Friday, January 20, 2012

News 1.20.2012

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

News Friday, January 20th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* A newly established Romany party aims to defend the interests of all
socially weak citizens.

* A group of 34 patients with Alzheimer's disease have been promised
biological treatment after threatening to take a health insurance
company to court.

* A requiem mass for the former Czech president Vaclav Havel was
celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Friday.

* Jiri Raska, the 1968 Olympic ski jumping champion who was named the
best Czech skier of the 20th century, has died at the age of 70.

* Heavy snow and icy roads are complicating traffic in many parts of
the country.

Romanies establish new party

Romany representatives on Friday established a Party for Equal
Opportunities. At the party's constituent session in Prague its
newly-elected leader Stefan Tisher said its aim was to defend not just
the interests of the Romany minority but that of all socially weak
citizens. With that in mind the party's founders abandoned the proposed
name for the party Adaj -meaning "we are here" in Romany - in favour of
a more neutral title. Its founding members will now travel around the
country to drum up support for the new political entity. The party aims
to run in the autumn 2012 regional elections.

Alzheimers sufferers promised biological treatment after threatening
court action

A group of 34 patients with Alzheimer's disease who were denied
biological treatment for lack of money have been assured they would get
it after threatening to take a health insurance company to court. The
insurance company Krajska zdravotni a.s. said it had come to an
agreement with the largest health insurer in the country VZP on
covering the cost of treatment.

There are approximately 18,000 Alzheimers sufferers in the Czech
Republic with around 1,000 more diagnosed every year. Around 800 of
them stand to benefit from biological treatment and those who were put
on a waiting list for financial reasons protested for fear that putting
it off would lead to their health deteriorating faster.

Mass celebrated in the Vatican for late president Havel

A requiem mass for the former Czech president Vaclav Havel was
celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Friday. The mass,
celebrated by Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, was
attended by around a hundred guests among them foreign diplomats from
the United States, Canada and Europe. The late president's widow Dagmar
Havlova was unable to attend for work reasons. Mr. Havel died in his
sleep at his country cottage on December 18th at the age of 75.

1968 Olympic champion ski-jumper Jiri Raska dies

Jiri Raska, the 1968 Olympic ski jumping champion who was named the
best Czech skier of the 20th century, died on Friday at the age of 70.
The news was confirmed by his family but the cause of death was not
given. Jiri Raska became the first Czech to win gold at the Winter
Olympics when he won off the middle hill in Grenoble, France. He also
won a silver medal at the same Olympics on the large hill. In 1969,
Raska set the world record in ski jumping at 164 meters at the flying
hill in Planica, then Yugoslavia. He also won the prestigious Four Hill
Tour in 1971. After his retirement in 1976, he coached the Czech
national team.

In October, the Czech skiing legend he was awarded a top state
decoration, the Medal of Merit, by President Vaclav Klaus. He was known
to suffer from heart problems and underwent triple bypass surgery.

President slams government for "hiding behind referendum"

President Vaclav Klaus has slammed the government for failing to accept
political responsibility for a decision on whether the country should
join the EU's fiscal union. In an interview for Friday's daily Lidove
noviny Mr. Klaus said the government should make a clear decision one
way or another and not hide behind a referendum. He was alluding to
Wednesday's government vote which provisionally endorsed a national
referendum on the issue. However not all coalition parties voted in
favour of leaving the decision in the hands of the electorate. TOP 09
said the matter was "too complex" to be decided by the public, arguing
in favour of its ratification in Parliament. The President also
addressed the question of whether the government would need his
authorization to sign up to the international treaty. Mr. Klaus said
that the prime minister was empowered to sign treaties of this type,
but that his signature was not tantamount to a ratification by the head
of state, which he was determined to withhold.

Charles University protests Education Ministry reforms

Several hundred students and teachers of Charles University held a
protest in front of the government offices on Thursday evening. The
demonstration followed a meeting at the university on how to oppose the
proposed law on higher education and a protest event where students
threw a symbolic 90 melons (Czech slang for millions) out of windows to
protest the 90 million crowns the Education Ministry spent on preparing
the reform. The crowd blew noisemakers and carried signs reading
"education is not business" and "don't sell us to the banks". A
resolution passed by the university on Thursday contests that the
proposed measures were prepared too quickly and without adequate
consultation and calls for further student protests.

Many banks to open new outlets

Many banks in the Czech Republic plan to open dozens of new outlets in
2012, the biggest expansion being planned by UniCredit Bank which wants
to open over 50 outlets, the ctk news agency reports. Ceska sporitelna
wants to open 14 new outlets and Postovni sporitelna of the CSOB group
plans to open 13 outlets. In contrast, Komercni banka and
Raiffeisenbank said they had completed the main expansion of their
outlet networks last year. Banks currently operate more than 2,000
outlets around the country..

Five to ten year sentences for exceptional brutality

A court in Hradec Kralove has served five to ten year sentences to six
youths who in May of 2010 brutally beat up two homeless men in the town
of Pardubice. After punching and kicking them in turn the youths left
the two men severely injured, bleeding and unconscious on the ground.
When they returned to the spot an hour later the men were still lying
there and the boys resorted to fresh violence, urinating on their
bodies before walking away. One of the men later died of his injuries.

Czech arrested for drugs smuggling in Bulgaria

The Czech consulate in Sofia, Bulgaria has confirmed the arrest of a
Czech national who was caught smuggling 1,5 kilograms of heroin out the
country. The man was reportedly on his way out of the country through
the Vidin border crossing when customs officials searched his car and
found the loot. It is not clear if the arrest was part of a bigger
operation. Bulgaria is on the main drugs supply route from the Middle
East to Europe and one of its smaller branches lead to through the
Czech Republic.

Heavy snow and icy roads complicating traffic

Heavy snow and icy roads are complicating traffic in many parts of the
country. The Liberec and Vysocina regions are the worst affected, with
some roads off limits, and others passable only with extreme caution.
Meteorologists have issued another warning regarding icy roads and
pavements in the early morning hours of Saturday and Sunday. Traffic
police are dealing with a heightened number of accidents around the


The coming weekend is expected to bring more snow and sleet showers
with daytime temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius and nighttime
lows dropping to - 6.

Articles posted on today

Josef Skvorecky - Part 2 - '68 Publishers and writing in Canada

In this week's Arts enjoy Part 2 of our look at the life and work of
renowned author Josef Skvorecky, who died at the age of 87 earlier this
month. I continue my discussion with respected Czech critic,
translator, and specialist in Czech studies Petr Onufer, who talks
about how Milos Forman almost made a film version of The Cowards,
Skvorecky's style as an author and his role as co-founder of '68

Business News 20.1.2012

In today's business news: The head of the Erste Group predicts an
economic revival in the Czech Republic for the second half of 2012,
foreign direct investment into the country has reached 2.5 trillion
Czech crowns since 1993, carrier Czech Connect Airlines has filed for
bankruptcy, a SANEP poll finds that the majority of Czechs think the
country's billionaires are corrupt, and food inspectors have
confiscated 2.5 tons of spring rolls containing mice droppings.

Students, university professors protest against higher education system

Thursday saw protests by students and teachers from Prague's Charles
University in the face of the government's planned higher education
act. Critics charge that changes planned in the legislation will choke
academic freedom in favour of business and politics.

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