Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News 8.30.2011

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

News Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

By: Sarah Borufka

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that he considers the controversy
around the Education Ministry's Ladislav Batora resolved.

* The lower house has stripped two MPS, Public Affairs' Vit Barta and
the independent MP Jaroslav Skarka, of their criminal immunity.

* In a meeting with Czech diplomats, President Vaclav Klaus criticized
the government's foreign policy concept.

* A well-known Prague physician charged with offenses such as rape and
extortion was dismissed from the city's Bulovka hospital on Wednesday.

* Anti-corruption activists have slammed a proposed change in the
legislation of public tenders that is currently being debated by the
government.

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Prime Minister: Controversy around education ministry official resolved
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Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Tuesday that he considers the
controversy around Ladislav Batora, the head of human resources at the
Education Ministry, resolved. He added that he had been assured by
officials from the government coalition's TOP 09 party that they would
attend a meeting of the cabinet scheduled for Wednesday. Previously,
the party, which is led by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, had
refused to attend cabinet meetings until Mr. Batora was dismissed. Mr.
Batora came under fire for his past links to an ultra-right party and
for making insulting remarks about the foreign minister online,
sparking a row within the governing coalition. Education Minister Josef
Dobes of the Public Affairs party bowed to growing pressure for Mr.
Batora's dismissal on Monday evening, saying that he would be
transferred to a less prominent position.


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Lower house lifts criminal immunity of two MPs
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The Czech lower house on Wednesday stripped MP Vit Barta of the Public
Affairs party, as well as the independent MP Jaroslav Skarka, of their
criminal immunity, enabling criminal investigation. Both are suspected
of corruption but deny their guilt; they had called on the lower house
to strip them of their immunity. The opposition has voiced concern that
the government will influence the criminal prosecution of Mr. Barta,
the de-facto leader of the junior government coalition party and former
transport minister. This is the second time that the current lower
house has voted on stripping a member of its criminal immunity. In late
March, Parliament voted against this step in the case of the Public
Affairs' MP Stanislav Huml.


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TOP 09 leader welcomes education minister's decision
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TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg has welcomed the news and thanked the
education minister for being receptive to his arguments. Mr.
Schwarzenberg said that for him this was not a personal dispute but a
matter of principle which stemmed from his experience with the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia as a child. The foreign minister
said it was vital for the country's democracy to defend human rights
and to fight fascist tendencies at the outset. He confirmed that TOP 09
ministers would be attending the next cabinet session.


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President criticizes government's foreign policy
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In a meeting with Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague
Castle on Tuesday, President Vaclav Klaus criticized the government's
foreign policy concept. Mr. Klaus, who received the Czech diplomats in
town for a week-long meeting at Prague Castle, said that the
government's concept lacked content, did not address key questions and
problematic areas of foreign policy. On Monday, Czech ambassadors met
with Prime Minister Petr Necas as well as Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg. In addressing the country's ambassadors, Mr. Necas
stressed the Czech Republic should support Europe's quest for fiscal
discipline, take a prudent stance regarding the adoption of the euro
and forge stronger business links with potential partners outside
Europe in view of the country's export-oriented economy. In view of the
present economic situation, the prime minister added that business
diplomacy was of strategic importance. Mr. Schwarzenberg underlined the
crucial role of European integration, a concept that the Czech
president has criticized.


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Well-known Prague physician dismissed from Bulovka hospital
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Doctors of Prague's Bulovka hospital on Wednesday dismissed well-known
Prague physician Jaroslav Bartak from his post. Police are set to
interrogate Mr. Bartak and ask the state prosecutor's office for
permission to take the suspect into custody. He has been charged with
several crimes, among them sexual coercion, rape, extortion, unlawful
restraint, dangerous intimidation and bodily harm. According to a
police spokeswoman, Mr. Bartak is suspected of having sexually abused
his assistants; six women have filed legal complaints against him. He
denies the accusations, saying the women were prostitutes. He was
detained and arrested at Ruzyne International Airport on his return
from holiday on Saturday.


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Anti-corruption activists slam proposed change in public tender
legislation
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The anti-corruption initiative Citizens Against Corruption on Tuesday
slammed a proposed change in public tender legislation. According to
anti-corruption activists, the new law currently being debated by the
government would not make the awarding of public tenders any more
transparent. According to Karel Janecek of the Anticorruption Endowment
Fund, it may even make it easier to cover up corruption. Non-government
organizations have presented a proposal that they believe would improve
the efficiency of anti-corruption legislation to the government.


