Archive for the ‘World’ Category


Some travel agencies still offer resorts in Tunisia

In In The News,Politics,World on January 17, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Czechs are strongly discouraged from travelling to Tunisia, according to a recent warning posted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry as unrest and violence continues in this African country, a favorite spot for Czech sun-and-sea budget travellers (as Tunisia is significantly cheaper than Spain, Canary Islands, etc.). Interestingly enough, most Czech travel agencies have left Tunisian destinations in their systems, so one can book their holiday in a four-star hotel in any of the Tunisian resorts without any feedback from the system (see screenshot). Of course, it would probably be complicated and naturally one can assume that anyone who has eyes and ears must have already heard about the events that have resulted in impromptu evacuations of clients of Western European travel agencies. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that a travel agency would inform its potential clients that martial law is in effect in their desired destination.

According to the Foreign Ministry there are no Czech tourists in the country (with Czech travel agencies, that is). However, several women whose husbands are Tunisians have contacted the Czech embassy and inquired about the possibility of being evacuated.


Barack Obama’s Czech “friend” will serve six years in prison

In Law,Life,World on May 28, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

A woman from the Moravian-Silesian Region, Czech Republic, who only completed junior high tricked numerous college grads, including lawyers, into lending her huge amounts of money. The woman gained their trust by her good and regular “contacts with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin”, the DENIK daily reports.

More than twenty people lost almost CZK 10 million. They were approached by the woman who claimed to have been in the process of settling a huge inheritance proceeding, the amount of which exceeded that of the state budget of the Czech Republic (!!! -ed.). She promised to pay back way more than she would borrow.

She faked telephone conversations with Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin in front of her victims. They bought that, even though she spoke Czech and on a pay phone. Some of the victims later testified that they thought that there was some kind of automatic interpreting technology.

The woman also claimed to have been controlled by a “puppet master”. On the other hand she decided to accept the verdict and she did not appeal against it.


Polish tragedy on Czech front pages

In World on April 12, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,


Chasing Barack Obama in Prague

In Politics,Prague,World on April 8, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

Presidents Barack Obama and Dimitry Medvedev signed a new nuclear treaty in Prague today (Thursday). I knew that a large part of the Hradcany borough around the Prague Castle will become almost a ghost town… Well, the restrictions were not as tough as I thought they would be…

12:00 noon

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Large sections of the Hradcany neighborhood around the Prague Castle are still closed. Both presidents and all distinguished guests are now in the castle and the treaty signing ceremony should start any minute. This square is almost empty, save for a couple of tourists. This is the roadblock/checkpoint of the second perimeter and cops stopped the huge crowds of tourists at the third (outermost) level…

12:30 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Just across the street from the roadblock the Prague Castle Guards have their headquarters. They practiced they routine several times, leading a couple of journalists to believe that Obama’s motorcade will leave the castle on the way to the hotel … and pass through this checkpoint. After all, this is the way the motorcade arrived in the morning.. There were about 20 American tourists (not one single group, usually couples or groups of three) who waited patiently to see their president…

1:05 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

It should be any minute now, we were told…But later it was revealed that the Castle Guard motorbike entourage means nothing… In the meantime, the number of tourists on this square increased, as did the number of street cops who told the tourists to be ready to get out of the road…

2:13 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Incident! Some odd guy on a mountain bike passed though the roadblock, totally ignoring four cops who were standing there. They started yelling at him and there were another three further down the street, ready to catch him. He stopped and argued for a while… He was very lucky because the cops said they were getting ready for some “protesters”… he sure looked like one…

2:20 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Right behind me is the third-level (outermost) roadblock/checkpoint… This is where the large crowds of tourists and other people were stopped… Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is behind me…

3:55 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

We realised that Obama’s motorcade was going to leave the Prague Castle via its northern gate!! That required a six-minute walk and… we almost missed it… The two gentlemen in yellow vests with numbers are from the so-called “anti-conflict” team. Their job is to deal with troublemakers… usually young people who protest against globalisation and other issues by throwing things, or throwing themselves in front of cars etc… From what we saw they had almost nothing to do here…

4:00 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

The motorcade is here…led by two police motorbikes…

4:01 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Cadillac One… I only heard clapping from the crowd… No booing, no yelling, no whistling…

4:01 p.m.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Barack Obama on the way to his hotel… That was close…


Racism on Czech Facebook: do not support black Haitians, they are over-populated and the Earth is not inflatable

In Culture,Internet,Nature,Politics,World on January 18, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

Some of the members who got tricked into joining...

Over 100,000 Czech Facebook users were tricked into joining a "let's help Haiti" group...

