Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News 6.15.2011

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

News Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* A last-ditch effort by Prime Minister Petr Necas to prevent a
nationwide strike on Thursday has failed.

* Trade unions have backed off from a plan to block traffic on Prague's
main thoroughfares and to march on the city instead.

* Prague will not be hosting an early warning station for a planned US
missile defence system.

* The government parties have agreed to wrap up negotiations on the
future of their three-party coalition by the end of this week.

* Nearly every fifth student who took the newly launched secondary
school leaving exams failed.

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Last-ditch effort to stop strike fails
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A last-ditch effort by Prime Minister Petr Necas to prevent a
nationwide strike on Thursday has failed. Mr Necas promised the
employers and union leaders at Wednesday morning's tripartite talks
that the Parliament would not deal with health care reform this week,
and warned that the strike would cause economic damages and bring
nothing of benefit. The unions welcomed the promise and said they would
do everything possible to prevent damages, but that the strike was to
go ahead. Trains and city transport services will come to a halt for 24
hours starting at midnight Wednesday. The strike is in protest of
pensions, health care and tax reforms planned by the centre-right
government. The cabinet has said it is willing to negotiate, but trade
unions insist that the concessions offered are inadequate.


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Unions cancel road block, announce march
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The unions have decided to back off from a plan to block automobile
traffic on Prague's main thoroughfare and to march on the city instead,
forming a demonstration at Palackeho namesti. From there they intend to
move to the Ministry of Finance, leave bails of straw at the Office of
the Government and continue to Prague Castle. The march is expected to
end at noon. The unions say they expect around 3,000 people to
participate.


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Strike eased in Brno and Plzen
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Union leaders in Brno have agreed with the municipal government to keep
certain transit routes running in the morning and afternoon rush hours.
Some union members in the city have agreed on a symbolic strike.
Meanwhile, buses will be up and running as normal in Plzen, where
members of the local bus union have agreed on a wholly symbolic strike.
There they plan to express their disagreement with government reforms
on posters in all of the city's buses.


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No US early warning station for Prague
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In other news, Prague will not be hosting an early warning station for
a planned US missile defence system, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra
has announced. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with American
Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn, Mr Vondra said that the system
is to be integrated into the NATO framework, and that Czech Republic
would be looking for another way to get involved in the project. Talk
of such a station began after the new American administration scrapped
plans for a missile defence shield conceived by former president Bush,
which included a radar base in the Czech Republic. Recently Mr Vondra
referred to the early warning station as a "consolation prize" for the
cancellation of the radar station.


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Coalition parties to conclude negotiations this week
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The government parties have agreed to wrap up negotiations on the
future of their three-party coalition by the end of this week, the
chairmen of the parties' parliamentary clubs announced Wednesday. The
main issue of cabinet posts for the junior Public Affairs party has
reportedly not been resolved, and the parties are further debating an
amendment to the coalition agreement demanded by Public Affairs. They
have however agreed that an office within the Finance Ministry looking
into politicians' affairs will remain there, but be run by a separately
named individual. They also agreed to support taxation of gambling as a
key task.


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Every fifth student failed leaving exams
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Nearly every fifth student who took the newly launched secondary school
leaving exams failed, the Education Ministry has announced. One in ten
students did not meet the requirements to take the exams. The highest
failure rates were in mathematics, where more than 14% failed. Nine
percent failed on the foreign language tests, particularly in German,
where every fourth student received a failing grade. The vast majority
of students chose to take an easier version of the exams. Education
Minister Josef Dobes said Wednesday that roughly 30 schools had had
failure rates of 70%.


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Czech police raid Supreme State Attorney's offices over Pandurs case
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Czech police have raided the Supreme State Attorney's offices in Prague
and Brno seeking evidence of an information leak regarding
Austrian-made, Pandur armoured personnel carriers. The raid was ordered
by the State Attorney's Office in Olomouc over the suspicion of abuse
of power. Early last month, Czech newspapers published the testimony of
a confidential witness in the case of allegedly overpriced purchases of
personnel carriers for the Czech military that may have involved high
bribes. Marek Dalik, an aide to then prime minister Mirek Topolanek,
was accused of asking for a bribe of half a billion crowns as a
commission for the deal in late 2007.


