Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News 5.31.2011

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

News Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* A Czech soldier was killed in the Afghan province of Vardak on

* Three possible cases of a bacterial infection that has lead to
fourteen deaths in Germany have been evidenced in the Czech Republic.

* The Health Minister presented details of the health care reform on

* US ambassador Norman Eisen has pledged his support for the American
company Westinghouse in securing the Temelin tender.

* The historic re-opening of the railway route between the Czech and
the Bavarian Zelezna Ruda will be celebrated on occasion of its 20-year

Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan

A Czech soldier was killed in the Afghan province of Vardak on Tuesday
morning when he drove over a roadside mine with his car. His Afghan
interpreter was severely injured and later died in hospital. A Czech
soldier in the car was also injured severely, while another escaped
with only light injuries. The severely injured man was brought to the
nearest military hospital. He will be transported to a larger military
hospital in the country's capital Kabul when his condition stabilizes.
The family of the dead soldier has been notified. His remains will be
shipped to the Czech Republic as soon as possible.

Three possible cases of Czechs contracting infection in cucumber scare

On Tuesday, news of three possible cases of a bacterial infection
linked to contaminated cucumbers emerged in the Czech Republic. A Czech
man who returned home from a business trip to Germany may have
contracted the life-threatening bacterial infection that has lead to 14
deaths in Germany. Another woman who may have caught the infectious
disease was hospitalized in Hradec Kralove on Tuesday. An American
tourist who travelled through Germany has also been hospitalized in
Prague on suspicion of having contracted the bacterial infection. The
National Reference Laboratory is currently examining samples; test
results will confirm whether the Czech man has indeed contracted the
mutated E.coli virus.

Agriculture Minister speaks on cucumber scare

Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa has assured the public that intensified
random checks of market vegetables in connection with the Spanish
cucumber scare would continue. Speaking on Czech public television the
minister said that at the moment it was not yet clear if the
contamination of the produce had occurred in Spain, where the
vegetables in question were farmed, or at the end of the distributor, a
German company. Mr. Fuksa said that should someone have tampered with
the vegetables, this could be labeled an act of terrorism.

After it emerged on Sunday that over 200 potentially infected Spanish
cucumbers were imported to the Czech Republic, of which 120 were sold
on the market, Czech authorities ordered intensified random checks. An
outbreak of bacterial infections believed to be caused by E. coli
bacteria in contaminated cucumbers and other vegetables have killed 14
in Germany; further outbreaks also occurred in the UK, Sweden, Denmark
and the Netherlands.

Health Minister presents details of health care reform to public

Health Minister Leos Heger presented the first part of a health care
system reform to the public on Tuesday. He said that a projected
deficit of 10.6 billion Czech crowns in his ministry's 2012 budget
could be balanced by several changes to the current health care system.
By no longer covering dental fillings and medication that costs 50
crowns or less, the state health insurance company VZP could cut its

Mr. Heger is currently finalizing the details of the reform, which was
the subject of intense debate in Parliament earlier this month. He is
also currently preparing a unified legislation that would be binding
for all health care insurance companies, and will present three
additional proposals to Parliament by June 8. Some details, such as
which services will be covered by the insurer and which will have to be
paid for by the patient, are still unclear. An increase in patient fees
for hospitalization was approved by Parliament in early May and is
currently being discussed by the parliamentary committees.

US ambassador pledges support to American company Westinghouse in
securing Temelin tender

The US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, said on Tuesday
that he plans to support the US company Westinghouse in securing a
tender for the expansion of the Czech nuclear plant Temelin. He added
that he regards this as an important part of his work in the Czech
Republic, and that collaboration between the US and the Czech Republic
would create jobs in both countries. US President Barack Obama is also
interested in the project and the potential jobs it could create, Mr.
Eisen said.

