Monday, January 2, 2012

News 1.2.2012

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

News Monday, January 2nd, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech economy will most likely contract by up to 2 percent in
2012, according to the finance minister.

* The system of issuing new electronic ID cards collapsed on the first
day in operation.

* The police released a man who shot two people in Tanvald on Sunday,
killing one and wounding the other.

* The Czech president and prime minister have had the traditional New
Year lunch at the presidential retreat in Lany.

* Flowers and wreaths from Vaclav Havel's funeral have been dropped
into the Elbe River at Decin after a three-day boat trip from Prague.

Finance minister: economy to contract by up to 2 pct in 2012-01-02

The Czech economy will most likely contract by up to 2 percent in 2012,
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Czech Radio on Monday. This
would mean the state budget would lose between 30 and 50 billion
crowns; however, the budget's deficit would still remain at 105 billion
crowns, or 3.2 percent of the country's GDP. Mr Kalousek said
regardless of the possible contraction, the government would pursue its
fiscal strategy aimed at gradually lowering the deficit of the state
budget. By 2014, the deficit should drop to 1.9 percent of the GDP.

System of issuing new ID cards collapses

The system of issuing new electronic ID cards collapsed on Monday, the
first day it was in operation, the news website reported. The
Czech Interior Ministry said around 7,000 applications for the new card
were sent in on Monday morning but the central system collapsed twice
between 11 AM and 1 PM. The authorities informed however that people do
not have to exchange their IDs as long as the original ones remain
valid. The new, smaller ID cards fitted with chips were going to be
first issued in July but had to be postponed due to technical problems
with the databases.

Police release Tanvald shooter

The Czech police on Monday released a 63-year-old man who shot two
people in the north Bohemian town of Tanvald on Sunday, killing one and
wounding the other. A police spokeswoman said no charges had been yet
pressed against the shooter pending further investigation. The victims,
aged 22 and 24, respectively, were Romanies, according to media
reports. His family is planning to stage a protest rally in the town.

President, prime minister have New Year lunch at Lany

Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Necas, accompanied
by their wives, had the traditional New Year lunch at the presidential
retreat in Lany on Monday. The officials discussed agenda for 2012, and
coordinated their foreign trips. After the lunch, Mr Klaus and Mr Necas
told reporters the economic situation in Europe was serious but people
should not give in to panic. The tradition of the New Year lunch with
the president and the prime minister began in 2004. On Tuesday, Mr
Klaus will have lunch with the speakers of the lower and upper houses
of the Czech Parliament.

Court orders released of Polish man imprisoned for selling drugs

An appellate court in Olomouc on Monday ordered the release of a Polish
citizen who was sentenced in November to two years in prison for
selling illicit synthetic drugs. A judge at the court said the trial
suffered from severe procedural flaws which is why the case was
returned to a lower-instance court which would have to try the man
again. The Polish citizen opened several shops in Olomouc and other
town in central and northern Moravia which offered new synthetic drugs
advertising them as collectors' items. The man moved his business to
the Czech Republic from Poland after the Polish police cracked down on
his shops there.

No sharp price hike in foodstuffs registered over higher VAT rate

No sharp increase has been registered in the prices of foodstuffs due
to a higher VAT rate that came into force on January 1, the news agency
CTK reported on Monday. The lower VAT rate increased from 10 to 14
percent; however, most supermarket chains raised their prices gradually
in the last weeks of 2011 to avoid a sharp increase in January. The
head of the Czech Trade and Tourism Confederation said Czech retailers
used a similar marketing strategy as their colleagues in Germany when
the country adopted the euro.

Prague visited by record number of tourists in 2011

A record number of 5.2 million people visited Prague in 2011, according
to an analysis by the consultancy firm Mag Consulting released on
Monday. Most visitors to the Czech capital - around 4.5 million - came
from abroad. The number of visitors to Prague broke the previous record
from 2010 when some 4.7 million people visited Prague, according to
figures by the Czech Statistical Office. The Mag Consulting firm also
registered a record number of 13.2 million hotel stays in Prague last

Poll: 40 percent of Czech will create no financial reserves from

Up to 40 percent of Czech will live from pay day to pay day, creating
no financial reserves from their salaries, suggests a new survey by the
Ipsos Tambor agency released on Monday. Some 21 percent of people who
took part in the poll said they considered their financial situation to
be good, while 13 percent said they planned to save and invest. 8
percent of those polled said they would like to pay off their debts
this year.

