Wednesday, September 21, 2011

News 9.21.2011

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

News Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The government has approved the 2012 state budget.

* The prime minister has assured the mayors of small towns and villages
that their interests will not be harmed by the government's amendment
on tax-redistribution.

* The head of the country's elite organized crime squad is in trouble
for allegedly giving a suspect advance warning of his planned arrest.

* Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by
his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns.

* Petr Dvorak has been elected the new executive director of Czech
Public Television.

Government approves state budget for 2012

The Czech coalition government on Wednesday unanimously approved the
2012 state budget, with a deficit projected at 105 billion crowns. The
proposed budget draft reckons with revenues of 1,084 billion crowns and
expenditures of 1,189 billion crowns. The Transport Ministry received
an additional four billion crowns for the State Transport
Infrastructure Fund, half of what it had originally requested. Finance
Minister Miroslav Kalousek has not ruled out that the budget may have
to be revised view of lower economic growth forecasts.

Finance minister hands out punishment in person

Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek is reported to have slapped a
youth who insulted him outside the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday
evening. The finance minister later confirmed the incident, saying that
as he was approaching the house the young man shouted insults at him
saying he was a thief and would hang. Mr. Kalousek said he could not
let the incident pass and had given the young man his deserts. The
finance minister said he hoped the youth would benefit from the lecture.

Emotions running high over planned tax redistribution amendment

The Czech government will take into account the interests of small
towns and villages in reaching agreement on an amendment to the law on
budgetary tax redistribution, Prime Minister Petr Necas assured the
mayors of over 1,000 smaller towns who demonstrated outside the Office
of the Government on Wednesday. The mayors came to show their support
for a draft amendment on tax redistribution prepared by the Finance
Ministry, but criticized by the prime minister's Civic Democratic Party.

The proposal would raise tax-based revenues for the 6 000 or so small
towns and villages by a total of 13.5 billion crowns. Municipalities
with 2000 to 10,000 inhabitants would profit most from the change. At
the same time it would strip the four biggest cities - Prague, Brno,
Ostrava and Plzen - of a total of some five billion crowns for the
benefit of smaller municipalities. The prime minister said his party
was ready for a compromise that would ensure that large cities would
not get more than three-times the amount given to small municipalities
in the redistribution of tax yields.

Head of the organized crime squad suspected of leaking information on

The head of the country's elite organized crime squad Robert Slachta is
in trouble for allegedly giving a suspect advance warning of his
planned arrest. The suspect formerly worked for the police force in a
subordinate position to the police chief. Mr. Slachta has rejected the
accusation, claiming it is an attempt to discredit him. A police
inspection is investigating the case.

Kubice cuts predecessor's programmes for 128 million

Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by
his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns. Interior
Ministry spokesman Pavel Novak told the daily Lidove Noviny that the
programmes, which were mostly for training clerks or restricting
administration, were scrapped based on a detailed analysis of their
sustainability. The minister himself told the paper the programmes were
"absolutely worthless". Former interior minister Radek John, who
launched the projects with EU funding but spent considerable resources
on their preparation, criticised the decision and said he would be
seeking an explanation. The Interior Ministry anticipates a budget of
700 million crowns less in 2012 and its operational expenses have been
a frequent cause of concern this year.

Dvorak to head Czech Public Television

Petr Dvorak, the former head of commercial TV Nova, has been elected
the new executive director of Czech Public Television. Mr. Dvorak, a
hot favourite from the first round, won twelve votes from the 15 member
Czech radio and TV council. Chairman Milan Uhde said Dvorak had
presented an impressive policy concept and was clearly the best
candidate. In his analysis of Czech Television's performance Mr. Dvorak
criticized the work of the news and current affairs departments, said
public television was bogged down in a production crisis and stressed
the need for more educational programmes for children. He is to take up
his post on October 1st.

Midwife gets two year suspended sentence for botched birth

A Prague district court on Wednesday handed the head of the Czech
Association of Midwives Ivana Konigsmarkova a two year suspended
sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence. The
midwife assisted a difficult home birth which lasted for the better
part of three days and resulted in the child suffering severe brain
damage. Doctors said later that with proper hospital care the mother
could have delivered a perfectly healthy baby. They blamed the midwife
for failing to assess the situation correctly and call for a doctor and

Audit reveals chaos in Education Ministry's accounting

A financial audit at the Education Ministry for 2010 has revealed
mistakes in accounting to the tune of 5.7 billion crowns. The Audit
Office said in its report that the mistakes were most likely the result
of chaos in accounting following the introduction of a new system. The
biggest single missing sum of 1.7 billion was lent to Masaryk
University in Brno for the construction of a new campus but was not
entered in the ministry's accounting books. Other large transfers of
money were also incorrectly registered.

Hunter believed killed in freak accident

A twenty-two year old hunter died in what investigators believe to have
been a freak accident. The hunter had wondered away from his two
colleagues to stalk a deer, and was later found dead lying next to the
slain animal. He appears to have shot himself in the head while
re-loading or been killed by a ricocheting bullet.

Czechs behind bars for crossing US border illegally

Two Czechs who attempted to cross the US border illegally have been
sentenced to 77 days in prison and fined 120 dollars. A third companion
who had a travel permit but broke the law in assisting them is still
awaiting his verdict. The man and woman, a married couple, had been in
the States previously and had been evicted. They tried to cross the
border illegally on their bikes while on a visit to the International
Peace Garden. All three were apprehended by border guards.


The coming days should be sunny to partly cloudy with day temperatures
between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Petschek's Palace, once the headquarters of the Nazi secret police

If you're not looking for it then you'll probably overlook the rather
nondescript building of the Ministry of Industry, near the top of
Prague's Wenceslas Square. If, however, you are one of the few who read
Prague's street-side memorial signs, you get the full impact of what
the dirty grey, rough-hewn building called Petschek's Palace means to
modern Czech history: "In the time of the Nazi occupation," it reads,
"this building housed the torture chambers of the Gestapo. Fighters for
the freedom of our country fought, suffered and died here. We will
never forget their memory, and will be loyal to their legacy. PEOPLE,

Direct presidential election passed for further debate in lower house

A government proposal seeking direct, popular election of the Czech
president made it through the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday - a
significant success for an idea that lawmakers have dealt with eight
times already. Nevertheless, while the coalition and the opposition may
have reached a rare consensus for the time being, any such change to
the constitution remains fraught by the fact that each party envisions
very different conditions for popular elections, and many pundits and
political scientists see the popular issue as a non-starter. Professor
Jiri Pehe of New York University, for one, tells me the prospect of
direct presidential elections is science fiction. I asked him why.

Young Vietnamese equally at home in Hanoi and Prague

Prague's sizeable Vietnamese community recently held its first ever day
of Vietnamese culture, an open event in the centre of town which drew a
mixed crowd of Vietnamese and Czechs. What has been a rather closed
society appears to be slowly opening up to outsiders, as Czech-born
Vietnamese become increasingly confident about their identity and
Czechs learn there is more to Vietnamese people than an army of
convenience store proprietors.

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