Monday, February 6, 2012

News 2.6.2012

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

News Monday, February 6th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Prime Minister Necas says the government will suspend ratification of
the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement while it analyses the issue.

* Hackers protesting the agreement have published the personal
information of thousands of members of the Civic Democratic Party.

* Education Minister Josef Dobes says he has received no information
that the Czech Republic would have EU education grants revoked.

* Health Minister Leos Heger intends to propose the merger of the
health and labour ministries.

* Arctic temperatures are expected to last for another two weeks.

PM: Government will suspend ratification of ACTA

Prime Minister Petr Necas says the government will suspend ratification
of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Responding to a wave of
protests at in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, the Prime Minister
said that the government would not allow a situation where civic
freedoms and free access to information would be threatened and added
that the government will still analyse the issue and its potential
impact on daily life. In recent days, Internet activists have blocked
the websites of the Czech government, the copyright protection
association and the Chamber of Deputies to protest the agreement. The
aim of ACTA, which the Czech Republic joined in January, is to combat
the spread of counterfeit goods and internet piracy. It must still be
ratified by the Czech Parliament in order to take effect.

Anonymous attacks Civic Democrats for ACTA support

Hackers using the moniker Anonymous published the personal information
of thousands of members of the Civic Democratic Party on Monday to
protest the party's support for ACTA. A list including the names and
addresses of nearly 30,000 members was sent to media outlets along with
a message for Czech politicians to reject the agreement. Hackers
attacked the Civic Democrat homepage last Thursday and were incensed by
the party's spokesman having said it was a good advertisement. The new
attack asks how the party can be capable of running the country when it
is unable to secure its own IT system.

Necas: meeting with Schwarzenberg will not bring dramatic result on EU
fiscal pact

Mr Necas also told reporters on Monday that he expects a series of
coalition meetings regarding a compromise on the EU budget pact, and
said that there would be no dramatic result from his meeting with Karel
Schwarzenberg on Tuesday. The two party heads have been sharply at odds
in recent weeks over the PM's resistance to the agreement, which is
aimed at establishing tighter fiscal discipline across the EU and was
signed by all member states except the Czech Republic and the UK. Mr
Schwarzenberg strongly rejected the Prime Minister's statement that the
pact is not in the Czech Republic's interests and has previously said
he would not be part of any government that moved the country away from
the EU mainstream.

Dobes denies EC threat to revoke education subsidies

Education Minister Josef Dobes says he has received no information that
the Czech Republic will have EU education grants revoked. Speaking at a
press conference on Monday to address the issue, Mr Dobes repeated a
pledge to resign if the problems with the subsidies are not resolved.
Last week the press reported that the European Commission had
threatened to halt all further subsidies to the Education Ministry due
to a lack of transparency and mistakes in public orders, effectively
barring the ministry from drawing on 53 billion crowns. The education
minister argues that the mistakes were made before he took office and
has promised to fix the situation by the end of March.

Heger to propose merger of health and labour ministries

Health Minister Leos Heger intends to propose the merger of his
ministry with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Dr Heger told
the daily Lidove noviny that the idea emerged after the cabinet was
asked to find programmes in their ministries that could be cancelled. A
number of issues, such as long-term health care, are handled by both
ministries which complicates communication among officials. Prime
Minister Petr Necas has said he is theoretically in favour of the plan
however the finance and labour ministers have doubted whether it will
actually happen. Mr Necas has long been in favour of doing away with
the Ministry of Regional Development.

Online child harassment increasing, says children's centre

The number of cases of child harassment on the internet is increasing,
according to the Children's Crisis Centre. The organisation says that
calls to its hotline regarding cyber-bullying and other inappropriate
behaviour in online chat rooms have increased nine-fold over the last
five years. More children have also reported physical abuse by someone
they met online. Last year the hotline took 231 calls regarding
internet-related abuse.

Law students file constitutional complaint over cancellation of Plzen
law programme

Law students at West Bohemian University have filed a constitutional
complaint regarding the cancellation of the school's undergraduate law
programme. A commission decided not to extend the faculty's
accreditation last Wednesday, effectively closing the school down and
leaving 1,600 undergraduate students to complete their studies
elsewhere. The university management wants to overturn the decision and
intends to meet with Education Minister Dobes.

Czech Position: transit authority spent two million on ten televisions

The news site Czech Position reports that the Prague transit authority
spent nearly two million crowns on ten LCD televisions in 2006, or
seven times their actual price. The order was handled by the company
Xanthus, which is allegedly linked to a member of the authority's
supervisory board who was dismissed on Monday. Xanthus says the
televisions were not overpriced as they were specially equipped,
however the Czech Position says the contract mentions no such
equipment. The site also reports that a related criminal complaint was
dismissed by the police.

Communist chairman's condolence to North Korea not a crime

Police say Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip did not commit a crime
by sending condolences to North Korea upon the death of Kim Jong-il. Mr
Filip says the actual letter was worded differently than the media
suggested, and noted that similar condolences had been sent by world
leaders. The Czech press cited Mr Filip as saying Kim Jong-il had
sacrificed himself for the well-being of the people of North Korea, and
praising the North Korean communist party for a heroic struggle in
defence of socialism.

Arctic cold to last another two weeks

Arctic temperatures are expected to last for another two weeks, or
until around February 20, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has
announced. In South Bohemia meteorologists measured -39.4o Celsius on
Monday morning, the lowest temperature this year, on par with the
average January temperature in the interior of Greenland. The deep
freeze has affected railway operation in particular, with freezing
diesel oil and cracked rails reported. The frost wave has claimed 17
lives in the country in the past week, namely homeless people; a number
of towns have erected special shelters for the homeless and are
providing additional services.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be clear and sunny with
daytime highs of -10o Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Botanicus co-founder Dana Hradecka: planting the seeds of success

The Botanicus chain of stores offering herbal soaps, extracts and
delicacies is a Czech, and growing international, success story. Most
tourists will have probably bought something from one of their outlets
in the country. The small business was founded in the early 1990's
after the restitution of a family farm around 40 kilometres north-east
of Prague. That has become the centre for the business and a tourist
attraction with more than 50,000 visitors a year. One of the firm's
co-founders Dana Hradecka explained the roots of the original
inspiration for the business.

Sports News 6.2.2012

In Sports News: Two tough wins by tennis player Petra Kvitova at the
weekend advanced the Czech Republic to the semi-final of the Fed Cup;
preliminary matches in Spain between Czech top flight football club
Sparta Prague and Switzerland's Bellinzona ended following incident; in
the NHL, Plekanec scores, earns an assist to help Montreal Canadiens
down the Winnipeg Jets; in the domestic hockey league, Kometa Brno
trounce Vitkovice.

Czech signature of ACTA agreement sparks controversy and demonstrations

The signature of ACTA, short for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,
by 22 EU member states has sparked a heated controversy and widespread
protests across Europe. In the Czech Republic, hundreds of internet
users took to the streets in Prague and other cities, while hackers
associated with the group Anonymous have attacked websites of the
government, political parties and copyrights holders associations. In
neighboring Poland, the ratification of the agreement was even put on
ice after widespread protests and attacks on government websites. The
controversial agreement aims to protect intellectual property on the
internet, but many fear it will lead to online surveillance and
internet censorship. New media and technology journalist Petr Koci
speaks about ACTA and how it is perceived in the Czech Republic.

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