Thursday, May 19, 2011

News 5.19.2011

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

News Thursday, May 19th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* The Czech ambassador to the EU has rejected an EU commissioner's
criticism of the practice of sexual arousal testing for gay asylum

* According to a fresh poll, nearly three-quarters of the Czech
population no longer trust the prime minister.

* Police have arrested a man who placed an anonymous call to the
national emergency line, claiming a bomb was inside the Ministry of
Education building.

* The United Nations Human Rights Council will announce a decision on
whether or not the Czech Republic will be granted a seat in the council
on Friday.

* Two parallel exhibits honoring the rescue mission of Sir Nicholas
Winton are to open on Saturday in Prague and London.

Czech EU ambassador rejects commissioner's criticism regarding sexual
arousal testing of asylum seekers

Czech ambassador to the EU Milena Vicenova rejects the EU Commissioner
for Home Affairs Cecila Malmstrom's criticism of the Czech Republic's
practice of using sexual arousal testing to determine whether
applicants who seek asylum on grounds of being gay are actually
homosexual. Mrs. Vicenova said that phallometric testing was no longer
in use in the Czech Republic and that the criticism suggested the
practice was widely employed. She said this was untrue and that the
tests had only been used in a small number of cases. In December of
last year, the EU issued a statement that suggested the practice could
be in violation of its convention on human rights.

Poll: Population's trust in government, prime minister dropped

A fresh poll by the STEM agency finds that 28 percent of Czechs trust
the prime minister, while only one in five respondents said they place
trust in the government as such. This represents a drop by 14 percent
as compared to a result from last December. The majority of the 1219
respondents said they did not believe that Prime Minister Petr Necas'
government would survive until the next general elections, to take
place in 2014.

In April, a corruption scandal within junior coalition member Public
Affairs caused a serious government crisis, which was reignited when
the party's chairman, deputy prime minister Radek John, resigned from
his post of anti-corruption tsar last week.

Police arrest man behind anonymous phone call connected to potential
bomb threat in Ministry of Education building

Police on Thursday arrested a man who had placed an anonymous call to
the national emergency line, claiming that a bomb was inside the
building of the Ministry of Education. The arrest occurred just two
hours after the call had been placed. Prague police evacuated some 300
employees from the building and pyrotechnics expert was sent in to
investigate. No bomb was found.

United Nations Human Rights Council to announce decision over seat
distribution Friday

The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to announce its decision
on whether or not the Czech Republic will be granted a seat in the
council. The decision is expected on Friday. Edita Hrda, the Czech
Republic's representative to the United Nations, said that she believed
the result of the vote will be positive given the Czech Republic is a
trustworthy nation. In her view, the chances of gaining a seat in the
council are high. Ahead of the vote on the distribution of new seats,
the Czech Republic lobbied for the support of its partners abroad for
nearly a year. Around a hundred countries pledged their support.
Georgia and Romania are also trying to secure a seat. At least 127 of
the council's 192 votes are needed for the Czech Republic to become a
member. In 2007, the Czech Republic unsuccessfully campaigned to be
voted into the United Nations Security Council.

Exhibition honoring Sir Nicholas Winton to open in Prague and London on

An outdoor exhibition honoring Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the
rescue of nearly 700 Jewish children from German-occupied
Czechoslovakia in 1939, is to open at Prague's Vysehrad Park on
Saturday. A parallel exhibit at London's Liverpool Street Station will
begin on the same day. The exhibits will feature large-scale
photographs devoted to the theme of Winton's train, which carried 669
Jewish children to safety, from Prague to London, in 1939. They later
came to be known as "Winton's Children." Sir Winton, who celebrates
his102nd birthday on Thursday, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace
Prize. A new drama-documentary detailing his incredible story premiered
in January of this year and was shown at this year's Cannes Film

Public Affairs party to hold online poll to elect new party leadership.

Junior Coalition member Public Affairs is holding an online poll
starting on Thursday night for members to elect the party's new
leadership. Aside from current chairman Radek John, the head of the
party's group of deputies, Karolina Peake, as well as MP Dagmar
Navratilova are running for the post. The election process will last
five days; its results also have to be approved at the party conference
on the weekend of May 28. The leaders of the three ruling parties - the
Civic Democrats, TOP O9 and Public Affairs have agreed on the
continuation of their coalition agreement and on adding an amendment to
it. The coalition is currently in disarray after the resignation of
Public Affairs chairman Radek John from the cabinet. Public Affairs has
laid down a number of conditions for its continuation in the government
-a rewrite of the coalition agreement, the dismissal of three ministers
from the two stronger parties and four ministerial posts for itself.

