Friday, July 31, 2009

News 7.31.2009

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

News Friday, July 31st, 2009

By: Christian Falvey

* The U.S. State Department has said it is considering alternative
locations for the potential construction of its European missile
defence system.

* Photographs of top Czech politicians sharing a yacht in Italy with
energy lobbyists are raising questions over the intentions of both the
vacationers and the photographers.

* Romanian Roma camping by a lakeside near Prague for the last week
have moved to a tract of land offered them by a private owner.

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US considering other locations for missile defence radar
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The American State Department has said that the U.S. is considering
alternative locations outside the Czech Republic and Poland for the
potential construction of part of its missile defence system. At a
hearing on US-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State Alexander
Vershbow told the House of Representatives that the Czech Republic and
Poland are not the only places where the mission could be performed.
The construction of an American radar base in Bohemia has been one of
the hottest issues in the Czech Republic in recent years, with polls
suggesting most Czechs are opposed. Russia has also expressed intense
opposition to the plan. The Obama White House has put the plan on hold
while it is reassessed by his administration.


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Top politicians and energy lobbyists photographed on yacht in Italy
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Newspaper photographs of top Czech politicians sharing a yacht in Italy
with energy lobbyists are causing a stir in the Czech Republic. Among
those featured on the photographs are former Prime Minister Mirek
Topolanek, CEO of the energy company CEZ Martin Roman, and Social
Democratic MP Milan Urban. Czech media outlets, aside from speculating
on who is most likely to benefit from the rather expensive detective
work, have also made frequent reference to the recent passage of a
carbon emissions deal in parliament that resulted in a
multi-billion-crown windfall for the energy giant, CEZ. A number of
those featured on the photographs have said the meeting was a chance
encounter in a popular holiday area. Compounding the discussion around
the photographs is the fact that they were released by Karel Randak,
the erstwhile chief of the Czech civilian intelligence agency. Mr
Randak has declined to shed more light on the procurement of the
photos, saying only that no intelligence agents were involved, and that
his decision to release them was taken in order to "show how things
work in this country." Mr Randak was dismissed from his position in
2006 by Mr Topolanek's government.


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Romany lakeside campers move to private space offered them
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Romanian Roma camping by a lakeside near Prague for the last week have
moved to a tract of land offered them by a private owner. The
invitation ends a rather tense dispute between the campers, of whom
there were originally about 150, and the local municipal office, which
has been protesting their stay in an area that is a natural reserve and
their mistreatment of the grounds. The group, which now numbers 30,
came to Prague from Romania one week ago to support a young relative
they call their prince, who nearly drowned while swimming in the Czech
Republic. The 17-year-old remains in hospital in critical condition.


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D1 motorway to close for papal visit
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The primary east-west thoroughfare in the Czech Republic, the D1
motorway, is to be closed for more than 24 hours during the visit of
Pope Benedict XVI. The Ministry of Transportation said Thursday that
during that time, from September 26 to 27, the motorway is to serve as
a car park for the more than 2,000 buses expected to bring up to
150,000 people to Brno for the pope's mass. The ministry is working
with police to prepare detours.


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Prague Stock Exchange enjoys best July on record
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The Prague Stock Exchange reported its best July on record, with Czech
shares up 18.66% to 1065.8 points according to the exchange's primary
index, the PX. According to experts, the speedy rise can be put down
primarily to investors taking advantage of a jittery and pessimistic
mood on the markets. The strongest growth in July could be seen in
shares of the coal mining company New World Resources, up 31.9%. The
largest company on the market, the CEZ Group, was up 15.9% to 966
crowns.


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Vinohrady restaurant burns in apparent arson attack
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Fire-fighters Thursday night dealt with an apparent arson attack on a
restaurant in Prague's Vinohrady district. Around 20 people had to be
evacuated as flames threatened surrounding apartments and tram traffic
on Korunni Street was stopped for a time. Damages are estimated at half
a million crowns. The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire


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Charges dropped against Euro MP Ransdorf in light of new immunity
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Prosecutors seeking the indictment of Euro MP Miloslav Ransdorf have
dropped their charges due the politician's new immunity as a member of
the European Parliament. Mr Ransdorf was charged with grievous bodily
harm arising from negligence after he hit a pedestrian while driving in
2007. The European Parliament revoked Mr Ransdorf's immunity in
February, however police did not receive the documentation from
Brussels until July, by which time the Communist Party politician had
already been re-elected.


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Czech Republic and Poland to integrate visa desks at certain consulates
outside Europe
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The Czech Republic and Poland have agreed to integrate their visa desks
at certain consulates outside Europe in order to cut expenses. The
foreign ministers of the two countries met Thursday to discuss the
arrangement. While the countries will maintain their respective
ambassadors in the nations in question, the Czech embassy in Poland
said that in practice one ambassador may assume the duties of the
other. Austria and Hungary employ a similar system at embassies in
certain small countries.