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World premiere of long-forgotten Vivaldi opera in Prague
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A Prague festival will host the world premiere of Antonio Vivaldi's
opera L'Unione della Pace, e di Marte, following its reconstruction by
a Czech expert 284 years after its only performance. The serenata was
composed for the birth of French King Louis XV's first children, twin
sisters Louise Elisabeth and Anne Henriette and was performed only
once, in 1727, in the open air, in a garden adjacent to the church of
Madonna dell'Orto in Venice. The complete libretto has been preserved
in the National Braidense Library in Milan, but the score disappeared
altogether and had to be reconstructed on the basis of tunes from
Vivaldi's other operas. The international ensemble Hof-Musici, led by
composer and conductor Ondrej Macek will perform L'Unione della Pace, e
di Marte several times within the Prague Baroque Festival starting on
June 17. The premiere is scheduled for July 4 at the Ledebour Garden at
the foot of Prague Castle.


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Amendment to roads law passes lower house
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A new amendment to the Czech roads law, passed by the Chamber of
Deputies on Wednesday, prohibits drivers from evading responsibility
for speeding and some other traffic offences on the grounds that their
vehicle was being driven by a close relative. If signed into law, the
bill will ensure that the owner of the vehicle guarantees that anybody
driving it observes the rules of the road. If the driver violates the
rules, the owner may be fined up to 10,000 crowns. The amendment also
prohibits EU citizens from having more than one driver's licence, and
raises the age limit for driving large motorcycles to 24, with some
exceptions.


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Karlovy Vary festival to host actors John Malkovich and John Turturro
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Next month's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will be hosting
two special American guests, actors John Malkovich and John Turturro.
For Mr Malkovich it will be his second trip to the Czech Republic this
summer, having recently performed in the Prague Spring music festival.
He will also be presenting his line of men's clothing, called
Technobohemian, which will be modelled by leading Czech actors. John
Turturro is set to receive a special prize awarded by the festival
president and will introduce the world premiere of his latest
directorial film, Somewhere Tonight.


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Weather
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Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly cloudy with
scattered showers in most of the country, and daytime highs of around
25o Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Constitutional Court grants municipalities authority over VLTs in
landmark ruling
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The Czech Constitutional Court on Tuesday issued a groundbreaking
verdict that grants the country's towns and cities the authority to
decide if and where VLTS, video lottery terminals, are placed in their
municipality. Until recently, the Finance Ministry had the final say-so
in the matter. Michael Canov, the mayor of Chrastava, the city that
went to court over the ministry's gaming directive and brought about
the landmark ruling, speaks on the issue.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/constitutional-court-grants-municipalities-authority-over-vlts-in-landmark-ruling


Prague Quadrennial, the world's largest scenography event, kicks off
12th year
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It's always a long time coming, but the Prague Quadrennial is here
again. The world's largest "performance design" event will be taking
place all around the Czech capital for the next eleven days, from the
streets to the exhibition palaces, covering all kinds of modern
dramatic and visual arts and hosting performers from all over the world.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/prague-quadrennial-the-worlds-largest-scenography-event-kicks-off-12th-year


US ambassador Norman Eisen looks back at his first five months in Prague
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Czech-American relations are going "from good to great", according to
the US ambassador to Prague Norman L. Eisen who will soon complete his
first five months in the Czech Republic. Mr Eisen has been working to
shift the focus from missile defence, a top priority during the era of
President George W. Bush, towards cooperation in nuclear energy,
commerce and the fight against corruption. In an interview for Radio
Prague, Ambassador Eisen looks back at some of the developments of the
past five months.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/special/us-ambassador-norman-eisen-looks-back-at-his-first-five-months-in-prague


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