Tuesday, August 16, 2011

News 8.16.2011

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

News Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech economy grew annually by 2.4 percent in the second quarter
of this year.

* Several dozen express train connections will be cancelled next year
as the Transportation Ministry will stop subsidizing them.

* President Klaus has signed into law a bill imposing stricter rules on
army and defence procurement.

* Some Czech doctors, patients and scientists have launched a petition
demanding the legalization of medicinal marihuana.

* The power giant CEZ blames the leak of their second-quarter profits
on poor internet security.

Czech economy grew by 2.4 pct in Q2

The Czech economy grew annually by 2.4 percent in the second quarter of
this year, according to preliminary figures by the Czech Statistical
Office released on Tuesday. Compared to the previous quarter, the
country's gross domestic product grew by 0.2 percent. Analysts say
exports were the major force behind the growth which was however
hindered by a drop in consumption. The Czech economy is expected to
grow at a slower pace for the rest of the year; some analysts believe
there might even be a drop in the GDP growth in the third or fourth
quarter of 2011.

Government, unions and employers agree on raising minimum salary

Government ministers, trade unions leaders and employers have agreed on
raising the minimum salary. After Tuesday's meeting of what's is known
as tripartite, Social and Labour Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek said
the minimum salary should increase to around 8,500 crowns, or just over
500 US dollars, by January next year. The tripartite also agreed on
early retirement of people working in physically demanding professions;
however, the meeting failed to produce an agreement on the planned tax
reform which should, among other things, remove tax breaks on some
employees' benefits such as lunch vouchers.

Dozens of express train connections to be scrapped

Several dozen express train connections will be cancelled next year as
the Transportation Ministry will no longer subsidize them, Czech TV
reported on Tuesday. The ministry has a longer term contract with
state-own Czech Railways and it annually spends around four billion
crowns on subsidies for long-distance express train connections.
However, in 2012 the ministry plans to decrease the support by some 200
million crowns. The public broadcaster said the ministry refused to
specify which express train connections will be scrapped.

President Klaus signs stricter army procurement rules into law

President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday signed into law a bill imposing
stricter rules on defence and army procurement. The act allows the
Czech military to buy weapons and other equipment without having to go
through intermediaries, which has been seen as a major factor behind
several overpriced weapons contracts. The act should limit the number
of army purchases awarded without public tenders, and it also requires
those in charge of procurement worth over 300 million crowns to have
security clearing.

New petition asks for medicinal marihuana legalization

Several Czech doctors, patients and scientists on Tuesday launched a
petition demanding the legalization of medicinal marihuana. The
organizers believe the ban on using marihuana in treating MS,
Parkinson's, cancer, AIDS and other diseases restricts patients' right
to determine their treatment. The Czech Health Ministry said that a
cannabis-based drug, Sativex, is already available on prescriptions;
however, legalizing medicinal marihuana would require a wide public
debate. One of the organizers, a leading Czech drug expert, Tomas
Zabransky from Charles University's medicine faculty, said they did not
want to legalize marihuana as a recreational drug. Surveys show that
around 78 percent of Czechs support the legalization of medicinal
cannabis, Mr Zabransky added.

Czech farmers increasingly dependent on subsidies

Czech farmers are increasingly dependent on subsidies, Agriculture
Minister Ivan Fuka told a news conference on Tuesday. Subsidies
represent some 70 percent of net added value in agriculture, which
lowers farmers' competitiveness. Despite a series of austerity measures
adopted by the Czech government, subsidies for farmers last year rose
by 600 million crowns to 38.5 billion. EU subsidies amount to 68
percent of the overall support famers receive.

CEZ blames results leaks on poor internet security

The Czech power producer CEZ, whose disappointing second-quarter
results were leaked a day early on Monday, blames the leaks on poor
internet security. The Reuters news agency released the CEZ results on
Monday after its reporters gained access to a section of the company's
website where the results had been posted; however, the company had not
then officially released the respective link. The largest Czech energy
producer posted a net profit of 6.72 billion crowns for the second
quarter of this year, a drop by nearly 40 percent year-on.-year.

Museum finalizes recovery of archive materials damaged by 2002 flood

The National Technical Museum in Prague on Tuesday opened the last
package of frozen archive documents damaged by the flood that hit the
city in 2002. Over the past nine years, the museum recovered some 200
cubic metres of photographs, books, newspapers, plans and other
documents which cost over 50 million crowns. The recovery process will
be documented in an exhibition at the National Technical Museum which
opens on August 17.

Football: Banik signs striker Vaclav Sverkos

The football club Banik Ostrava signed on Tuesday a five-year contract
with their former striker Vaclav Sverkos. The 27-year-footballer
returns to Ostrava after a stint with the French club Socheax and
Greece's Panathinaikos. Vaclav Sverkos said he chose Banik despite
having been offered contracts from other clubs because he felt at home


The next few days will be mostly sunny, with daytime highs of around 25
degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Debate over Masin group reignites following resistance fighter's death

The death of Ctirad Masin in the US on Saturday at the age of 81 has
reignited debate in the Czech Republic over whether he and fellow
anti-Communist fighters, who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in
the 1950s, were heroes or cold-blooded killers. While some see their
escape as one of the most daring in Cold War history, others say they
tarnished their moral integrity through their actions.


Hardbass - we will bring Heil Hitler to your home

There's an obscure new trend spreading throughout Central and Eastern
Europe - groups of youths from Belgrade to Bratislava to Brno dancing
in public to a hardcore Russian techno track, and then posting videos
on YouTube. It sounds harmless enough, but the problem is the lyrics
have a neo-Nazi subtext.


Czechs on the decks of their Majesty's navy - exhibit sheds light on
Czech sailors' life at sea

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country, and as such, life at sea is
not the first thing that comes to mind. But before and during World War
I, many sailors from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia served for the
Austro-Hungarian Navy, the Imperial and Royal War Navy. An exhibition
currently on in the Roudnice nad Labem town museum explores this
relatively obscure chapter of Czech history.


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