Saturday, February 28, 2009

News 2.28.2009

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

News Saturday, February 28th, 2009

By: Rosie Johnston

* Police are investigating 51 people in connection with allegations of
corruption at the Czech Defence Ministry, and fraudulent tenders worth
more than 300 million crowns.

* Deputy Environment Minister Jan Dusik has been chosen as the Green
Party's number-one candidate for the upcoming European elections.

* Police have received five weapons as part of an ongoing firearms
amnesty that they say were used in violent crime.

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Former Defence Ministry employees implicated in million-crown
corruption scandal
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Police are investigating 51 people in connection with allegations of
corruption at the Czech Defence Ministry, and fraudulent tenders worth
more than 300 million crowns (13.5 million USD). On Friday, a Defence
Ministry spokesperson confirmed that a number of tenders dating from
2005 were being looked into. Andrej Cirtek admitted that one third of
the accused were former employees of the ministry, though none of those
implicated worked for the ministry any more, he said. The other
individuals being investigated all came from private enterprise. The
tenders in question all related to smaller-scale construction and
maintenance of ministry properties.


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Greens choose candidates for European elections
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Deputy Environment Minister Jan Dusik has been chosen as the Green
Party's number-one candidate for the upcoming European elections, it
was announced on Saturday. Number two on the list of Green candidates
is MP Katerina Jacques. The Greens were the last political party in the
Czech Republic to decide upon their candidates for the European
elections, they did so at a national council meeting in Prague on
Saturday. The Czech Republic will have a total of 22 seats in the new
European Parliament, at the moment, it has 24. Party leader Martin
Bursik has said that he would consider the election of three Green
candidates to the European Parliament a 'massive success'.


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Police investigate owners of five guns handed in during amnesty
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Police have received five weapons as part of an ongoing firearms
amnesty that, they say, were used in violent crime. An amnesty on
illegal firearms has been running since the beginning of February in
the Czech Republic and is set to last until July. On Friday, a
spokesperson said that following forensic tests police were
investigating the owners of five of the weapons handed in. So far, some
755 guns have been given to the police as part of the amnesty. This is
the third amnesty of its type in the Czech Republic in recent years.
Over 3000 illegal weapons were handed over to the police in 1996 and
then 2003, including a WWII Soviet-made anti-tank rifle and a British
sub-machine gun dating from the same period.


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European Disability Forum meets in Prague
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The European Disability Forum is holding a meeting in Prague this
weekend as part of the Czech Republic's EU presidency. During the first
day of the meeting, the head of the Czech Council for the Disabled,
Jiri Moravek, said that the Czech Republic lagged behind older EU
members when it came to the integration of disabled people into the
community. The Czech Republic pledged to pass an anti-discrimination
bill before joining the EU in 2004. The bill was passed by Parliament
but vetoed by President Vaclav Klaus. As such, the Czech Republic could
now be fined by the European Commission for failing to honour its
commitment.


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Vlcek proposes fines for skiving MPs
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The Head of the Czech Lower House, Miloslav Vlcek, would like to fine
MPs who are unable to explain their absence from sessions of
Parliament, reports Mlada fronta Dnes on Saturday. The reaction to Mr
Vlcek's proposal has been lukewarm, writes the daily. The head of the
Lower House would like to fine deputies who are absent from more than
30 percent of parliamentary sessions without good reason. He proposes
the money will be docked from MPs' expense accounts, which can amount
to 40,000 crowns (1,800 USD) a year. Mr Vlcek will bring the proposal
to Parliament in March. So far, deputies have questioned how the system
would be monitored.


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Czech police confiscate 1440 vehicles in 2008
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Police impounded 1440 vehicles in 2008, a spokesperson announced on
Saturday. In 2007, the number of vehicles confiscated by police was
677. Each time, the majority of the vehicles confiscated were lorries;
in 2008, the number of foreign lorries impounded by Czech police
totaled 840. According to spokeswoman Veronika Benediktova, the Czech
police also confiscated a number of vehicles from those driving well
above the speed limit on the country's motorways. So far this year,
some 79 vehicles have been confiscated.


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Langer calls for changes at the head of Czech football association
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Interior Minister Ivan Langer has come out in criticism of those at the
head of the Czech football association and called for a change in
leadership. In Saturday's edition of the newspaper Sport, Mr Langer
attacked FA bosses for preparing insufficiently for a change in the way
stadiums are policed. When the Czech Gambrinus Liga resumed after the
winter break last week, football grounds' security was supposed to be
taken care of by the clubs themselves, and not the Czech police. But,
after violence erupted at a match in Brno, the police were forced to
intervene and five arrests were made. On Saturday, Ivan Langer said
that if the Czech FA had prepared better for the change, police
intervention would not have been necessary. The head of the football
association Pavel Mokry responded that it was not his organization
which was to blame and called Mr Langer's comments 'inadmissible state
intervention' into the FA and its board.


