister of finance, Eduard Janota, who was dismissed on Friday, says that the Czech Republic's debt does not reach 1.3 trillion crowns, as was stated in recent newspaper ads taken out by the Ministry of Finance. Speaking on Sunday's TV program Otazky Vaclava Moravce, Mr. Janota says that these figures were complied by advisors of Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty. The reasons for Mr. Janota's dismissal remain unclear, though commentators speculate that he is taking the fall for the ministry's unpopular strategy of ads paid for using taxpayers money. Mr. Janota (54), a non-partisan employee of the Ministry of Finance, has worked under nine different ministers in the post-1989 era. Since 1992 he has served as director of the division responsible for the state budget.

September a deadly month on Czech roads

Police statistics state that Saturday, September 30 was thus far the most tragic day on Czech roads this year. A total of 12 people died in car accidents across the country on Saturday. Five Polish citizens alone died near Prostejov, Moravia, on Saturday when their vehicle crashed into a stationary long-haul truck. The month of September saw 90 people killed in automobile accidents; thus far September and June share the record for the most tragic months of the year. A total of 672 people were killed on Czech roads during the first nine months of the year.

Josef Capek painting sells for record amount

A painting by the well-known artist and writer, Josef Capek, was auctioned off for a record 9.3 million crowns (over $416 000 US) over the weekend. The oil painting, "Koupel Nohou" (1921) was sold in an auction at Prague's Hilton Hotel on Saturday. "Koupel Nohou" was previously exhibited in Prague, Brno, and Kosice after being completed in 1921, and the painting also appeared as part of various Czech and Slovak exhibitions during the 1970s and 1980s. The previous record for the most expensive painting sold in a Czech auction was set in April 2006, when Jindrich Styrsky's "Cirkus Simonette" sold for 8.6 million crowns (over $385 000 US).

Czech teen Tatana Kucharova crowned Miss World 2006

The new Miss World, Tatana Kucharova, is the first Czech woman ever to win the crown. Eighteen year-old Ms. Kucharova was crowned Miss World 2006 this weekend in the Polish capital of Warsaw. The runners-up were second-place Miss Romania Ioana Valentina Boitorova, and third-place Miss Australia Sabrina Houssami. Speaking after the ceremony, Ms. Kucharova said that it is "one of the most beautiful moments" of her life; she also told reporters that she is looking forward to traveling across the globe during the coming year, conducting charity work. 104 women from across the glove competed in the Miss World contest.

New Central American pavilion at Zlin's Lesna zoo

The Zlin Zoo in southeast Moravia is in the final stages of preparing to open a new exhibit devoted to the animals and flora of the Central American rainforests. The new zoo pavilion is named Yucatan, and cost roughly 80 million crowns ($3.5 million US) to build. About 300 different types of Central American flora re-create a rainforest, and the Yucatan pavilion will integrate animal and plant life with an exhibit detailing the culture and life of the lost Mayan civilization. A spokesman for Zlin's zoo says that the opening ceremony for the new pavilion will take place in mid-October. Zoo Lesna, just outside of the city of Zlin, celebrates its 200 year anniversary in 2006. The zoo houses around 200 animal species and covers an area of 42 hectares.

Tomas Berdych to play Bombay final on Monday

Czech men's tennis star, Tomas Berdych, will have to wait until Monday to play in the final in Bombay, India. Rain postponed Sunday's scheduled match between Berdych and his Russian opponent, Dmitriji Tursunov. The two have met once before, at this year's US Open where Berdych proved victorious after five sets. If 21-year old Tomas Berdych manages a repeat and wins the final in Bombay, he will enter the top-ten rankings for the first time in his career. He currently ranks thirteenth in the world.

Weather

The coming days will see mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers, and a drop in daytime temperatures to about 22 degrees Celsius.