Friday, October 31, 2008

News 10.31.2008

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Copyright (c) 2008 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Friday, October 31st, 2008

By: Jan Velinger

* The Chamber of Deputies has passed a government bill which will
toughen criteria for firearms possession in the Czech Republic.

* Pravo has reported that MEP Jan Zahradil may run for the post of
party chairman at the Civic Democrats' December congress.

* Burmese refugees who made a dramatic escape from their homeland will
be granted asylum in the Czech Republic.

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Lower house passes amdnement toughening conditions for firearms
possession
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The Chamber of Deputies has passed a government bill expected to
toughen criteria for the possession of firearms in the Czech Republic
as of January 1, 2009. The aim is to lower the risk of legally-held
weapons being used in crimes. The bill, which passed without any major
modifications, also toughens criteria for those seeking a gun licence,
said to disqualify individuals with histories of heavy alcohol or drug
abuse. Also toughened: punishment for crimes involving firearms as well
as stricter controls on defunct weapons. In past cases, firearms that
had been written off were later found to still be functional and in
illegal use; before being passed into law the bill will still have to
be signed by the president.


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Daily: Zahradil could run for party leader post
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The daily Pravo has reported that Czech Member of the European
Parliament Jan Zahradil may run for the post of leader of the Civic
Democratic Party at the party's December congress. He told the daily he
might aim to lead the party for an interim period of one year, saying
such a move depended on how two blocs within the ruling party clashed
in December. One faction may back current leader Mirek Topolanek,
another, his challenger Pavel Bem. Mr Zahradil said he would consider
such a clash "unfortunate" and made clear his decision to run would be
an effort to re-unite his party. The MEP is known for having close ties
to the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, founder of the Civic
Democratic Party. By comparison, the president's relationship with
current chairman Mirek Topolanek is known to be rocky.


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Bem: Topolanek should stay on as PM
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Prague Mayor Pavel Bem, who has declared he will run to become the next
leader of the Civic Democratic Party, said on Friday that Mr Topolanek
should stay on as prime minister. He stressed that splitting the roles
of prime minister and party leader would not lead to a rift in the
party. At the same time, Mr Bem, who is the first deputy leader of the
Civic Democrats, laid the blame for recent poor results in regional and
Senate elections with the government as a whole. Mirek Topolanek has
not yet confirmed whether he will run to retain the party leader post.


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Daily: Topolanek, Paroubek discuss Czech EU presidency
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Pravo has also reported that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek met with
opposition leader Jiri Paroubek on Thursday to discuss the Czech
Republic's taking up the six-month EU presidency on January 1. The two
men - major rivals in the 2006 national election - reportedly met for
90 minutes to "fine-tune" future steps. In recent days some media, as
well as several EU parliamentarians, questioned the Czech Republic's
ability to lead the union during a time of global financial crisis and
recession. A weak showing by Mr Topolanek's party in recent regional
and Senate elections - won almost single-handedly by Mr Paroubek's
Social Democrats - has also raised questions about the Czech
government's strength.


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Topolanek meets with Sarkozy in Paris
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In related news, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has met with
French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris to discuss the Czech
Republic's taking up the EU presidency on January 1. The meeting
followed speculation in the media that Paris was trying to downplay
Prague's upcoming role at the head of the EU, in light of the global
financial crisis and other key issues. In recent days, some media also
questioned the Czech Republic's overall preparedness. But on Friday,
the French president reportedly fully backed the Czechs as the next EU
leaders, stressing that Czech representatives should also be present at
an upcoming New York summit on the financial crisis.


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US to provide 600 thousand US dollars for first three Czech projects
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The US has pledged to provide 600 thousand US dollars in funding so far
for three out of eight Czech scientific projects; Henry Obering, the
head of the US Missile Defense Agency, made the announcement in Prague
on Friday. He stressed it was only the start of future cooperation. The
US agreed to finance the projects in connection with the Czech
government's backing of a US radar base on Czech soil - part of a
missile defence system planned by the US in central Europe. Eight
projects in different fields, submitted by the Czech Academy of
Sciences, made the previous shortlist: fields include nanotechnology,
robotics, laser technology, among others. Treaties on the US radar base
have yet to be approved by the Czech Parliament.


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Burmese refugees to be granted asylum in the Czech Republic
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Five Burmese families, mainly young parents with children, who landed
at Prague's Ruzyne international airport on Thursday will be granted
asylum in the Czech Republic. The news was released by an official from
the Interior Ministry. 23 refugees will be granted asylum within a
state-funded resettlement programme. The families were reportedly
severely persecuted by the Burmese authorities because they hid
insurgents, supported rebel activities and went against the orders of
the Burmese government. The group survived a dramatic escape from their
homeland after soldiers sank the refugees' boat. A number of young
children drowned.


