Monday, March 19, 2012

News 3.19.2012

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

News Monday, March 19th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The daily Pravo reports that budget cuts may leave the police unable
to properly investigate crimes.

* The Supreme Audit Office has found major problems in the way the
Education Ministry prepared state leaving exams.

* The confederation of trade unions has called for a demonstration in
Prague on April 21 to protest government cuts and austerity measures.

* Education Minister Josef Dobes has deferred a decision on whether to
admit students to the troubled Plzen law school until next week.

Pravo: government cuts will leave police recording, rather than
investigating crimes

The daily Pravo reports that the police may close at least a quarter of
their stations and investigate crimes less as a result of planned
government cuts. Based on a risk analysis that the paper claims to
possess, the police will have to dismiss up to ten thousand officers,
or a quarter of the force, between 2013 and 2014. The analysis goes on
to state that the police would be forced into a defensive strategy and
would simply document crimes more often, rather than actively
investigating them, and warns of a subsequent rise in crime. The
government's current plan calls for cutting the police budget by some
four billion crowns next year and by two and a half billion more in

Supreme Audit Office finds major problems in preparation of state
leaving exams

The Education Ministry failed to create any basic requirements for
assessing whether state leaving exams met their objectives, the Supreme
Audit Office has reported. The report, published on Monday, also says
that the central authority responsible for preparing the exams
concluded contracts for exam assessment systems without knowing their
final cost, thus wasting large amounts of money. Moreover, the office
found that the technical infrastructure for the exams has only been
paid for until 2014, meaning the continuation of the exams past that
point will require further expenses. The Education Ministry expended
917 million crowns on introducing the exams, roughly a third of which
came from EU funds.

Confederation of trade unions call for April demonstration

The confederation of trade unions has called for a demonstration in
Prague on April 21 to protest government cuts and austerity measures.
The umbrella organisation's complaints focus on measures such as
increased VAT, slowing pension growth, and the dismissal of public
sector employees. School sector unions will likely also protest. The
unions are calling on like-minded initiatives to join the
demonstration, which is to take place at Prague's Wenceslaus Square,
and have not ruled out strikes and other means of pressuring the
government. Union demonstrations against reforms last May drew some
40,000 people and preceded a mass transport sector strike.

Anti-government protests continue in Prague

An estimated six hundred people have gathered in Prague's Lesser
Quarter, continuing the protests against the government that have
marked recent days. The event is organised by several different
initiatives and civic associations, namely ProAlt, Ne zakladnam and
Alternativa zdola. Another group led by Social Democrat chairman
Bohuslav Sobotka joined the protesters. The protests are also supported
by union leaders and the Communist Party. The leaders of the protest
say the current centre-right, three-party coalition is the worst
government in the country's post-revolution history marked by
ubiquitous corruption and connections between business and politics.

Dobes defers decision on admitting students to Plzen law school

Education Minister Josef Dobes has deferred a decision on whether to
admit students to the troubled Plzen law school until next week. Having
taken the contentious step of renewing the school's accreditation until
2016 against the determination of the accreditation committee, Mr Dobes
was originally to give a decision on whether the school would accept
new students on Monday, but decided to make use of a fifteen-day legal
deadline. The education minister has been severely criticised and even
had charges filed against him for overturning the committee's decision,
which was based on insufficient personnel and poor results. He argues
that the decision was in the interest of the 1,800 students who would
have to complete their studies elsewhere.

Conference on Havel's importance to Czech society begins

A conference on the importance of Vaclav Havel to modern history has
begun in Prague. The one-day event, organised by the Institute of
Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences, is meant to examine
and discuss Mr Havel's impact as a publicly involved intellectual and
will not deal with his literary works. Experts at the conference will
attempt to agree on a factual and unbiased formulation of what the
former president and human rights leader meant for Czech society and
its history. Vaclav Havel died in mid-December at the age of 75.

Opposition to attempt no confidence vote on Tuesday

Opposition parties will attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the
government on Tuesday in the third such attempt since the centre-right
coalition took power in mid-2010. Opposition parties will attempt to
pass a vote of no confidence in the government on Tuesday in the third
such attempt since the centre-right coalition took power in mid-2010.
The senior coalition party has called the move an empty populist
gesture. The opposition has little chance of success, however, as the
coalition has a strong majority and has said it will withstand the vote.

Czech confidence in EU and European Parliament at historic low

Czechs' confidence in the European Union is at its lowest point since
1994, according to the results of a new poll conducted by the STEM
agency. Confidence in the European Parliament reached the same historic
low, with around a third of respondents saying they trusted the bodies.
According to data from STEM, faith in the European Union was at its
highest in the Czech Republic in the years 1999 and 2000, when 62%
responded favourably. The percentage has been in consistent decline
since 2010. Both the EU and the EP tended to be supported by younger,
more educated and more wealthy respondents who were most often voters
of the Civic Democrat or TOP 09 parties.

Sinkhole swallows parked car

A sinkhole opened up under a parked car in a Prague residential
district on Monday morning, leaving a five-metre hole and the vehicle
2.5 metres beneath the surface of the road. No one was injured. The
sedan apparently fell through the road surface when night-time rain
washed the soil under it out into a nearby ditch. Firemen hauled the
vehicle out of the hole with lifting equipment and are checking the
area for further ground disturbances.

Two killed in accident on D5 highway

A tragic accident occurred on the Czech D5 highway near Rokycany in the
night from Sunday to Monday, when a van crashed into a truck that was
driving in front of it. The driver and front-seat passenger of the van
died at the site of the accident. Seven other passengers were injured
and are being treated at nearby hospitals. Police say it is likely that
the driver of the van had fallen asleep behind the wheel. They are
investigating the case.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be partly cloudy to
sunny with highs of around 10o Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Leos Valka - founder of Prague's DOX Centre for Contemporary Art

Leos Valka is one of the founders of the DOX Centre for Contemporary
Art in Prague's Holesovice district, which in just a few years has
become one of the most important institutions of its kind in Central
and Eastern Europe. Valka has a perhaps surprising background for such
a significant figure in the Czech art world: for several years he ran a
firm in Australia doing maintenance work on high-rise buildings.
Sports News 19.3.2012

In Sports News: In the Tipsport Extraliga hockey playoffs, Liberec
reach the semi-finals while Vitkovice force a game 7 in their
quarterfinal against Pardubice;in the NHL, goalies Neuwirth, Pavelec
suffer defeat against Caroline, Chicago; in football, Liberec remain
within three points of league-leaders Sparta; Chelsea book spot in
Champions League quarterfinals.
Pundit: Citizens' initiative calling for resignation of government
indicates a new level of public frustration

Thousands of people gathered for anti-government protests following a
call from the heterogeneous protest group Holesovska vyzva, or
Holesovska appeal. Among their main demands is the resignation of the
current government - as well as a new law that would introduce
automatic referenda. Analysts say that the demonstrations, which last
week were held not only in Prague, but also in cities across the
country, could herald a new era of escalating public frustration with
the government's policies and harsh austerity measures. Political
pundit Jiri Pehe speaks about the aims of the new protest movement and
its significance.

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