Tuesday, April 17, 2012

News 4.17.2012

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

News Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Public Affairs deputy chairwoman Karolina Peake has left the party,
saying she intends to start a new political platform.

* The ombudsman has severely criticised the conditions in the state's
centre for foreign children.

* Miroslava Nemcova of the Civic Democrats has announced her decision
not to run in the party's primary presidential elections.

* Czech courts dealt far more with small corruption cases between 2007
and 2009, according to Transparency International.

* The Public Affairs party is considering two candidates for the post
of education minister.

Peake quits Public Affairs, will start new 'political platform'...

Leading Public Affairs figure Karolina Peake has left the party. The
deputy chairwoman of the junior coalition party made the announcement
at a special press conference on Tuesday, saying that she disliked the
style with which Public Affairs presents itself and intends to start a
new political platform. Peake is the latest of several leading figures
to leave the party in the wake of numerous scandals that have kept it
in the front of public attention for the last several weeks. She
notably broke with party chairman Radek John over the party's recent
instigation of a government crisis, leading many to expect that Public
Affairs would soon split along factions centred around Peake and Vit
Barta, who was convicted of bribery last week.

... decision may further destabilise government.

Regarding a step that further destabilises the Czech governing
coalition, Ms Peak said Tuesday that she will adhere to the coalition
agreement and will speak with Prime Minister Petr Necas about her
continuation in the cabinet. While she said the decision was her own,
and had been considered for some time, other members of Public Affairs
would be welcome to join her. Recent support for Peake from those
within the party suggests that as many as seven party MPs may follow
her out of Public Affairs, theoretically allowing the government to
maintain a slight majority without the party's support. Soon after her
announcement, Public Affairs MP Dagmar Navratilova praised Peake and
said that she was not surprised by the decision. Ms Peake says that the
political style of Public Affairs masked their successes. The
conviction of Vit Barta, she said, had nothing to do with her leaving
the party.

Klaus: splintering Public Affairs will bring further commotion

Politicians from various parties were quick to offer praise for Ms
Peake's disavowal of Public Affairs. Prime Minister Necas said he was
somewhat surprised at her decision but saw no reason why she could not
remain in the cabinet. TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg and his
deputy, Miroslav Kalousek, said that Ms Peake was a courageous woman.
President Klaus said the plan to create a new political entity out of a
splinter of Public Affairs would create further commotion on the Czech
political scene. The government, he said, should either have a clear
majority or else early elections should be called as soon as possible.

Ombudsman slams Education Ministry for care of foreign children

Ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky says the Czech state has failed in its care
for foreign children. In a press release the ombudsman criticised the
illegal isolation and maltreatment of children in the Permon centre in
Central Bohemia, which was established for the children of foreigners
whose parents are unable to look after them, who do not speak Czech and
who may suffer from some previous traumas. Mr Varvarovsky noted that
the children lacked privacy and there were reports of sexual attacks
among them. Moreover, nearly half of the children in the institution
are Slovaks and a large part of them speak Czech, and therefore do not
have to be in the centre at all. The ombudsman's office warned of the
mistakes four years ago and says nothing has changed due to the
'passivity' of the Education Ministry.

Miroslava Nemcova pulls out of primary presidential race

Miroslava Nemcova of the Civic Democrats has announced her decision not
to run in the party's primary presidential elections. Mrs Nemcova who
was seen as a hot favourite for the candidacy, said that as chairman of
the lower house she felt a responsibility for the stability of the
lower chamber that had won out over her personal aspirations. The
primary race will thus most likely be between Senate Chairman Premysl
Sobotka and MEP Evzen Tosenovsky, a former regional governor. The
deadline for party nominations is April 22nd and the primary elections
should take place by July at the latest. President Klaus' second term
in office is due to expire in March of next year and the next Czech
head of state will be elected in a direct vote in late January or early

Courts dealt far more with small corruption cases between 2007 and 2009

Czech courts dealt far more with small corruption cases between 2007
and 2009, according to corruption watchdog Transparency International.
According to analysis made by the organisation that maps 233 court
verdicts, courts generally abided by established practice - if their
verdicts sharply diverted from established practice, it was generally
in connection with more serious cases of corruption. Transparency
International says that courts imposed excessively soft punishments
during the period surveyed. The most frequent corruption cases handled
by courts were those of road police who released offending drivers in
exchange for bribes.

