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Around Slovakia

Woman stabs taxi driver
Dog sledding races in the east
Beware of rabies
Hot spring a top attraction
President wants statue removed
Crow that does not fly but barks
Avalanche kills skier
Man dies in bed when cigarette butt starts fire

Bojnice
Woman stabs taxi driver

A 25-YEAR-OLD former convict who was recently released from jail on probation was charged with causing serious injury after she cut the throat of a cab driver.
The cab driver managed to call for help after the attack happened January 6. He is still in hospital, where doctors say he is lucky to have survived: The 30-centimetre wound was only a few millimetres from his jugular vein.
Within three days of the incident police tracked down the assailant, who has been identified only by her first name, Eva.
The taxi driver said Eva had him drive around Bojnice and surrounding villages for more than an hour, making him stop several times and pretending that she was trying to find a friend or a relative. After some time she asked the driver to stop, telling him that she felt sick. She then put a kitchen knife to his neck and sliced into his skin.
The two fought for some time before the taxi driver fell down. Eva stumbled over him and dropped the knife. She then ran away and when police found her a few days later, she confessed to the crime.



DOG-SLED enthusiasts gathered in Zlatá Baňa to compete in numerous races.
photo: TASR

Zlatá Baňa
Dog sledding races in the east

DOZENS of winter dog-sled racing enthusiasts from Slovakia and the Czech Republic took part in a traditional race in the eastern Slovak village of Zlatá Baňa near Prešov.
More than 41 dog teams, each composed of three or four dogs and one musher - or dog-sled driver - competed in the Zlatá Baňa Tondach Cup dog-sled race. The event was divided into seven categories, consisting of races of 9 and 12 kilometres.
Many dog owners took the opportunity not only to compete but also to complain about the tough times their sport is going through. Apart from the cost of feeding the dogs, new breeds are out of the reach of many, as one dog from a foreign breed can cost as much as Sk25,000 (625 euro), which is twice the national average monthly wage.
"A dog from a domestic breed costs about Sk5,000 (120 euro) to Sk6,000 (144 euro), but foreign breeds can cost up to four times as much," said Jaroslav Nižňanský, one of the race's organisers.


Žiar nad Hronom
Beware of rabies

SEVERAL districts in the central Slovak region of Žiar nad Hronom have warned inhabitants of a rabies infection that is being spread by foxes.
Back in December several municipalities in the region, including the towns of Stará Kremnička, Lovčica-Trubín, Banská Hodruša, and Nová Baňa, reported cases of rabies. Veterinary authorities have confirmed that foxes were responsible for the rabies in every instance.
In all the affected municipalities strict measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the illness. Rabies is fatal and spreads from animal to animal or from animal to man through a bite or scratch. Doctors said the incubation period ranges from 20 to 60 days.


Podhájska
Hot spring a top attraction

MORE than half a million visitors dipped into the open-air natural thermal pool at Podhájska last year.
Jozef Barcaj, head of the facility, said that the number of visitors in 2002 was 20 per cent higher than in 2001.
He explained that the composition of water in Podhájska was similar to that of the water in the Dead Sea, and that in the past the current pool area was nothing but a marsh that never froze, even in the coldest winters.
The spring water reaches temperatures of 83 degrees Celsius, enabling visitors to take a dip even during the winter season.



THE PRESIDENT wants this work of art out of his sight.
photo: Ján Svrček

Bratislava
President wants statue removed

THE OFFICE of President Rudolf Schuster has officially requested that the mayors of Bratislava and Bratislava Old Town remove a large statue from the Grassalkovich garden behind the presidential palace.
The steel sculpture, which has been on display since the summer, is the work of American artist Betty Gold and was created during the international symposium Sculpture and Object in 2002. That event was supported by the US embassy in Slovakia, and Gold left the sculpture as a gift to the city of Bratislava.
The presidential office claims that the sculpture "opposes the baroque character of the garden and is insensitively placed in a formal environment where all the visitors to the presidential palace have to look at it."
The statue is located in the part of the garden that is not used by the president but by the public.
The statue was wrapped in black plastic sheeting for a few days while officials debated its future.


Turecká
Avalanche kills skier

AN ALPINE skier died in an avalanche near the central Slovak village of Turecká in the Staré Hory mountains.
The victim, a 51-year-old, was found dead by mountain rescue dog Deny under about 1.5 metres of snow on January 11. Despite earlier warnings of possible avalanches, many alpine skiers went out skiing anyway.
Vladimír Vítek, head of Mountain Rescue in the Veľká Fatra area, said that many alpine skiers often risked their lives because they were attracted to the thrill of the adrenaline sport.
According to available statistics, 11 avalanches have taken place in the Veľká Fatra mountain range since 1872, killing 24 people.



THE CROW that barks like a dog has turned into a local attraction.
photo: Zuzana Habšudová

Považské Podhradie
Crow that does not fly but barks

THE SADDLEBACK crow that shares a courtyard with the other animals belonging to the Rusnák family in the northwestern village of Považské Podhradie has never learned to fly or even speak its mother tongue. Instead, growing up with a cat, a dog, and hens, it has learned to be bold and bark.
"My father and older brother found the crow on the ground in the outskirts of nearby [Považská Bystrica]. It most probably fell from the nest and broke a wing. They brought the young crow home and its wing healed. Since then it has stayed with us, maybe because it never learned to fly," Peter Rusnák, 28, told The Slovak Spectator.
The crow's initial shyness disappeared as soon as its wing healed. Receiving food at the same time as Rusnák's cat and dog, it started to use its sharp beak to fight with the other animals for the best pieces. It did not use its beak just for eating. For instance, it liked to cut the heads off all the tulips the family was growing in the spring.
The neighbours found out about the crow when it started barking, mainly in the evenings or early mornings. The crow has a slightly thinner voice than the Rusnák's dog, but its accent is identical.
The crow lives in the chicken coop, but unlike the hens, it can freely lope across the courtyard. And because the crow never learned how to fly, Peter was very surprised when one recent windy day he saw it floating in the air from the house's upper window.
"The wind must have blown under the crow's wings as it was stretching them and lifted it up. The wind carried it into the yard of a nearby house. If their dog had had a longer chain, that would have been end of the crow."


Važec
Man dies in bed when cigarette butt starts fire

A MAN who fell asleep in his house in Važec died from suffocation after failing to put out a cigarette.
On January 11, 58-year-old Ján H. from Važec village in the district of Liptovský Mikuláš was found dead after a burning cigarette started a fire in his house. The doctor who was called to inspect the body said he died from suffocation.
Monika Kuhajdová from the Interior Ministry's press department said that when firemen arrived at the house the man was already dead in his bed.

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