Saturday, March 31, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 30 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Flaherty calls budget 'modest'
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is calling the Conservative government's austere federal budget "modest" compared to more severe fiscal measures taken in other countries and selling it as the way to keep Canada on track to outperform them as it did during the recent recession.The Conservative government's 2012 budget, tabled Thursday, aims to trim the country's deficit by $8.5 billion, to $24.9 billion for 2011-12 and eliminating it by 2015. It also calls for an end to production of the money-losing penny and more than $5 billion in cuts to annual federal spending by 2014-15, with 19,200 federal jobs, or 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce, to be eliminated.
As a further cost-cutting measure, eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will gradually move to 67 from 65, beginning in 2023. The minister conceded the budget will result in some net 12,000 job losses and spell the end of some government programs. But about 70 per cent of the $5.2 billion in cuts comes from within the government itself. Mr. Flaherty says Canada should be comparing itself to the strong emerging economies of China India and Brazil rather than the recessionary economies of Europe. To keep pace with those economies, the budget makes changes to increase innovation, job growth and immigration, while engaging in regulatory and pension reform.



Physicians oppose high retirement age
The Canadian Medical Association says the Canadian government's federal budget's plan to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years will hurt many low-income seniors. The CMA also says the move will increase health care costs. CMA President Dr. John Haggie says raising the age for eligibility means many seniors will be forced to choose between paying for food and paying for prescription drugs. Anyone currently older than 54 won't be affected by changes to the eligibility age for OAS. The changes won't start being phased in until April 2023 and will be done gradually over six years



Accused military spy stays detained
A Halifax navy intelligence officer accused in a rare case of espionage remained in custody Friday after being denied bail by a provincial court judge.
Judge Barbara Beach turned down Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle's application for bail, outlining her reasons in a decision that took roughly 40 minutes to read. A broad publication ban was ordered covering evidence presented at Delisle's bail hearing Wednesday. Delisle, charged with communicating information to a foreign entity that could harm national interests, has been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility since his arrest in
January.



Ottawa draws bead on 'charities'
The Canadian government is asking is tax collection agency Revenue Canada to take a close look at charities that get into political activities, especially if they use foreign money to do it. The majority Conservatives angry over what they see as foreign cash being used to bankroll Canadian environmentalists fighting developments such as the Northern Gateway pipeline. The budget says the Revenue Canada will get more powers to monitor political activities by charities and to require reporting of foreign financing for them. Charities are allowed to engage in limited, non-partisan politics, but the Conservative government suggested some may be overstepping the boundaries. A lobby group promoting the Canadian oil industry applauded the moves in the budget.



Quebec tells language cops to start paying attention
Facing a barrage of linguistic controversies, the Quebec government has announced it wants the provincial language watchdog to bite more often. Despite a hiring freeze across Quebec's public service, the government will hire 43 employees at the Office quebecois de la langue francaise to fill vacancies left by departures. The government is also asking language inspectors to be more proactive and take action not only after they get complaints, but also beforehand. Quebec laws allows the agency to take legal action and seek fines from commercial establishments that don't respect rules like French predominance on signs. But recent news reports have offered anecdotes of the laws being ignored in Montreal, and that has created political headaches for the Charest Liberals. The governing party, heavily supported by Anglos, has faced severe criticism from opponents who accuse it of being too weak in protecting French. Language controversies began ramping up last summer, when the Harper government announced the hiring of people who can't speak French as Supreme Court justice, auditor general, and senior government spokesman.





International

UN envoy expects Syria to implement peace plan
The spokesman for international envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, says he expects President Bashar al-Assad to implement his peace plan immediately. Mr. Assad has promised to work to make a success of the six-point peace plan drawn up by the UN-Arab League envoy. The plan calls for a commitment to stop all armed violence, a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, media access to all areas affected by the fighting, an inclusive Syrian-led political process, a right to demonstrate, and release of arbitrarily detained people. Mr. Annan is also working to persuade the Syrian opposition to "lay down their arms and start talking." The envoy plans to visit Iran, Syria's chief ally in the Middle East, although the date has not been fixed. Iran has provided Mr. Assad's regime with political and material support during the crackdown on protesters by Damascus, which the UN estimates has left more than 9,000 people dead since March last year.


