Thursday, April 30, 2009

News 4.30.2009

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

News Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By: Chris Johnstone

* Health officials are investigating 21 suspected cases of swine flu in
the Czech Republic.

* The Czech EU presidency has chaired a meeting of health ministers
over measures to counter the flu threat.

* Germany and Austria's plans to maintain labour market barriers have
been denounced by the EU presidency.

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Officials investigate 21 suspected cases of swine flu
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Health officials are still investigating 21 cases of suspected swine
flu in the Czech Republic after excluding three suspected cases, the
Ministry of Health announced on Thursday. The country's chief health
inspector Michael Vit told Czech Television on Thursday that another
four Czech tourists returning from Mexico had been isolated after
suffering high temperatures. Mr Vit said the country is well prepared
to deal with swine flu but added that he was pressing for increased
stocks of the antivirus and that regional plans for dealing with a
pandemic should be scrutinised.


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Czechs chair EU health ministers meeting over flu threat
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In related news, Czech health minister Daniela Filipiova chaired a
special meeting of EU health ministers to discuss the swine flu threat
on Thursday. The Luxembourg meeting was due to take stock of the threat
so far, steps taken by individual countries and what joint measures
should be adopted at an EU level. One of its main conclusions was not
to back a French call for a ban on flights to Mexico. The Czech
presidency of the EU has said it is convinced that coordinated EU steps
against swine flu are required. So far, the deadly virus has spread to
several EU states, including Czech neighbours Austria and Germany. The
World Health Organisation late Wednesday raised its assessment of the
risk of a pandemic from four to five, the penultimate level.


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Austrian and German labour barriers attacked
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The Czech EU presidency has attacked plans by Germany and Austria not
to open up their labour markets to citizens from new member states from
Central and Eastern Europe as unjustified. The two countries have said
they want to continue existing barriers which require would be workers
from eight countries including the Czech Republic to apply for work
permits until 2011. In a statement, the presidency pointed out that all
available data show that workers from these countries pose no threat to
the stability of the two countries labour markets, do not push down
local wages or endanger social cohesion. The plans by the two
countries, the last to retain work barriers after Belgium and Denmark
announced they would lift theirs, should be studied by the European
Commission.


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Czechs prepare to roll out film production incentives: press
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The Czech Republic is preparing to offer tax incentives for the first
time to domestic and foreign film companies according to the online
pages of the business daily E15. A proposed new film law would allow
companies to write off up to 20 percent of their spending in the
country, it says. The move is needed to stop the drift of film
production business and companies to the 11 EU countries already
offering such incentives. One major local company film production
mulling a move to Hungary is Stillking Films, the paper said.


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Industrial production drops by 17.5 percent in March
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Czech industrial production fell by 17.5 in March compared with the
same month a year earlier according to preliminary figures released by
the Czech Statistical Office. Adjusted to take into account the two
extra working days in March, the production fall is estimated at 20.9
percent. Production fell by 23.4 percent in February. The value of new
orders of the books of companies fell by 16.7 percent in March compared
with a year earlier.


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CSA pilots accept pay cuts for job guarantees
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Pilots at state run airline CSA have agreed to take a pay cut of around
6.0 percent. The cut was demanded by management because of the crisis
in the airline sector due to the economic downturn. The main pilots'
union says the pay cut is linked to guarantees over the number of pilot
jobs. Airline management have sacked 28 mechanics after they refused to
accept pay cuts. CSA is set to be privatised this year with Air
France-KLM and the partnership of Czech consortium Unimex and charter
group Travel Service in the running to take control.


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Finance Ministry outlines 2010 budget proposal
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The Czech Finance Ministry proposed on Thursday a 2010 budget which
counts on a budget deficit of 150 billion crowns or 7.52 billion
dollars. That represents 4.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product,
slightly higher than the ministry's most recent forecast and well
beyond the 3.0 percent ceiling for adoption of the euro. The budget
proposal counts on economic growth of 0.8 percent next year but warns
that tight budget discipline must be respected to keep within the
limit. This includes no increase in public sector wages and no
concession to demands from regional and local government for extra cash.


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Czech caretaker government hits cultural obstacle
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The creation of the Czech caretaker government has hit a last minute
hitch with a dispute over whose nominee should fill the post of
Minister of Culture. The post was originally earmarked for the
Christian Democrats but with the party not nominating candidates for
the government of experts a battle has erupted over who should fill the
post. From the outgoing centre-right coalition, the Civic Democrats and
Greens have put forward candidates as has the left wing Social
Democrats. Prime Minister designate, Jan Fischer, Thursday rejected a
call from the Greens that he convene a meeting of party leaders to
thrash out the issue. Meanwhile, Mr Fischer's target to name his
ministerial line-up by the end of the week appears in peril.


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Czech ice hockey team loses to Finns
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In ice hockey, the Czech team lost 3:4 in the world championship game
against Finland on Wednesday night. After taking a 3:1 lead, the under
strength Czechs were made to pay for the high number of fouls committed
during the game. It is the first defeat by the team in the
championships so far. The result left the Czechs second in group D and
facing a Thursday quarterfinal tie against the strong Canadians.