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Hundreds of Muslims gather in Brno to mark end of holy month Ramadan
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Some 400 Muslims gathered in Brno on Tuesday to mark the end of the
holy month of Ramadan with a joint prayer session. Due to the high
number of participants, the event could not be held at the country's
oldest Islamic house of prayer and instead had to be moved to the
city's Hotel International. The leader of Brno's Muslim community,
Munib Hassan, said that since the late nineties, the number of people
who are of Muslim faith in the country has increased significantly and
that due to the growth of the community, a permanent solution for
holding larger events needs to be found. He added that space in the old
mosque is not just a problem during holidays, but also during the
traditional Friday prayer sessions, which are visited by some 150 to
200 people every week. However, finding a location for a new house of
prayer in the city has been met with opposition by local politicians.


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Civic initiative organizes happening to support transformation of
Smetanovo nabrezi into pedestrian zone
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The initiative Auto*Mat organized a happening in Prague on Tuesday to
propagate the transformation of the city's Smetanovo nabrezi street, a
stretch along the river near Charles Bridge, into a pedestrian zone.
Participants wore masks featuring the face of Prague mayor Bohuslav
Svoboda and symbolically opened a pedestrian zone along the riverbank,
which draws a high number of tourists every day. Auto*Mat has put up a
petition to transform the stretch into a pedestrian zone online. The
initiative's Vit Matare said that Smetanovo nabrezi was an
embarrassment for the Czech capital. He said that the stretch along the
river featured some of the city's most beautiful sights, yet its appeal
was marred by the many cars passing through it, as well as the frequent
traffic jams. He added that in 2005, then mayor Pavel Bem had pledged
to curb traffic along the river.


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Survey: Czechs are cost-conscious, efficient shoppers
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Two-fifths of all Czechs consider price the most important factor when
shopping for various goods, according to a fresh poll by the
multinational Henkel company published on Tuesday. The survey results
indicate Czechs are more cost-conscious than Hungarian and Polish
consumers. For 41 percent of the Czech population, the cost of a
product is the decisive factor in purchasing, as compared to only 25
percent of Poles. By contrast, Austrian and German consumers are even
more cost-conscious than Czechs, with 43 and 46 of those polled
responding that they pay the most attention to the price of a given
product, respectively. The survey also finds that Czechs are efficient
and quick shoppers who rarely purchase more than they initially planned
to.


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Court deals 17-year sentence to man for brutal murder of his ex-wife
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An upper-circuit court in the Moravian city of Olomouc on Tuesday
handed a prison sentence of 17 years to a 39-year-old man who was
charged with brutally murdering his ex-wife. The man had appealed a
previous verdict. The murder made headlines in June of last year. The
defendant beat his ex-wife to death with a brick and set her body on
fire in her car in the Moravian-Silesian city of Havirov.


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Weather
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The coming days are expected to be warm and sunny. Daytime highs will
reach temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.


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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Jaroslav Marvan: 50 years on stage and screen
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Jaroslav Marvan was one of the most prolific Czech actors of all times
with more than 150 film roles and many more theatre acts. He appeared
in his first - silent - movie in 1926, and he made his last film in
1973, a year before he died. In this edition of Czechs in History we
look at the extraordinary career of Jaroslav Marvan, a theatre and film
star before the war as well as in communist Czechoslovakia.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/czechs/jaroslav-marvan-50-years-on-stage-and-screen-1


Latest government crisis leaves commentators baffled
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A drawn-out government crisis over the controversial head of human
resources at the Czech Education Ministry has been resolved in a most
surprising way. Ladislav Batora, the figure at the centre of the
dispute, who came under fire for his past links to the extreme
Nationalist Party and for insulting the foreign minister online, has
not been sacked but is to be relocated to the less visible but
technically higher position of vice-chancellor to the education
minister. TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, who was insulted by the
civil servant in question has thanked Education Minister Josef Dobes
for his accommodating approach in the matter, explained that his
party's firm stand was a matter of principle in combating extremism and
promised that the party's ministers would no longer boycott cabinet
meetings. After two weeks of muscle-flexing over the fate of a civil
servant the government crisis is ostensibly over - but it has left many
people wondering what exactly the dispute was all about. Radio Prague
asked political analyst Petr Just for his take on one of the most
bizarre crises in Czech politics.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/latest-government-crisis-leaves-commentators-baffled


New Prague medical facility to help military veterans suffering from
serious long-term injuries
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Military veterans who served in conflict-hit areas like Iraq or
Afghanistan will soon be able to make use of a new facility being built
in the Czech capital. The new centre is under construction in
Svemyslice, Prague, and is expected to open in roughly one year's time.
The aim is to provide complete expert care for veterans who suffered
serious or long-term injuries.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/new-prague-medical-facility-to-help-military-veterans-suffering-from-serious-long-term-injuries


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