Ostrava court issues high-profile rape case verdict

A regional court in Ostrava on Thursday handed an eight-year prison
sentence to a seventy-year old pensioner charged with the rape of his
daughter. The defendant abused and raped his child over a time-span of
22 years. As a result of the prolonged abuse, the man fathered two
children with his daughter.The victim has been severely traumatized by
the abuse and is in therapy. The pensioner was dubbed the "Czech
Fritzl" by national media, which drew parallels to the highly
publicized case of an Austrian man convicted of raping and holding his
daughter captive for 24 years.

President's ratings at all-time low

Public confidence in President Vaclav Klaus has fallen to an all-time
low of 47%, according to a poll published by the STEM agency. The poll
suggests strong opinions on Mr. Klaus, with one in ten Czechs saying he
has their absolute trust and one in five saying they have no confidence
in him whatsoever. STEM recorded relatively high confidence in the
president only last December, when 63% of respondents showed trust in
Mr. Klaus. The public was roughly split on the president's response to
the recent government crisis, when he refused to endorse the dismissal
of three cabinet ministers.

International food producers unload poor goods on Czech Republic and
other post-communist countries, survey finds

According to a fresh survey by the Slovakian consumers' association,
international food producers unload lower-quality products on
post-communist states, including the Czech Republic. The association's
director said that tests reveal that products in newer EU member states
are of lower quality than those on supermarket shelves in older EU
member states, with the worst results found in Bulgaria. He added that
companies may choose to unload lower-quality products on those markets
because they expect consumers there to be more likely to accept poorer

Czech motorists' federation criticizes current system of driver's
license testing

The Czech motorists' federation UAMK has harshly criticized the current
system of drivers' license testing, stating that it was unacceptable,
inefficient and that it enables corruption. The statement came after it
became public that drivers' license applicants in Prague were facing
delays due to an ongoing police investigation of 14 commissioners
suspected of accepting bribes. As a consequence, the total number of
commissioners currently at the licensing office of Prague City Hall was
reduced to five. Detectives from the police's anti-corruption
department raided the office on Monday. The remaining officials are
only able to process a fourth of the usual number of applicants, and
have asked commissioners in retirement and in regions to fill the gap.
By law, City Hall must test applicants within 15 days of receiving a

Firefighters remove bee swarm from famous astronomical clock

Prague firefighters on Thursday removed a swarm of bees from Prague's
famous astronomical clock, the Orloj. The swarm had started nesting on
the clock's angel statue. Firefighters removed the insects with a
special vacuuming device; bystanders and tourists took great interest
in watching the procedure, which only lasted about ten minutes.


Currently mostly sunny conditions are expected to continue over the
coming days with daytime temperatures of around 25o Celsius, with a
chance of isolated thunderstorms later in the week.

Articles posted on today

Public confidence in president hits record low

Public confidence in the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, has fallen
to an all-time low, according to a new poll conducted by the STEM
agency. The results, reported on Wednesday, show the president's
numbers as dropping to 47 percent, down from last December when the
they stood at 63. The drop, say political analysts, is likely to be
related the president's role in the recent government crisis but also
other notable factors, including remarks by a key aide on the death of
Osama Bin Laden, and even a comic 'pen stealing' incident in Chile that
became a hit on

New royal couple looks Czech gift horse in the mouth

Amid all the disagreements in the cabinet there has also been wrangling
of a different sort - apparently the issue of what to give the new Duke
and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, for a wedding present. The
powers that be in fact agreed on quite a lot on Wednesday, and between
an anti-corruption bill, welfare reform and a ten-year outlook for the
armed forces, they also hammered an agreement to give the new royal
couple a horse. It is of course a horse as souped up as they come, a
rare young stallion with a radiant pedigree, but London apparently
wants a look under the bonnet before they welcome the gift horse to the
queen's own stables.

Prague's Golden Lane to reopen to visitors

It's one of the most Romantic places in the Czech capital. With its
charming row of tiny houses built in the Mannerist style Prague's
Golden Lane attracts visitors from near and far. Painters strive to
capture its old-world charm and tour-guides elaborate about the
colourful personalities that once inhabited them - alchemists who tried
to turn stone into gold or make youth elixirs, Franz Kafka who
reportedly resided there for a time, or fortune-teller and astrologer
Magdalena Prusova also known as Madame de Thebes who was killed by the
Gestapo because she foretold the end of Nazism.

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