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Hungarian border guards arrest Czech for aiding illegal immigration
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Police in Hungary have arrested a Czech man they accuse of helping a
group of Serbian nationals to enter France illegally. The Hungarian
news agency MTI reported that five of the eight Serbians were children.
The Hungarian/Serbian border is a frequent target for people trying to
enter the EU illegally. On the same day border guards arrested one Serb
attempting to take five Albanians, including two children, to Italy,
and 995 individuals have been arrested for the same offence so far this
year - almost as many as for the whole of 2008.


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Weather
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Conditions in the Czech Republic on Friday are expected to be cloudy to
partly cloudy with scattered showers and highs of 21 to 25o Celsius.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Business News
Business News 7.31.2009
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In this week's Business News: the ad spending slide hits Nova profits;
one sole order for Staropramen; bad loans provisions hit Ceska
Sporitelna; CEZ powers up in Germany; and Czechs lose taste for pork
products.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/118859

Arts
New Czech Philharmonic head Vladimir Darjanin on his plans for the
orchestra
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The new director of the Czech Philharmonic is Vladimir Darjanin.
Already within his first month in the post, Mr Darjanin is ringing some
considerable changes. Upon taking over on July 1, the straight-talking
Mr Darjanin said he believed the reputation of a world-class orchestra
lay in tatters, and that he was the man to fix it. When I met him
recently in his office in Prague's Rudolfinum concert hall, he outlined
his plans:

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/118846

Current Affairs
Pavel Nedved, 37 next month, raises possibility of second comeback to
international football
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Pavel Nedved has just picked up the Golden Ball award for Czech
footballer of the season, a prize decided by sports journalists. The
2008-2009 season was Nedved's last: he retired after his final game for
Juventus in May. But has he really hung up his boots? The veteran
midfielder says he is still mulling over his future - and even hinted
on Thursday that he could play for the Czech national team again.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/118845

Current Affairs
Engineering students complete testing on racing car set for Formula
Student competition
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Engineering students at Prague's CVUT - the Czech Technical University
- are completing testing on their a single-seater racing car they built
together over endless hours over the last 18 months. Next week, their
efforts will come to fruition: the car will compete in Germany's
Formula Student - a competition a gauging the overall quality of
design, engineering and performance.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/118844

Current Affairs
Czechs hand in 6,300 unlicensed weapons in gun amnesty
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The peaceable Czechs don't seem like a nation of trigger-happy
gun-lovers, but there are actually 650,000 registered gun-owners in
this country, and perhaps as many as another half a million who own
weapons illegally - that's a lot for a nation of 10 million people.
Police say that more than 6,000 unlicensed guns have so far been handed
in in an amnesty that comes to an end at midnight on Friday.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/118843


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Radio Prague Today 7.31.2009

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Business News: Business News 7.31.2009

In this week's Business News: the ad spending slide hits Nova profits; one sole order for Staropramen; bad loans provisions hit Česká Spořitelna; ČEZ powers up in Germany; and Czechs lose taste for pork products.

Arts: New Czech Philharmonic head Vladimír Darjanin on his plans for the orchestra

The new director of the Czech Philharmonic is Vladimír Darjanin. Already within his first month in the post, Mr Darjanin is ringing some considerable changes. Upon taking over on July 1, the straight-talking Mr Darjanin said he believed the reputation of a world-class orchestra lay in tatters, and that he was the man to fix it. When I met him recently in his office in Prague's Rudolfinum concert hall, he outlined his plans:

Current Affairs: Pavel Nedvěd, 37 next month, raises possibility of second comeback to international football

Pavel Nedvěd has just picked up the Golden Ball award for Czech footballer of the season, a prize decided by sports journalists. The 2008-2009 season was Nedvěd's last: he retired after his final game for Juventus in May. But has he really hung up his boots? The veteran midfielder says he is still mulling over his future – and even hinted on Thursday that he could play for the Czech national team again.

Current Affairs: Engineering students complete testing on racing car set for Formula Student competition

Engineering students at Prague's ČVUT – the Czech Technical University – are completing testing on their a single-seater racing car they built together over endless hours over the last 18 months. Next week, their efforts will come to fruition: the car will compete in Germany's Formula Student - a competition a gauging the overall quality of design, engineering and performance.

Current Affairs: Czechs hand in 6,300 unlicensed weapons in gun amnesty

The peaceable Czechs don't seem like a nation of trigger-happy gun-lovers, but there are actually 650,000 registered gun-owners in this country, and perhaps as many as another half a million who own weapons illegally - that's a lot for a nation of 10 million people. Police say that more than 6,000 unlicensed guns have so far been handed in in an amnesty that comes to an end at midnight on Friday.

