Wednesday, July 4, 2012

News 7.4.2012

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

News Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

By: Dominik Jun

* Prime Minister Petr Necas warns Minister Kalousek and other members
of his cabinet over approaching police investigators

* A Czech woman has reportedly been arrested in Syria

* Severe floods have hit the Plzen region

* Three other regions are also affected by severe rainstorms

* New data suggests third straight month of contracting retail sales

Czech PM warns ministers over influencing corruption investigations

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas is reported to have warned Miroslav
Kalousek over an alleged telephone call made by the Finance Minister to
Jiri Mazanek, a police investigator looking into alleged overpricing
involving the purchases of the army's CASA transport planes. The planes
were bought by Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova, who is currently
under investigation over the controversial deal, which was also
approved by Kalousek in his capacity as Finance Minister. Mazanek
claims that in a recent telephone call, pressure was exerted by
Kalousek over the matter of stripping Parkanova of immunity so that she
may be fully investigated over the CASA affair. Kalousek has denied
such lobbying for his colleague. PM Necas has reportedly warned members
of his cabinet to avoid contacting investigators at all in such
situations, threatening dismissal for this offence.

Czech woman arrested in Syria

The Syrian secret police are reported to have arrested a Czech woman,
aged 32, on suspicion of collaborating with opposition rebels. Neither
her family nor the Czech Embassy in Damascus have any news about her
present whereabouts. Sandra Bitarova, who has a Syrian father and a
Czech mother, has permanent residence in Syria, though she also has
Czech citizenship. According to her family Bitarova is not personally
involved in politics and her arrest may be an attempt to put pressure
on her father who is an opposition activist and a vocal critic of
President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Floods hit Plzen region

Severe flooding has hit the Plzen region around the town of Klatovy in
the south-west of the country after severe rains overnight. According
to meteorologists, around 20mm of rain was forecast to fall in the
region. Most severely hit were the towns of Susice and Klatov with the
Sumava and Kremelna rivers reaching a level three degree of flooding
while by morning, the River Ostruzna had also reached a lower level two
degree of flooding. Fire-fighters in the area were forced to evacuate
dozens of homes, with locals reportedly saying that they could not
remember such severe rainfall in their lifetimes. Roads were flooded in
Mochtin, Chlistov and Kolinec and villages such as Besiny remained
impassable. So far, only one death, that of an elderly woman in Mochtin
has been reported.

Three other regions also affected by severe rainstorms

Several other regions including Hradec Kralove, Southern Bohemia and
Pardubice were also hit by severe rains overnight. In the Southern
Bohemia region, a section of railway from Vyssi Brod to Rybnik was
blocked by rocks as a result of the downpour, while a road near the
village of Precin was made impassable by large levels of mud.
Fire-fighters were called to around thirty incidents in all. In the
Hradce Kralove region, a person was reportedly hit by lightning, but
survived without serious injury, while numerous basements and homes
were flooded. Additionally, a children's summer camp in Miskolezy had
to be evacuated. In the Pardubicko region, fire-fighters also responded
to numerous flooding incidents, as well as a fallen tree in Brandyse
nad Orlici.

Retail sales decline for third straight month

According to new data published by the Czech Statistics Office (CSU),
retails sales in May fell by 2.1% year-on-year, compared to a 4.2% fall
in April. Initial forecasts had been for a 3.5% fall; however, the data
also represents the third straight month of decreasing sales in the
country amidst concerns that government austerity measures are leading
to reduced demand and falls in household spending. Last week, the Czech
National Bank cut benchmark interest rates by a quarter of a percentage
point to 0.5% in a bid to boost the economy.

New website will allow patients to compare above-standard hospital care

A new website has been established to enable patients in the Czech
Republic to compare the costs of above-standard care in hospitals. - meaning waiting times - offers comparison price checks
for items which are better than those covered by standard health
insurance. A patient can thus choose to pay more for better services,
including items such as new, higher quality synthetic lenses for
cataract patients or lighter plaster casts. The website, which is
privately run and relies on a number of sponsors, has been up and
running since last year, offering patients overviews of hospital
waiting times - for example waiting times for an arthroscopy at the
Hradec Kralove Teaching Hospital is listed as two months. The new
service comparing the prices of specific services is a new addition to
the site.

