Thursday, January 26, 2012

News 1.26.2012

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

News Thursday, January 26th, 2012

By: Sarah Borufka

* The Czech National Bank has agreed to release funds for a 1.5
billion-euro loan to the IMF approved by the government on Wednesday.

* The European Commission has threatened legal action against the Czech
Republic due to its restrictions on free movement.

* The Czech capital has failed to secure a billion crown EU subsidy for
the reconstruction of a water plant.

* According to a landmark ruling by Prague's city court, homebirths
should be covered by medical insurance.

* Police have found the body of a Brno judge who hung himself in his
office inside the regional court building.

Czech National Bank approves 1.5 billion euro loan to IMF

The board of the Czech National Bank on Thursday approved a 1.5
billion-euro loan to the IMF as part of the EU's efforts to contain the
debt crisis in the euro zone, according to a report by Czech
Television. The board made it clear that it would release the funds
only on the condition that the Czech Parliament approves government
guarantees for the loan, part of a 200 billion euro package to rescue
the single European currency.

In December, EU leaders agreed to lend 200 billion euros to the
International Monetary Fund in an attempt to ward off the bloc's debt
crisis. The EU asked the Czech Republic to contribute some 3.5 billion
euros to the loan; an amount deemed too high by the country's cabinet.

European Commission threatens legal action against Czech Republic due
to restrictions on free movement

The European Commission on Thursday threatened to take legal steps
against the Czech Republic due to the restrictions it poses on the free
movement of EU citizens. According to the commission, a current policy
under which foreign EU nationals have to present a confirmation of
accommodation to Czech authorities in order to establish temporary
residence in the country is against the EU directive on free movement.
Member states were ordered to implement this directive by April 2006.
The Czech Republic has been given a two-month time frame to respond to
the European Commission. Should it find the response unsatisfactory,
the commission may take the case to the EU's court, which could result
in sanctions being posed on the Czech Republic.

Prague fails to secure billion-crown EU subsidy for water treatment

Prague will not be able to secure a billion-crown EU subsidy for the
reconstruction of a water treatment plant, a city councilor announced
Thursday. Prague was hoping to finance the 11 billion crown
reconstruction of the plant with about 5.9 billion crowns from the EU's
Operational Program "Environment". Officials from the European
Commission discussed the Czech effort to win the subsidy with officials
from the country's Environment Ministry and Prague's city council on
Thursday. According to the European Commission, the Czech capital
cannot be considered for the subsidy since the validity period of a
contract Prague previously signed with a water management company is
too long. The Czech capital has been trying to win the subsidy for ten
years. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda commented on the failure to secure the
subsidy, stating it confirmed the city council's fears and that a new
solution needed to be devised.

Court: Women entitled to have costs for homebirths covered by health

Women living in the Czech Republic who would like to give birth at home
rather than in a hospital are entitled to a midwife covered by medical
insurance, according to a landmark ruling by a Prague city court. The
ruling was spoken in the case of a pregnant woman who asked the court
to intervene after Prague's Motol hospital had failed to provide her
with assistance for her homebirth. While the plaintiff gave birth
before the verdict was spoken, the ruling judge decided in favor of the
woman, stating that giving birth at home was a right that had to be
protected by the state. The ruling calls on the Ministry of Health to
introduce a new set of regulations that will facilitate homebirths,
which have been labeled dangerous by the ministry as well as
gynecologists' associations. However, ministry officials have said they
are not planning to change the legislation.

In January, a group of expectant mothers and midwives announced they
would sue the Czech Republic at the European Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg over home births on grounds that they are not covered by
medical insurance and midwives face administrative obstacles which
effectively prevent them from doing their jobs.

Brno judge hangs himself inside court building

A judge of the Brno regional court on Thursday committed suicide in his
office. According to a police spokeswoman, the man's body was found in
his office inside the court building and did not show any signs of
third-party violence. Police have declined to further comment and are
investigating the case. According to information from the news agency
CTK, the judge had worked in the area of criminal law.

