Wednesday, September 26, 2012

News 9.26.2012

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

News Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

By: Jan Velinger

* The government is to decide late Wednesday on the easing of partial

* The sale of alcohol without proper certification will, in the future,
be classified as a serious crime in the Czech Republic, Health Minister
Leos Heger has said.

* A toxicology specialist says that even patients who survived methanol
poisoning 'unscathed' could still develop related health problems.

* The anti-corruption police are investigating past activities by
controversial lobbyist Roman Janousek.

* The foreign minister, in an interview for a blog for Foreign Policy
magazine, has suggested the West has been slow to react to steps by
Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Government to discuss easing of partial prohibition late Wednesday

The Czech government is expected late Wednesday to announce concrete
steps to ease the ban on spirits. As a result, newly-produced hard
liquor - marked with new tax stamps - could be allowed on the market
within a matter of days. Restaurant owners and salespeople are to be
given 60 days to acquire certificates for alcohol they have in storage.
Alcohol without certification is to be destroyed; previously opened
bottles at drinking establishments must also be poured out.

Health minister: sale of alcohol without proper certification will be
classified as a serious crime

The sale of alcohol without proper certification will, in the future,
be classified as a serious crime in the Czech Republic, Health Minister
Leos Heger has said. He made the statement on Wednesday even as the
government prepared to discuss the lifting of restrictions on the sale
of alcohol 20 percent or stronger. The health minister added that the
state would run random checks of venues to ensure the law was
respected; he estimated that an average of around ten percent of
sellers would come under scrutiny. Mr Heger also expressed hope that
the threat of committing a serious crime would have a deterring effect.
He equated the selling of tainted or methanol-laced alcohol with
premeditated murder.

New tax stamps become available

In related news, alcohol producers who applied several days ago for new
tax stamps were able to get them up as of Wednesday morning at customs
offices. The spokeswoman for the Customs Administration of the Czech
Republic, Martina Kankova, said that as of Tuesday evening the bureau
had received requests for 28 million stamps. The new stamps are printed
red and feature the Czech word for 'new' (novy) to clearly
differentiate newly-produced bottles of hard liquor from bottles
produced ahead of the methanol crisis. Twenty-six people in the country
have died as a result of drinking methanol-laced alcohol allegedly
produced by two main suspects who are in custody. Scores of others
along the distribution chain were also charged by police.

Toxicology specialist says even patients who survived poisoning
'unscathed' could still develop problems

Leading toxicology expert Daniela Pelcova of the General teaching
Hospital in Prague has warned that even patients who survived methanol
poisoning in the recent outbreak - and were released from hospital
without permanent damage - could develop related health problems later
in life. In an interview for the Czech news agency, the specialist
stressed that neurological problems or problems with eyesigh, related
to the original poisoning, could surface later. Ms Pelcova referred to
an Estonian study that showed that problems in some patients surfaced
as much as six years later; at the same time, she admitted the results
of the study were not conclusive; other outside factors could have had
an effect.

Anti-corruption to investigate lobbyist's past activities

The anti-corruption police are investigating past activities by
controversial lobbyist Roman Janousek on a number of counts, the Czech
daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports. The case was spurred by wiretapped
conversations between Mr Janousek and former Prague mayor Pavel Bem,
part of which were leaked earlier this year and reported in the Czech
media. The head of the anti-corruption unit, Tomas Martinec, confirmed
that two incidents were being investigated, one related to the sale of
land to the Prague transit authority, the other into whether Mr
Janousek influenced changes in the city's development plan. The first
case alone may have cost the city tens of millions of crowns.

Schwarzenberg: The West is losing to Putin

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, in an interview for The
Cable - one of US magazine Foreign Policy's blogs, has said the West
has been slow to react to steps taken by Russian President Vladimir
Putin, in his view, to re-establish Russia as a regional hegemon. In
the interview, Mr Schwarzenberg said that President Putin had installed
an aggressive autocracy, one he suggested was close "not to Stalin but
to Russian Tsar Nicholas I"; he stressed that the Obama
administration's "reset" policy had not been able to influence the
heading of the Russian government.

The Czech foreign minister has consistently voiced concerns over the
situation in Russia, including human rights. Most recently, Mr
Schwarzenberg condemned, for example, the trial of members of the
political punk band Pussy Riot sentenced to three years in prison. Mr
Schwarzenberg was in New York for the meeting of the U.N. General
Assembly; he met earlier this week with US Secretary of State Hillary

Bill to ensure severance pay for emergency rescue personnel

Emergency rescue personnel should in the future be entitled to
severance pay, providing they have served for a minimum of 15 years and
are over the age of 50, under legislation passed in the lower house.
The bill now heads to the Senate.

Golden Bull of Sicily goes on display on Thursday

The Golden Bull of Sicily, one of the founding documents of the
mediaeval Czech state, will be displayed at the National Archive in
Prague to mark the 800th anniversary of its issuing. The bull, issued
by Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1212, confirmed the royal title
obtained by Ottokar I of Bohemia and granted him and his heirs the
hereditary title of the Kings of Bohemia. The exhibition, open from 10
am to six pm, is free and lasts until September 30.

Man sentenced to four years for attack against Roma

The Regional Court in Prague sentenced a young man to four years in
prison for an arson attack on Romanies in Bychory, Central Bohemia,
last year. The other three accused were given suspended sentences.The
defendant who was found guilty threw a Molotov cocktail into a house
inhabited by Romanies, according to the charges. He faced up to 12
years in prison for an attempt at causing a grievous bodily harm and
his accomplices faced up to three years for violence against a group of
inhabitants and an individual. Wednesday's verdict can be appealed.

Hockey: Kladno face league champions Pardubice

In hockey, Kladno faces league champions Pardubice in Prague on
Wednesday - another match by Kladno at Prague's O2 stadium since
acquiring Czech NHL players Jaromir Jagr, who plays for the Dallas
Stars and the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec, playing overseas due
to the NHL lockout. The arena offers greater capacity for fans wanting
to see not only regular extraliga players but also NHL talent.


Cloudy and overcast conditions with a chance of rain are expected on
Thursday. Daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 20 degrees

Articles posted on today
President's veto of pension reform bills "only administrative
obstacle", says manager of KB pension fund

The fate of one of the Czech government's key reforms - an overhaul of
the country's pension system - is uncertain. The bulk of the reform
legislation had already been approved and come into effect which means
that in January 2013 people will have the right to set up individual
pension accounts. But President Vaclav Klaus this week vetoed two bills
necessary for the implementation of the new system. So what does Mr
Klaus' veto mean for the future of the pension reform and where does it
leave the emerging private pension funds? These are some of the
questions I put to Pavel Jirak, the managing director of the Komercni
banka pension fund, and a board member of the Czech Association of
Pension Funds.
Vaclav Klaus addresses the UN for the last time as president

President Vaclav Klaus' speech to the UN General Assembly in New York
on Tuesday placed a strong focus on Syria. But instead of calling for
effective action, as some other world leaders had, the Czech president
took a more cautious stance, questioning the wisdom of external
military interventions.
Czech cartoon characters conquer the cyber world

Famous cartoon characters from Czech Television's bedtime stories for
children called Vecernicek have ventured into the cyber world. Thanks
to a husband-and-wife IT team Josef Vosyka and his wife Sarka the
cartoon characters have expanded far beyond Czech borders not just to
entertain, but also to educate.

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