Monday, August 8, 2011

News 8.8.2011

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

News Monday, August 8th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* An ultra-conservative citizen's initiative, D.O.S.T., has delivered
an open letter of protest to official supporters of an upcoming gay
rights march in Prague.

* President Klaus and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have
criticised a group of ambassadors for their method of supporting the

* An association of WWII political prisoners has joined calls for the
resignation of right-wing education ministry official Ladislav Batora.

* Residents of the Sumava National Park blocked environmental activists
from protesting in the forest on Monday.

* Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek has won the Legg Mason Tennis
Classic in Washington.

Ultra-conservative organization calls on mayor, ambassador to cease
supporting Prague Pride

An ultra-conservative citizen's initiative, D.O.S.T., has delivered an
open letter of protest to official supporters of an upcoming gay rights
march in Prague. Initiative leader Ladislav Batora, who is also an
advisor to the education minister, called upon Prague Mayor Bohuslav
Sobota and American Ambassador Norman Eisen on Monday to renounce their
support for the Prague Pride march, saying the protestors' demands go
beyond the limits of tolerance. Mr. Batora, who once stood as an
independent candidate for the now-defunct far-right National Party,
also criticised the ambassador for "meddling in the internal affairs"
of the Czech Republic. Last Friday, President Vaclav Klaus backed
comments made by his deputy chief of staff, Petr Hajek, who referred to
homosexuals as "deviants". On the same day, thirteen ambassadors to
Prague, among them those of Germany, the UK, the United States and
Denmark, signed a joint letter expressing their support for the

Klaus, Schwarzenberg criticise ambassadors for 'petition' of support

President Klaus and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have both
criticised the embassies for forming their support for the parade as a
petition. In a statement published by Prague Castle on Monday, the
president called the ambassadors' letter an unprecedented encroachment
into an internal political discussion and said they should know that
the debate is not about whether or not the Prague Pride march should be
allowed, but whether it should be held under the auspices of the mayor
of Prague. Mr Schwarzenberg addressed the letter on the Foreign
Ministry website, where he writes that it is counterproductive and
excessive for the ambassadors to support rights that no one in the
Czech Republic either denies or rejects.

WWII political prisoners join those calling for Batora to go

Also regarding Mr Batora, an association of WWII political prisoners
and their descendents has asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to review
supporters of extremist opinions in the Ministry of Education. In an
open letter to the prime minister, the association says that available
information shows Mr Batora to be a proponent of anti-Semitism and
fascism who has consorted with neo-Nazis. A series of associations
including Amnesty International, the Czech Helsinki Committee and Romea
have made similar complaints in recent days. Education Minister Josef
Dobes has defended his advisor, calling him a conscientious nationalist
and Catholic. Batora himself says that his security clearance itself
shows he is neither an extremist nor a racist.

Sumava residents block activists with tractors

Local residents of the Sumava National Park have again entered into the
fray between environmental activists and loggers. A group of locals on
Monday used tractors to block activists' road access to a protected
zone of the forest where the park management has authorised logging in
order to combat a destructive bark-beetle infestation. Loggers in the
meanwhile were able to begin work on some 5,000 trees marked for
felling. Police have also reported that two of the activists were
detained and their climbing equipment seized. Around 20 activists
reached the forest later on and blocked one of the access roads.
Environmentalists have been staging such protests for several weeks
now, arguing that the park management does not have the needed permits
to cut in the forest; a preliminary court order has however allowed
logging to continue.

Monyova murder suspect in critical condition and unfit for questioning

The prime suspect in the murder of writer Simona Monyova, her husband
Boris, is in critical condition, apparently after a suicide attempt,
and will likely not be interrogated this week. One of the best-selling
authors in the Czech Republic, Ms Monyova was stabbed to death on
Thursday in her home in Brno, reportedly after a domestic dispute. TV
Nova has reported that her husband threw himself from a window after
the attack, but landed on a car. He then returned to the flat and
injured himself with a knife before jumping out of the window again,
the station reports. Friends of the couple have publicly speculated on
a history of domestic abuse in the household, however, police say they
do not yet know the motive for the murder or the cause of the suspect's
injuries. The hospital says he is in critical but stable condition;
some media outlets have reported him to be in a coma.

