Winter began. The populace celebrated the winter solstice with oblations and fasts. Czech borders vanished with the republic’s entry into Europe’s Schengen zone. Magdalena Kožena sang La Cenerentola in London’s Royal Opera House. A temperature inversion wrapped the country in ice and frost. An eight-member group of domestic scientists left for the Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station, where its members will conduct research on what kinds of situations global warming might trigger on Earth. After the holidays came sales. “With the help of synthetic genomes, we are attempting to construct in the lab organisms bearing a solution for our planet: in recent years, we have primarily been trying to produce coded cells that would be capable of producing ethanol for the cars we used today,” J. Craig Venter, an American geneticist, told Lidové noviny. News agencies reported that, according to astronomic calculations, Mars could be hit by a giant asteroid, 2007 WD5, quite soon. Fifty Czech soldiers flew to Iraq to guard the international base in Basra. The government members agreed to give Czech churches some 267 billion crowns as compensation for property seized long ago. A student drowned while taking a swimming lesson at Zlín’s public swimming pool. Three skiers survived an avalanche in the Jeseník Mountains. Economist Jan Švejnar became the official candidate against Václav Klaus in the upcoming presidential elections; Václav Klaus rejected an offer to gauge the strength of his argments and visions in a televised debate with Švejnar. Following Klaus’s lead, even his fellow party members from the Civic Democratic Party refused to meet with Švejnar. According to a survey by the public opinion agency STEM, people’s dissatisfaction with Czech politics has grown. Statisticians detected that the Finns build highways six times cheaper than Czechs. “It calls for quiet,” remarked Vítězslav Jandák, deputy for the Social Democratic Party, in response to news that film director Zdeňek Kameňák Troška had rejected his party’s offer to run on its ticket for the Senate seat from Strakonice due to heart problems; after that news came out, the Communist Party made an offer to Troška to run as its candidate, but Social Democratic Chairman Jiří Paroubek responded that his party would not about to allow such a rare candidate to be snatched up by the Communists. The Spirit of New Orleans, a gospel choir from the U.S., visited the Czech Republic on its European tour. The Vinohrady Theatre withdrew from negotiations on staging Václav Havel’s new play, Odcházení, i.e., Leaving, and the author launched talks with Prague’s Archa Theatre to stage the play there. Jan Kubice, the longtime head of the Office for the Investigation of Organized Crime, left the Czech Police.
“Without setting off alarms, the results are, at the very least, worrying. Among young people there is a clear tendency towards xenophobia, racism, and animosity towards the elderly,” said Michaela Bernardová, a sociologist at the research agency NMS, commenting on her institution’s poll of Czech high school students engaged in educational anti-discriminatory programs, which revealed that most (8 of 10) students hate the Roma, and that one-third would rather “ban them from the country”; less marked, yet still in the majority, is these young people’s dislike for elderly people. The Catholic Church appealed a verdict issued this fall by a Prague court declaring that the true and only owner of St. Vitus Cathedral was the state. Police officers arrested five drug pushers in Teplice. ČEZ, the state-owned energy monopoly, bought a seven-percent share of Hungary’s oil monopoly, MOL, for 15 billion crowns. Politicians announced that their parties had failed to find a compromise on the issue of pension reforms, and thus the Czech pension system could face collapse as early as 2010. Gambling king Petr Bouma sold his game empire, Aladin Games, to the Karlovy Vary competition Slot Game. The baby Jesus visited Czech households. Interior Minister Ivan Langer told reporters that, despite his imploring wishes, not even this year did he find under the tree what he wants most – a letter from the baby Jesus reading: “Dear Ivan, from January 1, there will be 30 hours in a day and 10 days in a week so you can have enough time to work and even more time for yourself, your family, and for repose.” Based on the latest excavations in Kashmir, scientists came to the conclusion that whales evolved from deer-like creatures some 48 million years ago. Night-time quiet rules started to apply in the sleeping cars of trains passing through the Czech Republic during the night.