Data privacy watchdog calls for regulation of camera surveillance

The Czech Office for the Protection of Personal Data on Monday again
called for the adoption of new legislation regulating camera
surveillance systems. The data privacy watchdog said that surveillance
of public spaces should only allowed for the purposes of protecting
property and people against crime; cameras should not be placed in
sites where surveillance would offend people's dignity such as dressing
rooms and toilets. The new bill should also determine how long
recordings of camera surveillance can be stored. The Czech government's
Human Rights Council was supposed to come up with the respective bill
last year.

Vaclav Havel's funerary flowers dropped into Elbe

Flowers and wreaths from Vaclav Havel's funeral were dropped into the
Elbe River at Decin on Monday, after a three-day boat trip from Prague.
Some 1,500 people watched the late Vaclav Havel's friends and
colleagues unbind the wreaths and throw the flowers into the river
below the Decin chateau. Former Czech human rights minister and a
friend of the late Czech president Michael Kocab, who came up with the
idea, said only organic material would be thrown into the water. A
couple of dozen people accompanied the flowers on their way from Prague
to Decin; one of the passengers said people stopped to greet the boat
on the banks throughout the journey.

Tennis: Kvitova, Berdych triumph in Hopman Cup opening match-up

Tennis players Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych have given the Czech
Republic a 2-1 win over Bulgaria in their first round match-up in the
Hopman Cup. Kvitova, last year's Wimbledon champion beat opponent
Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4,6-2, sweeping her aside in the last five games,
while world no. 7 Berdych fought and won a three-setter against Grigor
Dimitrov, who clawed back into the match winning a tie-break in the
second set; the final score was 6 -4, 6-7, 6-3. Kvitova and Berdych's
strong opening round against Bulgaria was not flawless: the Czech duo
lost their mixed-doubles match against Pironkova and Dimitrov by a
score of 6:2, 3:6, 9:11 - the match dramatically going down the wire in
the final set.


Mild conditions should continue into the first week of the New Year,
with overcast skies, occasional rain and daytime highs of around 7
degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Sports News 2.1.2012

In Sports News: Czech tennis players Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych
give Czech Republic a 2-1 win over Bulgaria in their opening match-up
in the Hopman Cup; Britain's Andy Murray appoints 51-year-old tennis
legend Ivan Lendl as his new full-time coach; ski jumper Roman Koudelka
finishes in top 10 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the prestigious Four
Hills Tournament; star hockey player Jaromir Jagr will, for the first
time in his career, play in the NHL's Winter Classic held outdoors
under an open sky; the Czech squad at the World Junior Hockey
Championship faces Russia in the quarterfinals.

President calls on Czechs to keep calm and support austerity measures
in face of European debt crisis

President Vaclav Klaus's traditional New Year's address reflected key
political events of the year, among them the death of his predecessor,
Vaclav Havel. Moreover, Mr. Klaus warned of both false optimism and
fear mongering in face of a possible recession in the eurozone. The
Czech president said it was crucial to support additional cuts in
government spending and emphasized that this was a time for the nation
to tighten its belt.

Vit Kleparnik of new think tank CESTA: left should no longer be a dirty

A group of Czech intellectuals including political analyst Jiri Pehe,
sociologists Jan Keller and Tereza Stockelova, and others, felt that
ever since the fall of communism, political discourse in the country
has been dominated by a right-wing agenda, articulated by a number of
liberal and conservative institutes. To provide alternatives and to
oppose these views from a left-wing wing perspective, these
intellectuals established in January a new political think-tank called
Cesta, or Path. In this edition of One on One, RP spoke to one of
Cesta's founders, political analyst Vit Kleparnik.

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