Originally, it was a For every member who joins, CZK 10 will go to a Haiti relief fund group…

Over 140,000 Czechs joined (by January 18, 4:20 CET). Some of them maybe didn’t even believe that the mysterious user named “Adela Sobotkova” would actually donate the money.

But shortly afterwards, the main description of the group changed, from a charitable appeal to a racist statement. And since Facebook is a U.S. server, it is most definitely subject to the First Amendment (although I might be wrong here…).

Here is what is says now: There is no reason to support them, the Earth is not inflatable. This will result in them having more and more children, or at least to extend their hands and wait for self-destructive white people to give them something…

The authors claim it was a sociological experiment!! Yeah, right…

They continue: Instead of supporting complete strangers, help your loved ones. Visit your grandparents, buy a present for your partner or go on a trip with your kids. Do not live virtual reality with blacks from Haiti.

This is racism. This is not an experiment the purpose of which would be to prove that “Facebook users join stupid groups without thinking”. It is true that the relationship between an actual donation and a number of people in a Facebook group makes no real sense. If you have money, donate them… But the users who were tricked into joining maybe did both: they joined AND sent a special-rate SMS…

And fellow Facebook users stood up… Right now there are ten groups warning about the racist group or supporting its shutdown.


Los Angeles and the Haiti lesson

In Economy,In The News,World on January 16, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

This is what I realized as I was sending donation to a certain Haiti relief fund via a SMS from my cell phone.

The people in Haiti live in an earthquake zone on $2 a day and they have nowhere to go.

At the same time, people have been building and developing Los Angeles despite the 1994 Northridge quake. They voluntarily move into a city where their house can be destroyed any second… I don’t get it…

Central Europe usually gets very slight earthquakes (definitely not direct ones) with almost no damage at all…


Christmas spirit in Vienna

In Photography,Travel,Winter,World on November 30, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

(c) Petr Bokuvka

The main part of the Vienna market is situated in front of the city hall (Rathaus) building.

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Christmas tree decorations, toys, candles, hand-made gifts, jewelry, hand-made stationery…

(c) Petr Bokuvka

…and of course hot wine, whipped cream rolls, pretzels, candy, Sacher Torte, etc. The latter is not pictured here as the “huts” were always surrounded by crowds of people waiting patiently in lines…


Swine flu paradox: Czech airports screen Americans

In Travel,World on April 30, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

So far no case of swine flu has been confirmed in the Czech Republic. The three suspicious cases turned negative. All of them have recently returned from Mexico, as did the remaining EU cases in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

It is a sad paradox, really. During the times of unilateral USA-Czech visa regime many politicians, tourists and journalists (including myself) used to mention the fact that the system had been humiliating (“we have to, they don’t“).

And now every American who arrives in the Czech Republic is screened. “Luckily” we do not have regular Mexico-Prague flights, so passengers traveling from Mexico have to change flights in Madrid where some precautions have been in place as well…

In the meantime, Czechs have been buying out Tamiflu. However the authorities warned that taking the pills as precaution has no effects and the body may become resistant to it if the “patients” actually become sick…


Associated Press editors think Czechoslovakia still exists

In Entertainment,In The News,Media,Prague,World on March 15, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, it is still a country somewhere, eh? my colleagues from the Associated Press probably think. The news agency wrote yesterday that Barack Obama is about to visit Prague, Czechoslovakia. The screenshot below is from IHT:

IHT March 14 news item screenshot

IHT March 14 news item screenshot

My former editor-in-chief used to say that if you make a mistake like this you are a human with no benefits for the particular month. But if you reprint a mistake like this, you are a moron. I wonder who works in IHT’s foreign news desk, or whatever they call it, if they just robotically reprint AP without double-checking…

I will take “1993 World Events” for $200, Alex.


Smart-ass advice to the people of California

In Economy,Nature,Politics,World on March 2, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

Even Czech media recently informed about the huge problem the state of California has with water. Our favorite Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger sagte that water supplies might well be rationed during the upcoming months as the state faces the biggest drought ever.

I know it may sound like a smart-ass comment from a person who lives in a region where drought is not an issue, but I will try it anyway. Three words: service water desalinization.

I saw it during my two summer holidays: Gran Canaria and Mallorca. Both islands experience water shortage. Both islands have huge desalinization plants for water used as service water in all the hotels, companies and households …and potable water is bought in huge two-gallon bottle-like containers. People shower in desalinized water and they even rinse their mouths after brushing their teeth using the store-bought water.

I understand the state of Florida recently invested in gigantic desalinization projects. So it is doable.

I honestly don’t think that automatic sprinklers are a daily-basis bare necessity, even in multimillion neighborhoods like Bel Air. Fresh water shall be used for “oral consumption” only. It works well in Spain.

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