Tuesday, October 16, 2012

News 10.16.2012

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

News Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* The European Commission is planning to cut 12.5 billion crowns in
subsidies for two Czech operational programmes.

* The food inspection authority has seized thousands of bottles of
methanol-contaminated rum in a warehouse in Zlin.

* A former bus driver who is to serve the rest of his sentence for
defacing election posters has turned himself in to the police.

* The leader of the Czech Republic's community of Olah Romanies, "Olah
King" Jan Lipa, has died aged 72.

* The Czech national football team plays Bulgaria in Prague on Tuesday
in qualification for the World Cup 2014.

European Commission to cut billions in subsidies for Czech programmes

The European Commission is planning to cut 12.5 billion crowns in
subsidies for two Czech operational programmes, a spokeswoman for the
commission said on Tuesday, quoting serious problems with the
administration and supervision of the funds as the reason. The planned
move will affect the Transportation and Environment programmes which
will have to be covered by the state budget; Czech authorities might be
however able to use the funds to finance other projects next year.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he had been worried the
losses would be even bigger. However, the European Commission is yet to
decide whether it will also slash funding for another two Czech
operational programmes.

PM backtracks on tax reforms in wake of election defeat

Prime Minister Petr Necas, who has come under fire for his party's
defeat in the weekend regional and senate elections, has expressed
readiness to temper some of the government's reforms. At a stormy
meeting of the Civic Democratic Party's executive council on Monday Mr.
Necas presented the party leadership with an alternate tax-hike
proposal according to which only the lower VAT rate would be raised
from 14 to 15 percent next year while the basic higher rate would
remain unchanged at 20 percent. The government's original tax-package
that called for a 1-percent hike in both VAT rates was rejected by the
lower house of Parliament with the help of six rebels from the prime
minister's Civic Democratic Party. Mr. Necas has also expressed
readiness to revise some steps in the area of social welfare benefits.

Inspectors seize thousands of bottles of rum with 50 percent methanol

The Czech food inspection authority seized 7,600 bottles of
methanol-contaminated rum in a warehouse in Zlin, in the east of the
country, after getting tipped off by an anonymous source, a spokesman
for the agency said on Tuesday. He said the methanol-laced alcohol,
which was ready for distribution, could have killed thousands of
people. The deadly beverages were made by the Drak spirits producer
whose manager said he did not understand how it was possible.

The methanol crisis, which broke out last month, has claimed the lives
of 28 people who died after drinking contaminated bootleg liquor. The
police have charged over 50 people in connection with the case.

Election posters defacer turns himself in

Roman Smetana, a former bus driver from Olomouc who is to serve the
rest of his sentence for defacing election posters, turned himself to
the police on Tuesday. The 30-year-old man, whose case attracted a lot
of public and media attention, was sentenced to a fine and 100 hours of
community work for adding feelers to politicians on over 30 adverts. He
paid the fine but refused to do community work and his sentence was
changed to 100 days in prison. He was released in May after 33 days in
jail when then justice minister Jiri Pospisil filed a complaint in his
favour. However, the Supreme Court later dismissed the minister's
petition and ruled Mr Smetana must serve the rest of his sentence.

Environmentalists criticize factory's plans to use mercury in chlorine

Czech environmentalists on Tuesday criticized a request by a major
chemical producer, Spolana Neratovice, to be allowed to use mercury in
the production of chlorine until the year 2020. The plant, located in
Neratovice, some 30 km north of Prague, was ordered to change its
production process by 2014. Environmentalists warn that the plant
releases more than 200 kg of mercury into the environment every year.
The producer's request will be reviewed by the Central Bohemian
regional authorities.

Court raises sentence for former Social Democrat MP

An appellate court in Olomouc on Tuesday raised the sentence for former
MP Petr Wolf from five to six years in prison. Mr Wolf, who joined the
lower house in 2006 on Social Democrat ticket but later supported the
centre-right government, was convicted of embezzling 11 million crowns
of public money. The court also handed him a fine of 5 million crowns
and banned him from holding positions in commercial firms for eight

"King" of Czech Olah Romanies dies aged 72

The leader of the Czech Republic's community of Olah Romanies, "Olah
King" Jan Lipa, died on Monday in Ostrava aged 72, the head of the
Union of Olah Romanies said, adding that Jan Lipa enjoyed great respect
among Romanies in the Czech Republic and the whole of Europe. The late
Olah leader's funeral will take place in the Ostrava cathedral on
Tuesday. One of his sons is set to become the new Olah king, the news
agency CTK reported.

The Olah community, which accounts for around 15 percent of Romanies
living in the Czech Republic, is a relatively closed group which has
preserved its traditions much more than other Romany groups.

NGO launches online map of CCTVs

The Czech human rights watchdog Iuridicum Remedium on Tuesday launched
an on-line map of CCTVs in public spaces across the country. The NGO
said the online map should highlight the fact that despite a rising
number of CCTVs I the country, there is no legislation regulating their
use. The project so far includes only a small number of existing camera
systems but the group has invited members of the public to add their
own data on cameras and their locations.

Football: Czechs take on Bulgaria in World Cup qualifier

The Czech national football team plays Bulgaria in Prague on Tuesday,
in their third qualification game for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The
Czechs will keep the same starting line-up - with the strikers Tomas
Pekhart and Jan Rezek - from Friday's match against Malta which the
Czech team won 3:1. The Czechs are ranked third in the qualification
Group B, one point behind Bulgaria and three points behind Italy.

Czechs lose to Russia in play-offs for U21 European Championships

The Czech U21 national team drew 2:2 against Russia in Yekaterinburg on
Tuesday, in the second leg of play-offs for the U21 European
Championships 2013. However, they lost 2:0 in Friday's first leg which
means they were knocked out by Russia. The Czechs pushed for much of
the game and came one goal away from advancing when in the 61st minute,
Tomas Wagner scored his second goal in the game, giving the visiting
side a 2:1 lead. But the Russians managed to equalize in 83rd minute,
setting the score at 2:2.


The coming days will be mostly cloudy with rain in places and daytime
highs ranging between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

The House of the Black Madonna - home of the only surviving Cubist cafe
in the world

Nestled between busy Wenceslas Square and Prague's number one tourist
destination, Old Town Square, the House of the Black Madonna houses a
small museum of Cubism as well as the only surviving Cubist cafe in the
world - the Grand Cafe Orient, which was renovated between 2002 and


Embattled PM backtracks on tax-reforms in the wake of election defeat

The ruling parties' humiliating defeat in the weekend regional and
first round of senate elections have clearly shaken the government's
resolve to effect painful reforms at any cost and left the prime
minister fighting not just for the future of the centre-right
government but his own place at the head of his party.


Composer Geraldine Mucha dies aged 95 in Prague

On Friday, Scottish composer Geraldine Mucha passed away in Prague,
which has been her home for most of the past 70 years. Author of
numerous musical works, large-scale orchestral pieces, variations on
folk songs and chamber pieces, Geraldine came to post-war
Czechoslovakia with her husband Jiri Mucha, the son of the famous
artists Alphonse Mucha. For the past twenty years, she has been the
keeper of her father-in-law's legacy, but her life's pursuit of music
also helped pave the way for female composers of the younger


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