Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News 5.25.2011

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

News Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* The transport workers' union has announced a general strike to take
place in June.

* The head of the National Democratic Party of Germany is set to come
to the Czech Republic on Saturday to meet with representatives of the
far-right Workers' Party for Social Justice.

* The government has approved a proposal for a change in VAT.

* The Czech president has met with King Albert II of Belgium in

* Archaeologists have found a skull near the site of an alleged mass
grave where German victims of post-war violence are said to be buried.

Transport workers to go on strike in June

The transport workers' union is preparing a general strike that will
affect motorway, railway and urban public transportation, to take place
in June. Its president, Lubos Pomajbik, announced the decision on
Wednesday, stating that unless the government reaches an agreement with
the trade union umbrella organization CMKOS regarding planned reforms
in the country's pension, social and health care systems, the strike
will be held as planned. He added that the exact time of the strike
will be kept secret until the last minute. Prime Minister Petr Necas
said he deplored the union's decision and that he would not play into
demands for further negotiations regarding the planned reforms.

Far-right Czech workers' party invites leader of extremist German party

The head of the extremist National Democratic Party of Germany Udo
Voigt has been invited to the Czech Republic by the extremist Workers'
Party for Social Justice. Its leader, Jiri Stepanek, said on Wednesday
that the visit of Mr. Voigt and his delegation, scheduled for Saturday,
is meant to intensify collaboration between both parties. Mr. Voigt
made headlines in 2007, when he publicly downplayed the extent of the
Holocaust. A number of members of the German NPD have been charged with
similar acts of hate speech. The Workers' Party for Social Justice is
considered the successor of the far-right Workers' Party, which was
banned in February of last year.

Government approves proposal for change in VAT

The government on Wednesday approved a change to the system of value
added tax, to take effect in 2013. Under the proposed legislation, the
regular 20 percent VAT and the lowered-rate VAT of 10 percent will be
replaced by a universal VAT of 17.5 percent, following a temporary
increase of the lower VAT to 14 percent in 2012. According to the
Ministry of Finance, pensioners and low-income households will be most
affected by this change, however, both groups will benefit from a
change in the pension and welfare law, respectively. The government
coalition said this step will be instrumental in financing its
large-scale pension reform.

Opponents of VAT increase to meet with finance minister

In related news, opponents of the change to the VAT system have
announced further protests against the new legislation. They are set to
meet with Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Thursday to discuss
alternative solutions. Critics, most of whom are in the publishing
business, fear that increasing the current lowered VAT rate of ten
percent by 4 percent in 2012, and subsequently introducing one
universal VAT rate of 17.5 percent in 2013, will significantly increase
the cost of books. Some have predicted that the change in law may force
many smaller publishing houses to close down.

Interior Ministry lacks funding for 2012

The Interior Ministry needs an additional three billion crowns for its
2012 budget, Interior Minister Jan Kubice said Wednesday. Mr. Kubice
warned that unless his ministry's budget is increased, it will not be
able to fulfill all its tasks and serious problems are to be expected.
In a recent appearance on Czech Television, Mr. Kubice said that
firefighters and police lack the funds to operate in December and have
to re-organize their finances to account for the lack of funding. The
ministry's 2011 budget was 52.9 billion crowns, nearly seven billion
less than in the previous year.

President Klaus meets with King Albert II of Belgium

On Wednesday, Czech President Vaclav Klaus met with King Albert II of
Belgium in Brussels. On occasion of his two-day official visit to
Belgium, Mr. Klaus is also set to meet with World War II veterans who
helped liberate Plzen from Nazi rule. On Tuesday, the Czech president
met with Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who has been heading a federal
caretaker government for almost a year, following failed coalition
talks between the French-speaking south and Dutch-speaking north.

Archaeologists find skull of possible post-war violence victims

On Wednesday, archaeologists found a skull near the site of an alleged
mass grave where some 15 Germans are said to have been murdered by
Czech locals at the end of World War II, in the town of Dobronin, in
the Jihlava region. According to criminal police investigators, the
victims' relatives and descendants in Germany welcome the Czech effort
to shed light on post-war murders of Germans on Czech lands. The search
locations were determined on the basis of scientific measurements of
soil, as well as documents gathered by the police. Last summer,
anthropologists found the bodies of at least 13 victims in the nearby
town of Budinka. Criminal police are investigating the case.

Prague police investigate recent wave of violent metro attacks

Prague police are investigating a recent string of violent attacks in
the city's metro system. A police spokeswoman said on Wednesday that
Prague police have received a great number of calls from witnesses,
which will hopefully lead to the arrest of the perpetrators. According
to surveillance camera material, a group of young males is behind the
violent attacks. On two separate occasions in late April and early May,
the youngsters brutally and without prior provocation beat up victims
travelling on their own.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival to honor legends of Czech

In its 46th year, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival will honor important
contributions to Czech cinema. Festival director Jiri Bartoska
announced on Wednesday that several well-known figures in Czech film
will be honored with special screenings. The classic musical comedy
Svetaci will be shown in honor of actresses Jirina Bohdalova, Jirina
Jiraskova and Iva Janzurova, all of whom are celebrating round
birthdays this year and will be in attendance. Another screening will
celebrate the memory of director and screenwriter Ladislav Smoljak, who
died last year. The musical comedy Trhak, based on a screenplay he
co-wrote with Zdenek Sverak, will be screened at the festival on June 7.

Czech company secures 42 million crown tender in UK

The Czech company Linet, which produces hospital beds and other
professional health care products, has secured a 42 million crown (1.5
million British pounds) tender in Great Britain, the weekly Ekonom
reported on Wednesday. The company has a five-year contract with
several hospitals to which it will provide beds as well as disinfecting
services for the beds. Linet exports its products to 90 countries
worldwide. The company is among the four biggest producers of hospital
beds internationally.


Over the next few days, nice weather with partly cloudy skies can be
expected, with daytime highs of around 25 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today


In today's edition of Spotlight we visit the famous Pruhonice Park - a
gorgeous destination for tourists that is not at all out of reach, a
mere fifteen minute bus ride from Prague. If you love long romantic
walks, soft landscapes full of leafy forests, quiet streams, and virgin
meadows, Pruhonice is a must.

Google strikes deal with Czech privacy watchdog over Street View

Google will continue expanding its Street View application in the Czech
Republic after it agreed to meet several conditions required by the
country's data privacy watchdog. These include lowering the height of
Street View cameras as well as a promise to swiftly deal with privacy
complaints from the public. The US internet company, which has already
made most of Prague and several other Czech cities available in Street
View, said they would resume the project in the coming months.

Slavia Prague avoids relegation to third division

The Czech Football Association has given Slavia Prague a new lease on
life, issuing the club a licence on Tuesday to play in the top flight
next year. The club, with more than a 100-year history, was in danger
of being relegated to the lowly third division over unpaid debts and a
lack of ownership transparency. Now the most outstanding questions have
been answered and the club will return next season.

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