Monday, July 18, 2011

News 7.18.2011

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

News Monday, July 18th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* Leaders of the Czech government coalition are debating next year's
draft budget at their meeting on Monday.

* The government has presented a strategy to boost the country's
competitiveness.

* Two thirds of Czechs oppose a planned hike in VAT.

* Prague's tram transport is celebrating its 120th anniversary on
Monday.

* A policeman who was behind the wheel of a car that plunged into the
Vltava river died on Sunday.

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Coalition leaders discuss budget, taxes and cuts
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A meeting of coalition leaders over the draft of next year's budget got
underway Monday. The leader of the three-party, right-of-center
government coalition are set to discuss a proposed hike in VAT and
further budget cuts to make up for falling tax revenues. They are,
however, expected to clash over the budget draft. They Finance Minister
and deputy chair of the TOP 09 party Miroslav Kalousek has floated the
idea of raising the VAT rate to 19 percent, together with introducing a
new round of spending cuts to bring the public finances deficit down to
3.5 percent of GDP in 2012. While Prime Minister and Civic Democrat
leader Petr Necas expressed no major objections to the plan, the junior
coalition party, Public Affairs, have rejected the idea. They would
instead prefer progressive taxation and higher corporate taxes.


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Government proposes strategy to boost Czech Republic's ability to
compete
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The government on Monday presented a strategy to boost the Czech
Republic's competitiveness. The concept, which was drafted by the
government's advisory board NERV, aims to transform the country into
one of the 20 most competitive economies by 2020. As part of the new
strategy, Prime Minister Petr Necas is proposing a change in
constitutional law that would legally bind governments to keep a
balanced budget. In addition, the strategy will also seek to transform
the country's education system. Industry and Trade Minister Martin
Kocourek said on Monday that the fact that currently, 80 percent of all
bachelor graduates go on to study a master's program, is inacceptable.
He said that at least in some sectors, such as the public service, a
bachelor's degree should be deemed sufficient. He added that bachelor
degree programs also need to increase their focus on practical
experiences and skills.


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Survey: Two thirds of population against hike in VAT
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According to a fresh survey published by the Public Opinion Research
Center, almost two thirds of the population is against the debated hike
in VAT. Only about a fifth responded that they were in favor of
increasing the tax. Of the roughly 1000 survey participants, university
graduates, entrepreneurs, self-employed persons and highly-qualified
workers were more likely to be in favor of the planned VAT hike, while
those with a lower living standard were less likely to support the
government's plan to increase the tax gradually. The survey also
revealed that 70 percent of Czechs do not understand the current tax
system.


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Czech capital celebrates 120th anniversary of tram transport
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Prague tram transport marked its 120th anniversary on Monday. Hundreds
of people watched as historical models, such as a rare open carriage
tram, set off for celebratory routes. As part of the anniversary
events, a monument in honor of Prague's tram transport was unveiled
near the National Technical Museum, which together with the Prague
Public Transport Company organized the celebration. The first electric
tram line, which was less than 800 meters long, started operating in
Prague on July 18, 1891. It was designed by the well-known engineer and
inventor Frantisek Krizik and was built in the Letna neighborhood,
where the National Technical Museum is located today. At present,
Prague's Public Transport Company operates nearly 1000 tram carriages
on 33 lines, with the tram lines overall spanning a length of 538
kilometers.


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Policeman dies following car accident in center of Prague
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A policeman who was behind the wheel of a car that crashed off the
Hlavkuv bridge in the center of Prague on Saturday, plunging into the
Vltava river, died on Sunday, a police spokeswoman said on Monday. The
35-year-old driver had been rescued after 25 minutes under water
following a collision with another vehicle that had pushed his car over
the railing and into the water. The car he was driving belonged to the
protective services division of the Czech police, Czech TV reported on
Sunday. The division is in charge of protecting government and other
officials. Police have asked any witnesses to contact them.