Iranian protesters meet fresh suppression as mourners; Nigerian Taliban leader shot and killed in police custody

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July 31, 2009 | News covering the UN and the worldSign up  |  E-Mail this  |  Donate

Iranian protesters meet fresh suppression as mourners

Thousands gathered around new grave sites in Iran to commemorate the deaths of those lost in violence after the disputed presidential elections and to protest the continuing government suppression of protesters. As per tradition, the grave of Iranian Neda Agha Soltan, an icon after death, saw thousands of mourners gather on the 40th day after her death -- as well as police, who barred the entry of opposition figurehead Mir Hossein Mousavi. Plainclothes officers beat down crowds, launched tear gas and reportedly arrested many. The New York Times (7/30) , Los Angeles Times/Babylon & Beyond blog (7/30) , Google/The Associated Press (7/30)



I am overwhelmed, deeply honored, humbled and I am something that I don't often get to be, speechless."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Read the full story.



UN Dispatch: The White House just announced 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. According to the White House release, "America's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Two of the recipients are folks that travel in our circles. UN Foundation board member and micro-lending pioneer Muhammad Yunus and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. Desmond Tutu, Harvey Milk and Stephen Hawking were also among the 16 named.

UN Dispatch


United Nation
  • UN envoy: Somalia in need of urgent help
    The Somali government needs immediate international support to fight off an attempt by militants to seize control, the United Nations' top Somalia envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah told the Security Council. In addition to military equipment, security forces training and money to pay salaries, Abdallah recommended the creation of a well-protected "Green Zone" in Mogadishu. Google/The Associated Press (7/30) Email this Story
  • UN votes to extend Darfur mission mandate
    The UN Security Council members voted unanimously to extend the mandate of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan. The force, which gradually has been deployed to the region, is expected to reach 90% of its full operating complement by the end of the year. The Washington Post/Reuters (7/30) Email this Story
  • Other News
Development Health and Poverty
  • Other News
Development Energy and Environment
  • Warming Arctic tundra might accelerate climate change
    Regions of Arctic tundra are rapidly heating, releasing more carbon gases that are accelerating the effect at a rate faster than predicted. Larger plants are beginning to occupy territory once reserved for small shrubs, lichens and other tundra flora. Since 1970, temperatures on the tundra have risen 1 degree Celsius -- the greatest recorded degree of warming anywhere. Reuters (7/29) Email this Story
  • World's fisheries can recover
    Careful management could help the world's fisheries recover from overfishing and avoid the worst predictions of an impending collapse, according to a study published in the journal Science. Tools recommended by researchers to aid recovery include restrictions on gear that trap smaller fish, sustainability certifications and closing off some areas to fishing. AlertNet.org/Reuters (7/30) Email this Story
  • Other News
Security and Human Rights
  • Tutu, Yunus, Robinson to be honored by Obama
    U.S. President Barack Obama will award South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a decoration intended to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to U.S. national interest, world peace or culture. Microfinance pioneer, Nobel laureate and United Nations Foundation board member Muhammad Yunus was among the 16 honorees, as was former Irish president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (7/31) , Google/The Associated Press (7/30) , BBC (7/31) Email this Story
  • Torture questions disrupt intelligence operations
    U.S. President Barack Obama's clear stance against the use of abusive counter-terrorism techniques has raised the specter of investigations and trials into the behavior of U.S. and allied intelligence agencies, and thrown intelligence systems into disarray, The Economist writes. The controversy already is affecting how agencies share information. The Economist (7/30) Email this Story
  • China renews NGO crackdown
    A group advocating for China's Hepatitis B sufferers is the latest civil society organization to be targeted by Chinese authorities. Observers believe the crackdown is related to security fears for the upcoming 60-year anniversary of China's communist revolution. The New York Times (7/30) Email this Story
Peace and Security
  • Afghanistan, Pakistan conflicts spill into Central Asia
    Recent violent clashes in Tajikistan suggest the conflicts that have threatened to submerge Afghanistan and Pakistan might be spilling over the borders of their Central Asian neighbors. National security and border issues were the central subject of conversation at a recent summit of the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Russia. The Christian Science Monitor (7/30) Email this Story
  • U.S. adviser offers blunt memo on Iraq
    An unusually blunt memo prepared by a U.S. adviser to the Iraqi military's command in Baghdad said the time had come for the U.S. to declare victory and exit Iraq, saying the Iraqi military's manifold weaknesses were unlikely to improve. Widespread corruption and susceptibility to Shiite political pressure were named as natural limits on the performance of the Iraqi military -- limits that would not be changed by the extended presence of U.S. troops. The New York Times (7/30) Email this Story
  • Vietnam War cleanup far from over
    It will be another 300 years and cost more than $10 billion to clear the bombs, shells and mines left behind by the Vietnam War, Vietnamese officials say. Bombs and mines have killed or maimed more than 22,000 people since the end of hostilities in 1975. AlertNet.org/Reuters (7/31) Email this Story
Principal Adviser, Security Coordination, D-1UNICEFUNICEF Headquarters, New York
FEWS NET representativeChemonics internationalKhartoum, Sudan


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