Thursday, October 18, 2012

News 10.18.2012

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

News Thursday, October 18th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Two men have been hospitalized in Opava with methanol poisoning.

* Police have charged five suspected members of an international gang
of arms dealers.

* The Czech Republic has lost a long-running dispute over the
designation of butter products.

* Olah Romanies have gathered in Ostrava for the funeral of their king,
Jan Lipa.

* Weapons manufacturer Ceska zbrojovka says Iraq is seeking a purchase
of small arms.

Two more methanol poisonings in Silesia

Two more victims of methanol poisoning have been hospitalized in the
region of Moravia-Silesia. A 60-year-old man was admitted in critical
condition on Thursday morning. A 64-year-old man who had been drinking
with him was also hospitalised later on, making the 33rd case of
methanol poisoning in that region alone. With 17 deaths since the
beginning of the outbreak in September, Moravia-Silesia has been the
region hardest hit. Starting Thursday, a ban was imposed on the sale of
Tuzemak rum produced by Czech company Likerka Drak and distributed by
Verdana, after 7,600 bottles of Tuzemak rum containing 50 percent of
methanol were discovered in a warehouse belonging to Verdana.

Police charge international gang of arms dealers

Police have charged five Czechs they believe are members of an
international gang of arms dealers. They were arrested in September on
suspicion of having sold components of tanks and infantry vehicles over
the previous two years, primarily to Poland. The organised crime
department of the police says that a part of the illegal trade was
being carried out through the head of a Czech company licensed to sell
military technology. If convicted, the suspects face up to ten years'

Czech Republic loses EU dispute over definition of butter products

The Czech Republic has lost a long-running dispute over the designation
of butter products. The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday
that the phrase "butter spread" could not be applied to products with
the equivalent name in Czech because their milk-fat content is lower
than required by EU norms. According to the European Commission, which
brought the suit, only products with at least 80% milk-fat can be
called butter, while Czech regulations require only a 31% milk-fat
content. The product in question is considered a traditional speciality
by some.

Olah Romanies gather for "royal" funeral

Hundreds of Olah Romanies have gathered in the north-eastern city of
Ostrava to pay final respects to their "king", Jan Lipa, who died on
Monday aged 72. Guests arrived from around Central Europe and even the
USA for the funeral, which was accompanied by music and discussions of
his life, decrees and settled disputes. The king was buried with some
of his favourite items, such as his hat and pack of cards, and bottles
of wine and even money. The community will mourn for one year before
electing a new king, expected to be one of Jan Lipa's sons. 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.

Iraq interested in Czech small arms

Iraq is interested in purchasing small arms from the Czech Republic,
according to the weapons manufacturer Ceska zbrojovka. The company's
sales manager told the Czech Press Agency on Thursday that the recent
Iraqi delegation to the Czech Republic, which was headed by Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki, showed interest in the company's rifles,
submachine guns and pistols. Iraqi representatives are also negotiating
a gun servicing and training centre with the company. The main point of
Maliki��s visit to Prague was to arrange the purchase of 28 Czech-made
L-159 combat aircraft worth about one billion dollars. That contract
has yet to be approved by the Iraqi government.

Appeals court upholds imprisonment of former MP Petr Kott

An appeals court has upheld the imprisonment of former MP Petr Kott,
who is being charged with bribery along with former governor of Central
Bohemia David Rath. The court concurred with the decision of a lower
court to deny bail on the grounds that Mr Kott could commit further
criminal acts or flee the country. In addition to Kott and Dr. Rath,
the director of the Kladno hospital Katerina Pancova has also been
denied bail. Eight people were arrested in May after David Rath was
caught receiving seven million crowns in cash from Kott and Pancova,
which police believe was a bribe for manipulating public tenders.

Klaus pardons two on humanitarian grounds

President Vaclav Klaus pardoned two men this week on humanitarian
grounds, halting their investigations. The president's spokesman Radim
Ochvat said that said that serious injuries had left the men incapable
of comprehending the charges against them, and the state prosecutor had
said he was therefore unable to prosecute them in accordance with the
law. One of the men was charged with posing a public threat under the
influence of drugs, the other with neglecting child support. As per a
new constitutional amendment, the pardons were countersigned by the
prime minister.

Stop the Government initiative planning November demonstration

The Stop the Government initiative has announced a demonstration on
November 17. The group of affiliated unions and civic associations says
they want to call attention to the poor state of democracy in the Czech
Republic, where they say social assurances are disappearing, education
is worsening and the state is dysfunctional. Stop the Government
organised one of the largest demonstrations in post-communist Czech
history in April of this year, when an estimated 100 thousand people
turned out. November 17 is a state holiday marking the end of the
communist regime.

Civic Democrats may postpone key vote until after party congress

The governing Civic Democratic Party is considering moving back a vote
on the government's stabilisation package, which Prime Minister, and
Civic Democratic chairman Petr Necas, has tied to a vote of confidence.
The prime minister himself has neither confirmed nor denied the move,
however party insiders have indicated the vote may be postponed until
after the party's congress, where the leadership can vie for greater
support. Several Civic Democrat MPs have sided with the opposition to
oppose the bill, which entails increasing VAT rates by one percent.

Poll: 85% believe economic situation will be the same or worse in five

A large majority of Czechs believe the country's economic situation
will be the same or worse in five years' time, according to a poll by
the STEM agency. The poll suggests that view is held by 85% of people,
with 57% of respondents expecting further downturns. Only 15% of those
polled expressed optimism about the economic future. STEM, which has
carried out the poll since 1993, says public expectations for the
future have never been grimmer than this year and last year.


The coming days will be clear to partly cloudy with daytime highs of
17-19o Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Do you know who cleans your house?

A video spot made by the Association for Integration and Migration
highlights the problems of foreign nationals working as domestic
service providers - cleaners, maids and nannies. Approximately 27
thousand women from former Soviet bloc countries and Asia are currently
employed in menial positions in Czech households. Their poor grasp of
the language and scant knowledge of their rights -as well as fear of
deportation -make them easy targets of exploitation and maltreatment.
Czechs lose the butter battle to the EU

The European Union's Court of Justice on Thursday banned Czech
producers from using a name for a diary product that has been on the
market for over thirty years. The court ruled that the popular butter
spread or pomazankove maslo may not have the word butter in its name,
since its milk-fat content is lower than the 80% butter must have
according to European law.
'Bionic man' defies nature after living six months with no heart

A man who lived for more than six months without a heart died at the
weekend, ending a remarkable experiment in medicine that could pave the
way for improving treatment of heart disease in the future. Jakub
Halik, a 37-year-old former fireman, had been fitted with two
artificial pumps after doctors treating an aggressive tumour had
removed his heart altogether.

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