Wednesday, January 4, 2012

News 1.4.2012

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

News Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech government has postponed a decision on the restitution of
church property over a dispute among the coalition parties.

* The Czech military will reduce its training areas by a third.

* Public trust in the Czech lower house has dropped to the lowest level
since 1993, according to a new poll.

* In tennis, the Czech Republic has beaten the US at the Hopman Cup.

* Meteorologists have warned against strong winds and heavy snow that
will hit the Czech Republic in the coming days.

Government postpones decision on church property restitution

The Czech government on Wednesday postponed a decision on the
restitution of church property due to a dispute among the coalition
parties. The junior coalition Public Affairs party said they first
wanted to know where the funds for the proposed financial compensation
will come from before they support the bill. The parties have agreed to
discuss the matter at a coalition meeting before the government deals
with the issue at its regular session next week.

Last year, the government reached a deal with the country's churches on
property restitution. The churches should some 56 percent of the
physical property confiscated by the communist regime in the 1950s; in
reimbursement for the rest, they should receive 59 billion crowns plus
inflation over a period of 30 years.

Military training areas to be reduced

The Czech military will reduce its training areas around the country by
a third, and will leave the area in Brdy, central Bohemia, for good.
The respective proposal by the Defence Ministry was approved by the
government at its session on Wednesday. Defence Minister Alexandr
Vondra said that compared to other European countries, the Czech army
had disproportionately large training areas; also, the number of army
soldiers has dropped from 120,000 in 1990 to some 25,000 today. The
army will now discuss the future use of the abandoned training areas
with local municipalities.

Police to get more powers to fight animal abuse

The Czech police might receive more powers to fight animal abuse. The
cabinet on Wednesday approved new legislation which will allow police
officers to enter private homes on suspicion of animal abuse; they will
be able to confiscate maltreated animals and their breeders could also
be banned from keeping animals in the future. The draft legislation
will now be put to Parliament for approval.

Wheelchair users protest against changes to welfare system

Several hundred wheelchair users turned up at labour offices around the
Czech Republic on Wednesday to protest against changes to the country's
welfare system. As of January 1, mobility benefits are paid by labour
offices, rather than local authorities. Disabled people now receive
them monthly rather than once a year. The head of the Czech National
Disability Council, Vaclav Krasa, said the changes would only increase
bureaucracy. Many labour offices, part of the Ministry of Labour and
Social Affairs, also lack access for wheelchair users. Government
officials have rejected the protest, and said the changes will make the
system easier to use for people with disabilities.

Trust in lower house lowest since 1993: poll

Public trust in the lower house of the Czech parliament has sunk to the
lowest level since 1993, according to a new poll by the STEM agency
released on Wednesday. The survey found that a mere 16 percent trusted
the Chamber of Deputies, down by three percent from the previous poll
that took place in June 2011. However, 40 percent of those polled said
they trusted the speaker of the lower house, Miroslava Nemcova. The
most trusted institutions of the state include the Constitutional
Court, with 57 percent, followed by the president, also with 57
percent. The upper chamber of Parliament enjoys the trust of some 25
percent of Czechs.

Vaclav Havel's remains placed in family tomb in Prague

The remains of the late president Vaclav Havel were on Wednesday placed
in the family tomb at Prague's Vinohradsky cemetery. The private
ceremony was attended by Vaclav Havel's widow Dagmar, his brother Ivan
with his wife, and several of the ex-president's closest friends. The
remains of the late president, playwright and human rights leader were
placed in the tomb on the 15th anniversary of his marriage to his
second wife.

Tennis: Czechs beat US at Hopman Cup

The Czech Republic tennis squad on Wednesday beat the United States at
the Hopman Cup in Perh, Australia, on Wednesday without losing a set.
In the first singles match, world number two Petra Kvitova defeated
Bethania Mattek-Sands 6:2, 6:1; Tomas Berdych, ranked seventh in the
world, then beat Mardy Fish 6:3, 6:3. In the mixed doubles match, the
top-seeded Czech pair downed the Americans 6:3 and 7:6. On Friday,
Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych will take on Denmark.

Chelsea FC's Petr Cech voted world's fifth best goalkeeper

Chelsea FC and Czech international Petr Cech has been voted the world's
fifth best goalkeeper by the International Federation of Football
History and Statistics. The 26-year old Cech, who won the poll in 2005,
came in 3rd last year. In this year's poll, Petr Cech finished fifth
with 41 points after Iker Casillas from Real Madrid, Manuel Neuer from
Bayern Munich, Victor Valdes from FC Barcelona and Gianluigi Buffon of

NHL action: Hudler scores twice against Dallas

Czech hockey forward Jiri Hudler scored twice for the visiting Detroit
Red Wings on Tuesday to help his club defeat the Dallas Stars by a
score of 5:4. It was the second time in two games the forward scored
and he also did so just ahead of his 28th birthday. The player was
named the game's first star. His first goal came in the 18th minute
when he deflected a shot by Valtteri Filppula into net to give Detroit
a 2:0 lead; he scored again a minute before the end of the first period
to make it 3:1.

Strong winds, heavy snow to hit Czech Republic

Meteorologists have warned against strong winds and heavy snow that
will hit the Czech Republic on Thursday. A high alert has been issued
for the Usti region, in the north of the country. Winds in lower areas
could reach a velocity of between 75 and 100 km per hour, and could
exceed 130 km per hour in the mountains. Between 10 and 50 cm of fresh
snow is expected in elevated areas.


Strong winds with rain and snow in higher places are expected over the
next few days, with daytime highs ranging between 3 and 7 degrees

Articles posted on today

Jilemnice - the cradle of Czech skiing

It is early on a Friday morning, the air is freezing and there is no
sign of the sun in the sky. Yet, the creaky old Karosa bus heading
towards Krkonose or Giant Mountains is almost full when I arrive at the
bus station. Many people from Prague have taken their day off in order
to enjoy some snow. Unlike most of my fellow travellers, I am not
heading towards the ski slopes and racing tracks. My destination is the
little town of Jilemnice, crouching at the foothills of the Giant
Mountains in north Bohemia. Jilemnice was one of the very first skiing
centres in the country and it proudly calls itself the Cradle of Czech
skiing. Petra Pohunkova from the local Town Hall has promised to give
me a tour through the town. We meet on the central square, right in
front of the Town Hall building:

Renowned author, publisher Josef Skvorecky dies at 87

Czech emigre author and co-founder of '68 Publishers Josef Skvorecky
died at the age of 87 on Tuesday, succumbing to cancer in Toronto,
Canada. Mr Skvorecky was one the last great Czech 20th century authors
and literati. His first novels published in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s
- were quickly banned by the Communist regime. Later, following the
Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, Skvorecky and his wife Zdena
Salivarova moved to Canada, where they founded '68 Publishers. The
imprint was a crucial avenue for Czech and Slovak dissidents like Milan
Kundera and Vaclav Havel to publish in Czech and English in the West.

Parents of "wolf children" on trial at Prague city court for child

The mother and father of two boys, dubbed "wolf children" by the Czech
media, are currently on trial at a Prague city court. In a shocking and
unusual case of child abuse, the parents never let their sons out of
the apartment, did not dress them and fed them only liquid food. They
deny charges of abuse and say they simply wanted to raise their
children in an alternative way.

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