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Opinion: Obama's move was not appeasement

BOSTON, Massachusetts — When President George W. Bush committed the U.S. to putting up a missile shield in Poland, with radar facilities in the Czech Republic, the Russians raised holy hell. The installations would have made very little difference in the strategic balance between Russia and the West. Russia has enough missiles to overwhelm such a slender defensive reed.

Missile defense: The view from the Czech Republic

The U.S. announcement that it would scrap plans for missile defense bases in the Czech Republic and Poland was met with a sigh of relief here in the Czech Republic. From the day the plan was first announced in January 2007, opposition has been strong and steady. Czechs consistently opposed the plan by a 2-1 margin.

Starbucks is a-brewing in Prague

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — In a country where people are used to drinking their unfiltered “Turkish coffees” in small ceramic cups, Starbucks’ first 18 months have made something of a splash. The Seattle-based chain has announced plans to double its stores in the former Eastern Europe over the next five years, according to a Starbucks representative.

The decline of America and Poland's special relationship

WARSAW, Poland — The first of September, symbolic as the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, also marked the end of an era of special closeness between Poland and the United States. The dignitaries jostling for space near the Gdansk memorial where the opening shots of WWII were fired included Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The U.S. was represented by Gen. James Jones, the national security adviser.

'Europe's Detroit' skids

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — When Slovakia had the fastest growing economy in the European Union, it boasted that it had become Europe’s Detroit. But now it is facing similar problems to its American namesake as the continent’s auto industry plunges, taking the Slovak economy along for the ride.

Writing the history books

PRAGUE — A generation has passed since the dissolution of the Czech secret police — since they stopped tapping phone lines and searching for traitors — and yet Czechs still hunger to know who betrayed their country. Many of those answers lie in the secret police files that are only starting to be read and analyzed as part of the country's attempt to grapple with its communist past. But whether the process is more of a historical reckoning or a modern-day witch hunt goes to the heart of the current debate here.

Why do Czechs love their beer?

The issue raises a kind of chicken-and-egg question — which came first: Do the Czechs love their beer because it tastes so good, or is it so good because the Czechs cultivated it? The answer is almost certainly a bit of both.

The Czech love affair with beer

PRAGUE — It's almost a ritual for Czechs to walk to the corner pub or nearby restaurant — whose tables mushroom out onto the sidewalks — on hot summer days to drink beer.

Ugly blob or cultural treasure?

PRAGUE — Call it what you will: the Blob, the Octopus, the Eye — by any name the saga of the chosen library design refuses to die. Officially known as The Eye Above Prague, the futuristic-looking library would have a malleable-looking shape bereft of corners, sides and sharp edges. Atop the eight-story building would be a cafe open to the public, with a huge window looking out over the city (hence the name).

Czechs pass the keg to Swedes

BRUSSELS — Wrapping up its six-month presidency of the European Union, the Czech Republic handed off to incoming Sweden with a barrel of beer as the proverbial baton. Czech officials apparently chose to use this final moment in the presidency's spotlight to tell the world that their country has the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.
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