Unemployment numbers up

Unemployment numbers in the Czech Republic were up in July for the
first time since the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Labour has
reported. Labour offices registered 485,584 unemployed persons for the
month, which is 6809 more than in June and raised the unemployment rate
for the country by .1% to 8.2. Despite that, the ministry reports the
highest number of jobs since the summer of 2009. The highest
unemployment rate was in the western town of Most, at 15.9%; the lowest
was in East Prague, at 3.6%.

Social Democrats hoping to keep Paroubek

Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka is in talks with former
chairman Jiri Paroubek to convince him to remain in the party, the
daily Pravo reports. Mr Sobotka told the paper on Monday that he had
met with his predecessor regarding his threat to form a new political
party in the autumn and asked him to stay, as he has no policy or other
differences with the party. After initial reports that the former prime
minister was looking to restore the Czech National Social Party, Mr
Paroubek announced last week that he was working with a team of people
to form a new political entity altogether.

Transit authority negotiating sale of three metro stations

The Prague transit authority, Dopravni podnik hl. m. Prahy, is
negotiating the sale of three metro stations: Ceskomoravska, Vysocanska
and Kacerov. The city is reportedly also considering the sale of the
Florenc metro station. The company reported Monday that it has
concluded memoranda with the companies Crescon and Asset bloom. The
Prague City Council approved the plan to sell the stations for the sake
of their reconstruction in 2010. The plans for the new stations should
include shops and services and integrate them more with their environs.

Composer Jiri Traxler dies, aged 99

Composer Jiri Traxler, called the co-founder of Czech swing, died on
Sunday in his home in Canada at the age of 99. Particularly active in
the 1930s and early 40s, Traxler's songs have been sung by generations
since and have survived to today. He moved to Canada in 1949 in
response to the rise of communism in Czechoslovakia and briefly worked
with the public radio broadcaster there before turning to work as a
draftsman in Quebec.

Tennis: Stepanek triumphant in Washington

Thirty-two-year-old Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek has won the Legg
Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, his first tournament title in just
under two years. The un-seeded player defeated opponent Gael Monfils of
France in straight sets: the final score was 6:4, 6:4. The singles
title is the fifth in Stepanek's career, after wins in San Jose,
Rotterdam, Brisbane, and Los Angeles. His trainer, Petr Korda won the
Legg Mason Classic back when he was a player. Stepanek is the
second-oldest player to ever win the championship, after the legendary
Jimmy Connors did it at the age of 35 back in 1988.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with
scattered showers and highs of 17 to 21o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Sports News 8.8.2011

In Sports News: Czech mountain bike racer Jaroslav Kulhavy clinches the
European championship title for the second year in a row; tennis player
Stepanek ends almost two-year drought, winning the Legg Mason Tennis
Classic in Washington; football's Sparta defeat Jablonec, continuing
their successful start to the season; top female ref Dagmar Damkova
oversees her last match in the top domestic league.

Amir Bar-Lev - an American documentary filmmaker with Czech influences

Amir Bar-Lev first presented his documentary Fighter - a film that
portrays the well-known Czech emigres Jan Wiener and Arnost Lustig - at
the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2008. This year, the
American documentary filmmaker, whose second film My Kid Could Paint
That got caught up in a media controversy, came back to the festival as
president of the documentary competition jury. He speaks about what
first sparked his interest film and documentaries, what his role as a
jury president entails, and when he first visited the Czech Republic.

Controversy over Prague's first gay and lesbian pride parade escalates

With two more days left to go before it begins, the gay and lesbian
community's Prague Pride festival has stirred up considerable
controversy. The event, held under the auspices of Prague Mayor
Bohuslav Svoboda, has come under fire from public figures such as the
head of the ultra-conservative Civic Initiative D.O.S.T. Ladislav
Batora, the controversial presidential aide Petr Hajek, and even the
president himself.

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