U.S. to move ahead with new Iran sanctions
The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports after determining there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies. Mr. Obama's move allows the U.S. to go forward with sanctions on foreign banks that continue to purchase oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Islamic Republic's oil purchases, from the global economy.
U.S. officials hope stepping up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Iran denies it. The congressionally mandated sanctions target foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, barring them from operating in the U.S. to buy or sell Iranian oil. The penalties are to take effect at the end of June, around the same time Europe's embargo on Iranian oil kicks in.



Israeli security forces fire on Palestinian demonstrators
Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian stone-throwers on Friday as annual Land Day rallies turned violent. Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to Jerusalem" to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against government policies that they say has stripped them of land. Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of any protesters nearing the border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were killed there in Land Day protests.
However, violence flared at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Witnesses also reported disturbances at gates leading into the Old City, with police looking to limit access to the revered al-Aqsa Mosque. Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict, as Palestinians want the city's eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of a future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and insists the city remain united.



Mali revolt deepens
Separatist rebels in northern Mali have taken control of the strategic town of Kidal in the latest threat to the country's stability. The rebels are Tuaregs who've been waging violence for months. There are signs that the rebels are preparing further offensives. Members of Mali's military staged a coup earlier this month to protest against President Amadou Toumani Touré's handling of the rebels. But military observers say that Mali's forces are too small and ineffective. Coup leaders are appealing for outside help. There's little chance of receiving any. The African Union has expelled Mali in protest against the coup, and some countries, including Canada, have cut their aid. Mali's neighbours are threatening to close their borders unless the coup leaders give up power.



Euro zone ministers build up financial firewall
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Friday to increase their financial firewall to 700 billion euros to ward off a new flare-up of Europe's national debt crisis, drawing a positive initial reaction from markets and G20 partners. The 17-nation currency area agreed to combine two rescue funds to make 500 billion euros of new funds available in case of emergency until mid-2013, on top of 200 billion euros already committed to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The executive European Commission had proposed raising the total to 940 billion euros, with 740 billion in new money, but EU paymaster Germany resisted a bigger increase. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde welcomed the decision, saying it would help the global lender raise more resources to fight contagion from the European crisis if needed. The euro rose and Spanish bond yields fell as investors weighed the firewall move and a draconian Spanish austerity budget.


Myanmar opposition leader deprecates fairness of election
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday that elections in Myanmar would not be "genuinely free and fair", sounding a note of caution over her landmark bid for a seat in parliament. The Nobel laureate, who spent most of the past 22 years as a political prisoner, complained of a series of problems, including "many, many cases of intimidation" as well as the vandalism of signboards. The National League for Democracy leader said the polls were boosting people's interest in politics in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year. The polls mark the first time that Suu Kyi is standing for a seat in parliament, and she has drawn huge crowds on the campaign trail. The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 but was never allowed to take office.



Japan would intercept North Korean rocket
Japan's defence minister on Friday issued orders to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea next month if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan. The order from Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan's national security council. It followed instructions issued earlier in the week for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory. North Korea has said the aim of the launch is to send a satellite into orbit. Japan, the United States and other countries claim it is also seeking to test the capabilities of its long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.



Venezuelan leader brandishes threat of more nationalization
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to nationalize banks and private companies that support the opposition ahead of October elections. Mr. Chavez spoke at a rally Thursday after returning from Cuba, where he had received follow-up cancer treatment after a surgery there last month to remove a malignant tumor. His recent health woes have cast a shadow over his bid for a third presidential term, in which he will face off against unified opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, 39, in the Oct. 7 vote. During his 13 years in power Mr. Chavez has nationalized several major industries and threatened to take control of private firms. He underwent surgery in Havana on Feb. 26 to remove a cancerous tumor around his pelvis, the same area where Cuban surgeons extracted a malignant, baseball-sized tumor in June.





Financial

NS has bonbon for Irving
The government of the east coast province of Nova Scotia is giving more than $300 million to Irving Shipbuilding to help it prepare for the construction of the Royal Canadian Navy's next fleet of vessels. Irving Shipbuilding says it will spend between $5 million and $10 million annually on improving its operations over the next 30 years. The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard in Nova Scotia was the successful bidder for a $25-billion contract to build 21 combat vessels. The contract is expected to maintain a steady flow of work at the shipyard over the next 20 to 30 years.



