Friday, July 8, 2011

News 7.8.2011

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

News Friday, July 8th, 2011

By: Jan Velinger

* Petr Gandalovic has taken up his duties as the new Czech ambassador
to the United States.

* A Czech soldier who was shot and badly wounded in Afghanistan on
Wednesday has been flown back to the Czech Republic.

* President Vaclav Klaus has withheld his signature from legislation
covering biofuels.

* The likelihood of the country's centre-right government to push for a
ban on the Communist Party is fading, a Czech newspaper has reported.

* A Czech BASE jumper was killed in a jump on Thursday in
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.

Gandalovic begins work as ambassador to the US

The new Czech ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, has
offered his credentials to the American president and may now assume
his duties. Mr Gandalovic met with President Obama at the White House
on Thursday, roughly a month after arriving in the United States. The
issues likely to dominate his agenda in the US are a lucrative tender
for further construction on the Temelin nuclear power plant and
economic and scientific collaboration between the countries. Petr
Gandalovic is a former government minister and former deputy chairman
of the centre-right Civic Democratic Party. He also served as Consul
General of the Czech Republic in New York between 1997 and 2002.

Czech soldier shot in Afghanistan transported to Czech Republic

A Czech soldier, who was shot during an attack on the Czech army base
in Afghanistan's Vardak province on Wednesday, has been transported
back to the Czech Republic for treatment. He arrived on Thursday and
remains in very serious condition. He and two other men who had been
injured in Afghanistan in late June will be treated in Prague's Central
Military Hospital. Several Czech soldiers have been injured in
Afghanistan in the last month, in those cases due to mines and IEDs. To
date, four Czech soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, most
recently in late May.

President withholds signature from second bill

President Vaclav Klaus, after deciding not to endorse the government's
'minor pension reform bill', has withheld his signature from a second
piece of legislation, this time covering biofuels. The bill will
require sellers to have certification proving that the bio component
added to fuel meets ecological criteria. The certification is required
by the European Union and new certificates are to be issued annually.
In a letter to the chairwoman of the lower house, Mr Klaus expressed
dismay over the new regulations within the Czech legal system,
suggesting further debate was needed; the president is a vocal critic
of 'Green politics', including environmentalists' stance on global
warming. While the president criticised the law, he did not veto it, so
it will come into effect.

Experts say president's failure to sign 'outside' of what constitution

In related news, a number of constitutional experts told the CTK news
agency on Friday that in their view the president's refusal to sign the
bill on 'minor pension reform', and by extension the bill on biofuels,
was inconsistent with regular constitutional procedure. Under the Czech
Constitution, the president has the right to return a bill while a
presidential veto can be overridden by a simple majority in the Chamber
of Deputies. The legal expert Jan Kysela told the agency that it ensued
clearly from the Constitution that the president had the duty to sign
bills passed at the end of the legislative process. Others agreed the
move was outside of the prescribed steps. By failing to sign, the
president has allowed legislation he disagrees with to stand while
sending a 'personal' message.

Daily: government unlikely to push for banning of Communist Party

The Czech daily Lidove noviny reports that the likelihood the country's
centre-right government will push for a ban on the Communist Party, the
successor to the pre-1989 KSCM, is fading. The daily cites analysis by
a team of legal experts at the Interior Ministry that previously
prepared a successful lawsuit against the far-right Workers Party; this
time the team has recommended that a ban not be sought.

According to Lidove noviny, the analysis suggests a move to outlaw the
party as extremist would have little chance of success with regards to
statements by party leaders, internet material, and official documents.
The cabinet is to make a decision on the case next week; it is not
bound by the team's recommendation. The Czech public, meanwhile, is
split on whether party should be outlawed. A SANEP public opinion poll
held early this year suggested that roughly 50 percent of respondents
supported a possible ban, while 40 percent were against.

Schwarzenberg to privately attend Otto von Habsburg funeral

The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, will attend the
funeral of Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of the last ruling
Austrian monarch who died on Monday at the age of 98. Mr Schwarzenberg,
the first deputy prime minister, will not be attending as a public
official but as a private citizen, CTK reported. The funeral will be
held on Monday, July 11, with the son of the Habsburg dynasty being
laid to rest within the Imperial Crypt in Vienna. According to reports,
Mr Schwarzenberg - himself a member of a highly-respected aristocratic
family - knew him well. The foreign minister praised him this week by
underlining Otto von Habsburg's opposition to Hitler and the Anschluss
- the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938.