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Tennis: Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova out of Mexican Open in
semi-finals
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In tennis, Czech women's number one Iveta Benesova is out of the
Mexican Open after losing to the tournament's number two seed, Flavia
Pennetta in the semi-finals. Benesova, who won the competition in 2004,
lost 6-3 6-3 to the Italian on Friday. Pennetta, the defending
champion, will now go on to play tournament favourite Venus Williams,
who beat the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Saturday.


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Weather
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It should take a turn for the colder over the next couple of days, with
temperatures dropping down to between 2 - 6 degrees Celsius. Expect
rain and cloudy skies throughout the weekend.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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SoundCzech
To have a bug in your bonnet
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Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague's
Czech language programme in which you can learn popular Czech
expressions through song lyrics. Today's song, called Snad jsem to
zavinil ja (It was probably my fault), is by the rock band Olympic and
the phrase to look out for is brouka v hlave mas (or brouk v hlave).

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/113687

Magazine
Magazine 2.28.2009
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Czechs are feeling the credit crunch but fortune-tellers say their
business is booming! A woman gives birth on the D-five highway in minus
ten degree temperatures, and why the swans of the Vltava river need to
go on a diet. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/113730


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all rights reserved. http://www.radio.cz, E-mail: cr@radio.cz

Radio Prague Today 2.28.2009

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

SoundCzech: To have a bug in your bonnet

Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague's Czech language programme in which you can learn popular Czech expressions through song lyrics. Today's song, called Snad jsem to zavinil já (It was probably my fault), is by the rock band Olympic and the phrase to look out for is brouka v hlavě máš (or brouk v hlavě).

Magazine: Magazine 2.28.2009

Czechs are feeling the credit crunch but fortune-tellers say their business is booming! A woman gives birth on the D-five highway in minus ten degree temperatures, and why the swans of the Vltava river need to go on a diet. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Report says Myanmar junta refused, stole aid in cyclone's wake; escape network helps gay Iraqis flee death squads

View wireless version here: http://r.smartbrief.com/resp/oOzEsuoRBqbKoRCibSlJBVQRya


 
February 27, 2009 | News covering the UN and the worldSign up | E-Mail this

Sierra Leone warlord convictions send stern message to war criminals

A civil-war tribunal decision found three men guilty on more than three dozen total counts of war crimes. The convictions on charges of forced marriages and conscription of child soldiers come at a time when international tribunals are acting more forcibly, with an arrest for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir looming and an ongoing trial against former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. The Christian Science Monitor (2/27)



The Sierra Leone decision is another notch on the slowly tightening belt of international accountability. This is a good day for potential future victims of crimes against humanity everywhere, as it takes the world a little further down the track of deterring future crimes.

Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast. Read the full story.



UN Dispatch: There's nothing wrong with planning for the best possible outcome, but Ban Ki-moon seems a little sanguine when it comes to the prospects for Somalia becoming stable enough to host a UN peacekeeping mission by June or July.

