News Around fifth of Czechs have cigarette habit, says representative of group helping smokers quit
More than two million people smoke cigarettes in the Czech Republic, according to Jarmila Greplová, a representative of Život bez cigaret, a group that helps smokers quit. The country’s population is 10.5 million. Speaking to the Czech News Agency ahead of Saturday’s World No Tobacco Day, Ms. Greplová said one in eight Czech smokers was under 18. An estimated 18,000 people die of smoking related illnesses in the Czech Republic every year.
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Soldiers from the Czech Republic and other NATO allies, including Germany, Great Britain and the US, will take part in an international military training in the Czech Republic, which gets underway on Monday. The joint excersise of NATO units, Ample Strike 2015, will be held in Náměšť nad Oslavou in south Moravia until September 22. According to Magdalena Dvořáková of the General Staff's press department, the aim of the military training is to harmonise the activities of tactic air-force pilots and forward air controllers. For the first time this year, the Canadian air force and Austria will also participate in the exercise.
More people have died on Czech roads this summer than during the same period last year, Czech Radio reported on Sunday, citing police statistics. Some 143 people have been killed in road accidents since the beginning of summer holidays, which is 11 more than last year. According to Martin Farář of the Transport Ministry's Road Safety department (BESIP), the big death toll was affected by the exceptionally hot weather, which prevailed throughout most of the summer. According to the statistics, nearly one third of all the road crashes victims died on Friday, when people drive out of the big cities to their country houses.
Czech women's tennis number one Petra Kvitová has claimed her third title at the Connecticut Open in New Haven. In an all-Czech final on Friday, she defeated her compatriot Lucie Šafářová 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. The world number five faced only one break point and held serve throughout to remain unbeaten in seven career matches against Šafářová. Kvitová collected her third WTA title this year and 17th in her career.
Czech Education Minister Kateřina Valachová wants to prolong compulosry education in the Czech Republic from nine to ten years by making the final year of preschool compulsory. The proposal is part of an amendment to the School Act, which will be submitted to the government in mid-September. According to the draft legislation, all children at the age of four should be entitled to a place in nursery school by 2017 and by 2018, preschools should be available to all three-year-olds. Under the proposal, children in the final year of preschool should be entitled to free lunches.
The city of Prague plans to introduce a mass notification system via text messages, which could be used in case of emergencies or accidents to inform inhabitants of the affected districts. Mayor of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová, made the announcemnt on Saturday at a meeting with journalists on the occasion of the Rescue Services Day. At present, the SMS system is limited only to those who have subscribed to it, which is not very effective. For instance in the case of water contamination in Prague's Dejvice district, which happened in May this year, only several dozen people received an SMS with an early warning.
Around two hundred people attended a protest march in the centre of Prague on Friday evening against alleged police repression of the Czech far-left scene. The participants went from Jungmann square to Bartolomějská street, which was notorius as the base of the Communist secret police, and ended on Wenceslas square. The organizers were questioning the police raid on the Cibulka squat in Prague in May this year, as well as the operation Fenix in April, which resulted in the arrest of over thirty people. Several of them were later charged with allegedly taking part in the preparation of a terrorist attack on a train.
A Dutch parachutist, aged 49, died at an airfield near Klatovy in West Bohemia on Friday evening, after his parachute failed to open during a jump from the altitutde of 500 metres. The case is being investigated by the police and the Air Accidents Investigation Institute. The airport in Klatovy, which is mainly popular due to an extreme discipline called swooping, based on a high-speed landing with a parachute, has seen a number of fatal accidents in the past few years. The most recent one involved a world-famous Danish skydiver Mads Jensen, who died at the airport during a training jump in May this year.
Thousands of people gathered in the streets of Pilsen on Friday night to watch a procession of giant puppets of the Spanish theatre company Carros de Foc, which marked the opening of the Skupa's Pilsen Festival organised as part of the European Capital of Culture 2015. The huge marionettes, including a 20-metre-long dragon and a huge flying bird, are part of a site-specific show La Niña transforming the historical centre of Pilsen into a theatre stage, along with dozens of acrobats, dancers and musicians. The event will be repeated on Saturday and Sunday night. The Skupa Pilsen festival of puppetry and alternative theatre was established in 1967 and takes place every two years.
More than 80 castles and chateaus across the Czech Republic join the annual Night of Castles on Saturday, opening their door to visitors with special programmes, including evening tours, concerts, theatre performances and more. The main programme of the festival's sixth edition will take place at the Kratochvíle state chateau in South Bohemia. In Prague, people will have a chance to visit the Senate's Wallenstein palace at Malá Strana and the gardens at Prague Castle. Four famous villas in Brno, including the Tugenhadt villa, will be also open on Saturday night.
Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová will face each other in an all-Czech final at the Connecticut Open, after winning their semi-final matches of the WTA tournament in New Haven in straight sets. Petra Kvitová secured a 7-5, 6-1 win over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, while the fourth seeded Šafářová beat Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-2, 7-6. Czech number one Petra Kvitová has a 6-0 career record against her compatriot Lucie Šafářová.