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Weather
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It will be mostly cloudy skies with the chance of showers today and
Friday. Daytime temperatures should peak at around 23 degrees Celsius.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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From the Archives
The Red Elvis in Havana
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When I first moved to Prague nearly two decades ago, Czech friends were
often amazed that I had never heard of the American singer, Dean Reed.
Dubbed the "Red Elvis", Reed was a household name throughout the
Eastern Bloc.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/115865

Czechs Today
Radim Jancura - founder and head of Student Agency, the Czech
Republic's most popular transport company
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If you happen to have travelled between Prague and Brno on the D1
motorway in recent years, you might have wondered why those large
yellow buses running between the two cities have Student Agency written
on them. If you thought that Czech students travel more frequently than
in other countries, you were wrong. Student Agency, now a multi-billion
business, is the Czech Republic's most popular transport company. In
this edition of Czechs Today, we talk to Radim Jancura, its founder and
sole owner.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/115855

Current Affairs
Wilson monument to be restored to Prague 70 years after being torn down
by Nazis
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For just under 15 years, from 1928 until 1941, a monument to the
American president Woodrow Wilson stood in front of Prague's main
railway station. It was a mark of gratitude to the man who played a
crucial role in the country's independence - it's hard to imagine the
creation of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 without Wilson and
his commitment to self-determination. In 1941, Wilson's statue was torn
down by the Nazis after Germany declared war on America. Now, almost 70
years later, a group called the American Friends of the Czech Republic
is spearheading a campaign to restore it. Earlier Radio Prague spoke to
the group's founder Robert Doubek from his home in Washington.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/115845

Current Affairs
Government moves to stamp out homophobia in schools
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Research conducted by the Czech charity People in Need two years ago
suggested that nearly three-quarters of school-age boys in this country
had a 'negative attitude' towards homosexuality. A recently published
European study indicates that that situation is not improving, and that
homophobia is still a widespread problem in Czech schools. In light of
the findings, the Czech government is producing a teachers' manual to
tackle the problem. Earlier, I spoke to Lucie Otahalova who is behind
the project. I asked her first about the scale of the problem faced:

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/115844


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Radio Prague Today 4.30.2009

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

From the Archives: The Red Elvis in Havana

When I first moved to Prague nearly two decades ago, Czech friends were often amazed that I had never heard of the American singer, Dean Reed. Dubbed the "Red Elvis", Reed was a household name throughout the Eastern Bloc.

Czechs Today: Radim Jančura – founder and head of Student Agency, the Czech Republic's most popular transport company

If you happen to have travelled between Prague and Brno on the D1 motorway in recent years, you might have wondered why those large yellow buses running between the two cities have Student Agency written on them. If you thought that Czech students travel more frequently than in other countries, you were wrong. Student Agency, now a multi-billion business, is the Czech Republic's most popular transport company. In this edition of Czechs Today, we talk to Radim Jančura, its founder and sole owner.

Current Affairs: Wilson monument to be restored to Prague 70 years after being torn down by Nazis

For just under 15 years, from 1928 until 1941, a monument to the American president Woodrow Wilson stood in front of Prague's main railway station. It was a mark of gratitude to the man who played a crucial role in the country's independence – it's hard to imagine the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 without Wilson and his commitment to self-determination. In 1941, Wilson's statue was torn down by the Nazis after Germany declared war on America. Now, almost 70 years later, a group called the American Friends of the Czech Republic is spearheading a campaign to restore it. Earlier Radio Prague spoke to the group's founder Robert Doubek from his home in Washington.

Current Affairs: Government moves to stamp out homophobia in schools

Research conducted by the Czech charity People in Need two years ago suggested that nearly three-quarters of school-age boys in this country had a 'negative attitude' towards homosexuality. A recently published European study indicates that that situation is not improving, and that homophobia is still a widespread problem in Czech schools. In light of the findings, the Czech government is producing a teachers' manual to tackle the problem. Earlier, I spoke to Lucie Otáhalová who is behind the project. I asked her first about the scale of the problem faced:

NATO expels two Russian diplomats over Estonian spy; West Africa pursues joint strategy to wipe out polio

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


 
April 30, 2009 | News covering the UN and the worldSign up  |  E-Mail this

Syria receives envoys from U.S.; Lebanese judge releases Hariri suspects

Acting for a Hague tribunal, a Lebanese judge released four Lebanese security officials who have been held under suspicion of involvement with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The judge said the court lacked evidence to indict any of the men, who have been held without being charged since September 2005. The release is seen as a blow to efforts to secure indictments for the attacks and a boon to pro-Syrian groups within Lebanon. Syria also received a boost from the U.S. in the form of new envoys. The New York Times (4/29) , The Wall Street Journal (4/30)



In some countries, the fact that the Chinese are acting on climate change is hugely underappreciated.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer. Read the full story.



UN Dispatch: The UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon, designed to investigate the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri four years ago, yesterday released the only four suspects -- all "pro-Syrian security generals" -- that it still had in custody. The news prompted celebration -- featuring the mandatory firing of guns into the air -- in some quarters of Lebanon, including Hezbollah's.