Former TV announcer Vostrakova dies aged 77

The former TV programme announcer and host Milena Vostrakova - who was
fired from Czechoslovak Television in 1969 for a single statement
deemed as anti-Soviet - has died at the age of 77. Her family revealed
the information on Friday. In March of 1969, after the defeat of the
Soviet Union by Czechoslovakia at the Ice Hockey World Championships,
Mrs Vostrakova called the victory not only athletic but 'moral' - a
statement that would see her banned from the small screen and other
media for 20 years. The Communists charged that her statement, which
followed the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia by roughly half a
year - was intended to stir up anti-Soviet sentiment. Mrs Vostrakova
returned to the TV screen in 1990 and continued working in television
for a number of years before retiring for good.

Third newborn in less than week left in baby-box

The third child in less than a week has been left at a baby-box, this
time at a hospital in Liberec, North Bohemia. The newborn is a boy in
good health. The newborn is the 53rd unwanted child saved by a baby-box
facility since the system was first implemented. Recently the system
came under criticism from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child,
which claimed it violates several provisions of the UN Convention.
Supporters of the system, including its founder, have countered by
saying it prevents conditions or developments regarding unwanted
newborns that could potentially be far worse. When a child is left in a
monitored baby-box facility, medical staff are alerted immediately.

Poll: Seventy-four percent unhappy with political situation

A new survey conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that 74 percent of
Czechs are unhappy with the situation in Czech politics. The poll
registered an 18 percent jump from a previous survey six months
earlier. It was conducted in June, coinciding with a prolonged
government crisis which threatened to bring down the cabinet. June also
saw heated organised protest by the country's unions against the
government's planned reforms. In the poll, 84 percent of those queried
also said they were unhappy about corruption, while 78 percent economic
crime was a troubling issue. Unemployment was also singled-out as a
concern by 73 percent of people questioned.

Czech BASE jumper dies in Switzerland

A 36-year-old Czech BASE jumper was killed during a jump in
Lauterbrunnen, in the canton of Bern in Switzerland on Thursday, after
losing control and hitting a cliff wall. Medical personnel arrived at
the scene but the man could not be saved. BASE jumpers, using
specialised techniques and equipped with parachutes, by definition use
areas such as buildings, antennae towers, bridges, and cliffs for
jumps. Lauterbrunnen is considered a 'Mecca' for the sport Mlada fronta
Dnes reported, noting the tragedy came on the heels of another fatality
just ten days ago when a 31-year-old French sportsman fell to his death.


Overcast conditions with some sunny periods but also rain in places are
expected into the weekend. Daytime temperatures on Saturday should
reach highs of around 29 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Government report finds insufficient grounds for Communist party ban

The Czech government's efforts to outlaw the country's communist party
have suffered a setback. A report by the Interior Ministry, as quoted
in the daily Lidove noviny on Friday, came to the conclusion that
attempts to ban the party based on its political programme would have
very little, if any, chances of being accepted by Czech courts.
However, the cabinet is yet to debate the issue, and might decide to
pursue the ban regardless of the report's conclusions.

46th edition of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival brings
celebrities, film enthusiasts and industry professionals to west
Bohemian spa town

For the 46th time, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked
off on July 1st. As every year, celebrities and hordes of young film
enthusiasts alike flocked to the west Bohemian spa town. Among the
famous visitors this year are the legendary British actress Judi Dench
and American actor John Turturro. Sarah Borufka was at the festival and
has this report.

Business News 8.7.2011

In today's business news: The Czech antimonopoly watchdog launches a
probe into the controversial Promopro contract, industrial production
in the Czech Republic has grown by 15.2 percent year-on-year, the
average cost of purchasing a vehicle continues to drop, former
president Vaclav Havel features in new ad campaign for the used car
dealer AAA Auto, and the Karlovy Vary airport will get a new departure

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