Monday, March 7, 2011

News 3.7.2011

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

News Monday, March 7th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* President Vaclav Klaus says he has no intention of leaving politics
after his term of office ends in 2013.

* Former President Vaclav Havel says that Western-led military
intervention may be needed if civil war continues in Libya.

* Disabled citizens are set to protest a government-proposed social
reform that could cost them various subsidies and benefits.

* The Czech Statistical Office and the Post Office begin distributing
forms for the 2011 population census on Monday afternoon.

* More than 64,000 people have signed a petition asking the government
to exempt books from a planned hike in Value Added Tax.

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Klaus says he will not retire from politics
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President Vaclav Klaus says he has no intention of leaving politics
after his term of office ends in 2013. Speaking at a signing of his new
book covering the eighth year of his presidency, Mr Klaus said that he
would stay in the public sphere as long has his strength allowed and
does not want to retire. However, he added that it was needlessly early
to say what public role he may fill. Formerly the chairman of the Civic
Democratic Party, Mr Klaus took office as president in March of 2003
and was re-elected by Parliament in 2008. The parliamentary parties are
currently working on an agreement to establish direct election of the
president.


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Havel espouses Western military involvement in Libya
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Former President Vaclav Havel says that Western-led military
intervention may be needed if civil war continues in Libya. In an
interview for the daily Hospodarske noviny Mr Havel compared the
situation to that of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, where he said the West
waited for four years in the face of growing horrors before getting
involved militarily. Muammar Gaddafi, he said, has proven to not be the
eccentric fool the world had taken him for, but an insane criminal. Mr
Havel said that such intervention could be handled in various ways,
from aiding insurgents to a targeted attack on Gaddafi. President Klaus
was quick to differ with his predecessor, saying that he no more agreed
with such a view than he had with Mr Havel's support for bombing
Belgrade in 1999.


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Havel cancels programme due to respiratory illness, expects to attend
premiere
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Mr Havel has cancelled his programme for the coming days due to a
respiratory illness, but still plans to attend the premiere of his film
"Leaving" on March 24. Respiratory illness is a high-risk problem for
the 74-year-old former president; he underwent a lung operation in 1996
to remove a malignant tumour and has since been hospitalised on
numerous occasions. "Leaving", which is based on his play of the same
name, is his directorial debut.


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Disabled plan protest against social reform
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Czechs with disabilities are set to protest government-proposed social
reform outside the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on March 22,
the National Disability Council announced on Monday. The council says
the proposal is ill-conceived and fears that disabled people could lose
various subsidies and benefits. One of the reform measures calls for a
change in how disabilities are assessed; according to the council, even
people who require constant care could not be in the highest disability
category if they are still capable of communicating. The draft reform
also does away with reserved parking places for people with
disabilities, public transport assistance, subsidies for purchasing
automobiles and health aids.


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Dnes: Army wastes millions on pilot training
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The daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports that the Czech army pays hundreds
of millions of crowns per year on overpriced pilot training. According
to the paper, the army pays more than a quarter of a billion crowns
annually to a state-owned company while private companies offer the
same services for six times less. While the defence ministry has agreed
that the price is exorbitant, the company in question, LOM, says that
one of the reasons for the expense is that the army is unable to say
how many pilots are to be trained in coming years and reserve
capacities are therefore maintained. The paper writes that the army is
unable to substantiate the costs.


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2011 census begins
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The Czech Statistical Office and the Post Office begin distributing
forms for the 2011 population census on Monday afternoon. Thousands of
census workers will be visiting homes over the next two weeks to assist
people in filling out forms for each of the members of their
households. Students and hospital workers have also been charged with
having the forms completed in dormitories and medical facilities.
Foreigners residing in the Czech Republic as well as those who are here
for more than three months are also expected to register. The census
has been five years in preparation and is preceded by a nationwide
media campaign.


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Petition to exempt books from VAT hike sent to prime minister
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More than 64,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to
exempt books from a planned hike in Value Added Tax. The "Call for the
Defence of Books" campaign consists of an open letter to Prime Minister
Petr Necas sent on Monday by the association of booksellers and
publishers. It states that the protection of the book market is all the
more necessary in times of change and economic crisis, when books are
among the first things to be considered dispensable. The government
wants to raise VAT to 20% as soon as possible in order to cover pension
reform. Only certain foodstuffs are currently to receive exemptions.


