Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Radio Prague Today 9.21.2011

Articles posted on www.radio.cz 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, BE AWARE".

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 Jiří 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.