UN Dispatch


United Nation
  • UN court acquits former Serbian president of crimes against Albanians
    In its first decision establishing widespread Serbian crimes against Albanians in the late 1990s, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic played no role in what was deemed an illegal plot to forcibly expunge Kosovo of its ethnic Albanian population. Though the court convicted five other senior Serbian officials, the decision came as a blow to prosecutors. The Washington Post/The Associated Press (2/27)
Development Health and Poverty
  • Report details larceny, neglect in wake of Nargis
    Eyewitness reports documented in a new report by Johns Hopkins University and the Emergency Assistance Team in Myanmar reveal that the military junta refused international aid in the wake of the devastation of Cyclone Nargis. Military and police erected checkpoints to stifle the delivery of aid organized even by Myanmar's own people, while the junta insisted that it was fully capable of repairing the damage done to nation and people. International aid packages were instead confiscated and sold, while surviving men, women and children were forced to labor on reconstruction projects. Chris Beyer, director of the human rights center at Johns Hopkins characterized the neglect and larceny as being a possible war crime. The Guardian (London) (2/27)
  • Dread reckoning: Somalia's hard-to-read plight
    International observers don't know how many people still live in Somalia, after the flight of an estimated 6 million refugees to neighboring countries. Its problems of piracy and civil strife are well-known, but details of life on the ground are hard to come by, because the country is so dangerous to aid workers and journalists. The Economist (2/26)
  • World Bank and partners to deliver rescue package for Eastern Europe
    In partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, the World Bank is providing a bailout of $31 billion over two years for Eastern European banks and businesses -- a decision that signals a change of heart on behalf of Germany, which initially expressed hesitation about the need to send assistance to the region. Western leaders fear that financial destabilization in Eastern Europe could spread farther west. The International Monetary Fund has worked to stem a financial meltdown, pumping billions into the coffers of Latvia, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine and Hungary. The Washington Post (2/27)
  • WHO: Resistant malaria strain found along Thai-Cambodian border
    A strain of malaria that is resistant to the most powerful drug used against the disease has broken out along the border of Thailand and Cambodia, the World Health Organization reports. The emerging resistance to the drug Artemisinin could threaten efforts to control the deadly disease, said WHO, which will tap a $22.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to battle the outbreak. Reuters (2/25)
Development Energy and Environment
  • Scientists mull "hacking" Earth
    Climatologists from Royal Society researchers to university academics are researching possible outcomes of of geo-engineering -- effectively hacking the planet in order to stave off the effects of global warming. Such ideas include deflecting the sun's rays with orbital mirrors and large-scale carbon dioxide removal. New Scientist (2/25)
  • Campaign takes aim at U.S. penchant for soft toilet paper
    A new campaign by Greenpeace will try to convince Americans to replace their preferred super-soft, multi-ply toilet paper with environmentally friendly recycled rolls. "Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution," said a scientist at Britain's Natural Resources Defence Council. The Guardian (London) (2/26)
  • New toilets collect urine for use as fertilizer
    It's now possible to capture urine for use as a fertilizer, reducing the amount that ends up in wastewater treatment facilities and waterways. Sweden's "NoMix" urine-division toilet collects waste for future use by farmers. "If they can use urine and it's cheap, they'll use it," said professor Petter Jenssen of Norway's Agricultural University. The New York Times (2/27)
Security and Human Rights
  • Escape network helps gay Iraqis flee death squads
    Gay Iraqis are taking refuge in safe houses throughout the country in order to avoid fundamentalist death squads sanctioned by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shia cleric. The network was established in 2006 by the Iraqi LGBT organization, which also helps gays leave the country. "Our efforts have got gay refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees," said the group's coordinator. The Guardian (London) (2/25)
  • UN: Intelligence agents visiting Guantanamo violated human rights
    UN special investigator on human rights Martin Scheinin has determined that foreign intelligence agents who interrogated or even observed interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay violated human rights -- an indictment of intelligence officials from at least 18 nations invited to Guantanamo to interview detainees. Though Scheinin has praised U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to close the detention facility, he has urged the Obama administration to seek accountability and prosecutions and not ignore for political purposes the crimes against humanity that took place there. The Washington Post (2/27)
  • Bangladeshis find mass grave in mutinous guards' HQ
    At least 30 bodies of hostages seized by the Bangladesh Rifles were discovered in a mass grave after Bangladeshi police officers entered the headquarters of the rebel border guards. The victims appeared to be officers killed during the two-day uprising, which ended Friday after a show of force by the government. The mutinous guards had demanded participation in lucrative UN peacekeeping missions, changes in the force's command and control organization and better pay. The New York Times (2/27)
  • Bishop's apology for Holocaust views disdained by critics
    The Catholic bishop who sparked an outcry with his controversial views of the Holocaust has issued a "thoroughly ambiguous" apology that is being disdained by religious leaders and historians worldwide. If Bishop Richard Williamson "is looking to repent, he needs to admit that he was wrong in denying the truth," said a spokeswoman for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. The Times (London) (2/27)
Peace and Security
  • Gaza aid and political realities at the heart of Hamas-Fatah talks
    The administration of Gaza is a central issue in the reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah currently taking place in Egypt. Hamas seeks reconstruction aid for the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip, but as a political body, Hamas is shunned by the international community. Fatah, on the other hand, hopes to raise $2.8 billion at an international conference and would seek a greater hand for the Palestinian Authority in directing affairs in Gaza. Egypt, for its part, hopes to reassert itself as a strong regional voice -- its reputation damaged by its relationship with the U.S. -- by bringing about the reconciliation of Palestine. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (2/27)
  • West urged to engage as Bosnian Serbs threaten independence
    The U.S. and the European Union are ignoring signs of trouble in Bosnia, where Serb leaders are again agitating for independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina, experts warn. In a worst-case situation, a move toward Serbian independence could result in Croatia sending in troops and Bosnian Muslims taking up arms, said Bosnian specialist Srecko Latal, who urged the West to "engage not just for the sake of Bosnia but because the world can't afford to allow what happened the last time." The New York Times (2/26)
  • Mexico's Calderon anticipates drug victory by 2012
    Mexico President Felipe Calderon anticipates subduing his nation's drug cartels by the time his term ends in 2012 and disputes reports that Mexico is "a failed state." Calderon said he hopes the Mexican army and federal police eventually can leave the drug fight in the hands of local law enforcement authorities. Google/The Associated Press (2/26)
  • World Bank approves $100 million emergency grant to Congo
    The World Bank has approved a $100 million emergency grant for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, allowing the struggling nation to continue importing essential goods and pay teachers' salaries and government utility bills. The grant is the first of $420 million in aid being sought by the Congo as it attempts to recover from deep losses in the mining sector. AlertNet.org/Reuters (2/27)
Marketing CoordinatorIslamic ReliefBuena Park, CA
Media Relations CoordinatorIslamic ReliefBuena Park, CA
Program Officer - AFRICA - International Women's Program (IWP)The Open Society InstituteNairobi, Kenya


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