 

Markets


Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,392 + 53. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.33. Oil: $103.07 - .29.




Sports

Sports
SKATING
Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave a big thumbs up on Friday to the new team figure skating competition that will be introduced at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Less than 24 hours after capturing their second ice dance gold medal at the world championships, the couple's eyes lit up at the thought of winning two Olympic titles in Russia. Ten nations, with each featuring a male and female single skater, a pairs team and an ice dance couple, will compete over three days to win the first gold medal of the figure skating event in the Russian Black Sea resort.





Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Saturday: rain south, sun north, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon: sun. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse 5, Yellowknife 2, Iqaluit -5. Alberta: mix sun cloud north, rain south. Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 10, Regina, Winnipeg 16. Ontario: rain north, snow south. Quebec: sun. Toronto 8, Ottawa 9, Montreal 7. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: mix sun cloud. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton, Halifax 7, Charlottetown, St. John's -1.





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RCI Cyberjournal

Flaherty calls budget 'modest'
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is calling the Conservative government's austere federal budget "modest" compared to more severe fiscal measures taken in other countries and selling it as the way to keep Canada on track to outperform them as it did during the recent recession.The Conservative government's 2012 budget, tabled Thursday, aims to trim the country's deficit by $8.5 billion, to $24.9 billion for 2011-12 and eliminating it by 2015. It also calls for an end to production of the money-losing penny and more than $5 billion in cuts to annual federal spending by 2014-15, with 19,200 federal jobs, or 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce, to be eliminated.

As a further cost-cutting measure, eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will gradually move to 67 from 65, beginning in 2023. The minister conceded the budget will result in some net 12,000 job losses and spell the end of some government programs. But about 70 per cent of the $5.2 billion in cuts comes from within the government itself. Mr. Flaherty says Canada should be comparing itself to the strong emerging economies of China India and Brazil rather than the recessionary economies of Europe. To keep pace with those economies, the budget makes changes to increase innovation, job growth and immigration, while engaging in regulatory and pension reform.

Physicians oppose high retirement age
The Canadian Medical Association says the Canadian government's federal budget's plan to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years will hurt many low-income seniors. The CMA also says the move will increase health care costs. CMA President Dr. John Haggie says raising the age for eligibility means many seniors will be forced to choose between paying for food and paying for prescription drugs. Anyone currently older than 54 won't be affected by changes to the eligibility age for OAS. The changes won't start being phased in until April 2023 and will be done gradually over six years

Accused military spy stays detained
A Halifax navy intelligence officer accused in a rare case of espionage remained in custody Friday after being denied bail by a provincial court judge.

Judge Barbara Beach turned down Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle's application for bail, outlining her reasons in a decision that took roughly 40 minutes to read. A broad publication ban was ordered covering evidence presented at Delisle's bail hearing Wednesday. Delisle, charged with communicating information to a foreign entity that could harm national interests, has been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility since his arrest in

January.

Ottawa draws bead on 'charities'
The Canadian government is asking is tax collection agency Revenue Canada to take a close look at charities that get into political activities, especially if they use foreign money to do it. The majority Conservatives angry over what they see as foreign cash being used to bankroll Canadian environmentalists fighting developments such as the Northern Gateway pipeline. The budget says the Revenue Canada will get more powers to monitor political activities by charities and to require reporting of foreign financing for them. Charities are allowed to engage in limited, non-partisan politics, but the Conservative government suggested some may be overstepping the boundaries. A lobby group promoting the Canadian oil industry applauded the moves in the budget.

Quebec tells language cops to start paying attention
Facing a barrage of linguistic controversies, the Quebec government has announced it wants the provincial language watchdog to bite more often. Despite a hiring freeze across Quebec's public service, the government will hire 43 employees at the Office quebecois de la langue francaise to fill vacancies left by departures. The government is also asking language inspectors to be more proactive and take action not only after they get complaints, but also beforehand. Quebec laws allows the agency to take legal action and seek fines from commercial establishments that don't respect rules like French predominance on signs. But recent news reports have offered anecdotes of the laws being ignored in Montreal, and that has created political headaches for the Charest Liberals. The governing party, heavily supported by Anglos, has faced severe criticism from opponents who accuse it of being too weak in protecting French. Language controversies began ramping up last summer, when the Harper government announced the hiring of people who can't speak French as Supreme Court justice, auditor general, and senior government spokesman.


