Wednesday, January 18, 2012

News 1.18.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

By: Sarah Borufka

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that a Czech contribution to an EU
debt crisis scheme will likely be far lower than expected.

* The Czech government has agreed that a referendum on joining the EU
fiscal pact will be held either separately or together with a
referendum on entering the Eurozone.

* The Czech Republic plans to continue its practice of voluntary
surgical castration for sex offenders despite harsh criticism from
international human rights groups.

* Czech MEP Oldrich Vlasak has been elected one of the European
Parliament's 14 vice presidents.

* A woman who was attacked by a group of Romanies on New Year's Day in
the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf has died in hospital.

Prime Minister: Czech contribution to EU debt crisis scheme likely far
lower than expected

Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Wednesday that the Czech central bank
would most likely not channel 3.5 million euro (about 90 billion Czech
crowns) through the International Monetary Fund as part of a European
Union scheme aimed at fighting the debt crisis in the Eurozone. EU
leaders had requested that Prague commit that amount at a summit last
month. The Czech contribution -which is in effect a loan - will be
"very significantly lower" since the majority of the government are
opposed to contributing the sum requested, the prime minister told
reporters. The actual amount the Czech Republic is willing to
contribute will be announced by the Czech finance minister, Miroslav
Kalousek, in a week from now.

At a last-ditch summit in Brussels in December, EU leaders drafted a
plan under which European central banks would channel a total of 150
billion euros through the IMF in exchange for fresh pledges of fiscal
probity from European governments.

Czech government wants referendum on EU fiscal pact

The Czech government has agreed that a referendum should be held on the
Czech Republic's possible participation in a new European Union treaty
aimed at tightening budgetary controls in the Eurozone. The Civic
Democrats, who lead the government, on Wednesday pushed the policy
through in conjunction with Public Affairs, the smallest party in the
coalition. TOP 09 deputies were opposed to the idea. Prime Minister
Petr Necas said a referendum on signing up to the pact could be linked
to a second referendum on adopting the common European currency. He
also said the cabinet would need the authorization of the president
before it could negotiate or sign the treaty. President Vaclav Klaus
has been critical of the pact and has said he will refuse to put his
signature to it. Mr. Necas said the government would only adopt a
definitive position on the matter once a final version of the EU
document has been produced.

Czech Republic to continue practice of voluntary castration for sex

The Czech Republic will continue its practice of voluntary surgical
castration of sex offenders, Prime Minister Petr Necas told reporters
on Wednesday. The practice, which has come under fire from
international human rights groups, was not a violation of human rights
and under certain circumstances could be a viable alternative to
life-long detention, the prime minister said. He added that such a
procedure always requires the approval of the sex offender and that
only very few decide to undergo castration. The fact that surgical
castration is still an option in the Czech Republic, one of the few
countries to conserve it, has been criticized by the Council of Europe.

Czech MEP to take up vice-president post in European Parliament

Czech MEP Oldrich Vlasak has been elected one of the European
Parliament's 14 vice presidents. Mr. Vlasak, a European Conservatives
and Reformists group member from the Czech Civic Democratic party
(ODS), will be serving a 2.5 year term. Upon being elected on
Wednesday, he said his main focus of interest would be the
strengthening of Euro-Atlantic ties as well as improving the efficiency
of the European Parliament. Czech Social Democrat Libor Roucek, who has
held the post for 2.5 years, did not seek re-election due to an
agreement under which the socialist faction in the European Parliament
gave up two seats in exchange for German socialist candidate, Martin
Schulz, becoming the European Parliament's new president.

School in Podebrady renamed after late Czech president Vaclav Havel

A month after the death of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, an
elementary school in the Central Bohemian town of Podebrady has been
renamed after the late president. In a public ceremony, the school's
new name was unveiled on Wednesday. Vaclav Havel had studied in
Podebrady and lived nearby the school that now carries his name. It is
the first school in the country to be named after Mr. Havel, who died
on December 18, 2011 at the age of 75.

