Monday, March 26, 2012

News 3.26.2012

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

News Monday, March 26th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Former Prague mayor Pavel Bem says he does not intend to resign as a
Member of Parliament over the current lobbying scandal in which he is

* The board of Civic Democrats at Prague City Hall has recommended Mr
Bem suspend his membership in the party.

* Police President Petr Lessy has called the police response in
arresting Roman Janousek highly irregular.

* The European Roma Rights Centre has criticised an Education ministry
plan to base school financing on testing.

* Recently retired Constitutional Court judge Eliska Wagnerova has
announced she will be a candidate for the Green Party in Brno in Senate

Bem says he will not resign from Parliament

Former Prague mayor Pavel Bem says he does not intend to resign as a
Member of Parliament over the current lobbying scandal in which he is
involved. In a statement made for the daily Hospodarske noviny, Mr Bem
said that he would take personal responsibility and resign if necessary
if and when it was proven that he had broken the law. He also said that
the taped conversations of himself and lobbyist Roman Janousek, which
suggest the latter had significant influence over city governance, were
made illegally and constituted an unbelievable infringement on his
privacy. Police are investigating the recordings, which are being
published by the daily Mlada fronta Dnes. Mlada fronta claims they were
made by the Czech intelligence agency BIS in 2007 and acquired by the
detective agency ABL some two years later. That possible leak is the
subject of a separate investigation.

Civic Democrats at city hall recommend Bem suspend membership

The board of Civic Democrats at Prague City Hall has recommended that
former mayor Pavel Bem suspend his membership in the party. Speaking
after a meeting of the board, current Prague mayor and chairman of the
party's Prague branch Bohuslav Svoboda announced the position to
reporters and said he wanted to speak with party chairman and Prime
Minister Petr Necas about the affair. Mr Bem did not attend the meeting
as he is currently in Tbilisi, Georgia. The case will also be discussed
at a national meeting of the Civic Democratic Party.

Police president says conditions of Janousek arrest were highly

Police President Petr Lessy has called the police response in arresting
Roman Janousek highly irregular and said mistakes were made. Based on a
preliminary internal investigation he said he could not exclude the
possibility that the officers involved may have been influenced in some
way and said the matter would be turned over to the appropriate
inspectorate. Mr Janousek, a wealthy lobbyist, is believed to have
intentionally run down a woman in his car while intoxicated, not long
after damaging evidence of his connections to Prague City Hall emerged.
Despite running away from the scene of the crime he was not handcuffed
and was allowed to make telephone calls. He also avoided being taken to
a drunk tank in spite of a high blood/alcohol level and was reportedly
allowed to leave the police station a few hours later through a back
door to avoid the media. The victim of the attack is in serious but
stable condition in hospital.

Klaus says wiretapping destroys democracy

President Vaclav Klaus made his first remarks on the Bem-Janousek
affair on Monday, saying only that wiretapping destroyed democracy. Mr
Klaus said that he would not comment on the relationship between the
lobbyist and former Prague mayor and that he had not and would not read
the transcripts. The only thing that troubled him, he said, was the
circulation of private conversations procured through wiretapping,
which he said should be equally troubling to the media. Pavel Bem is
regarded as a close ally and protege of the president.

European Roma Rights Centre opposes plan to base school funding on

The European Roma Rights Centre has criticised across-the-board testing
of fifth and ninth graders in the Czech Republic, saying that the plan
could worsen the segregation of Roma schoolchildren. The testing plan,
promoted by outgoing Education Minister Josef Dobes, is meant to be
used to rank schools and thereby establish the funding they receive.
According to the centre, that would encourage many schools to move
weaker students to so-called "special schools". The ERRC has long
criticised the Czech Republic for the inordinate presence of Roma in
such schools, which are intended for children with learning
disabilities. The plan is meant to take effect in 2014.

Wagnerova to make Senate run for Green Party

Recently retied Constitutional Court judge Eliska Wagnerova has
announced she will be a candidate for the Green Party in Brno in Senate
elections. Ms Wagnerova left the court last week and said that she had
hoped there would be more time for the decision, but had been convinced
that the time was right. Green Party chairman Ondrej Liska praised Ms
Wagnerova as the embodiment of constitutionality and the quality of
Czech law, and said there was no better place for her to apply her
experience. Regarding her replacement on the bench, Ms Wagnerova said
the candidate should see the position as the apex of their career.

Poll: Czechs see strong tie between falling birth rate and lack of
government support

Some 85% of citizens consider the falling birth rate in the Czech
Republic a serious problem for society, according to an internet poll
conducted by SANEP. The same number of respondents was of the opinion
that Czech government policy does not sufficiently support families
with children. Family was deemed the most important part of a healthy
and functioning society by 95% of those polled. A total of 90% of
respondents say the state should do more to solve the problems that
cause the decreasing birth rate. About a third said the falling birth
rate was due to the poor financial situation among young families,
while 24 percent blamed insufficient state support to families with
small children and 16% blamed careerism. According to the Czech
Statistical Office, the number of newborn babies in the Czech Republic
declined sharply in 2011.

Poll: municipal boards and the presidency remain most trusted

A poll conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that municipal boards and
the presidency remain the most trusted political institutions in the
country. Confidence in local government remained at around 59% while
trust in the presidency slipped by fourteen points to 53% compared with
last year. The least trusted institution was Parliament, according to
the poll, with 17%. Nearly three out of four respondents said they were
dissatisfied with the current political situation.

Visually-impaired patients to be allowed to bring seeing-eye dogs to
the hospital

As of April 1, when new legislation comes into effect, blind or
visually-impaired patients will be allowed to bring seeing-eye dogs
along when going into the hospital, reports the Czech daily idnes.
According to the news site, while facilities are readying for the
change, they stress that patients will have to have someone close by
who they can call to care for the animal. The spokeswoman for Motol
Hospital Pavlina Dankova, for example, told the daily that while the
hospital would respect the law, it was essential not to break any
others, for example, regarding hygiene. Other facilities, such as the
hospital in Melnik, suggested that personnel, if necessary, could walk
the highly-trained dogs.

Public Affairs leadership to discuss new education minister

The executive council of the junior coalition party Public Affairs is
to meet on Tuesday morning to select a candidate to replace Josef Dobes
at the head of the Ministry of Education. The selection will then be
discussed by the party's parliamentary club. Party chairman Radek John
said Monday that a decision would probably not be made on Tuesday and
added that the ministry would need a "crisis manager". Josef Dobes
announced his resignation last week citing his disagreement with
proposed cuts. His tenure however has been dogged by numerous


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be clear and sunny,
with daytime highs reaching 10 to 14o Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Sports News 26.3.2012

In Sports News: Czech hockey club Pardubice win Game 2, evening their
semi-final series against Liberec at one apiece; in the NHL, Tomas
Fleischmann scores, earns assist for the Florida Panthers; football
club Sparta Prague are a meagre point ahead of second-place Liberec,
leaving the season title up-for-grabs; Martina Sablikova wins the 5,000
metres at the World Championships.
Controversial Prague lobbyist charged with bodily harm; may face
further charges connected to wire tap scandal

Prague police have charged the controversial lobbyist Roman Janousek
with menacing behaviour due to intoxication as well as grievous bodily
harm. On Friday, Mr Janousek crashed his Porsche into another car in
Prague 4, then hit its driver as he attempted to flee. The news came as
the construction tycoon already found himself in the headlines due to
scandal over leaked wire taps of conversations between him and former
mayor of Prague Pavel Bem.
Sofia Smith - a Prague-based freelance chef who puts joy in cooking

Sofia Smith, who is half-Irish and half-Asian, has been cooking in
Prague since the late nineties. Angel restaurant, where she was the
executive head chef, received much critical acclaim - its opening was
written about by Fodor's as "the culinary event of the year" - and as a
freelance chef, Sofia Smith continues to put a smile on the faces of
Prague's food lovers. Most recently, she has been hosting themed nights
at Prague's James Joyce Irish Pub and teaching cooking classes at the
capital's Cocina Rivero cooking studio. She speaks about what she most
enjoys about being a chef, how Prague's food culture has changed over
the years and what her early culinary influences were.

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