Wednesday, December 19, 2012

News 12.19.2012

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

News Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

By: Ian Willoughby

* The Chamber of Deputies has approved new VAT rates, with the
legislation now set to go before the president.

* MP Roman Pekarek, who has been jailed for five years for corruption,
says he will not give up his seat in the Czech lower house until he has
exhausted all legal means of fighting his sentence.

* Local authorities are to be allowed to impose a three-month residency
ban on those who repeatedly commit particular misdemeanors.

* A vote in the lower house means communities in North Bohemia need not
fear their land being expropriated for coal mining.

* Forty-one percent of babies born in the Czech Republic in 2011 were
to unmarried couples.

Chamber passes VAT changes that will now go before president

The Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday approved changes to the Czech
Republic's VAT rates that will come into effect next year. The Senate
had previously rejected the plan to raise the basic VAT rate to 15
percent and the higher rate to 21 percent. The legislation now goes
before the president, Vaclav Klaus, who has criticised the change. If
Mr. Klaus does veto it, a previously approved single VAT rate of 17.5
percent would come into effect in January, raising the prices of
foodstuffs, medicines, health supplies and other items. At present the
country has VAT rates of 14 and 20 percent.

Jailed MP Pekarek not to quit seat until legal avenues exhausted

Civic Democrat MP Roman Pekarek, who has been jailed for five years for
corruption, says he will not give up his seat in the Czech lower house
until he has exhausted all legal means of fighting his sentence, the
news website reported. However, he cannot appeal a verdict
handed down on Tuesday in connection with bribe-taking over a land
deal. Mr. Pekarek only entered Parliament recently, when another member
of his party resigned. He is set to receive an MP's salary while in
prison, though the Civic Democrats have proposed annulling the pay of
convicted deputies.

Local authorities get right to ban repeat offenders with official
residence elsewhere

Local authorities in the Czech Republic are set to receive the power to
impose a three-month residency ban on individuals who repeatedly commit
selected misdemeanors, such as prostitution, drinking alcohol or
begging in spots where such activities are forbidden. At present, only
courts can impose residency bans. The new powers will not relate to
places where perpetrators have permanent residence. The lower house
narrowly approved the Civic Democrat-submitted legislation on
Wednesday, overturning a veto by President Vaclav Klaus; he described
the measure as populist and possibly unconstitutional.

Vote confirms North Bohemian communities will not be forced to move
over coal deposits

The expropriation of property in connection with the mining of mineral
resources such as coal will no longer be possible, after the Czech
lower house overturned a veto by President Vaclav Klaus. This confirmed
an amendment to the law on mining that did away with the use of eminent
domain in such cases. This is good news for communities in North
Bohemia that had faced the threat of being forced to move, and a
spokesperson for Greenpeace said they could not have received a better
Christmas present.

Lower house approves bill on judges' salaries

The lower house of Parliament has passed a bill which will raise the
salaries of judges and state attorneys. The bill, which sets a legal
framework for the calculation of salaries in 2013, was passed under an
accelerated mechanism known as legislative emergency, in view of the
fact that the current system has been abolished by the Constitutional
Court as of the end of the year. Under the draft proposal, which still
needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the president, judges
will receive 2.7 times the average wage in the public sector.

Forty-one percent of babies born in Czech Republic in 2011 outside

Forty-one percent of babies born in the Czech Republic in 2011 were to
unmarried couples, according to official figures released on Wednesday.
The percentage of babies born outside marriage has been growing since
the end of 1970s, but has accelerated in recent years. Parents have
also been getting older, with the 30 to 34 age category the most common
for mothers last year. Around 17 percent of babies were born to women
of 35 or older.

Former Czech Radio head Vaclav Kasik dies at 65

A former general director of Czech Radio, Vaclav Kasik, has died at the
age of 65. After first working at what was then Czechoslovak Radio as a
freelancer in the 1980s, Mr. Kasik headed the station from 1999 to
2009, when he was dismissed, partly in connection with a renovation of
its main building on Prague's Vinohradska St that was over-budget.
Originally a musician, he was named director of the Czech Philharmonic
in 2010, a position he only held for three months.

Dalai Lama set for 2013 Forum 2000 conference in Prague

The Dalai Lama is set to attend a Forum 2000 conference in Prague next
September, the organisers have announced. The last time the Tibetan
spiritual leader was in the Czech capital was in December 2011, when he
held a meeting with the former president, Vaclav Havel, shortly before
his death. The two had been friends and Mr. Havel frequently invited
the Dalai Lama to Prague. Forum 2000, which was founded by Mr. Havel
and others, brings together leading international thinkers for a series
of debates. Next year's edition will be the 17th.

Joan Baez performs We Shall Overcome at Havel memorial

Joan Baez sang at an outdoor memorial to Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle
on Tuesday evening, in one of a series of events commemorating the
first anniversary of the late president's death. The US folk musician,
who had appeared with Mr. Havel in the Czech capital on the 20th
anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution, led a sing-along of
We Shall Overcome. Baez had previously been in Prague three months ago
to take part in the ceremonial launch of Forum 2000; her programme this
time around includes event linked to the launch of a Czech-language
version of her memoirs.


It should be partly cloudy with some rain or snow in the coming days.
Temperatures are set to reach a maximum of 4 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Ozdoba CZ - traditional Czech producer of Christmas baubles

With Christmas just around the corner, a search is underway in many
households' attics or basements for ornaments that will - in due time -
decorate the Christmas tree. In many families, trees will be adorned
with the colourful glass globes, spikes, figurines and other baubles
whose tradition in the Czech Republic goes back to the times of the
Great Depression. In this edition of Marketplace, we follow the story
of Ozdoba CZ, one of the oldest Czech producers of glass Christmas
Parliament deputy refuses to give up mandate despite jail sentence

The Prague High Court on Tuesday sentenced the former Civic Democrat MP
Roman Pekarek to five years in prison for bribery and abuse of office.
He is expected to begin serving his sentence in a few weeks time, but
appears determined to keep his seat in the lower house of Parliament.
The decision has caused an outcry since under Czech law he cannot be
forced to give up his mandate.
Milos Zeman - political veteran seeking to crown his career

One of the strong favourites in the upcoming direct presidential
election is Milos Zeman, a former prime minister and ex-leader of the
Social Democrats. He promises to be a "people's president" who would
unite and moderate political conflicts. However, some would say that in
his long career, the prickly Mr. Zeman did very little of that.

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