UN envoy expects Syria to implement peace plan
The spokesman for international envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, says he expects President Bashar al-Assad to implement his peace plan immediately. Mr. Assad has promised to work to make a success of the six-point peace plan drawn up by the UN-Arab League envoy. The plan calls for a commitment to stop all armed violence, a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, media access to all areas affected by the fighting, an inclusive Syrian-led political process, a right to demonstrate, and release of arbitrarily detained people. Mr. Annan is also working to persuade the Syrian opposition to "lay down their arms and start talking." The envoy plans to visit Iran, Syria's chief ally in the Middle East, although the date has not been fixed. Iran has provided Mr. Assad's regime with political and material support during the crackdown on protesters by Damascus, which the UN estimates has left more than 9,000 people dead since March last year.

U.S. to move ahead with new Iran sanctions
The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports after determining there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies. Mr. Obama's move allows the U.S. to go forward with sanctions on foreign banks that continue to purchase oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Islamic Republic's oil purchases, from the global economy.

U.S. officials hope stepping up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Iran denies it. The congressionally mandated sanctions target foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, barring them from operating in the U.S. to buy or sell Iranian oil. The penalties are to take effect at the end of June, around the same time Europe's embargo on Iranian oil kicks in.

Israeli security forces fire on Palestinian demonstrators
Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian stone-throwers on Friday as annual Land Day rallies turned violent. Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to Jerusalem" to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against government policies that they say has stripped them of land. Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of any protesters nearing the border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were killed there in Land Day protests.

However, violence flared at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Witnesses also reported disturbances at gates leading into the Old City, with police looking to limit access to the revered al-Aqsa Mosque. Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict, as Palestinians want the city's eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of a future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and insists the city remain united.

Mali revolt deepens
Separatist rebels in northern Mali have taken control of the strategic town of Kidal in the latest threat to the country's stability. The rebels are Tuaregs who've been waging violence for months. There are signs that the rebels are preparing further offensives. Members of Mali's military staged a coup earlier this month to protest against President Amadou Toumani Touré's handling of the rebels. But military observers say that Mali's forces are too small and ineffective. Coup leaders are appealing for outside help. There's little chance of receiving any. The African Union has expelled Mali in protest against the coup, and some countries, including Canada, have cut their aid. Mali's neighbours are threatening to close their borders unless the coup leaders give up power.

Euro zone ministers build up financial firewall
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Friday to increase their financial firewall to 700 billion euros to ward off a new flare-up of Europe's national debt crisis, drawing a positive initial reaction from markets and G20 partners. The 17-nation currency area agreed to combine two rescue funds to make 500 billion euros of new funds available in case of emergency until mid-2013, on top of 200 billion euros already committed to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The executive European Commission had proposed raising the total to 940 billion euros, with 740 billion in new money, but EU paymaster Germany resisted a bigger increase. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde welcomed the decision, saying it would help the global lender raise more resources to fight contagion from the European crisis if needed. The euro rose and Spanish bond yields fell as investors weighed the firewall move and a draconian Spanish austerity budget.

Myanmar opposition leader deprecates fairness of election
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday that elections in Myanmar would not be "genuinely free and fair", sounding a note of caution over her landmark bid for a seat in parliament. The Nobel laureate, who spent most of the past 22 years as a political prisoner, complained of a series of problems, including "many, many cases of intimidation" as well as the vandalism of signboards. The National League for Democracy leader said the polls were boosting people's interest in politics in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year. The polls mark the first time that Suu Kyi is standing for a seat in parliament, and she has drawn huge crowds on the campaign trail. The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 but was never allowed to take office.

