Monday, August 31, 2009

News 8.31.2009

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

News Monday, August 31st, 2009

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech government has outlined a series of cost-cutting measures
to curb a record deficit in next year's state budget.

* Russian spies in the Czech Republic use Cold War methods, the Czech
Intelligence Service says in its annual report.

* The Czech secret service has also registered interest by Iran, Syria
and North Korea in obtaining classified technology and materials.

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Government passes measures to curb deficit
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The Czech government outlined on Monday a series of cost-cutting
measures to curb what looks set to be the biggest deficit in the
country's history. PM Jan Fischer told reporters that the cabinet will
debate these bills at its next session on September 9. Mr Fischer said
that if these proposals are not approved by the lower house of the
Czech Parliament, the government will draft a 2010 budget with a
deficit of 230 billion crowns, or nearly 13 billion US dollars.

While the prime minister said the caretaker government felt responsible
for curbing the looming record deficit, leaders of the two strongest
parties, Social Democrats and Civic Democrats, said earlier their
parties would not support the planned measures in the lower house.


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Transportation body to receive record funding
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In related news, the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure is set to
work with a record budget of 96 billion crowns, or nearly 5.5 billion
US dollars next year, Transport Minister Gustav Slamecka told reporters
on Monday. The government approved the increase as many Czech motorways
and other types of roads are under construction. The authorities also
hope the increased budget will keep the unemployment rate lower.


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Secret service report: Russian spies use Cold War methods
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Russian spies in the Czech Republic use methods that were employed by
the Soviet intelligence in Western Europe in the 1980s, according to
the annual report of the Czech Intelligence Service BIS released on
Monday. The report said that last year Russian espionage activities in
the country were on the rise, and specifically focused on US plans to
build part of an American anti-missile defence shield in the Czech
Republic. The Czech secret service said that Russian exponents
contacted Czech politicians, particularly MPs, their assistants and the
staff of Czech political parties. The report also notes that Russian
spies, who are covered as diplomatic staff at Russian embassy and
consulates, employ methods used by Soviet espionage in Western Europe
in the last decade of the Cold War to influence the peace movement of
the time.

Earlier this month the Czech Republic expelled two Russian diplomats
for alleged spying. Russia then retaliated by expelling two Czech
diplomats from the Czech mission in Moscow.


========================================================================
Report: Iran, Syria and North Korea interested in obtaining classified
technology
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In related news, the annual report of the Czech secret service for 2008
says that individuals and companies from Iran, Syria and North Korea
were interested in obtaining chemicals, machinery and technologies that
could be used in producing weapons of mass destruction and their
carriers. The Czech intelligence confirmed "a steady interest" by Iran
in purchasing Czech machinery, and found out that in 2007, a Czech firm
collaborated with an Iranian company that had been sanctioned for
taking part in Iran's nuclear programme.


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Prague airport to stop dispatching SkyEurope flights
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Starting on Tuesday, Prague's Ruzyne Airport will no longer dispatch
flights by the low-cost carrier SkyEurope due to unsettled payments, a
spokeswoman for the airport said on Monday. If cash is delivered on
Tuesday, the airport is ready to resume servicing the airline, the
spokeswoman said.

The Slovak low-cost airline SkyEurope is the second largest airline at
Prague Airport, after the national carrier Czech Airlines. SkyEurope
has had problems at several airports around Europe, including Paris and
Vienna. In June, it was granted protection from creditors by a court in
Bratislava.


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Former presidential hopeful Svejnar rejects Euro commissioner nomination
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Former presidential candidate Jan Svejnar has definitively rejected a
nomination by the Christian Democrats to become the new Czech EU
commissioner, party leader Cyril Svoboda told reporters on Monday.
Although Mr Svejnar originally accepted the nomination, he later
changed his mind realizing the controversy that is likely to break out
over the post, which must be approved by all parties.

The new Czech EU commissioner, who will replace Vladimir Spidla, will
most likely be appointed after the elections. According to some
diplomats, this will narrow the negotiation options about the
commissioner's portfolio.