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Foreign Ministry faces difficulty selling buildings of closed down
embassies
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The Foreign Ministry has not been able to sell the buildings of Czech
embassies and consulates that have been closed down around the world
due to the government's austerity measures. Currently, a total of ten
locations in countries such as Venezuela, Yemen, Germany or Brazil are
for sale, with a combined value of nearly 290 million Czech crowns. The
most expensive realty is the former seat of the Czech embassy in Bonn,
which is on the market for 105.7 million crowns. According to a
ministry spokesman, the buildings have been on the market since the
beginning of this year; however, they are priced too high to be
attractive for buyers in the times of an ongoing financial crisis. He
added that by closing down these embassies, the ministry is nonetheless
saving tens of millions of crowns.


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Disciplinary senate of Czech Supreme Court dismisses Kladno prosecutor
for drinking on the job
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The disciplinary senate of the Czech Supreme Court has dismissed a
prosecutor of the Kladno region court from her office due to an
incident that happened in February. The prosecutor got intoxicated
while on the job and later harassed guests and staff of a restaurant
near her workplace. A waiter said that when he attempted to remove the
prosecutor from the premises, she urinated in the booth where she had
been sitting and the restaurant staff had to call the police to make
her leave the restaurant. The decision by the disciplinary senate
cannot be appealed.


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Prague hosts world Shakespearean congress
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The 6th World Shakespeare Congress got underway in Prague on Sunday.
The six-day event, held under the auspices of Czech President Vaclav
Klaus, is entitled "Renaissance Shakespeare: Shakespeare Renaissances".
The congress, which is organized by the International Shakespeare
Association together with Prague's Charles University and the National
Theatre, will draw some 600 literary historians, theatre experts,
historians and other scholars to the Czech capital, including the
leading Czech Shakespearean expert, Professor Martin Hilsky.


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Funeral of hockey legend Jaroslav Jirik held in Brno
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The funeral has taken place in Brno of Czech ice hockey legend Jaroslav
Jirik, who last week died in a small plane crash at the age of 71.
Jirik, who appeared over 130 times for Czechoslovakia, was the first
Eastern Bloc player ever to play for an NHL club when he turned out for
St. Louis Blues in the 1969-1970 season. Among those who attended
Monday's funeral were former team-mates from the national team,
including Jozef Golonka, Gustav Bubnik, Frantisek Pospisil, Vladimir
Nadrchal, Jaroslav Maixner, Josef Cerny and Jan Havel.


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Eleven-year-old boy killed in accident
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An 11-year-old boy died on Sunday following a collision with a car in
the Jesenik district of the Moravian Olomouc region. The driver of the
car, a 30-year-old woman, overlooked the boy, who was riding a bicycle
alongside the street and not wearing a helmet. He crashed into the
front of the car and suffered severe injuries. The boy died on Sunday,
after being brought by helicopter to the nearest hospital for
treatment. Police are investigating the cause of the accident. The
woman was not under the influence of alcohol when the accident happened.


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Seven injured in bus crash
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An intercity bus crashed into a tree by a motorway near the West
Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary on Monday morning. Seven of the sixteen
passengers were injured and were taken to the nearest hospital for
treatment. According to paramedics the injuries they suffered were not
severe. Police are investigating the cause of the accident. The
motorway was closed down for three hours in both directions.


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Weather
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The start of the week will be colder, mostly overcast, with occasional
rain showers and storms in places. Daytime highs will range between 20
and 24 degrees Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Sports News 18.7.2011
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In Sports news this week: two Czechs take points in the motorcycle
racing world championship; European Under 23 Championships concludes in
Ostrava; Czech women's tennis team will play Germany in the first round
of Fed Cup; and hockey legend Jaroslav Jirik dies in plane crash.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/sport/sports-news-2011-07-18


Czech tourist buses come under technical scrutiny
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It was a wake-up call for the Czech traffic police: a Czech tourist bus
in Austria was found to be driving minus one wheel. The story made
headlines in both countries and the Czech authorities finally turned
their attention to a nagging problem: the poor technical state of many
Czech buses.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-tourist-buses-come-under-technical-scrutiny


Jaromira Kostlanova - still working as a tour guide at the age of 92
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Though 92 years of age, Jaromira Kostlanova is still working as a tour
guide, introducing the sights of Prague to visitors from around the
world. If that were not remarkable enough, the good-humoured
nonagenarian is also one of the oldest students in the Czech Republic.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/one-on-one/jaromira-kostlanova-still-working-as-a-tour-guide-at-the-age-of-92


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