Japan would intercept North Korean rocket
Japan's defence minister on Friday issued orders to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea next month if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan. The order from Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan's national security council. It followed instructions issued earlier in the week for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory. North Korea has said the aim of the launch is to send a satellite into orbit. Japan, the United States and other countries claim it is also seeking to test the capabilities of its long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.

Venezuelan leader brandishes threat of more nationalization
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to nationalize banks and private companies that support the opposition ahead of October elections. Mr. Chavez spoke at a rally Thursday after returning from Cuba, where he had received follow-up cancer treatment after a surgery there last month to remove a malignant tumor. His recent health woes have cast a shadow over his bid for a third presidential term, in which he will face off against unified opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, 39, in the Oct. 7 vote. During his 13 years in power Mr. Chavez has nationalized several major industries and threatened to take control of private firms. He underwent surgery in Havana on Feb. 26 to remove a cancerous tumor around his pelvis, the same area where Cuban surgeons extracted a malignant, baseball-sized tumor in June.


NS has bonbon for Irving
The government of the east coast province of Nova Scotia is giving more than $300 million to Irving Shipbuilding to help it prepare for the construction of the Royal Canadian Navy's next fleet of vessels. Irving Shipbuilding says it will spend between $5 million and $10 million annually on improving its operations over the next 30 years. The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard in Nova Scotia was the successful bidder for a $25-billion contract to build 21 combat vessels. The contract is expected to maintain a steady flow of work at the shipyard over the next 20 to 30 years.

 

Markets


Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,392 + 53. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.33. Oil: $103.07 - .29.


Sports
SKATING

Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave a big thumbs up on Friday to the new team figure skating competition that will be introduced at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Less than 24 hours after capturing their second ice dance gold medal at the world championships, the couple's eyes lit up at the thought of winning two Olympic titles in Russia. Ten nations, with each featuring a male and female single skater, a pairs team and an ice dance couple, will compete over three days to win the first gold medal of the figure skating event in the Russian Black Sea resort.


Weather
British Columbia on Saturday: rain south, sun north, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon: sun. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse 5, Yellowknife 2, Iqaluit -5. Alberta: mix sun cloud north, rain south. Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 10, Regina, Winnipeg 16. Ontario: rain north, snow south. Quebec: sun. Toronto 8, Ottawa 9, Montreal 7. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: mix sun cloud. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton, Halifax 7, Charlottetown, St. John's -1.

Friday, March 30, 2012

News 3.30.2012

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

News Friday, March 30th, 2012

By: Jan Velinger

* Outgoing education minister Josef Dobes has tendered his resignation
to President Vaclav Klaus.

* The international weekly The Economist has taken note of the
"lobbying" scandal in Prague and its possible implications for the
ruling Civic Democrats.

* The head of the opposition Social Democrats has slammed the
government over recent scandals.

* A district court has rejected an appeal by the state attorney's
office for lobbyist Roman Janousek to be banned from travelling abroad.

* Czech figure skater Michal Brezina completed a stunning performance
in the men's short program at the world championships in Nice on
Friday, putting him second place.

========================================================================
Education minister hands in resignation
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outgoing education minister Josef Dobes has tendered his resignation to
President Vaclav Klaus. The two met privately at Prague Castle on
Friday morning. Mr Klaus was a supporter of the embattled minister, in
the past calling him "the best education minister the country had had
since the fall of communism". However, Mr Dobes came under fire for
mishandled education reforms and the mismanagement of EU funds, as well
as a highly-controversial decision to extend accreditation at the
troubled law school in Plzen. While he said his official reason for
resigning was 2.5 billion crowns in planned cuts to his ministry's
budget (which he warned would negatively impact teachers' salaries)
many believe the step was a last attempt to save face rather than be
dismissed by the prime minister. A successor has not been named yet.


========================================================================
Students say "goodbye" to education minister
------------------------------------------------------------------------

In related news, students held a happening in front of the Education
Ministry in Prague on Friday celebrating Mr Dobes' resignation;
activists are primarily opposed to his reforms in higher education -
which include plans for the introduction of tuition fees and other
changes. In the happening, students released a picture of Mr Dobes tied
to helium-filled balloons. Organisers have made clear they will
continue to protest the governments' reforms which they argue are a
threat to academic freedoms.