Along with Westinghouse, the French company Areva and the Czech-Russian
consortium Atomstrojexport are applying for the tender to expand

Activists from Belarus in Prague to garner support and raise awareness

Five activists and opposition members from Belarus spoke about the
worsening conditions in their native country at a news conference in
Prague on Tuesday. They travelled to Prague to garner support from the
Czech Foreign Ministry, as well as to speak to journalists about the
situation in Belarus. The five opponents of autocratic President
Alexander Lukashenko described the ongoing repression by his regime and
said that violations of human rights, random arrests of opposition
members and unfair court trials have escalated in recent months.

Railway connection between Czech and Bavarian Zelezna Ruda towns to
celebrate 20-year anniversary

The railway that connects the Czech town Zelezna Ruda and the
neighboring Bavarian town Markt Eisenstein, which in Czech also carries
the name Zelezna Ruda, will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary on
Saturday. To commemorate the re-opening of the railway route, a steam
train will take passengers from Plzen's main train station to the
border town of Alzbetin. Celebrations are scheduled to kick off in the
town in the evening, with a concert of Czech-Bavarian music and
culinary specialties from both countries.

The railway connection between the two towns was one of the seminal
events in Czech-German history after the Velvet Revolution. Before
1989, the railway had been defunct for decades and the communist
government in Czechoslovakia even planned its destruction.

Prague zoo to reintroduce rare Prewalski's horses to native habitat

Four specimens of the critically endangered Prewalski's horse species
will be reintroduced to their native habitat in Western Mongolia in
mid-June. The project is organized by Prague Zoo, which has been
breeding these horses since 1959. The four horses, three females and
one male, will be brought to Mongolia by a military plane; the project
will cost hundreds of thousands of crowns. Forty years ago, Prewalski's
horses were extinct in the wild; the species only survived thanks to
breeding attempts in zoos such as Prague zoo, which has greatly
contributed to the survival of the rare breed.

Director of famous Semafor prepares new swing musical

The director of Prague's well-known Semafor theater, director and actor
Jiri Suchy is preparing a swing musical which will kick off the new
season at his theater in the fall. Four early performances of the
musical are scheduled for June. The publisher Galen is also set to
publish a book box titled Jiri Suchy 80, on occasion of Mr. Suchy's
eightieth birthday in October.

Seven injured in collision near Znojmo

Seven people were injured in an accident on Tuesday morning, when a bus
collided with a truck in the town of Suchohrdly in the Znojmo region.
The injured passengers were immediately brought to the nearest
hospital; four have since been released. The two drivers did not suffer
any injuries. A police spokeswoman said that most likely, the truck
driver caused the accident by failing to give right of way at an


Tuesday will be warm and sunny, highs are expected to reach 28 degrees
Celsius; heavy thunderstorms should bring the temperatures down on
Tuesday evening, with rainy weather predicted for the middle of the

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Government offers churches less money, more land in property restitution

The Czech government has come up with a new proposal for the
restitution of church property confiscated after the communist coup of
1948. Under the new draft, Czech churches and religious groups would
get back around 60 percent of the property seized by the state while
the rest would be paid in cash. Representatives of Czech churches have
welcomed the move but said a detailed analysis was needed before taking
a definite stand on the issue.


Czech Republic facing serious problems in Diag Human arbitration case

A drawn-out legal dispute between blood plasma technologies and
production company Diag Human and the Czech state has taken a dramatic
turn. Last week the company, which claims it is owed close to ten
billion crowns by the Czech state for damaging Diag Human's interests,
successfully applied to an Austrian court to order the seizure of
famous Czech artworks on display in Vienna. Just days after two
paintings and a sculpture from the National Gallery and the Moravian
Gallery were impounded by court bailiffs, a Paris court has recognized
a similar claim, putting Czech state assets in France at risk.
Commentator Jan Urban, who has written a book about the longest ever
arbitration involving the Czech state, says the Czech Republic has got
itself into a bind.


Leos Janacek, the composer for a new republic

The first two names always given at the top of the pantheon of Czech
classical music are Antonin Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana; the third is
invariably Leos Janacek. Probably the most innovative of the three,
Janacek likely lags behind the famous duo only because even today, 80
years after his death, musicians, musicologists and music lovers are
still reassessing those innovations, which took classical music into
uncharted territory.


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