Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News 12.13.2011

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

News Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By: Christian Falvey

* Prime Minister Petr Necas says the decision on whether to aid the
eurozone via the IMF will be made by the government.

* The TOP 09 party has put forward MP Alena Hanakova for the post of
Minister of Culture.

* The US Senate has confirmed Norman Eisen in the post of US ambassador
to Prague.

* Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has said the government will take
advantage of some of the proposals made by its economic council, NERV.

* The daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports that former trade minister Martin
Kocourek sent five million crowns to the company Key Investments in
2002.

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Necas says decision on eurozone aid will be made by government
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Prime Minister Petr Necas says the decision on whether to aid the
eurozone via the IMF will be made by the government, rather than the
Czech National Bank. For his own part, the prime minister said he is
opposed to participating. The government is set to discuss the matter
on Wednesday, though it is not certain that a vote will be taken. Mr
Necas said he is aware of the complicated political situation caused by
the Czech Republic's reticence, but emphasised that he would not offer
a stronger statement because clear conditions for an agreement between
European leaders have not been given. Eurozone representatives last
week agreed to give the IMF a 200 billion euro loan, which would then
be lent to the EU states in economic crisis. Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg has voiced his support for providing 90 billion crowns
towards the agreement.


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Hanakova prepared to take over Ministry of Culture
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The TOP 09 party has put forward MP Alena Hanakova for the post of
Minister of Culture. Ms Hanakova is a member of the Mayors and
Independents Party which is associated with TOP 09. A movement by some
Czech artists to appoint arts academy chancellor Ivo Mathe was heard by
the TOP 09 party, but unravelled after Mr Mathe failed to reach an
agreement with party chairman Karel Schwarzenberg. President Klaus will
accept the resignation of outgoing culture minister Jiri Besseron
Friday. His departure from the cabinet was compelled by the fact that
he had failed to report property and business interests in the United
States in his property statement. The Mayors and Independents Party has
said he will stay on as deputy chairman as he was not guilty of any
legal wrongdoing.


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Acting US ambassador to Prague confirmed in office
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The US Senate on Monday confirmed Norman Eisen in the post of US
ambassador to Prague overcoming opposition by Republican Senator
Charles Grassley. Senator Grassley successfully blocked Mr. Eisen's
nomination to the post a year ago, prompting President Obama to by-pass
the regular confirmation process during a Senate recess and name him to
a temporary one-year term, due to expire in January. Senator Grassley's
claim that in 2009 Mr. Eisen violated the law by the manner of his
dismissal of a high-ranking employee, was dismissed by Republican
senators who pointed out that a court had exonerated Mr. Eisen from the
allegations of improper conduct. The acting ambassador was confirmed in
office by a 70-16 majority.


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Kalousek: government may use some of NERV's propoosals
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Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has said the government will take
advantage of some of the proposals made by its economic council, NERV,
to help the country overcome the crisis in Europe. He did not specify
which proposals, saying that he could only do so if he were certain
about developments in 2012. NERV's package of 40 measures should be
adopted if there is danger of the GDP dropping by more than 2 percent.
The measures include a single VAT rate of 20 percent, a freezing of
pensions, layoffs of police officers, higher bank taxes and shorter
university studies, among others. The Finance Ministry is expected to
present a concrete plan of action in January 2012, when a more precise
forecast of the Czech Republic��s economic development will be made
available.


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MF Dnes: former trade minister Kocourek sent five million to Key
Investments in 2002
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The daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports that former trade minister Martin
Kocourek sent five million crowns to the company Key Investments in
2002. Mr Kocourek resigned last month over corruption allegations when
it emerged that he had used the controversial company to divert 16
million crowns from his divorce settlement in 2008. According to Mlada
fronta, more than eight million crowns went through Mr Kocourek's
account at Key Investments between 2002 and 2006 before being moved to
a sister company in Slovakia. Key Investments is a brokerage firm under
investigation by the central bank for its involvement in numerous
dubious dealings.


