Thursday, October 4, 2012

News 10.4.2012

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

News Thursday, October 4th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The Health Ministry is drafting new legislation aimed at combating
alcohol use among minors.

* Plans have been unveiled for the first-ever reform of psychiatric

* The Prague Institute of Chemical Technology has developed a new
method of measuring the methanol content in spirits without opening the
respective bottle of alcohol.

* Police in north-eastern Bohemia have uncovered two fully automated
marijuana-growing facilities.

* Two of the suspects involved in the corruption scandal around MP
David Rath have been released from prison.

Health Ministry looking at new legislation to combat alcohol use among

Health Minister Leos Heger has agreed with spirits manufacturers on a
joint approach to preventing alcohol use among minors. A new bill on
addictive substances is to cover prevention among minors, alcohol sales
methods and modify health controls and fines. The Health Ministry said
that under the proposed bill, those who sell alcohol to minors could
face not only the current financial penalty of up to three million
crowns, but could also lose their licences. The Ministry is giving its
proposals to a inter-ministerial coordination group that the government
created on Wednesday. The group has two weeks to submit the new
legislation to the government which will also enable authorities to
crack down more on bootleg producers. The move comes in the wake of a
serious outbreak of methanol-related deaths from bootleg liquor, which
estimates say makes up 20 percent of the spirits market.

Health Ministry unveils plans for first-ever reform of psychiatric care

The Health Ministry also unveiled plans on Thursday for the first ever
reform of psychiatric care. Deputy health minister Marek Zenisek
announced that the reform would primarily involve shifting care from
large institutions to smaller centres closer to the patients and with
the goal of achiving the European standard of psychiatric care. The
Czech Republic, he said, could receive up to six billion crowns from
the European Union for the reform. At present, 20 psychiatric
facilities treat about 600,000 patients each year and have beds for
9,000. Zenisek said that the options included reducing the number of
beds, closing entire pavilions or entire facilities.

New method can detect methanol content without opening bottle

The Prague Institute of Chemical Technology has developed a new method
of measuring the methanol content in spirits without opening the
respective bottle of alcohol. The method, based on Raman spectroscopy,
is markedly cheaper and faster than classical tests, and has proved
highly reliable. It can moreover be undertaken with the help of a
small, mobile device which can be used anywhere in the field.
Scientists developed the method in response to the recent outbreak of
methanol-related deaths when the institute was inundated by requests
from the public to verify the safety of spirits people have at home.

Police find two large marijuana-growing facilities

Police in north-eastern Bohemia have uncovered two fully automated
marijuana-growing facilities. The product was likely intended for sale
in nearby Poland and win over some of the black market there through
low prices. The facilities were equipped with machinery worth an
estimated 700,000 crowns. Drugs worth about five million crowns were
found on the premises. Four men - two of them Poles - were arrested in
connection with the case through raids made in recent days. If
convicted they could face up to 12 years imprisonment.

Two suspects in Rath corruption case released

Two of the suspects involved in the corruption scandal around MP David
Rath have been released from prison. Dr. Rath and five others have been
in prison since May, when the then-governor of Central Bohemia was
arrested after receiving seven million crowns in a box. According to
the Czech Press Agency, the head of the company Konstruktiva Branko,
Pavel Drazdansky, has been released, as has the chairman of the company
Puro-Klima, Martin Jires. David Rath himself is currently appealing a
verdict on bail. He and ten others are charged with bribery and
manipulating public tenders.

Police ramping up security ahead of Sparta-Bilbao match

Police in Prague are undertaking special security measures in
anticipation of Thursday's football match between Sparta Prague and
Spain's Atletic Bilbao. Police have assessed the European League match
as high risk and anticipate hundreds of incoming fans. The police
directorate has activated nearly 300 additional officers. The
management of both football clubs are also assisting in increasing the
security measures.

Hundreds of children evacuated from school due to gas scare

Firemen evacuated some six hundred children from a primary school in
Karlovy Vary on Wednesday due to a potential gas leak. The measure was
taken after the children began saying they were not feeling well. Five
were taken to hospital with minor signs of poisoning, however police
say none of the children are at risk. The gas was found to have merely
wafted in to the school from outside and the children were allowed back
in after the building was ventilated.

Schwarzenberg becomes official presidential candidate

TOP O9 chairman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has received
the required number of signatures to officially launch his presidential
bid. Mr Schwarzenberg received the signatures of all 40 of the MPs from
his own party and the affiliated Mayors and Independents party. The
foreign minister said that the real pre-election struggle would now
begin, and that he was happily and resolutely prepared for it. He is
currently trailing at around 6% in opinion polls, in which former PM
Jan Fischer retains a sound lead above all others.

Passenger car sales up 3% in first three quarters

Sales of passenger cars in the Czech Republic grew by almost 3% between
January and September, the Car Importers Association has reported.
However, demand has slumped in the last three months, dropping by 4% in
September. The top-selling manufacturer was Skoda Auto, which
maintained its market share of over 30% with 40,144 cars sold. Hyundai
came second with 11,688 cars, followed closely by Volkswagen with
11,011. The following positions were occupied by Ford, Renault and Kia.
Companies bought nearly 60% of new cars, with the rest was purchased by
households. Customers preferred small cars, which accounted for almost
one-quarter of the market, followed by medium-sized (19%) and
lower-medium (16%).

Ostrava Police close 23-year-old missing-person case

Police in the eastern city of Ostrava have closed a 23-year-old
missing-person case after receiving positive DNA evidence. The missing
woman, who was 81, was reported missing in the summer of 1989 after she
left her home and did not return. Forest workers found her partial
remains at the end of last year and her DNA was matched with that of
her son. The evidence suggests that the woman had gotten lost in the
woods, as her family had feared.


Weather conditions should be mostly cloudy to overcast with a chance of
afternoon showers and highs of 19-20oC.

Articles posted on today
Czech & Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids: helping people learn the lessons
of the past

The Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently
experienced the worst period in its 38-year-long history. Devastated by
the 2008 floods the museum has fought long and hard to survive and
continue to fulfil its mission -bearing testimony to the two small
European nations' search for identity, human rights and freedom in the
turbulent times of the 20th century. Thanks to generous donations from
institutions and individuals the museum was able to reopen its doors to
the public this summer. Its head Gail Naughton visited Radio Prague's
studio recently to talk about what the institution had lost and gained
by the 2008 floods and share her plans for the future.
Government's anti-corruption drive comes too close to home for comfort

The Czech government's anti-corruption drive has claimed another victim
close to home: a member of the cabinet. Labour and Social Affairs
Minister Jaromir Drabek on Wednesday announced his resignation from
office not long after the police charged his first deputy with bribery.
While the minister proclaimed his innocence and attempted to salvage
his party's reputation by doing the "honorable thing", the information
being released on the case is highly unsettling.
Study maps makeup of Czech household waste

Last month students from Vienna's University of Natural Resources and
Life Sciences sank their gloved hands into piles of Czech garbage -
specifically from the town of Jihlava and surrounding areas. The work
was part of a project mapping household waste, including food items. I
spoke to Professor Felicistas Schneider, who led her students in the
study and found out for example that some Czechs triple-wrap food waste
in thin baggies. But she began first by discussing the main aim of the
project in connection with raising awareness and reducing food waste.

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