Friday, April 1, 2011

News 4.1.2011

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

News Friday, April 1st, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Czech President Vaclav Klaus has begun a week-long trip to Argentina
and Chile.

* Trade unions have launched a campaign against the government's
pension, tax and heath care reform plans.

* Momentous changes are in store for the Czech Republic, according to
the April Fools' editions of several Czech media outlets.

* Prague's international film festival Febiofest wraps up its 18th year
on Friday evening.

* Tennis player Tomas Berdych has dropped out of the Miami Masters

President Klaus visits Argentina, Chile

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has left for a week-long visit to
Argentina and Chile. Mr Klaus met with Argentine President Cristina
Fernandez Kirchner in Buenos Aires on Thursday; they discussed possible
Czech investments into Argentina's energy sector. The news website reported the Czech head of state was impressed by the host
who recently came to Prague on a private visit. Vaclav Klaus is set to
leave for Patagonia on Friday before arriving in the Chilean capital.

Trade unions launch anti-reform campaign

Trade unions have launched a campaign against the government's pension,
tax and heath care reform plans. The confederation of trade unions says
the aim of the Open Your Eyes campaign, for which some 80 billboards
have gone up, is to convince the government to revise the reforms to be
"logical and justifiable". Main complaints include the transfer of
workers' pension deductions from the state pension system to private
savings funds, higher medical payments and tax reform, including VAT,
which the unions say will increase the public finance debt by 80
billion annually. Organisers say they are also prepared to call for a
general strike.

Kalousek: TOP 09 will stay out of ProMoPro affair.

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek says that his TOP 09 party will
respect the wishes of the coalition leader, the Civic Democrats, and
will refrain from further commenting on the ProMoPro scandal involving
Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra. Mr Kalousek said Thursday evening
that Mr Vondra's case was the responsibility of the Civic Democratic
Party and that his party would not take part in any parliamentary
meeting convened by the opposition on the matter. Last week the
opposition indeed sought such a meeting, which the coalition staved off
with the promise that Mr Vondra would explain his part in the affair
and apologize. His speech however fell short of a full apology and Mr
Kalousek and others in TOP 09 called for his resignation. The
audiovisual company ProMoPro was paid exorbitant sums from Mr Vondra's
office during the 2009 Czech EU presidency.

18th Febiofest ends

Prague's international film festival Febiofest wraps up its 18th year
on Friday evening. This year's festival included 190 films from 56
countries. The winner of the New Europe competition went to director
Marcina Wrona for his film "Chrzest", which is one of the most
acclaimed Polish films of this year. Present at the closing ceremony
will by Australian director Peter Weir, who will receive the Kristian
award for lifetime contribution to international cinema. This year's
festival included a number of venues where films are not usually
screened, such as Prague Airport's Terminal 2, where a series of films
on airplanes and airports were shown.

Big changes reported for April 1

Momentous changes are in store for the Czech Republic, if one is to
believe the April Fools' editions of several Czech media outlets. Most
consequential is the revelation of news website that the
country is to introduce the Euro as of January 1, because the date is
easy to remember. The issue that remains is apparently what likeness
the tail-side of the Czech Euro coin should take: whether Euro
Commissioner Vaclav Klaus, or the Temelin nuclear power plant.
Meanwhile, reports that plans to insulate Prague's prominent
cathedral of Saint Vitus will result in a peach-coloured makeover.
Convincing video interviews relate that the eco-friendly project will
see the landmark covered in polystyrene panels, similar to those used
in prefab housing. Revealingly, many of those commenting on the article
were not the least bit surprised.

Nuclear power plant shuts block to fix air leak

The Dukovany nuclear power plant is shutting down its fourth block on
Friday to repair a ventilation leak. The plant says that then leak was
found on Thursday during an inspection of the measuring instruments;
the leak it says poses no danger of any kind. How long the shutdown
will last will be known on Sunday. A similar leak and repair shutdown
occurred at the plant 20 years ago.

Two officers convicted of negligence in parricide case

A district court in Ceske Budejovice has convicted two police officers
for negligence in the case of a married couple murdered by their son.
Both officers were given 18 months' suspended sentences; a third
policeman was acquitted. The victims had complained about the police
handling of repeated threats they had been receiving from their son. An
internal police inspection found that their subsequent murder could
have been prevented. The perpetrator was not convicted, as he was found
to have been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the
murders, in February of last year.

Czechs' life expectancy slightly below EU average

The life expectancy for Czechs is lower than the EU average according
to demographic data published on Friday. The average Czech woman born
in 2009 is expected to reach 80.5 years of age while a man should reach
74.3. Both numbers are about two years less than the EU average, a some
five years less than Sweden and France. The statistics also point out
that the average life expectancy is rising, particularly in former
communist states. The average life expectancy in the EU has risen by
roughly ten years over the last half century.

Public buildings host overnight storytelling event for children

Some 40,000 children will be sleeping in schools, libraries and other
institutions Friday night for the storytelling event Night with
Andersen. The association of librarians that organises the evening says
that more than 1,000 venues in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and
elsewhere will be taking part this year. Night with Andersen is held
every year on the first Friday of April to mark the International
Children's Book Day and the birthday of Danish author Hans Christian
Andersen on April 2. Many prominent personalities will be reading to
the children, among them Education Minister Josef Dobes and the Danish
Ambassador Ole Moesby.

Berdych drops out of Miami Masters

Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych has dropped out of the Miami Masters
tournament in the quarterfinal round, losing to world number one Rafael
Nadal of Spain. Seventh seed Berdych has not managed to defeat Nadal
since 2006. The score was 2:6, 6:3 a 3:6. Last year Berdych took second
place in the Miami Masters, losing only to Andy Roddick of the United
States in the finals match.


Conditions are expected to be warm and sunny over the weekend with
highs up 22o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Arts News round-up

In this week's Arts, we have a round-up of recent stories from the
Czech arts scene. In this edition: how a new project called Artbanka is
helping emerging young artists in the Czech Republic and Slovakia; the
highly-respected Prague theatre Dejvicke divadlo launches a new play
based on the life of early 20th Czech adventurer Jan "Eskimo" Welzl;
and a precious B&W photograph by Frantisek Drtikol - stolen two weeks
ago - is returned to Prague's Museum of Decorative Arts.

Constitutional Court invalidates telecommunications data retention law

The Czech Constitutional Court has invalidated a law that forces
operators to retain data on telephone calls and Internet traffic on the
grounds that it violates people's right to privacy. In a highly
anticipated ruling on Thursday, the court said that the provision
ordering data on all calls, faxes, text messages and e-mail exchanges
to be retained for six months was unconstitutional since it enabled a
"massive" invasion into citizens' rights and was not in line with the
rule of law.

Business News 1.4.2011

In this week's Business News: An internet website focussing on bank
fees reports Czech banks charge hundreds of millions in fees per day;
the new 'super employment office' - aimed at saving operational costs -
begins operation; Czech national carrier CSA ends a codesharing
contract with Air France; energy giant CEZ reports the temporary
shutting down of a unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant; and Skoda
Auto places eighth in a UK warranty company survey.

This e-mail is sent to you automatically according to the settings you
chose at To change the settings, click
here. (C) 2011, Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio,
all rights reserved., E-mail: