Thursday, July 28, 2011

News 7.28.2011

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

News Thursday, July 28th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Environmental activists in the Sumava National Park have taken to the
treetops as police attempt to remove them from the area for the fourth
consecutive day.

* The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the European Commission is
investigating the situation in the Sumava.

* Peter Duhan has been elected director of Czech Radio.

* President Vaclav Klaus has responded to media reports of his refusal
to go through security at the Australian Parliament.

* The Czech traffic police report that alcohol-related road deaths are
down, while the number of accidents and injuries has increased.

Sumava activists take to the treetops on fourth day of police crackdown

Environmental activists in the Sumava National Park have taken to the
treetops as police attempt to remove them from the area for the fourth
consecutive day. Other protestors have shackled themselves together
around the trees. The activists have been attempting to stop the park
management from felling trees in a protected zone of the forest that is
being destroyed by the bark beetle infestation. Environmental groups
maintain that the park management has no exemption to cut in the area.
However, a preliminary court order allowed loggers to begin work in the
area on Monday, at which point police arrived to evacuate the
activists. Of the 76 activists in the area 26 were arrested on
Wednesday and several more were taken away from the area. The park has
marked roughly 4,000 trees for felling and intends to use heavy
machinery to accelerate the process.

European Commission investigating Sumava situation

In related news, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the European
Commission is investigating the situation in the Sumava. According to
the news website, the commission asked the ministry to
explain the situation in June and a response is currently being
prepared. Based on the explanation Brussels will then decide whether to
bring a legal suit against the Czech Republic that could result in a
large fine or other penalties. The Sumava, or Bohemian Forest, is part
of the EU's Natura 2000 network of protected habitats.

Peter Duhan elected general director of Czech Radio

The Czech Radio Council has elected acting director Peter Duhan to head
the institution. Mr Duhan, who has run Czech Radio since the
resignation of the previous director in March of last year, was chosen
from three final candidates, receiving the minimum six of nine votes in
the third round of the election. The 64-year-old native of Slovakia has
promised a wide-ranging reorganisation of the public radio broadcaster
that will include four primary stations and a decrease in the number of
employees over the next four years.

Klaus explains security incident in Canberra

President Vaclav Klaus has responded to media reports of his refusal to
go through security at the Australian Parliament House. On Tuesday,
President Klaus refused to go through a metal detector at the
Australian parliament building, where he was to be interviewed on
public television. Writing in the daily Pravo, the president explains
that a group of schoolchildren was queued in front of him as he waited
to enter the building, whereby he told the TV producer that he was not
prepared to wait. The producer's account that Mr Klaus objected to
going through the metal detector made international headlines that
evening. The Czech president is on a private, rather than official,
visit to Australia, where he is doing a string of lectures positing his
controversial views on climate change.

Alcohol-related road accidents and injuries up, deaths down

Accidents caused by drunk drivers killed 29 people in the first half of
2011, the traffic police have reported. The number amounts to 9% of the
total number of road accident victims this year and marks a decrease
from last year, when there were 17 more deaths during the same period.
The number of injuries resulting from drink-related accidents however
rose sharply by 124 to nearly 1,200, and the number of accidents in
which alcohol was a factor was also higher. The police report that more
than 11,400 drivers were found to have alcohol in their blood while
driving during the first half of the year. An additional 850 drivers
were found to be under the influence of drugs.

Survey: top managers' bonuses up by 41%

A survey suggests that bonuses for top managers in the Czech Republic
have gone up by 41% in the last year. According to research carried out
by the company Profesia for the website, the average annual
bonus was roughly 152,500 Czech crowns for people in high managerial
positions, or more than 44,000 crowns higher than last year. The top
management bracket also saw the highest rise in bonuses of those
surveyed. Meanwhile the survey suggests that bonuses for less qualified
employees dropped slightly during the second quarter of 2011, with the
average bonus for assistant employees amounting to 5,670 crowns.

Czech scientists acquire unique 3D microscope

Czech scientists at the Physiological Institute of the Academy of
Sciences have acquired a new version of a unique 3D microscope they
helped develop. The institute had previously assisted colleagues from
Yale University in the United States in constructing the device and
testing it on biological specimens. The microscope has a resolution of
up to 25 nanometres, roughly a quarter of the size of a virus, and will
make it possible to study the structure of mitochondria, mitochondrial
DNA and the causes of their mutations.

Another three drivers' licence commissioners charged with bribery

Police have charged another three drivers' licence commissioners from
Prague City Hall with accepting bribes. A total of 17 commissioners are
under investigation for issuing licences to scores of individuals in
exchange for payments of 2 to 15 thousand crowns. Seven driving
instructors and owners of driving schools are also being investigated
in the affair. Drivers' licence applicants in Prague have faced long
delays due to the investigation, which has left only a handful of
commissioners at the city licensing office.

Every third cottage owner burgled, survey suggests

Some 37% of Czech cottage owners have had their recreational houses
burgled, according to a poll carried out by the STEM/MARK agency for
the insurance company Generali. Police statistics from 2010 show that
the average damage to cottages and property therein was nearly 19,000
crowns. The items most frequently stolen from cottages were tools
(28%), electronics (20%) and common household appliances (20%), while
food and clothing were also frequently taken.

Drivers near Litomerice report Balkan bandits

Police in the town of Litomerice say they are receiving frequent
complaints of gang harassment and banditry on the D8 motorway. The
police told the Czech Press Agency Thursday that several times a week
drivers have reported having been stopped by a group of people,
allegedly from the Balkans, and either offered obscure goods for sale
or robbed on the spot. The police have thus far been unable to
apprehend anyone involved as the group quickly changes its location.
Most of those stopped have been foreigners from Western Europe.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly sunny with
scattered showers in South and Western Bohemia and daytime highs of up
around 23o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Five years since same-sex registered partnership was introduced
activists say bill didn't go far enough

It has been five years since the bill on registered partnership between
gay couples came into force in the Czech Republic. During the period,
more than 1,200 gay and lesbian couples in the country formed civil
unions. While most within the gay community welcomed the original
legislation as an important milestone, many still feel it didn't go far
enough as it failed to recognise gay marriage or adoption rights. Radio
Prague spoke to Zdenek Sloboda, a representative of PROUD, a Czech
initiative promoting human rights.

Czech Airlines Pilots Association announces go-slow protest against
redundancies to start Monday

The state-controlled carrier CSA handed out earlier this week a first
round of notices to some of its pilots - a step that the airline's
management says is in line with its government-approved restructuring
plan. However, the Czech Airlines Pilots Association does not agree
with the layoffs, and has announced a go-slow protest to kick off on

National Heritage Institute: many of the country's gems still
undiscovered by foreign tourists

The National Heritage Institute which is responsible for the protection
and preservation of the country's historical monuments has over 100
palaces, castles and manor houses in its care. Over the past 20 years
it has worked hard to restore many of those long-neglected buildings to
their former glory and today they represent the best part of the
country's national heritage. Regrettably, many of those outside Prague
remain undiscovered by foreign tourists. Tomas Brabec of the National
Heritage Institute says this is something that the institute is trying
hard to change.

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