Hame forced to withdraw 11,000 biscuits from sale

The State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority (SZPI) has ordered
the Czech food company Hame to withdraw from sale more than 11,000
sweet biscuit packs after they were found to contain misleading
labeling. The "butter leaves" are in fact made using margarine and not
butter, with SZPI spokesperson Pavel Kopriva stating that such
mislabeling will lead to legal proceedings and sanctions against the
company. The biscuits themselves were made by the Polish firm Mieszko
for Hame.

Government rejects plans for tougher anti-violence teacher protection

In a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the government of PM Petr Necas
rejected a proposal tabled by the opposition Social Democrats to
toughen laws protecting school teachers and other educational staff
from violence. Under the proposals, five new categories of crime would
afford teachers greater protection: murder, severe violent attacks,
violent attacks, extortion and dangerously threatening behaviour.
Proponents of the legislation argued that teachers are increasingly
finding themselves the victims of physical assaults by pupils. However,
the government rejected the proposals arguing instead for more
preventative measures to be taken by schools and also adding that
violence against teachers is already against the law and does not
require additional legislation.

Internet poll finds strong scepticism over Blazek appointment

An ongoing online poll conducted by the news agency CTK suggests the
Czech public remain highly sceptical that the newly appointed Justice
Minister Pavel Blazek will be able to carry out his job effectively.
The poll asked respondents: "Will new Justice Minister Blazek be able
to protect the justice system from external pressures and effectively
investigate even sensitive political scandals?" Of around 1,700 votes
so far, an overwhelming 96% said no - with 85% voting for a definitive
"no" and 11% voting for "I don't have much hope of that". Only 4%
expressed confidence in the new minister's ability in the (entirely
unscientific) poll.

Budvar ends deal with rival maker of Budweiser

Budejovicky Budvar, the state-owned maker of Budweiser Buvar beer has
terminated a deal with rival US Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch,
according to the AP. Under the 2007 deal, the two rivals, who have been
engaged in a decades-long legal dispute of the Budweiser trademark, the
Czech Budvar beer was distributed by Anheuser-Busch in the US under the
brand name "Czechvar". Despite an initial surge in sales to the US,
Budvar complained that post-2008, the new owners of Anheuser-Busch, the
Belgian company InBev, lost interest in the product, with 2011 sales
only at 30% of what had been projected. According to Budvar, the
company United State Beverages located in Stamford, Connecticut will
now take over distribution of Czechvar from InBev.

Czech defending Wimbledon champion knocked out in quarter-finals

Defending Wimbledon champion, the number four seed Petra Kvitova has
been knocked out of the tournament by former champion and number six
seed Serena Williams. The straight sets win by Williams ended 6-3 7-5
and took place in Wimbledon's Centre Court, with the roof closed due to
rain. Williams overpowered Kvitova with a series of high powered serves
- 13 aces up to 120 miles per hour. This is Kvitova's first Wimbledon
defeat in 17 matches.


Skies will be largely overcast with some bright spells in the east of
the country. Temperatures will range from between 24 to 28 degrees with
some storms and showery spells and light winds. Severe storms,
including hailstones in some areas, are forecast for Thursday.

Articles posted on today
Believers go on pilgrimage to Velehrad for Cyril and Methodius

As the annual celebrations of the legacy of St. Cyril and Methodius
approach many believers are undertaking a religious pilgrimage to the
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Methodius arrived in 863 to preach the Gospel in the Slavonic language.
One of these walking pilgrimages is on its way now, having set off from
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New manifesto seeks to revive debate about Czech position in EU

An initiative by several Czech NGOs and members of the country's
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position within the European Union. The manifesto, entitled Confident
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officials to ensure that Czechs remain at the core of the EU. In this
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and looks at what impact, if any, the initiative might have on the
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