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R35 motorway to run through Bohemian Paradise
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The new R35 motorway from Liberec to Hradec Kralove will be run through
the Bohemian Paradise area of Northern Bohemia, according to zoning
documentation that was passed on Tuesday be the regional council.
Opponents of the idea sent a letter to the council stating that they
would use all legal means possible to avert the construction of the
motorway through the oldest protected area in the country. The
four-lane motorway is intended to improve access between the regions
while avoiding communities and has been a priority for the regions for
several years.


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Prague City Hall introduces "clickable budget"
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Prague City Hall introduced a "click through budget" programme on
Tuesday that allows viewers to check on the details of the city's
budget and search through the earnings and expenditures of individual
sectors of town hall. The system allows for example for those
interested to browse the police income from the city coffers and see
what the money is used for, and how much is devoted to what purposes.
In presenting the application, Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda noted that the
programme was not mandated by any regulation and was the city's own
initiative for combating corruption. NERV, which proposed the idea, has
according to the mayor also recommended the clickable budget for the
state level.


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Employment bureaus may begin issuing welfare cards next spring
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Employment bureaus may begin issuing welfare cards between March and
April, 2012, provided a contract is concluded with the bank Ceska
Sporitelna, which is to manage the cards. The Labour Ministry is still
in negotiations with the bank. The cards are intended for the payment
of most welfare benefits from the employment bureaus. The Labour
Ministry expects to save a billion crowns in operational costs once
they are introduced.


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Unions looking to limit store hours on holidays
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Trade unions want to limit the opening hours of supermarkets over the
Christmas and state holidays. They have also prepared a bill to
prohibit or regulate the opening hours of store chains on holidays.
Chairman of the store workers' union Petr Voslar told journalists on
Tuesday that the unions are looking for a legislator to bring the bill
to Parliament. The bill entails that supermarkets would be able to be
open until 2:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and would have to remain closed
over the Christmas holidays. They also want large shops to remain
closed on Easter and November 17th.


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Police arrest serial arsonist
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Prague police have arrested a 22-year-old serial arsonist who has so
far confessed to 51 fires. At least 25 of the acts, which caused more
than 2.5 million in damages, have been certified by the police. The man
set the fires primarily around the Prague district of Jizni mesto and
"specialised" in parked cars, according to Prague Police Chief Martin
Vondrasek. He has been placed in psychiatric care to avoid hurting
others. He was caught while in the midst of an attack, heavily
intoxicated. Police suspect he may have been responsible for 80 to 100
fires.


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Weather
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The coming days should be partly cloudy with scattered showers and day
temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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The bombing of Prague from a new perspective
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For all the suffering that Bohemia and Moravia endured during WWII,
relatively little of the damage was physical. Prague escaped the
terrible bombing that left so many of the ancient cities of Europe
wasted. There were incidents, however - two in particular in the last
year of the war that brought large-scale destruction and great loss of
life.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/czech-history/the-bombing-of-prague-from-a-new-perspective


PM Necas hints Czechs might stay out of EU's effort to save the euro
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The EU's plan to save the euro has in recent days divided the Czech
political scene. While the fiercely eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus
said the country should stay out of the planned loan to the IMF,
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg noted the Czech Republic would
have little choice but to approve it. On Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister
Petr Necas came out to clarify the government's position - and hinted
that if it were up to him, the government would say no.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/pm-necas-hints-czechs-might-stay-out-of-eus-effort-to-save-the-euro


Injured Libyans to receive treatment in Prague hospitals
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A Czech military plane brought five injured Libyans to Prague for
treatment on Monday night. All are in need of surgery which overcrowded
hospitals in their homeland are unable to provide. An appeal from Libya
for European countries to help treat their wounded has led to the Czech
government extending its Medevac aid programme for children to adults
with serious medical problems.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/injured-libyans-to-receive-treatment-in-prague-hospitals


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