========================================================================
International weekly takes note of lobbying scandal
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The latest edition of The Economist has taken note of the "lobbying"
scandal in Prague and its possible implications for the ruling Civic
Democrats. In a short article this week, the daily gives a run-down of
the main points of the affair, including how secret wiretaps recorded
in 2007 revealed apparently highly-inappropriate conversations between
ex-Prague Mayor Pavel Bem and powerful lobbyist Roman Janousek. The
scandal broke in Prague last week after bits from the tape were
transcribed and published by the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes.
Discussed in the tapes were sales of city and state property as well as
office appointments, suggesting the measure of influence Mr Janousek
had during Mr Bem's mayoral term.

The Economist also notes the use of the expletives, bizarre coded
language, and nicknames by the former mayor and lobbyist and points out
that neither of the two had disputed the tapes' authenticity. The
weekly and others suggest that the scandal could strongly harm the
Civic Democrats, of which Mr Bem is a member. The former mayor has
suspended his membership until he clears his name. The case is
currently under investigation.


========================================================================
News agency: PM turns down meeting request
------------------------------------------------------------------------

In related news, former mayor and Civic Democrat MP Pavel Bem
reportedly asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Petr Necas next week
and was refused, the Czech news agency, CTK, said. According to the
press agency, Mr Bem wanted to discuss his support for the government.
The prime minister, though, declined the meeting by saying he had
already spoken to the ex-mayor on Monday, adding there was little more
to discuss. Mr Bem, once considered the "crown prince" of the Civic
Democratic Party, as well as a long-time protege of its founder,
President Vaclav Klaus, was earlier called on by the prime minister to
give up his mandate in the Chamber of Deputies, which Mr Bem has
refused to do.


========================================================================
Social Democrats slam government over Bem and Janousek
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The opposition Social Democratic party has slammed the government in
connection with the recent scandals, calling on MP and embattled former
Prague mayor Pavel Bem, the head of Public Affairs Radek John and
Interior Minister Jan Kubice to leave politics. The head of the leftist
party Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday charged that the steps were needed to
improve the political culture in the country. Regarding specifics,
opposition party leader said explanations on how wiretaps were leaked
from BIS in the Bem-Janousek affair were needed, adding - in his view -
that Prime Minister Necas was not taking strong enough steps. Mr
Sobotka also charged that both Mr John and Mr Kubice had ties to
lobbyist Janousek, Mr John reportedly having worked at one point for
one of his companies, and the interior minister through a family
connection. Earlier this week, Mr Kubice said he would not step down
over the manner in which police handled Mr Janousek's arrest last week
after he fled the scene of a drunk driving accident, saying he would in
no way influence the investigation.


========================================================================
Court says no to travel ban
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Prague 4 district court has rejected an appeal by the state
attorney's office for lobbyist Roman Janousek - charged with grievous
bodily harm and endangering others while under the influence of alcohol
in a car accident last week - to be banned from travelling abroad.
Prosecutor Jitka Rybenska told the Czech news agency on Friday that the
papers were filed at the beginning of the week; a day later, however,
the court denied the request. A spokesman for the court would not
elaborate. In related news, the woman who was seriously injured when
the suspect hit her with his car, a Porsche Cayenee, last Friday is in
better condition. The spokeswoman for Motol Hospital has said that she
will be released from hospital next week.


========================================================================
News site: Forty-two year-old schizophrenic man shot and killed after
attacking police
------------------------------------------------------------------------

A 42-year-old man with a history of schizophrenia was shot and killed
at his father's home in Otrokovice, South Moravia, on Thursday after
police responded to a neighbour's call about possible violence.
According to idnes, a police patrol responded at around 7 pm getting
the parent out of the apartment before the son, who suffered from heavy
schizophrenia, barricaded himself inside one of the rooms. When the
police entered, the man attacked them with an axe. He was shot at close
range; an attempt to resuscitate him proved futile. After the incident,
both the police and the man's father had to receive trauma counselling.
The General Inspection of the Security Services is investigating the
tragedy.


