Thursday, March 31, 2011

News 3.31.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, March 31st, 2011

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech Constitutional Court has ruled the country's phone and
internet data retention law unconstitutional.

* The Czech foreign debt rose to over 48 percent of the country's GDP
in the third quarter of last year.

* A court in Prague has lifted a ban on a Sudeten Germans' association
in the Czech Republic.

* Nearly 44 percent of Czechs consider themselves poor, according to a
new poll.

* The number of foreign students at Czech universities has quadrupled
over the last four years.

Top Czech courts rules data retention law unconstitutional

The Czech Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday the country's phone
and internet data retention law unconstitutional, accepting a complaint
filed last year by 51 Czech MPs. Mobile phone operators and internet
providers in the Czech Republic were required to keep the data over a
period of six months, and make them available to the police and
intelligence service upon request. The court sided with the critics of
the law who pointed out that it violated people's rights to privacy;
judges said the law allowed for a massive interference with fundamental
rights, and failed to provide adequate guarantees against the misuse of
the data.

Czech foreign debt rises to 48.7 percent of GDP in Q3 of 2010

The Czech foreign debt rose by 56.8 billion to 1.79 trillion crowns, or
over 103 billion US dollars, in the third quarter of last year,
amounting to more than 48 percent of the country's GDP, the Czech
central bank said on Thursday. The debt increased by nearly 150 billion
crowns year-on-year. The bank said the debt was fuelled primarily by
the banking and government sectors. However, the largest share of the
country's foreign debt - more than 48 percent - is ascribed to the
private sector.

Czech banks' 2010 profits down at 56 billion: central bank

Czech banks' last year's net profit dropped by 7 percent to 56 billion
crowns, or over 3.2 billion US dollars, the Czech National Bank said in
a statement on Thursday. The central bank's deputy head, Vladimir
Tomsik, said the Czech banking sector had enough resources, liquidity
and capital, and was resistant to shocks; as such, it presented no
risks for the country's economy. The biggest earner in 2010 was the
CSOB bank, with a net profit of over 13.5 billion crowns, 22 percent
less than the previous year. Ceska sporitelna made 12 billion, a drop
of 4.5 percent, while Komercni banka posted a profit of 13.3 billion
crowns which was 21 percent more than in 2009.

Prague court lifts ban on Sudeten German association

A court in Prague has lifted a ban imposed by the Czech Interior
Ministry on a Sudeten Germans' association in the Czech Republic, the
news website reported on Thursday. The ministry refused in
2009 to register the association; officials argued that the group would
try to breach the so-called Benes decrees which stripped around three
million ethnic Germans of the citizenship and property after WWII.
However, the court said this alone was not sufficient ground to refuse

Poll: 44 percent of Czechs consider themselves poor

Some 44 percent of Czechs consider themselves poor, according to a new
poll by the STEM agency released on Thursday. Their share is the same
as in 2000, and the highest since 1993, the agency said. People with
lower education generally tend to consider themselves poorer that those
with university degrees; families with more children are also less
likely to feel poor than people living alone.

Number of foreign students at Czech universities quadruples

The number of foreign students at Czech universities has quadrupled in
the last four years, an official from the Education Ministry said on
Thursday. There are now 38,000 foreign students at public and private
universities in the Czech Republic; around a third of them are enrolled
in economic studies programmes while some 17 percent study sciences.
About 15 percent of foreigners study medicine and around the same
number humanities. There are around 400,000 students currently
attending 28 public and 45 private universities in the Czech Republic.

Opposition calls on deputy Prague mayor to step down over police

Members of the Prague city council for the opposition TOP 09 party
called on Thursday on deputy mayor Karel Brezina, from the Social
Democrats, to step down. Mr Brezina faces unspecified charges in
connection with his membership on the boards of several firms that went
bankrupt. Mr Brezina, who denies any wrongdoing and has filed a
complaint against the police actions, can rely on support from his
party and well as the Civic Democrats who control the City Hall.

Police evacuate Ostrava City Hall over false bomb threat

Police evacuated on Thursday the entire city hall in Ostrava, in the
north east of the country, after an anonymous caller said a bomb had
been planted inside. Hundreds of city clerks had to leave their offices
in three buildings in the centre of the city as the caller did not say
where exactly the bomb was supposed to be; the premises was searched by
a bomb squad but no explosives were found.

Central bank withdraws fifty-crown banknote

The Czech National Bank has withdrawn the 50-crown banknote from
circulation. Thursday was the last day when people could pay with the
bill. The banknote has been replaced with a 50-crown bi-metallic coin.
The central bank made the decision last year in view of lowering direct
expenditures associated with issuing money. After Thursday, people will
be able to exchange the bills at all commercial banks for a period of
12 months or the Czech National Bank for a period of seven years.

Hockey: Trinec beat Slavia Prague to equalize semifinal series

Trinec beat Slavia Prague 5:3 on Wednesday night, tying the hockey
playoffs' best-of-seven semifinal series at 3:3. Slavia took an early
lead when Pavel Kolarik hit the top corner of the goal in the second
minute. Trinec soon came back and equalized but Slavia added another
goal, winning the opening period 2:1. The visitors however scored three
goals in the second which proved too much for the hosts. Regular season
winners Trinec will face Slavia at home on Friday in the series'
seventh game. The winner will play Vitkovice in the league finals.


The end of the week will be overcast with occasional rain. Daytime
highs should range between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

President pardons man sentenced to six years for shooting

On Wednesday, President Vaclav Klaus issued an official pardon to a man
serving a six-year prison sentence for attempted murder. The case of
Karel Basta, who shot at thieves escaping his property, seriously
injuring one of them, was recently addressed by the Supreme Court,
which upheld the stiff sentence by ruling that in similar cases killing
a thief in defence of property needed to be assessed as murder - not
manslaughter. By granting a pardon, the president has brought the case
to a surprising conclusion, one that the convicted man himself could
not have expected.

Environmentalists up in arms over plans for Sumava National Park

The Sumava National Park - a protected nature reserve in southern
Bohemia -is at the centre of a row between scientists, environmental
activists and the park's new management. The park's new director,
former prime minister Jan Strasky, is proposing a radical remedy for
the parks bark-beetle infestation problem -a combination of logging and
effective insecticides. Critics are up in arms saying the proposed
strategy would do irreversible harm to the valuable ecosystems and
biotopes in the nature reserve and lower the non-intervention areas in
the park from the present 33 to 22 percent, which goes against the
general principles of nature reserve protection. Environment activist
Vojtech Kotecky says the new management is about to throw the baby out
with the bathwater.

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