Wednesday, February 8, 2012

News 2.8.2012

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

News Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* Czech MPs have passed an overhaul of parliamentary immunity.

* The Czech Senate has passed a resolution recommending that the
country joins the EU's fiscal treaty.

* The Czech unemployment rate in January went up to 9.1 percent.

* The Czech Republic has the lowest share of people at risk of poverty
of all EU nations, according to the Union's statistics body, Eurostat.

* An appellate court in Prague has upheld a 16-year sentence for a US
citizen who shot a man dead after a bar row.

MPs pass overhaul of parliamentary immunity

After years of debates, Czech MPs on Wednesday voted to limit the law
on parliamentary immunity. If approved by the Senate and signed into
law by the president, the amendment to the Czech constitution will
remove lawmakers' immunity for life and will only cover their terms in
Parliament. However, lawmakers will still have a choice whether any
minor offences they commit will be dealt with by the authorities or by
the respective committee of the house. A sweeping majority of MPs from
across the parties voted for the change that will now be put to the
vote in the Senate. Legislators will need to accordingly amend the
Czech penal code before the legislation enters into force in January

Senate recommends Czechs join EU fiscal treaty

The Czech Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution recommending that the
Czech Republic join the EU's fiscal compact. The resolution, which has
no binding power, was passed with votes of opposition Social Democrats
who enjoy a majority in the upper house. Ahead of the vote on
Wednesday, PM Petr Necas addressed the Senate to explain the reasoning
that led him to stay out of the treaty. However, the majority of
senators remained unconvinced saying that his decision went against the
country's interests.

Upper house rejects presidential nominee for Constitutional Court

In a ballot vote, Czech Senators also rejected the president's nominee
for the Constitutional Court, Jan Svacek, over his past membership in
the totalitarian Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Mr Svacek, who
serves as Chief Justice of the Prague Municipal Court, joined the party
in June 1989, just months before communism collapsed in the country. He
has also been an advisor to President Vaclav Klaus since his election
in 2003. In his appearance in the Senate, Justice Svacek argued he had
to join the party in order to be able to become a judge; the Senators
however remained unconvinced and refused to approve the nomination.

January unemployment rate up to 9.1 pct

The Czech Republic's unemployment rate in January rose to 9.1 percent,
up by 0.5 percent from the previous month, according to figures
released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The
jobless rate crossed the 9 percent mark for the first time since March
last year. However, most analysts expected an even higher surge. The
Jesenik district in the north-east of the country registered the
highest unemployment rate of 17.8 percent; the lowest, of 3.4 percent
was recorded in one of the capital districts.

Eurostat: Czechs least threatened by poverty of all EU nations

Some 14 percent of Czechs are at risk of poverty and social exclusion
which is the lowest share of all EU nations, according to a report by
the Union's statistics body, Eurostat. The figures are based on numbers
of households whose income is below 60 percent of the national average.
The list is topped by Bulgaria and Romania. The Czech Republic, along
with Sweden and Luxembourg, also has the lowest share of people living
at "very low work intensity homes", that is homes where adults work
less than 20 percent of their potential.

Police evacuate air traffic control centre over toolbox

The police on Wednesday morning evacuated the Czech Republic's air
traffic control centre in Jenec, on the western outskirts of Prague,
over what turned out to be a toolbox, a police spokeswoman said. Dozens
of the centre' administrative staffers had to leave the building;
however, air traffic controllers remained at the workplace and the
incident had no effect on the safety of air traffic over the country, a
spokesman for the agency said.

Czech MEP Jan Brezina quits Christian Democrat party

Czech MEP Jan Brezina on Wednesday quit the Christian Democrat party
citing persisting disputes. Mr Brezina, who was twice elected to the
European Parliament on a Christian Democrat ballot, said the party had
failed to draw conclusion from its defeat in the 2010 general elections
which left her outside the Czech lower house. He is reportedly
considering running for the conservative TOP 09 party in the Czech
regional elections this year. In a statement, Mr Brezina said he would
remain a member of the European People's Party.

Prague court upholds 16-year sentence for US shooter

An appellate court in Prague on Wednesday upheld a 16-year sentence for
a US citizen living in the Czech Republic who last February killed a
man after a bar row. The incident was sparked by an argument that broke
out between the 53-year-old American, Gilbert Ferguson McRae and his
victim, a 34-year-old Czech man. The US citizen later followed the man
out of the bar and onto a tram where he later shot him in the head with
a handgun. Mr McCrae's attorney said his client would fight the verdict
before the Supreme Court as he believed he had been denied a fair trial.

Child abuser Skrlova conditionally released from jail

Barbora Skrlova, who was in 2008 sentenced to five years in prison for
her role in the Kurim child abuse case, was on Wednesday conditionally
released from jail. Her parole was set at seven years. Ms Skrlova was
found guilty of abusing two brothers, aged eight and ten at the time,
along with five other people including the boys' mother. The
30-year-old woman originally duped the authorities posing as a teenage
girl; she later escaped to Norway where she posed as a 13-year-old boy.
She was arrested upon her return to the Czech Republic.

In NHL, goalie Tomas Vokoun gets shutout

In Tuesday NHL game against the Florida Panthers, the Washington
Capitals goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun made 42 saves to get his fourth
shutout of the season. The Czech goalie's team won 4:0 and secured the
top position in the league's Southeast division. The Czech goalkeeper
was recognized as the first star of the game.


Freezing conditions are set to continue, with clouded skies, snowing
and daytime highs ranging between -8 and -4 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Legislators approve changes covering denial of fatherhood

Czech lawmakers have approved changes to legislation covering the
denial of fatherhood, overriding an earlier Senate veto. The amendment
will extend a previous six month period for denying fatherhood (upon
learning the biological parent was someone else) to three years.
Experts have argued the earlier time frame was too short; at stake, of
course, are not just the rights of the parent, but also of the child.

Nuclear Faith: Documentary explores Czechs' trust in nuclear energy

Two-thirds of Czechs are in favor of expanding the country's nuclear
power sources and nearly half of them trust this source of energy: that
was the result of a SANEP poll published briefly after the Fukushima
nuclear disaster. The Czech's attitude towards nuclear power remains
strikingly positive compared to other European countries, such as
neighboring Germany. A fresh documentary - titled Nuclear Faith -
explores the country's perception of nuclear energy. Its director Ivo
Bystrican speaks about the film.

The Manes Exhibition Hall - an icon of functionalist architecture

The functionalist Manes Exhibition Hall, located on the right bank of
the Vltava river between the bridges Jiraskuv most and Most Legii, is
one of only two buildings in Prague that were expressly designed to
house art - the other one being the famous Rudolfinum gallery. Martin
Pavala, the chairman of the supervisory board of the Czech Art
Foundation, which owns it, explains that the art gallery's history
started in 1930.

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