UN Dispatch


United Nation
  • UN, U.S. conservatives clash over Rights of The Child
    Opponents of the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child within the U.S. argue a new constitutional amendment affirming the rights of parents is necessary to prevent Geneva from meddling with child-rearing. Conservative groups claiming to represent parents in the U.S. expressed the fear the treaty, which addresses protections for children worldwide who are drafted as soldiers or abused, would place too-rigid limits on parental autonomy. Google/The Associated Press (4/29) Email this Story
Development Health and Poverty
  • Aid groups see signs of a more open Myanmar
    A year after Cyclone Nargis battered Myanmar, an estimated 500,000 people still are living without proper shelter and little hope of economic recovery, but the storm's fallout has brought about some attitude changes in the reclusive military junta that rules the country. Officials there now more readily accept offers of help from Western donors -- although they still refuse seaborne aid for fear of naval invasion. Observers credit neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for helping to open the notoriously reclusive regime. The New York Times (4/29) , AlertNet.org/Reuters (4/30) Email this Story
  • International response to swine flu heightened as WHO raises alert
    In response to human-to-human swine flu transmissions detected in two countries, the World Health Organization raised its alert for the potential for a pandemic outbreak. Cases have been confirmed in the Netherlands, Peru, Switzerland and Costa Rica. Officials feel a travel ban is unlikely to have any efficacy on preventing a pandemic. The response to the possibility of outbreak has been more alarmed in the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe, where people have donned protective masks and officials have advised against travel and banned meat imports. BBC (4/30) , Los Angeles Times (4/30) Email this Story
  • Earlier HIV/AIDS drug intervention saves lives
    The earlier introduction of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS infections will help patients live longer, according to research published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. This is the second study in less than a month to reach the same conclusion and might lead to a broad change in the way HIV/AIDS infections are treated. The New York Times (4/29) Email this Story
  • West Africa pursues joint strategy to wipe out polio
    Efforts to eradicate polio in West Africa are driving forward with improved logistic and public communication of vaccination drives reaching tens of millions of children in seven countries. Three more African countries will join the drive in May in an effort prevent any spread into countries previously declared polio-free. IRINNews.org (4/29) Email this Story
Development Energy and Environment
  • China leads clean technology drive at global climate conference
    Observers say a two-day meeting called by U.S. President Barack Obama that assembled officials from 16 developed and developing countries signaled a new willingness on behalf of both to work with one another toward finding solutions to global climate change. Though there are disagreements about the degree to which emissions must be cut and the speed with which those cuts should be made, even nations such as China -- the world's greatest investor in clean technology -- are making forward progress on the issue. U.S. News & World Report (4/29) Email this Story
Security and Human Rights
  • Obama: Waterboarding is torture
    U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the argument put forward by former Vice President Dick Cheney that harsh interrogation techniques are defensible, affirming waterboarding is torture and it is a mistake for the U.S. to resort to torture. He cited the example of World War II-era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who refused to resort to torture even at the height of the Blitz. The U.S. is nearly ready to issue formal requests to Europe to settle Guantanamo Bay detainees, whom European leaders have said they will accept. The Guardian (London) (4/30) , The Washington Post (4/30) Email this Story
  • Medvedev adopts more liberal human-rights approach
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is winning shocked applause from Russian human-rights activists as he reverses many of his predecessors' restrictive policies and appears willing to listen to advocates' concerns. In the past few months, Medvedev has blocked passage of a law that would have criminalized many forms of dissent and included human-rights proponents in a presidential advisory council. Newsweek (4/25) Email this Story
  • Former child soldier urges more global action
    The world community must do more to punish those responsible and end the suffering of children in war, particularly those conscripted into service, former child soldier Grace Akallo said Wednesday in testimony before the United Nations Security Council. Akallo was abducted, repeatedly raped and forced to fight for the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. Yahoo!/The Associated Press (4/29) Email this Story
  • China moves against surrogate industry
    Chinese authorities have begun to crack down on the use of surrogates by infertile Chinese couples, reportedly forcing some surrogates to abort fetuses and raising fears of a wider crackdown on the underground networks that provide the service. AlertNet.org/Reuters (4/30) Email this Story
Peace and Security
  • NATO expels two Russian diplomats over Estonian spy
    NATO ordered the expulsion of two Russian diplomats regarding the case of Herman Simm, the Estonian spy who recently was sentenced to 12 years for treason after it was discovered he was passing NATO and other international secrets to Russian authorities. The Russian diplomats served in the Russian mission to NATO, of which Russia is not a member. Reuters (4/30) Email this Story
  • In Somalia, is Islamist government better than warlord rule?
    Successful efforts to address piracy off the Somali coast hinge on the international community backing a government that has broad appeal among Somalis. The problem for potential donors to a legitimate Somali regime is a genuinely popular government might be too Taliban-like to support. TIME (4/29) Email this Story
Various PositionsInternational Labour OfficeWorldwide
Deputy Director, Sustainable Food and Agriculture SystemsInternational Relief and Development (IRD)Arlington, VA
Country Director, VietnamHealthRight InternationalHanoi, Vietnam


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