========================================================================
New poll: Social Democrats in the lead ahead of October's general
election
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The Social Democrats lead the polls ahead of October's early general
election with an estimated gain of 29 percent of the votes, according
to a survey by the STEM agency released on Monday. They are followed by
the Civic Democrats with 24.1 percent, the Communists with 11.2 percent
and the new party TOP 09 that would receive 6.8 percent of the vote.
The only other party that would cross the five-percent threshold to get
into the Chamber of Deputies are the Christian Democrats with 5.7
percent of the vote. The agency said the survey also included the
preferences of undecided voters as well as of those who said they would
not vote for any party in the upcoming election.


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PM Fischer to re-open science funding debate
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The Czech Prime Minister, Jan Fischer, is scheduled to meet with
members of the Czech scientific community on Monday for a new debate on
science and research funding. The Czech Academy of Sciences has
recently staged several protests against a planned 50 percent cut in
funding over the next three years, while Czech universities said that
any drop in state subsidies would dramatically decrease the quality of
education. Monday's round table will also be attended by Education
Minister Miroslava Kopicova and the head of the Confederation of Czech
Industry. Jaroslav Mil.


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Head of Finance Ministry's international legal department resigns
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The head of the Finance Ministry's international legal department,
Radek Snabl, resigned on Monday over the fact that in April, he
received a two year suspended sentence for tax fraud. Radek Snabl said
he had tendered his resignation to the then finance minister, Miroslav
Kalousek, shortly after the verdict was announced but Mr Kalousek did
not accept it. Mr Snajbl represented the state in several international
arbitration disputes. He has signed a non-competition clause that he
would not work against the Finance Ministry.


========================================================================
Social Democrats: Sunday's campaign trail disruption a "criminal act"
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The Social Democrats, whose campaign trail stop in Cesky Krumlov,
southern Bohemia, on Sunday was disrupted by a group of people with
sirens and fireworks, said on Monday the incident was a breach of the
law. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said that people with
"ideological links" to the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 were behind the
disturbance while the party's South Bohemian ballot leader, Vitezslav
Jandak, compared them to the Nazi SA troops. While both rival parties
have denied responsibility, the police are investigating the incident
as a misdemeanour.


========================================================================
August sees lowest number of road deaths in five years
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At least 68 people have died on Czech roads in August, which is the
lowest number for the month in five years, according to preliminary
police figures. More than 6,000 road accidents were registered in
August, which was about 50 percent less than in the previous year.
Police say the drop is due to a lower damage cap for reporting road
accidents introduced this year.


========================================================================
Weather
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The start of the week should see clear skies, but rain showers and
occasional storms are expected towards the middle of the week. Highest
day temperatures should range between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Current Affairs
President Klaus wages war on energy saving light bulbs
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Two topics are guaranteed to evoke an angry reaction from President
Vaclav Klaus: environmental activists and Euro-federalists. On Friday
he took both to task at the launch of his new book "Blue Planet Under
Threat".

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/119787

Current Affairs
Government looks to redefine plan for Afghanistan
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The state of military and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is a
matter of perennial debate and concern for all countries involved; and
as forces there revise their plan for the country, so too does the
Czech Republic. There are currently some 500 Czech soldiers in
Afghanistan serving in a variety of roles, and in rearranging their
activities to suit the continuing crises there, one thing the Czech
government is now focusing on is creating a more long-term plan for its
missions. Andrej Cirtek of the Ministry of Defence has recently
returned from Afghanistan and earlier today I spoke with him about the
Ministry's plans for Czech involvement in the country.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/119786

Sports News
Sports News 8.31.2009
------------------------------------------------------------------------

In Sports News: after a top-flight career lasting over two decades, the
great Czech rower Vaclav Chalupa goes out in style; the Pittsburgh
Penguins' Petr Sykora presents ice hockey's Stanley Cup to fans in
Plzen; the Czech soccer squad gather ahead of a crucial World Cup
qualifier against Slovakia; and three months after being photographed
buying drugs, Roman Bednar is back - and scoring again - for West Brom.