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Poll: elections held today would give majority to Social Democrats and
Communists
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A survey carried out by the SANEP polling agency suggests that the
Social Democratic Party would win if elections were held today, and
would be able to form a majority of 104 seats with the Communist Party.
According to SANEP, the Social Democrats would win 34% of the vote, the
Civic Democrats and TOP 09 roughly 17%, the Communists 13% and Public
Affairs 8%. The poll notes a growing inclination of voters towards
left-wing parties due to fears that planned government reforms will
have wide-ranging social effects.


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Tennis: Czechs lose to Kazakhstan in Davis Cup's first round
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The Czech men's tennis team lost 2:3 to Kazachstan in the first round
of the Davis Cup after both Tomas Berdych and Jan Hajek lost their
singles in Ostrava on Sunday. Berdych, world number seven, failed to
score the decisive third point for the Czechs when he surprisingly lost
to Andrei Golubev 5:7, 7:5, 4:6 and 2:6, and brought the rubber to a
2:2. In the final single, Czech Republic's Jan Hajek lost in three and
a half hours to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 4:6, 7:6, 6:7 and 0:6.
The loss is a major disappointment for the Czechs who will now play to
stay in the Davis Cup World Group.


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NERV: economy overburdened by high labour taxes
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The government's economic council, NERV, says that high taxes on labour
are overburdening the Czech economy. The council's report on the
labour, goods and services markets says that the country's
competitiveness would be aided by decreasing the accessory costs of
labour and unifying value added tax.


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Weather
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Conditions are expected to be sunny over the coming days with a rise in
temperatures to around 8o Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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President Vaclav Klaus says he has no intention of leaving politics
after his term of office ends in 2013.
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President Vaclav Klaus says he has no intention of leaving politics
after his term of office ends in 2013.

http://www.radio.cz/en/news#1


Former President Vaclav Havel says that Western-led military
intervention may be needed if civil war continues in Libya.
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Former President Vaclav Havel says that Western-led military
intervention may be needed if civil war continues in Libya.

http://www.radio.cz/en/news#2


Disabled citizens are set to protest a government-proposed social
reform that could cost them various subsidies and benefits.
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Disabled citizens are set to protest a government-proposed social
reform that could cost them various subsidies and benefits.

http://www.radio.cz/en/news#4


The Czech Statistical Office and the Post Office begin distributing
forms for the 2011 population census on Monday afternoon.
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The Czech Statistical Office and the Post Office begin distributing
forms for the 2011 population census on Monday afternoon.

http://www.radio.cz/en/news#6


More than 64,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to
exempt books from a planned hike in Value Added Tax.
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More than 64,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to
exempt books from a planned hike in Value Added Tax.

http://www.radio.cz/en/news#7


Government's Roma inclusion agency head Martin Simacek: most mayors not
ready to work hard on integration
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One of the gravest problems facing Czech society is the situation of
the country's Romany minority. According to official estimates, there
are between 150,000 and 300,000 Romanies living in the country; they
face disproportionately high unemployment and continued discrimination
in housing and education. Some 80,000 of them live in socially excluded
locations. To assist the local authorities in improving the living
conditions in such cities and towns, the Czech government set up in
2009 the Agency for Social Inclusion in Romany Localities. The agency
has been active in more than 20 such areas, and this year, 19 more
applied to join the programme.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/one-on-one/governments-roma-inclusion-agency-head-martin-simacek-most-mayors-not-ready-to-work-hard-on-integration


Government's pension reform under fire
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In recent days the centre-right government has come under widespread
criticism for its pension reform. The opposition has slammed it, the
government's own economic advisory council has expressed serious
reservations, President Klaus has criticized it for "lack of debate and
political consensus" and several hundred people turned out to
demonstrate against it outside the Office of the Government on Friday.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/governments-pension-reform-under-fire


Sports News 7.3.2011
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In Sports News this week: the Czech Republic goes down in defeat at the
tennis Davis Cup; Czechs bring home two golds, a silver and a bronze
from the European indoor championships; in hockey, the season's
playoff-offs quarterfinals continue; and in football, Sparta narrow the
gap behind league leaders Plzen.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/sport/sports-news-2011-03-07


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