A windstorm blew through the Czech Republic. The first snow fell. Czechs commemorated the 185th anniversary of the birth of one of its greatest luminaries – Karel Havlíček Borovský – with cannon fire, raucous celebrations, and impassioned public debate. Fifteen years passed since the launch of coupon privatization. Media published photos demonstrating that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro had unfortunately not died yet. Haruki Murakami received this year’s Franz Kafka Prize. “It was totally unexpected – we were sitting together on a bench in the park in Králová Pole, and all the sudden he pulled out a gun and fired it,” Brno homeless woman Jana Novotná (61) told Mladá fronta Dnes, describing how her partner Jaroslav Kučera shot himself with a borrowed gun; Novotná had lived with Kučera for fifteen winters under a plastic tarp or in an old, derelict Škoda car on the outskirts of Brno and Kučera had recently told the same newspaper: “I’d like to die before the next winter arrives.” Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, hit the cinemas. Czech mobile network operators disclosed their “Christmas presents” – free minutes and SMSes – and it was revealed that while T-Mobile and O2 are planning advantages only for new customers, Vodafone intends to bestow gifts on its existing clientele. Prague 10 opened the largest justice center in the Czech Republic. Czech President Václav Klaus announced that following the Civic Democrats’ sweeping victory in the Senate elections he would give the party a second chance to form a government. “A little boat, but a big idea,” film director Petr Nýdrle said of the ceremonious moment when a small sailboat adorned with a painting of the prophesizing Libuše on one side, a portrait of Tomáš Masaryk on the other, and former president Václav Havel’s signature on the sail itself was launched on a lake in New York’s Central Park when Havel arrived in the USA on a study visit. Czech households’ debt reached half a billion crowns. High rents caused Prague’s Na Příkopech to jump to 18th on Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s list of most expensive commercial streets in the world. Korean Woo Hyun Noh won the World Bodybuilding Championship in Ostrava. Minister of Social Affairs Petr Nečas (Civic Democratic Party) informed the public that the Czech state is out of money for pensions and that something must be done quickly before the Czech pension system collapses completely. “I never look for them, they happen. It just happens – we’re just toys of this world,” responded Portuguese documentary filmmaker Manoel de Oliviera (98), recognized in Jihlava for his contribution to world cinematography, to a journalist’s question, “How do you find new themes for your films, how do you choose them?” Škoda Auto announced record profits. NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited the Czech Republic and criticized the government for constantly reducing spending on national security. The price of flats in Prague housing estates rose from one and a half to two and a half million crowns. Former Czech Railways head Dalibor Zelený was named general director of Slovak Railways. “I don’t feel bitter, it’s the story of a life, a trial, and suffering – my faith was tested and I won,” newspapers cited Larry Fuller (57), an Afro-American Vietnam veteran who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for allegedly raping a white woman and was now proven innocent by DNA testing. Benzina started modernizing its network of gas stations. The Jewish Museum in Prague opened a branch in Brno. Universities started a revolution in entrance exams wherein applicants should prove their capacity for logical thinking and prerequisites for studying instead of demonstrating encyclopedic knowledge in a simple test. Huisman Frýdek-Místek completed assembling a giant drilling machine for Texas. “That idea blows one away. Allowing industry and the energy sector to emit one-quarter more carbon dioxide than they do now is not a climate protection policy, but testimony to ignorance of mankind’s greatest problem,” Green Party Chairman Martin Bursík said of the government’s decision to ask Brussels for permission to allow half a billion tons more carbon dioxide be emitted from local chimneys between 2008–2012; just before the government’s request, President Václav Klaus called the fear of global warming a “fateful error of mankind today.” Atlantis published the Unbearable Lightness of Being in Czech. Candles were lit in Czech cemeteries in honor of the deceased.