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/119774

One on One
Artist Tereza Buskova on capturing Moravian rituals and conquering the
London art scene
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My guest in One on One today has been described as a 'young Czech
Matthew Barney' and a 'rising star' on the London art scene. Since
graduating from the Royal College of Art two years ago, Tereza Buskova
has exhibited in some of the capital's highest-profile spaces such as
Gallery 176, and Gallery One One One. Buskova's screen-prints and films
draw heavily upon her Czech origins. In October, her project 'The
Spring Equinox' will be exhibited alongside the work of compatriots
Katerina Seda and Josef Bolf. On a recent visit back to Prague, I met
Tereza Buskova and asked her first about the story behind her
critically-acclaimed 'Spring Equinox':

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/119769


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Radio Prague Today 8.31.2009

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Current Affairs: President Klaus wages war on energy saving light bulbs

Two topics are guaranteed to evoke an angry reaction from President Václav Klaus: environmental activists and Euro-federalists. On Friday he took both to task at the launch of his new book "Blue Planet Under Threat".

Current Affairs: Government looks to redefine plan for Afghanistan

The state of military and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is a matter of perennial debate and concern for all countries involved; and as forces there revise their plan for the country, so too does the Czech Republic. There are currently some 500 Czech soldiers in Afghanistan serving in a variety of roles, and in rearranging their activities to suit the continuing crises there, one thing the Czech government is now focusing on is creating a more long-term plan for its missions. Andrej Čírtek of the Ministry of Defence has recently returned from Afghanistan and earlier today I spoke with him about the Ministry's plans for Czech involvement in the country.

Sports News: Sports News 8.31.2009

In Sports News: after a top-flight career lasting over two decades, the great Czech rower Václav Chalupa goes out in style; the Pittsburgh Penguins' Petr Sýkora presents ice hockey's Stanley Cup to fans in Plzeň; the Czech soccer squad gather ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovakia; and three months after being photographed buying drugs, Roman Bednář is back – and scoring again – for West Brom.

One on One: Artist Tereza Bušková on capturing Moravian rituals and conquering the London art scene

My guest in One on One today has been described as a 'young Czech Matthew Barney' and a 'rising star' on the London art scene. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art two years ago, Tereza Bušková has exhibited in some of the capital's highest-profile spaces such as Gallery 176, and Gallery One One One. Bušková's screen-prints and films draw heavily upon her Czech origins. In October, her project 'The Spring Equinox' will be exhibited alongside the work of compatriots Kateřina Šedá and Josef Bolf. On a recent visit back to Prague, I met Tereza Bušková and asked her first about the story behind her critically-acclaimed 'Spring Equinox':

Ban Ki-moon defends leadership style; Latin America media under attack

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


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

Refugees from Myanmar a political problem for China

In the wake of fighting with the government of Myanmar, more than 10,000 ethnic Kokang refugees have crossed the border into southern China. The influx of refugees -- including some of the armed militiamen involved in the conflict -- poses a logistical problem for China, which often has downplayed the significance of political disputes and human-rights crises in Myanmar as internal issues that do not affect China. Los Angeles Times (8/31)



I'm a monk. I was asked to say prayers for peace. There is no politics. This is humanitarian in nature."

The Dalai Lama. Read the full story.



UN Dispatch: "Ethnic rebel groups in Shan State are fighting the government of Burma again after two decades of relative calm. An estimated 10,000 refugees have fled across the Chinese border to Yunnan Province. The rebels are upset that the military junta that runs Burma has been pressuring them to give up their weapons and become border guards."

UN Dispatch


United Nation
  • Ban: Charisma not lacking
    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used a visit to Oslo to respond to a recently leaked letter from Norway's UN ambassador that criticized his efforts. "We all have a different background, leadership styles. We must respect each others'. I have my own leadership style, my own charisma," Ban said. AlertNet.org/Reuters (8/31) Email this Story
Development Health and Poverty
  • Yemen's water woes intensify
    Massive water shortages and few easy solutions to supply problems leave Yemen facing the prospect of looming water-related conflicts. Protests over supply have turned deadly in Aden, while residents in the capital Sanaa get fresh water supply only once every nine days. AlertNet.org/Reuters (8/30) Email this Story
  • Savings key need for microfinance participants
    The success of microfinance lending programs throughout the developing world has highlighted the need for access to savings mechanisms for the poor to help sustain their business gains. Several institutions and aid groups are testing various ways to provide savings accounts and other banking services. TIME (8/30) Email this Story
  • Other News
Hot Topics

Top five news stories selected by UN Wire readers in the past week.

  • Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.
Development Energy and Environment
  • Climate deal looks far off
    Developing and industrialized countries still are at loggerheads over a deal to reduce global carbon emissions in advance of the UN-sponsored climate talks in December. Delegates to the United Nations' World Climate Conference this week are expected to approve the creation of a Global Framework for Climate Services to provide early warnings for extreme weather and promote exchange of data between governments and scientists. TIME (8/31) , Google/The Associated Press (8/30) Email this Story
Security and Human Rights
  • Latin America media under attack
    Intolerance for critical reporting is on the rise across Latin America, with journalists in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil facing court injunctions, smear campaigns and impending restrictive legislation. The New York Times (8/30) Email this Story
  • Sri Lankan journalist sentenced over war reporting
    A Colombo court sentenced journalist J.S. Tissanayagam to 20 years hard labor for his criticisms of the government's recent decisive offensive against the Tamil Tigers. Authorities charged him with conspiracy and violations of the country's anti-terrorism laws, which critics have charged are used to mute political dissent. AlertNet.org/Reuters (8/31) Email this Story
  • Dalai Lama set to visit to Taiwan
    The Dalai Lama will visit Taiwan to offer aid and comfort to the victims of Typhoon Morakot despite fierce opposition from Beijing. The Chinese government considers the Dalai Lama to be a separatist advocate. Though the Chinese government recently has engaged in closer negotiations with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwanese officials approved the Dalai Lama's visit despite the fact it could be construed as provocative by mainland officials -- after Taiwanese officials were accused of responding ineffectively to the typhoon. BBC (8/31) , CBC.ca (Canada) (8/31) Email this Story
Peace and Security
  • Karzai leverages U.S. unhappiness with election conduct
    Afghanistan opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah and others in the election have complained of widespread election fraud by incumbent President Hamid Karzai, whose vote share is expected to reach 50% within days. Videos that appear to plainly exhibit election tampering have been posted on the Internet, while large-scale discrepancies have been reported across the country. Karzai has managed to leverage mounting U.S. dissatisfaction with his administration as evidence he is willing and able to stand up to the U.S. and its dictates. The Independent (London) (8/31) , The New York Times (8/28) Email this Story
  • Suicide bomber targets Pakistani police
    A suicide bomber struck a police academy in Pakistan's troubled Northwest Frontier Province on Sunday, killing 18 new police officers and injuring dozens more. The bold attack comes as Pakistani authorities seek to restore public confidence in the government's ability to provide security in the area. The New York Times (8/30) , CNN (8/30) Email this Story
  • Turkey steps into Iraq-Syria fracas
    Turkey has begun mediation efforts between Iraq and Syria over allegations that Damascus is hosting militant training camps and protecting those responsible for an Aug. 19 wave of coordinated attacks on government buildings in Baghdad. The neighbors have recalled their ambassadors and traded acrimonious charges in the wake of the attack. BBC (8/31) Email this Story
  • U.K. under pressure to explain Lockerbie bomber release
    U.K. government officials are coming under increasing pressure to explain their decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in light of leaked letters that reveal British Justice Minister Jack Straw reversed a 2007 decision excluding al-Megrahi from a UK-Libya prison release. The change of heart is fueling speculation the release might have been politically motivated and was a decision made in the interests of wider trade and oil negotiations between the countries. The Guardian (London) (8/31) Email this Story
  • Olmert indicted on corruption charges
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted on the corruption charges that forced him out of office last year regarding a double-billing scheme that charged charities for trips that Olmert, as mayor of Jerusalem, took that were paid for by other organizations. The Washington Post (8/31) Email this Story
  • Other News
National Director of Gender-Based ViolenceThe International Rescue Committee (The IRC)DRC Congo (Kinshasa)
Various PositionsInternational Labour OfficeWorldwide
Director - Quality MinistryWorld Vision InternationalDhaka, Bangladesh
Eurasia Program Officer/DirectorSocial Science Research CouncilBrooklyn
International Advocacy AssociateInternational Planned Parenthhod Federation/Western Hemisphere RegionNew York


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