Saturday, October 20, 2012

News 10.20.2012

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

News Saturday, October 20th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Czech left-wing parties have secured a constitutional majority in the
Senate, the upper house of Parliament.

* Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has pledged to use the
party's newfound strength to prevent controversial and socially unjust

* France's Areva has appealed against CEZ's decision to exclude it from
a 10 billion dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear
power plant in south Bohemia.

* An article in Friday's edition of the daily Pravo which claimed that
60 percent of the Roman minority are unemployed by choice has aroused
fresh anti-Roma sentiment.

* Skoda's latest model, the sedan Rapid, is now on sale in the Czech

Left wing parties win constitutional majority in Senate

Czech left-wing parties have secured a constitutional majority in the
Senate, the upper house of Parliament. Elections took place in 27
constituencies in which the Social Democrats won 13 seats, the
Communist Party won in one constituency and a candidate for the
centre-left party of Citizens Rights of Milos Zeman also got one seat
in the upper chamber. This brings the overall number of left-wing
senators in the upper house to 49.

The second round of elections to the Senate was another crushing
disappointment for the ruling Civic Democrats who entered the second
round with 13 candidates but only won four seats, bringing the overall
number of Civic Democrat senators to 15, the lowest ever. Prime
Minister Petr Necas said the Civic Democrats should accept the defeat
with humility and analyze its cause. He thanked voters for not
strengthening the role of the Communists who went into the second round
of elections with 12 candidates but only won 1 seat. The rest of the
constituencies are divided among small parties and independents.

Social Democrat leader welcomes election victory

Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka thanked voters for his party's
election victory and pledged to use the party's newfound strength in
the upper chamber to prevent controversial and socially unjust reforms.
He said the outcome of both the regional and senate elections was a
clear signal that the public was unhappy with the present government's
course and would help increase the pressure on the Necas government to
resign from office. The Social Democrats will now have 46 senators in
the upper chamber, the highest number any party has achieved so far.

Air pollution worsens in Moravia-Silesia

Air pollution is reported to have worsened severely in parts of Moravia
and Silesia overnight with the concentration of dust particles in the
air far exceeding permitted norms at 13 of 15 monitoring stations.
According to data from the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute the
concentration of harmful substances in the air is more than double the
permitted norm in Ostrava and Karvina where the authorities have
advised elderly people and children to stay indoors as much as
possible. The situation is being closely monitored by city hall which
has the right to call a smog alert and ask industrial plants to
scale-down production.

Areva appeals its exclusion from Temelin tender

France's Areva has appealed against CEZ's decision to exclude it from a
10 billion dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear
power plant in south Bohemia. The state-owned French company addressed
all the reasons given for its exclusion and said its offer was the most
competitive. CEZ has 10 days to review Areva's appeal and publish its
decision. In the event of a rejection, Areva would be entitled to file
a complaint to the Czech anti-monopoly office, which would have 60 days
to review the case. Areva was rejected from the tender for allegedly
failing to meet legislative and commercial requirements. Westinghouse
Electric Corp. and a Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom Corp.'s unit
ZAO Atomstroyexport are still competing for the deal to build two more
nuclear reactors at Temelin. CEZ should choose the winner in mid- 2013
and sign a final contract with the respective company by the year's end.

Pravo article incites anti-Roma sentiment

An article in Friday's edition of the daily Pravo which claimed that 60
percent of the Roman minority are unemployed by choice and are not
looking for work has elicited a stormy debate and given rise to fresh
anti-Roma sentiment. The paper published the figure citing the
government's agency for social inclusion as its source. The agency in
turn cited the World Bank as its source and noted that the figure only
reflected the situation in the worst affected areas around the country
where Romanies live in utter social exclusion and have often given up
on finding work. Despite the revision, the article has aroused deep
public discontent with close to 800 readers taking part in an online
debate that was in part vulgar and racist. One reader said he was
considering taking the paper to court for inciting anti-Roma sentiment.

Mlada Fronta Dnes says S-cards to serve pensioners as well

The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes has accused Labour and Social Minister
Jaromir Drabek of lying to the public when he promised that the newly
introduced electronic system for paying out welfare benefits would also
be used for pensions. The paper says that an agreement on the so called
S-cards between the ministry and the Ceska Sporitelna bank clearly
states that the cards will serve to pay out pensions as well. The new
S-card system has evoked enormous controversy, with critics pointing
out that pensioners living in small villages may have problems getting
to a money machine and would inevitably lose money on the transaction
from their already meagre pensions. In the wake of last week's election
defeat the prime minister said the system would have to be revised, but
Mlada Fronta Dnes points out this will not be at all easy since it
would not only require a change of legislation but moreover the bank
would almost certainly take the matter to court.

Skoda Rapid goes on sale in Czech Republic

Skoda's latest model -a mid-sized sedan Rapid -went on sale in the
Czech Republic on Saturday. The roomy, elegant sedan billed as "an
affordable car for the whole family" attracted crowds of people to
Skoda's sales outlets for a closer look and a trial run. A Skoda
spokesman said several hundred sales orders had been placed. Skoda Auto
is expecting to produce 50,000 Rapid models next year.


Conditions vary radically around the country with clear skies and
unseasonably high temperatures of up to 21 degrees in the higher
altitudes and cloudy skies and temperatures of around 10 degrees in the
lower-placed regions.

Articles posted on today
Mailbox 20.10.2012

Today in Mailbox: Listening to Radio Prague, comments on recent events
and the current situation in the Czech Republic, answers to last
month's competition question. Listeners/readers quoted: Jedrzej, Ian
Morrison, Mary Lou Krenek, Chun-quan Meng, Barbara M. Ziemba, Charles
Czechoslovakia in 1991: What to do with former secret police

One of the most passionate debates in Czechoslovakia in the first years
after the fall of communism was over what to do with people who had
collaborated with the secret police - the StB - or had held prominent
functions in the Communist Party. In 1991 the so-called "screening law"
was passed, under which former StB collaborators were prevented from
holding certain senior posts - for example in academia or in the civil
service. At the time Radio Prague invited two Czech politicians into
the studio: the left-of-centre member of the Federal Parliament, Jan
Kavan, and the leader of the small right-wing Conservative Party, Jiri
Kotas. Here is an extract from the debate, starting with Jiri Kotas,
who was strongly in favour of the law:
The black experience in the Czech Republic

In the past 20 years, the number of foreigners living in the Czech
Republic has increased dramatically as a consequence of the opening of
the Iron Curtain. Still, the country is far from being as diverse as
most other European nations, for example France or Germany, and the
vast majority of the Czech population remains Caucasian. During
communism, the few black people who lived here stuck out like a sore
thumb. Nowadays, their number has of course increased, but the size of
the black community is still quite small.

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