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Amendment to secure better protection of crime victims' privacy
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The lower house has passed an amendment to the criminal code which in
the future should more firmly protect crime victims' personal privacy,
banning the publication of details in the case of minors, as well as
adults who hadn't issued prior consent. Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil
said the law would allow for information to be published only if it was
in a victim's or the public's interest, for example, in abduction cases
or for identification purposes. The ban on publishing personal data
will also include photographic or video images. Any breach could lead
to a five million crown fine, and in some cases, up to five years in
prison. Under the law, which now goes to the Senate, the media would no
longer be able to publish images of children in divorce cases, or any
images of minors in cases of child abuse. The government committee for
children's rights recommended that existing legislation be toughened
after a case of severe child maltreatment in the town of Kurim came
under close media scrutiny for months, both this and last year.


========================================================================
Duricko to be allowed to apply for release on bail
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Hotel-owner Bohumir Duricko, in custody for the murder of Vaclav Kocka,
jr, the son of a close associate of Social Democrat leader Jiri
Paroubek, will be allowed to apply for release on bail. The spokeswoman
for the Prague public prosecutor's office made the announcement on
Friday, saying the prosecution had found there was no longer a threat
Mr Duricko might try to influence witnesses. On the other hand, she
maintained there was still a danger of potential escape. Mr Duricko
could apply for bail as early as next week. On Thursday, the Kocka
family, rejected an apology by the hotelier for his actions: the
victim, Vaclav Kocka, jr, was shot to death in front of witnesses at a
Prague restaurant earlier this month.


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Weather
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Mostly cloudy skies are expected into the weekend; daytime temperatures
on Saturday should reach highs of around 12 degrees Celsius.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Current Affairs
The art of burcak-making
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wine lovers from countries such as France, Spain or Italy might often
turn up their noses at wine that is made in Moravia and Bohemia. But
each year, there comes a time when Czechs enjoy something unknown to
those wine-producing powers - the fresh, fruity and fizzy young wine
known as burcak. Jan Richter reports from South Moravia, the wine
capital of the Czech Republic.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/109900

Current Affairs
Stories of Injustice bringing testimony of communist-era persecution to
schools
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over the next four weeks, at almost 600 primary and secondary schools
throughout the country, pupils will come face to face with some of the
victims of the communist regime. Using documentary films and
interaction with real people who lived through it, the Stories of
Injustice project attempts to shed light on a period that doesn't even
feature on the mainstream Czech curriculum. The programme is run by the
NGO People in Need, and this is its fourth year. The organisation's
spokesman Filip Sebek explained more.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/109899

Current Affairs
Refurbished Bohemian National Hall in New York reopens after two decades
------------------------------------------------------------------------

After years of discussion, planning and extensive renovation work, New
York's Bohemian National Hall finally reopened on Thursday evening in a
lavish gala event. The imposing five-storey building on Manhattan's
Upper East Side first opened in 1896, but closed in 1986, and was left
unused for many years. Now it's ready once again to serve as the centre
of Czech cultural and social life in the Big Apple. Radio Prague's
director Miroslav Krupicka was at the opening.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/109898

Arts
Onwards and upwards for the Jihlava International Documentary Film
Festival
------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the twelve years since it was established, the Jihlava International
Documentary Film Festival has quickly become the biggest showcase of
creative documentary films in the Central European region. Over 30,000
people attended 240 film screenings at this year's event, which
attracted high-calibre guests such as the American pioneer of
"fly-on-the-wall" documentary Frederick Wiseman and the controversial
Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/109895

Business News
Business News 10.31.2008
------------------------------------------------------------------------

In this weeks Business News: Czech car makers have announced that they
may have to cut jobs in the first quarter of 2009; Skoda has just
posted figures that reveal an 8.6 billion crown and nearly 25% fall in
profits; the Czech Central bank has formally rejected the idea that a
fast-track adoption of the euro may help the Czech Republic fight
against the effects of the global financial crisis; a new prognosis
from the Finance Ministry puts economic growth in 2009 at just 3.7%;
Czechs are increasingly looking for bargains on the Czech stock
exchange and household debts climbed steeply in October by around 14
billion crowns, according to the Czech National Bank

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/109878

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Radio Prague Today 10.31.2008

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Current Affairs: The art of burčák-making

Wine lovers from countries such as France, Spain or Italy might often turn up their noses at wine that is made in Moravia and Bohemia. But each year, there comes a time when Czechs enjoy something unknown to those wine-producing powers – the fresh, fruity and fizzy young wine known as burčák. Jan Richter reports from South Moravia, the wine capital of the Czech Republic.

