Friday, October 7, 2011

News 10.7.2011

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

News Friday, October 7th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Canada is postponing the cancellation of visa requirements for Czechs
while it monitors racial tensions in Northern Bohemia.

* Former prime minister Jiri Paroubek has left the Social Democratic

* Hundreds of policemen will be on the streets for a demonstration in
Usti nad Labem on Saturday.

* The Ministry of Education has presented its proposal for
college-level reforms to the government.

* A considerable part of the Roma population lives in conditions of
social exclusion, according to the government's report for 2010.

Canada postpones visa cancellation while it monitors Northern Bohemia

Canada will postpone the cancellation of visa requirements for Czechs,
possibly due to racial tensions in Northern Bohemia. Canada initiated
visa requirements for Czechs in 2009 due to a large influx of Roma
seeking asylum there on grounds of racial discrimination in the Czech
Republic. A new asylum system was supposed to be launched in late 2011
and would allow Czechs to travel to the country without a visa.
However, according to the news website, than plan has been
delayed until next summer. The Canadian embassy in Prague told the
website that it is monitoring the situation in Northern Bohemia, where
racial tension has caused violence and demonstrations in recent months.

Paroubek leaves Social Democratic Party

Former prime minister Jiri Paroubek has left the Social Democratic
Party, which he headed from 2006 to 2010. After more than a year of
speculation as to his political intentions after coming up short in
last year's parliamentary elections, Mr Paroubek on Friday told the
press that his patience with the party's platform had run out and that
he wants to run a party truer to his conception of social democracy. He
also said that he would have stayed with the party had it offered him
an appropriate position. Mr Paroubek is in negotiations to lead a
revamped Czech National Socialist Party, however its present chairman
is opposed to the prospect. Social Democrat MP Jiri Slegr also left the
party on Friday. Both parliamentarians say they intend to remain in the

Hundreds of policemen on hand for weekend demonstration in Usti nad

A demonstration of far-right extremists in the city of Usti nad Labem
on Saturday will be minded by 500 police officers. Around 1,000 people
have planned attendance via Facebook. The location poses a threat of
clashes with anarchist groups, which have a strong base in the Usti nad
Labem. Officers will be checking cars entering the city. A parallel
protest against rising crime is to take place in the town of Varnsdorf
where the locals have been calling for the resignation of the entire
town council. Protests and marches reflecting growing racial tensions
have been held every weekend in the region with police reinforcements
costing taxpayers millions of crowns. The previous eight weekends have
seen demonstrations of 300 to 700 people.

Education Ministry presents college reforms plan

The Ministry of Education has presented a proposal for college-level
reforms to the government. The plan calls for financing based on
quality, the merging of smaller schools and the introduction of
tuition. College institutions would also have more authority over their
internal affairs according to the plan, with economic decisions to be
made by a council of regional politicians and businessmen. The schools
would also have to sign three to five-year agreements with the ministry
in which they would stipulate the results they would attain in that
time and establish the amount of funding they would receive. The
introduction of tuition remains a controversial idea, with many
educators opposing it out of concern for students becoming indebted.

Government to examine report on Roma social exclusion in 2010

The government's report on the Roma minority for 2010 states that a
considerable part of the population lives in a condition of social
exclusion. The cabinet is to examine the report next Wednesday. The
document cites a serious systemic and social problem with sweeping
political impacts and an alarming lack of progress in integrating Roma
children from excluded environments. It also notes that a number of
municipalities have created a system of residential and social policies
that essentially displace troublesome groups of people to the
community's outskirts. Problems with unemployment and education it says
are then rampant in such areas. Recent statistics show there are around
400 slums in the Czech Republic with an estimated number of 80,000
inhabitants, predominantly from the Roma minority.

Poll gives boost to Greens

The Green Party is close to crossing the 5% threshold needed to retake
a presence in Parliament at 4.9%, according to a poll carried out by
Factum Invenio. The poll suggests that elections would still be won by
the opposition Social Democratic Party, with 27.3% of the vote, though
their lead over the senior government Civic Democratic Party has
decreased. The Christian Democrats, who failed to enter the Chamber of
Deputies last year for the first time, would return to parliament while
the junior coalition party Public Affairs would not receive 5% of the
vote. The left-wing parties would have a parliamentary majority of 111
mandates, according to the poll.

German survey ranks Prague taxis amongst worst in Europe

Taxi services in Prague are amongst the worst in Europe according to
the results of an annual poll carried out by the German ADAC auto club.
Among 22 European metropolises Prague took 17th place in the survey,
just after Madrid and one spot ahead of Vienna. The overall rating was
worsened primarily by the rating of the drivers, who the survey said
disregarded traffic lights, took needless detours and charged
incorrectly. The best city on the list was Barcelona, Spain, while the
worst was Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Russians in Karlovy Vary want statue of Peter the Great

Russian residents in the West Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary are
petitioning for the erection of a life-sized statue of Peter the Great
on the occasion of the three-hundredth anniversary of one of his visits
to the spa centre. A Russian company has offered to fund the monument
for 2.5 million crowns. The municipal government has so far rejected
the idea however, saying they would not be opposed to a statue in the
spa forests, where the 17th century tsar strolled during his stay. A
deputy mayor told the residents they could build the state in the city
centre, provided a statue of Czechoslovak president T.G. Masaryk was
erected on Red Square first.

Barta fined and ordered to apologize to Social Democrat

Leading public affairs MP Vit Barta has been ordered to pay 100,000
crowns and apologize to Social Democrat politician Petr Benda for
insulting him on a public television show. Speaking to Czech Television
in January the former transport minister and grey eminence of the
junior coalition party called Mr Benda a " famous Mafioso" of the
Social Democratic Party who had de facto control over his local traffic
directorate. The municipal Court of Prague found that Mr Barta's words
weer unsubstantiated and were a serious infringement upon Mr Benda's
personal rights.

Senate approves increased bribery penalties

The Senate has approved a bill to more strictly sentence persons found
guilty of 'buying' votes in elections or competitive tenders. Senators
voted almost unanimously to increase the penalty for such cases to half
a year to three years imprisonment. The amendment to the criminal code
also ups the penalty for accepting a bribe under such circumstances
from eight to ten years. The bill will now go to the president for


Conditions over the coming are expected to be cool and wet, daytime
highs of around 11o Celsius. High wind warnings are in effect over the
night on Thursday.

Articles posted on today

Business News 7.10.2011

The Czech government's pilot bond issue is sold out weeks ahead of
deadline; long-term unemployment rate drops in the second quarter of
2011; the budget deficit reaches almost 80 percent of 2011 projected
figure; next year's state budget draft proposes public service job
cuts; dozens of solar power companies demand compensation from Czech

Pilot emission of government bonds sells like hot cakes

The government's offer of state bonds, enabling citizens to invest in
the national debt, has proved hugely successful. After registering
orders for more than 16.5 billion crowns, way over the set 10 billion
crown target, the Finance Ministry terminated all registrations on
Friday, three weeks ahead of the scheduled date. Although public
interest surpassed all expectations, critics say it was a costly and
unnecessary transaction.

Author Jaroslav Rudis discusses Alois Nebel - graphic novel and film
focussing on the fog of history and troubled European past

In this week's Arts, I speak to Jaroslav Rudis, the author of an
influential graphic novel (trilogy, actually) that delves into the fog
of history and troubled Central European past. The story of Alois Nebel
- a slightly mad railwayman working in a remote border region - it has
been made into a new film that premiered last week in the Czech
Republic after being featured in festivals in Venice and Toronto.

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