State attorney's office presents corruption charges against former
transport minister

The state attorney's office has filed charges against former transport
minister and de-facto leader of the junior coalition partner Public
Affairs Vit Barta. According to the public prosecutor, Mr. Barta is
accused of attempted bribery of former Public Affairs senior MP
Kristyna Koci. In connection with the case, independent MP Jaroslav
Skarka, formerly of the Public Affairs party, is also facing charges
for allegedly having used part of the bribe money. If found guilty, Mr.
Barta and Mr. Skarka could face up to six and three years in prison,

While both Mr. Barta and Mr. Skarka as MPs had immunity from criminal
prosecution, the lower house of Parliament voted to strip them of their
immunity in August of last year. The corruption scandal within the
junior coalition party brought the government to the brink of collapse
and led to the resignation of Mr. Barta following allegations of
bribery and vested financial interests in April of last year.

Sluknov region mayors slam government agency for social inclusion

Officials from the Sluknov region in northern Bohemia, where racial
tensions have been building for years, have slammed the government's
agency for social inclusion. The mayors of the region's biggest towns
met with MPs on Thursday to discuss the escalating situation, stating
the agency had done little to improve social problems in Varnsdorf,
Rumburk and other muncipalities across the region. Public Affairs'
leader Radek John told the press that at the very least, the way the
agency is organized will have to be reconsidered. Currently, it has an
annual budget of 25 million Czech crowns. Sluknov's mayor Eva
Dzumannova also criticized the agency's 100-point strategy aimed at
fighting social discrimination, which was approved by the government in
September. The document, drafted in a reaction to the demonstrations
and violent incidents in the region, proposed measures that were
downright absurd, she said.

Demonstrations, escalating violence and high unemployment in the
Sluknov region made headlines last summer. Due to a series of
demonstrations and growing tensions between Romanies and locals, police
maintained a heightened presence in the region for weeks.

Prague city court deals ten-year prison sentence to man charged with
brutal rape

A Prague city court has dealt a ten-year prison sentence to a man
charged with brutally raping a woman in the center of town. The
incident happened last September after the victim had asked the man for
directions. He is charged with raping her repeatedly over the course of
three hours in a house entrance not far from Wenceslas Square. Although
the girl had shouted for help, no one called the police. The victim is
currently in psychological care. Court psychiatrists have stated that
the defendant is most likely a repeat offender. The verdict is not
final and can still be appealed.

Police arrest two men accused of running meth lab

Police in the town of Sumperk, in the Olomouc region, have arrested two
men suspected of producing methamphetamine, a police spokesperson
reported Thursday. The two suspects, aged 36 and 40, were producing
methamphetamine out of an apartment and distributed it across the
region. One of the men had been convicted to 18 months in prison for
drug charges last year but had not yet started serving his sentence. He
now faces up to ten years in prison; the other suspect faces a prison
sentence of up to 5 years.

Kvitova knocked out of Australian Open

World's number two Petra Kvitova lost to Russia's Maria Sharapova 2:6,
6:3, 4:6 in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Thursday, and was
knocked out of the first Grand Slam event of the season. The Czech
player, seeded second in the tournament, was tied with the Russian
after two sets; in the third, Kvitova was 40:15 ahead in the seventh
game but lost. Her double fault in the tenth game then gave Sharapova
two match points the first of which she converted. Kvitova's loss also
for the time ends her hopes of becoming world's number one; the spot
will be contested by Maria Sharapova and Belarus' Victoria Azarenka in
the Australian Open final.


The coming days should be overcast with some sunny periods. Daytime
highs will range between -4 and 0 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Firefighters fear more budget cuts will mean dismissing a third of the

Firefighters in the Czech Republic are greatly concerned at the course
their budgets are taking. As the money from the Ministry of the
Interior steadily decreases, the firemen's union warns that further
cuts may lead to substandard services.

Teachers seek to revive Latin at Czech schools

Latin once used to be the cornerstone of classical education. Until the
middle of the 20th century, some knowledge of the language was a
prerequisite for any career in the academia, and Latin was taught at
every grammar school. But the numbers of students taking up the
language has dropped by a half over the past decade. That's why a group
of Latin teachers launched a campaign to revive the teaching of Latin
at Czech schools.

Pig slaughtering feasts on their way out

A centuries old tradition -the pig-slaughtering feast - will soon be a
thing of the past. Those who consider the gory ritual an act of
barbarism are cheering, others for whom it is an important part of
village folklore are determined to maintain it at any price.

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