Current Affairs: Stories of Injustice bringing testimony of communist-era persecution to schools

Over the next four weeks, at almost 600 primary and secondary schools throughout the country, pupils will come face to face with some of the victims of the communist regime. Using documentary films and interaction with real people who lived through it, the Stories of Injustice project attempts to shed light on a period that doesn't even feature on the mainstream Czech curriculum. The programme is run by the NGO People in Need, and this is its fourth year. The organisation's spokesman Filip Šebek explained more.

Current Affairs: Refurbished Bohemian National Hall in New York reopens after two decades

After years of discussion, planning and extensive renovation work, New York's Bohemian National Hall finally reopened on Thursday evening in a lavish gala event. The imposing five-storey building on Manhattan's Upper East Side first opened in 1896, but closed in 1986, and was left unused for many years. Now it's ready once again to serve as the centre of Czech cultural and social life in the Big Apple. Radio Prague's director Miroslav Krupička was at the opening.

Arts: Onwards and upwards for the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival

In the twelve years since it was established, the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival has quickly become the biggest showcase of creative documentary films in the Central European region. Over 30,000 people attended 240 film screenings at this year's event, which attracted high-calibre guests such as the American pioneer of "fly-on-the-wall" documentary Frederick Wiseman and the controversial Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl.

Business News: Business News 10.31.2008

In this weeks Business News: Czech car makers have announced that they may have to cut jobs in the first quarter of 2009; Škoda has just posted figures that reveal an 8.6 billion crown and nearly 25% fall in profits; the Czech Central bank has formally rejected the idea that a fast-track adoption of the euro may help the Czech Republic fight against the effects of the global financial crisis; a new prognosis from the Finance Ministry puts economic growth in 2009 at just 3.7%; Czechs are increasingly looking for bargains on the Czech stock exchange and household debts climbed steeply in October by around 14 billion crowns, according to the Czech National Bank

Asia Compact | 31.10.2008, 18:00 UTC

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Newsletter | 31.10.2008, 18:00 UTC
Asia Compact
Your guide to information and selected links
Overview of Topics
Pakistani Human Rights Activists Condemn Military Operation in Bajaur
How influential are Indonesia's Islamists?
China's Economy Begins to Feel Impact of Crisis
Asia News 31 October 2008 16.15 UTC
Asia Compact
Quiz of the Month
Pakistani Human Rights Activists Condemn Military Operation in Bajaur
Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission has urged the Pakistani army to stop the ongoing military operation in the tribal region of Bajaur, which it said has also resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and rendered tens of thousands homeless.
[more]
> Wave of Refugees as Pakistan Fights the Taliban
^^^
How influential are Indonesia's Islamists?
On Thursday, Indonesia's parliament passed an anti-pornography bill in the face of strong opposition from minority groups. The bill, now passed into law, has caused some concern in western countries as well. At the same time, Indonesia is about to execute three Islamic militants convicted for the 2002 Bali bombings.
[more]
Audio Azyurmadi Azra, a professor of history in Jakarta, talks about the influence of Islamists in Indonesia
> Censorship on Art in Indonesia
^^^
China's Economy Begins to Feel Impact of Crisis
China is approaching a new record trade surplus. According to official figures, the People's Republic's exports exceeded imports by a record 192 billion dollars in the first half of the year. In 2008, China might well surpass last year's 372 billion dollars trade surplus. But behind these shining figures, there are big question marks: How is the financial crisis affecting business?
[more]
> ASEM Summit Discusses Financial Crisis
^^^
Asia News 31 October 2008 16.15 UTC
- Suspected US missile kills 16 in Pakistan
- Japan sacks air force chief over WWII comments
- Japan cuts key lending rate amidst recession fears
- Contaminated livestock feed in China?
- Explosion in Chinese mine kills 23
- Fears of disease after Pakistan earthquake
- Islamists suspected behind Assam bombings

[more]
^^^
Asia Compact
China's economy glitters – but is it all gold? There might be a humanitarian, even security price to pay for Pakistan's ongoing military operation in Bajaur; and, despite a new anti-pornography law, Indonesia remains steady on its secular path, claims an expert.
[more]
Audio Listen to the latest programme
^^^
Quiz of the Month
Answer the following question to win a short-wave radio and other Deutsche Welle prizes! In which Asian country did US presidential candidate Barack Obama spend time as a child?
[more]
^^^
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