The warm weather continued. Meteorologists announced that winter would not come this year. Snowdrops bloomed. Migratory birds returned to the Czech Republic. Media reported that constant, thick snowfall had completely immobilized central China, trapping millions of people at train stations and airports, and the communist authorities started to fear a wide-scale uprising. The Czech publishing house Albatros accused the Tesco chain of putting four thousand counterfeit copies of its bestseller, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on its shelves. The unemployment rate hit a record low. “I want to apologize for our driving so fast; however, the drive was safe, the road was empty, so I am rather apologizing for not having the siren on during the whole journey,” said Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party – ODS) after an outraged public showered him with criticism over his trip to a tennis match during which his government vehicle raced along the highway from Prague to Brno at an average speed of 176 kilometers per hour. “Look, that wasn’t just ordinary tennis: the Czech national players were playing, and they played damn well,” replied Topolánek’s fellow ODS member, Interior Minister Ivan Langer, when reporters asked him to comment on the prime minister’s trip. Czech household debt rose to a record 750 billion crowns. Former environment minister and anti-Communist dissident Ivan Dejmal passed away. “Those are childish and far-from-manly excuses,” said Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová, characterizing the words of Pavel Štefka – recently dismissed as chief of the Czech General Staff and currently a candidate for the post of Czech ambassador to Uzbekistan – who remarked that he was “merely a tank driver who can hardly understand all those invoices” in explanation of how, during his command of the General Staff, high-level officers had established an unlawful, multi-million-crown fund which they used to pay for expensive gifts, foreign trips, and even goods such as embroidered, custom-tailored underwear; Štefka himself faces accusations of having received several hundred-thousand crowns from the state treasury as a “housing contribution” while he held the post even though he was living in quarters fully paid for by the government. People being held in custody while awaiting trial were given beige t-shirts and green trousers to wear instead of jogging suits. Pope Benedict XVI decided to modify the Catholic Church’s prayer for the conversion of Jews; instead of the existing wish for God to “free Jews from blindness,” from now on Catholics should pray for God to “enlighten their hearts.” The Czech presidential election began. By this publication’s deadline, the head of state had not been elected.
“I’ve never come across a better company,” said labor union boss Jiří Jedlička of his home company ČEZ after he received a 20-million-crown bonus as a member of the energy giant’s supervisory board. Travel agencies started selling this year’s bestseller – “first-minute holidays.” An armed accomplice attacked a two-member police escort to free his friend – a prisoner being led to a medical check-up at a health center in Sokolov. It came to light that an intoxicated police officer who recently stabbed an American tourist to death did so because he didn’t like the way the victim parked his car. Václav Havel was released from the hospital. South African authorities decided not to extradite businessman Radovan Krejčíř, who is accused of several white-collar crimes in the Czech Republic, and judges in Johannesburg expressed concern that there is a political subtext behind the charges. “We won’t change history. And we won’t give contributions to people who harm the city’s interests,” said Králíky Mayor Jana Ponocná, explaining why her city hall won’t give five thousand crowns to the organizers of an annual gathering of those bearing the name Králík in Králíky; the gathering’s organizer, Jan Králík, has called on the city council to revoke the honorary citizenship bestowed on Sudeten German Party leader Konrad Heinlein by the city on May 9, 1939 – a request that Ponocná and other city councilors view as an attempt to rewrite history. An international team of scientists concluded, after many years of research, that “people in industrial states don’t enjoy going outdoors anymore and prefer to stay at home.” The year of the pig was superseded by the year of the rat in the Chinese calendar. Newspapers reported that the John Lennon & Paul McCartney song “Across the Universe” was beamed into the cosmos via satellite to celebrate NASA’s 50th anniversary. Alfons Mucha’s series Slovanská epopej (The Slav Epic) definitively returned to Prague from Moravia. The planetarium in Brno’s Kraví Hora park started projecting New Zealand’s nighttime sky for visitors.