========================================================================
Tennis: Stepanek and Paes make it to Miami Masters doubles final
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek and his doubles partner Laender Paes
have advanced to the title round at the Miami Masters. The duo defeated
the top-seeded Bryan brothers of the US in the semi-finals by a score
of 6:4, 6:4, and got all the way through the tournament without
dropping a single set. They will face Canada's Daniel Nestor and
Belarus' Max Mirnyi for the championship.


========================================================================
NHL action: Jagr gets three assists
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Only a few games remain in the NHL regular season but a number of Czech
players made their mark on Thursday, including Jaromir Jagr, who earned
three assists for the Philadelphia. The Flyers defeated the Toronto
Maple Leafs by a lopsided 7:1. Philadelphia have already clinched a
place in the Stanley Cup playoffs and are currently fifth in the
Eastern Conference. Toronto, by comparison are well out of contention
(fans at the stadium for the game even began a 'Let's go Blue Jays!'
chant at one point - referring to the city's baseball team). On
Thursday Czechs earned assists or scored in seven games.


========================================================================
World Championship figure skating: Brezina 2nd after short skate
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Twenty-two-year-old Czech figure skater Michal Brezina completed a
stunning performance at the world championships in Nice, France, and is
in second place following the completion of the men's short program.
The skater scored 87.67 points (the sixth-best finish in the men's
short program ever, idnes noted). He finished behind Canada's Patrick
Chan who had 89.41. 2010 world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan
scored 85.72 and is third.


========================================================================
Weather
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Overcast conditions and showers are expected into the weekend; daytime
temperatures are expected to reach highs of around 9 degrees Celsius.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/arts/laco-deczi-jazz-and-real-life-in-prague-and-new-york-1.mp3
Laco Deczi - Jazz and real life in Prague and New York
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American jazz trumpet player Laco Deczi - born in Czechoslovakia -
needs little introduction, especially for anyone familiar with the
world of jazz. At 73, Deczi hasn't let up one bit - most recently
playing a month-long tour in his homeland. Despite a busy schedule,
Laco took time off to come to Radio Prague' studio; in this week's Arts
he discusses everything from life in New York to his spring tour.

http://radio.cz/en/section/arts/laco-deczi-jazz-and-real-life-in-prague-and-new-york-1

http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/economic/business-news-2012-03-30.mp3
Business News 30.3.2012
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In this week's business news: The Czech Republics foreign debt has
reached 1.873 trillion crowns, a survey finds Czech salaries are above
the international average, a shortage of white eggs is likely to hit
the country over Easter, the popularity of specialty brews is on the
rise and Prague's Four Seasons hotel goes on sale.

http://radio.cz/en/section/economic/business-news-2012-03-30

http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/curraffrs/czech-top-court-caps-lucrative-debt-collecting-business.mp3
Czech top court caps lucrative debt collecting business
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The Czech Constitutional Court has delivered a breakthrough verdict
which aims to put an end to a much-criticized yet lucrative business
that in recent years has plagued the Czech Republic. The verdict
dramatically lowers the ceiling on the costs law firms can charge for
collecting small debts. That means they will no longer will able to
inflate their fees which often far exceeded the original debts.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-top-court-caps-lucrative-debt-collecting-business


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Radio Prague Today 3.30.2012

Articles posted today

Laco Deczi – Jazz and real life in Prague and New York

American jazz trumpet player Laco Deczi - born in Czechoslovakia – needs little introduction, especially for anyone familiar with the world of jazz. At 73, Deczi hasn't let up one bit – most recently playing a month-long tour in his homeland. Despite a busy schedule, Laco took time off to come to Radio Prague' studio; in this week's Arts he discusses everything from life in New York to his spring tour.

Business News 30.3.2012

In this week's business news: The Czech Republics foreign debt has reached 1.873 trillion crowns, a survey finds Czech salaries are above the international average, a shortage of white eggs is likely to hit the country over Easter, the popularity of specialty brews is on the rise and Prague's Four Seasons hotel goes on sale.

Czech top court caps lucrative debt collecting business

The Czech Constitutional Court has delivered a breakthrough verdict which aims to put an end to a much-criticized yet lucrative business that in recent years has plagued the Czech Republic. The verdict dramatically lowers the ceiling on the costs law firms can charge for collecting small debts. That means they will no longer will able to inflate their fees which often far exceeded the original debts.