Gregorian winter (March 9–24) blew in with frost and snow. The temerature in Šindelová in the Ore Mountains measured minus 24 degrees Celsius. The One World international human rights documentary film festival opened in Prague. The government appointed a commission to immediately improve the terrible air quality in the Ostrava and put Environment Minister Dusík at its helm. An equestrian statue of T.G. Masaryk was unveiled in Lány. The ministry of transport assigned a bodyguard to railway workers’ union leader Jaromír Dušek to protect him at the workplace after he told Lidové noviny that the top posts at the ministry and Czech Railways are “all held by gays” and that he – Dušek – is “afraid to bend over for a pencil” in the corridors of their premises.
“I’d like to confirm that Mr. Dušek’s comment about bending over was uttered as a joke, of course, for the publication – whether it was good or not is a matter of individual taste. It amused me, for example. And it doesn’t affront gays,” Daniel Kaiser, the Lidové noviny commentator who conducted the interview, then explained to the public why he decided to print Dušek’s private sexual concerns. The number of unemployed Czechs climbed to a record 583,135. The delegates at the constitutive meeting of Miloš Zeman’s Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPOZ) elected Miloš Zeman as its chairman. Artist Jiří David erected a sculpture of the word “revolution” made up of 86,000 keys on Franz Kafka Square in Prague. Kraft Foods decided that its Mozart chocolates would be packaged in the Czech Republic beginning in June, and Austrian labor unions fiercely protested the decision.
“Thinking that the only high-value targets in America and the West are military bases would be a mistake; on the contrary, there are many other strategic places, institutions and facilities that a Muslim could target and cause so much damage – for example, by focusing on mass transit systems or on kidnappings and assassinating people from government, industry and the media,” al-Qaeda spokesperson and chief media adviser Adam Gadahn, an American citizen known as Azzam al-Amriki, sent word to Muslims in the West in his most recent statement. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Prague and asked for more Czech participation in Afghanistan, specifically the deployment of two medical clinics and aviation trainers; the Social Democratic Party chairman and candidate for prime minister, Jiří Paroubek, refused the Allies’ request, while his counterpart from the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolánek, said that the Czech participation should be even bigger than Rasmussen wants. Czech President Václav Klaus also stood against Czech participation in the Western alliance and instead calle don the Czech Army to “focus more on their own country’s defense than on expeditions abroad.” In voter preference polls, the Social Democrats came out 14 percent ahead of the Civic Democrats. Protektor won the Czech Lion for Best Feature Film. The Tibetan flag once again flew above rooftops in Czech cities.
“I highly appreciate the prize and I’m glad I received it for this particular statement,” said Petr Hájek, President Václav Klaus’ chief advisor and former spokesman, after receiving this year’s Erratic Boulder, an award bestowed by the Sysifos Club of Czech Skeptics for “advancing irrationality and muddy thinking,” for his public statement, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t come from apes; I mean, the living God is above me.” Moody’s warned that it would have to downgrade the Czech Republic’s rating unless the country reduces its skyrocketing debt after the elections. Ivan Lendl celebrated his 50th birthday. Media reported that Cuban dissident and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, 48, had declared an indefinite hunger strike and is demanding that the country’s dictatorial government release 26 of the sickest political prisoners of the roughly 70 whom Cuban Communists locked up in 2003 after holding show trials and sentencing them to between 18 to 25 years for conducting activities like independent journalism, running libraries with banned books and similar acts. Communist-era television series gained in value. Nova TV announced that it rerun the popular 70s series Žena za pultem.
“Some parties are wondering what the CIA is up to again,” Weston Stacey, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic, told Czech journalists, describing how the local political elite reacted to his institution’s intention of summoning representatives of multinational companies and NGOs to draft a good anti-corruption bill before the election. Meteorologists reported that morning frosts would keep coming until April.