According to a Czech member of the European Parliament, it is also
likely that one of the parliament's buildings will be named after Mr.
Havel. A petition to rename Prague's international Ruzyne airport after
the late president has received over 80,000 signatures to date.

Woman attacked by group of Romanies on New Year's Day dies in hospital

A woman who was attacked by a group of Romanies on New Year's Day in
the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf has died in hospital. Police said
on Wednesday that an autopsy will shed light on whether she died as a
result of injuries suffered at the hands of her attackers. Two of them
have been charged with assault and battery. Police believe that one of
the suspects may have had racial motives. Some 200 people gathered in
Varnsdorf on Sunday to express their support for the woman and her
family, who were with her when the attack happened. Crime and racial
tensions have been escalating in the town since last year.

Survey: Social Democrats' deputy leader Jiri Dienstbier and lower house
chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova best-liked politicians

According to a fresh survey by the STEM polling agency, the best-liked
Czech politician is Social Democrats deputy leader Jiri Dienstbier,
with 55 percent of Czechs polled naming him their favorite politician.
Respondents ranked lower house chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova of the
Civic Democrats in second place. Among those whose ratings slipped were
Communist Party chairman Vojtech Filip and Public Affairs' leader Radek
John. Mr. John's colleague Vit Barta, seen by many as the de facto
leader of the party, has also fallen in popularity, the survey suggests.

Police arrest two men suspected of robbing 70 graves

Police have arrested two men in the Litomerice region who are suspected
of robbing graves. According to police, the two suspects robbed at
least 70 different graves, causing damages of over 500,000 Czech
crowns. The thieves stole gold teeth, jewelry and other valuables from
the graves and are facing a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

Court hands 13-year prison sentence to defendant in brutal murder case

A regional court in Plzen handed a 13-year prison sentence to a
sixty-year-old man charged with brutally murdering his boss. The man,
who worked as a truck driver, is accused of having shot his 37-year-old
superior with two gun shots in November of last year. He allegedly
disposed of the victim's body in a nearby river. The defendant denied
all charges and has appealed the verdict.

Severe weather warning issued for Moravian Jeseniky region

A severe weather warning has been issued for the Jeseniky region of the
Czech Republic, where heavy snowfall overnight has left several roads
impassable. Some 70 cm of fresh snow are causing serious traffic
complications, especially in higher altitudes. A new wave of heavy snow
is expected to hit the region Wednesday night. In South Bohemia, some
roads are icy; drivers have been warned to exercise caution. Across the
country, road maintenance crews are struggling to keep up with the
heavy snowfall.


Mid-week weather will be cloudy with some sunny periods. Daytime
temperatures should range between -3 and 3 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Through Emperor Rudolf's water tunnel under Letna

The Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II left a deep mark in Czech history.
Various legends and myths surround the 16th century ruler who made
Prague his imperial seat and whose diverse interests made the city a
centre of Renaissance arts and sciences. One monument from his time is
hidden beneath the surface of the earth - a water tunnel carved deep
into the rock of one of Prague's hills.

Car manufacturers in Czech Republic to roll out new mid-priced vehicles
in 2012

Despite gloomy news and grim forecasts almost all around these days one
sector of the economy - namely the automotive industry - is in top
gear. In 2011, two out of three manufacturers - Hyundai and Skoda Auto
exceeded previous expectations, and while TPCA suffered a drop in
production, all three together produced a record 1,186,000 vehicles.
And they are gearing up for an equally good year in 2012, reading to
launch mid-priced new or revamped models aimed at both the domestic
market and markets abroad.

Deputies get off scot-free for breach of good manners

Is giving the finger to a fellow member of Parliament or calling him an
idiot acceptable? It is in the Czech Republic, at least according to
MPs themselves. The mandate and immunity committee of the lower house
this week dismissed two such cases, saying they would only resort to
punishment if the situation worsened. Radio Prague spoke to political
analyst Karel Muller from Prague's University of Economics, and asked
him whether we should we come to accept such coarse behaviour.

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