Monday, April 18, 2011

News 4.18.2011

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

News Monday, April 18th, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* A city bus overturned into a ravine on the outskirts of Prague on
Monday morning killing one person and injuring thirteen.

* Leaders of the coalition government are meeting to find a way out of
the government crisis.

* The opposition Social Democrats have requested a special session of
the lower house at which they want to table a no-confidence vote
against the ruling centre-right coalition.

* Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil has called for the dismissal of the
head of Pankrac prison over negligence.

* The Czech women's tennis team has reached the final of the Fed Cup
for the first time in 23 years.

Bus accident kills driver, injures 13 passengers

A city bus overturned into a 15-metre deep ravine on the outskirts of
Prague on Monday morning killing the bus driver and injuring thirteen
passengers. Two people were airlifter to hospital with serious
injuries. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

Coalition talks on cabinet shake-up

Leaders of the coalition government are meeting to try to agree on a
solution to the government crisis in the wake of a corruption scandal
that has led it to the brink of collapse. All three parties -the Civic
Democrats, TOP09 and the junior Public Affairs have pledged to do their
utmost to save the pro-reform government and avoid early
elections.Seven scenarios are officially on the table and the biggest
battle is expected to be over who should hold the Interior Ministry
following the proposed dismissal of its present head Radek John of
Public Affairs. The junior coalition party is not happy to let the
ministry go, but has indicated willingness to discuss an independent
candidate for the post. The leader of the party's deputies' group in
parliament Karolina Peake made it clear however that the party did not
want to be fobbed off with unimportant or symbolic posts just for the
sake of remaining in government, saying Public Affairs might prefer to
support the cabinet from the back benches.

Social Democrats preparing to call no-confidence vote against government

The opposition Social Democrats have requested a special session of the
lower house at which they want to table a no-confidence motion against
the Czech ruling centre-right coalition. The leading opposition party
says the government has betrayed public trust and the only responsible
way out of the present crisis is to hold early elections in the autumn.
The decision to call a no-confidence vote in the coalition government
was approved unanimously by the Social Democratic Party leadership last
Friday. The special session is expected to take place after the Easter

Czech Republic has wide range of business interests in Iraq

The situation in the Arab world and strengthening of bilateral ties
topped the agenda of Czech-Iraqi talks in Prague on Monday. Following a
meeting with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, his Czech
counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg said Prague would offer Bagdad its
L-159 subsonic assault planes and the upgrading of Soviet-made military
helicopters, a sales deal that Iraq has shown interest in. Mr.
Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic would also like to participate in
the modernization of Iraqi oil-mining equipment. The four-day visit to
Prague by the Iraqi foreign minister is to prepare the ground for a
visit to Iraq by Prime Minister Petr Necas in May of this year during
which the two countries should sign an agreement on mutual protection
of investments and explore further business opportunities.

Justice minister says Pankrac prison failed to do its duty

At a press briefing in Prague on Monday Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil
called for the dismissal of the head of Pankrac prison, his deputy and
the prison warden over negligence which the minister says enabled one
of the prisoners to commit suicide. Minister Pospisil says the prison
failed to do its duty by Otakar T, a forty-year-old man suspected of
the rape and murder of a ten-year-old girl in Prague last October. The
suspect attempted to hang himself on a rope made from his torn clothes
and died later in hospital. The minister says that contrary to its
earlier claims the prison had failed to take the usual precautions and
the guards on duty had not made regular rounds of the cells which would
have prevented the suicide attempt.

Sumava National Park management awaits green light for extensive logging

Tension is high in the Sumava National Park in southern Bohemia where
the park's management is waiting for a green light from the Environment
Ministry to start extensive felling of bark-beetle infested trees.
Monitoring groups of environment activists say they have come across
thousands of trees bearing orange marks that slate them for felling in
what is presently a no-intervention zone. The park's new director Jan
Strasky confirmed the reports on Monday, but said that a single tree
would not be cut down without permission. Environment Minister Tomas
Chalupa is still waiting for an expert analysis from critics of the
plan before allowing logging to begin.

Poll shows opposition parties would win constitutional majority in
lower house

A poll conducted by the STEM polling agency indicates that if elections
were held today the opposition Social Democrats and the Communist Party
would win a constitutional majority in the lower house of Parliament.
According to the results of the poll the Social Democrats would win 92
seats in the 200 seat lower chamber and the Communist party would
secure 28 seats. The parties of the centre-right governing coalition
would have eighty seats altogether - their worst result since taking

Police detain arsonist who had been terrorising Liberec

The police have detained an arsonist who is believed to have started at
least two dozen fires in and around the town of Liberec since last May.
Investigators say this may not be a final number since more cases are
coming to light. The man put close to a hundred lives at risk and
caused overall damage to the tune of 1.2 million crowns. If found
guilty he may face up to 15 years in prison.

Czech boy wins prestigious international art competition with crayon

A first grader from the town of Novy Jicin has won the prestigious
international art competition Kanagawa Biennial World Children's Art
Contest 2010 in Japan. Six-year-old Oldrich Poul sent an entry thanks
to his class teacher and won with a crayon picture of himself teasing
his cat with a blade of grass. His class teacher who has encouraged him
to develop his talent said she felt like she herself had been presented
with an Oscar.

Tennis: women's team edges Belgium in Fed Cup semifinal

The Czech women's tennis team reached the final of the Fed Cup for the
first time in 23 years after edging Belgium in the best-of-five
semifinal on Sunday. The decision came down to the final doubles match
between Czechs Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova against
Yanina Wickmayer and Kirsten Flipkens, which the Czechs won 6:4, 6:4.
The last time the women's team has competed in the Fed Cup final was
for Czechoslovakia in 1988 against the Soviet Union. That team included
Czech players Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova and the team won. In this
year's final, the Czechs will face Russia. The final takes place on
November 5 and 6th.


The coming days are expected to be bright and sunny with daytime highs
reaching 20 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

President's use of power an issue again as he assumes a leading role in
the government crisis

As the crisis in the Czech government has played out over the last two
weeks, the country's President, Vaclav Klaus, has taken on a key role
in how events have unfolded. The president leapt into the turmoil at
the point where he was asked to approve the departure of three
ministers from the Public Affairs party; his refusal to do so has again
raised the question of whether Mr Klaus exceeds the duties of his
office or makes the tough decisions that the country needs.

Analyst Sadi Shanaah: Czech policy towards Middle East 'an illusion'

Sadi Shanaah is a Czech-Palestinian expert on international relations
who works for the Prague-based think tank Glopolis, and has been a
frequent guest in the Czech media ever since the start of the
prodemocracy revolts across the Middle East. Mr Shanaah was born in
Prague but spent part of his childhood in a Palestinian refugee camp in
Jordan. In this edition of One on One, we discuss the Czech foreign
policy, the differences and similarities between communism and the
autocratic Arab regimes as well as his own political aspirations.

Sports News 18.4.2011

In Sports News: the Czech women's tennis team edges Belgium in
Charleroi to reach its first Fed Cup final in 23 years; famous football
club Slavia balances on edge of abyss over unpaid wages; Czechs make
their mark in the NHL playoffs.

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