Public Affairs weighing two candidates for education minister

The Public Affairs party is considering two candidates for the post of
education minister following the resignation of Josef Dobes last month.
Independent Jiri Nantl is currently a deputy minister in education; the
other nominee is an unnamed member of the junior coalition party who
reportedly worked in the ministry. The party leadership met for roughly
an hour on Tuesday with Mr Nantl, who presented his plan for the
ministry and said he is seeking a mandate for systematic changes.
Public Affairs says its primary conditions for the candidate are
expertise and experience in the ministry so as not to prolong the
current problems with EU funding. Prime Minister Petr Necas has said he
wants a nominee by the end of the week.

Czech researchers find Philippine rat believed to be extinct

Czech researchers have found a species of rat on an island of the
Philippines that was believed to be extinct. The Dinagat bushy-tailed
cloud rat was previously known only through a single specimen from the
island, described in 1975. Zoologists Vaclav and Milada Rehakova
spotted the nocturnal tree-dweller in January in the last virgin forest
on the island. The brown, 55cm rodent is one of the largest in the
world and has been sought in vain by numerous scientific expeditions.
Logging and mineral mining has devastated its habitat on the Dinagat
Islands and left the rodent critically endangered.

Photographer Dagmar Hochova dies at 86

Well-known Czech photographer Dagmar Hochova has died at the age of 86.
Ms Hochova gained attention in the 1950s and 60s for her
black-and-white photographs of the lives of children. After the Velvet
Revolution she sat as an MP for the Civic Forum for two years and was
awarded a Presidential Medal of Merit. He work is included in two
exhibitions at the Museum of Decorative Arts and National Gallery in

Uherske Hradiste has been named Historic City of 2011

The eastern Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste has been named Historic
City of 2011. The million-crown award is given to the municipality that
best cared for its historical monuments in the previous year.
Organisers this year also selected between the east Bohemian towns of
Kutna Hora and Chrudim. The ancient town of Uherske Hradiste, which has
a population of around 25,000, was praised for its long-term conceptual
approach to the reconstruction of its historical centre and for
achieving political consensus that town representatives have found in
dealing with the issue.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly cloudy with
highs of around 12o Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Pundit: Public Affairs has no future with or without Vit Barta

The leadership of the junior coalition party Public Affairs is meeting
to debate the outcome of last week's trial in which the party's
informal leader Vit Barta was found guilty of bribery. Although Mr.
Barta had promised to pull out of high politics if he did not clear his
name, he now says he'll keep his seat in the lower house and he thus
remains a member of the party's deputies' club. Radio Prague asked
commentator Jiri Pehe for his thoughts on how this latest development
may impact the government's future and who is now actually running the
smallest party in government.


Pirate Parties in Prague set sails for Europe-wide political success

Cue: Pirates of the World, Unite! - that was the message at this
weekend's Pirate Party International meeting in Prague, the third in
the organisation's history and the first in the Czech capital. What
started as a Swedish protest movement against the criminalisation of
file-sharing has grown into a tangible political body, setting its
sights on continent-wide success in the 2014 European Parliament


Hanif Kureishi - the famous British author on Prague, Islam and
multiracial societies in Europe

Undoubtedly the most famous guest at this year's Prague Writers'
Festival, the British novelist, screenwriter and playwright Hanif
Kureishi rose to international fame in 1985, with his screenplay for
the film "My Beautiful Laundrette". Since then, he published the novel
"The Buddha of Suburbia" to great acclaim and continues to write
extensively, both for the screen and works of fiction. Ahead of his
first reading at the festival, I asked him about his work, why he
enjoys the short story form and if he had previously visited Prague.


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