Thursday, January 31, 2013

News 1.31.2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By: Masha Volynsky

* The Civic Democrats have rejected the ultimatum their coalition
partner TOP 09 has put forward earlier this week.

* The Finance Ministry has worsened the outlook for GDP growth in the
upcoming year.

* The Czech Medical Chamber is calling on private practitioner to
protest against the Health Ministry's measure that could decrease their

* Rivers in Bohemia have risen to dangerous levels in the last few days.

* The annual Three Kings drive has brought in a record amount of
donations for charity.

Civic Democrats reject TOP 09's ultimatum

The Civic Democrats have rejected the ultimatum issued by their
coalition partner TOP 09. The second largest coalition partner
announced on Tuesday that it will not sign the new coalition contract
unless it includes a commitment to join the EU's Fiscal Compact by the
end of the year. The head of the Civic Democrats' deputies' group,
Marek Benda, said that his party will not comply with the demand. At a
meeting on Thursday morning, the Civic Democratic leadership agreed
that there is no reason for the Czech Republic to join the fiscal pact
just yet. The Czech Republic and the UK are the only two EU countries
that have not signed the Fiscal Compact, which is mandatory for
Eurozone member states.

Bartak and Smrz will be tried for soliciting bribes

The Ostrava State Attorney's office has filed a lawsuit against the
former Defense Minister Martin Bartak and the arms dealer Michal Smrz.
Both men are being accused of soliciting bribes from the truck maker
Tatra in exchange for a defense contract deal in 2008. The two men will
be tried separately. The anti-corruption police filed charges against
them last November.

Finance ministry worsens outlook

The Czech Finance Ministry has worsened its economic prognosis for the
upcoming years in a new micro-economic analysis released on Thursday.
According to the new estimates, the Czech GDP will grow only by 0.1%,
compared to the 0.7% that was estimated in October. The Czech National
Bank has previously placed the estimate at 0.2%. The Finance Ministry
has dampened its prognosis because of the anticipated slowing down of
growth in the Eurozone countries, which will influence Czech exports.
The analysis predicts that the economic growth will pick up in 2014,
when the economy should grow by 1.4%.

Zeman asks for protective detail for his daughter

President-elect Milos Zeman has asked the Czech police to place a
protective detail on his nineteen-year-old daughter Katerina. She was a
highly visible member of Mr Zeman's campaign, which is why police
president's deputy has said that giving Ms Zemanova police protection
is warranted. The final decision will be made by the Interior Minister
Jan Kubice, once the proposal is assessed. Mr Zeman was given a state
security detail already on Saturday after being confirmed as the winner
in the presidential elections, but has so far also commissioned a
private security company to protect him.

Medical Chamber calls on doctors to protest

The Czech Medical Chamber is calling on doctors with private practices
to organize protests against new regulations from the Health Ministry
that could drastically lower doctors' incomes. The chamber is warning
that doctors' real wages could decrease by as much as 20% this year,
and some may be forced to cover parts of patient treatments that the
public insurance companies will no longer cover. There is also a
possibility that insurance companies will be re-evaluating all private
practitioners' contracts, as they did with hospitals last year. The
Health Ministry says that private doctors have always been favored by
the public insurance system and the effects of austerity measures will
logically affect them more than hospitals.

Czechs worry about financial security in old age

According to the results of a study released by the Center for Public
Opinion Research (CVVM), some 70% of Czechs are worried about being
financially secure after retirement. A little over 80% of the
respondents said that the government pension will not be sufficient for
maintaining a good quality of life. But only 56% currently have private
savings or investments. The most concerned are people with lower
quality of life and voters of left-wing parties.

Rivers in Bohemia rise as a result of sudden warming

The fast increase in temperatures, melting of snow and rain in the past
few days has caused a number of rivers around the Czech Republic to
rise. Flood warnings are in effect from Thursday morning in the Plzen,
Usti nad Labem and South Bohemian regions. Authorities in Prague,
Central Bohemia, Pardubice, Hradec Kralove and Vysocina regions have
asked residents to be mindful of potential flooding. Nine rivers in
southern Bohemia have risen beyond the first flood level. Some rivers
in the north of Bohemia passed the highest - third - flood level on
Wednesday night, but by Thursday morning were down below dangerous

Three Kings collection sets charity record

The traditional nation-wide Three Kings collection drive organized by
the non-profit organization Charita Czech Republic, brought in a record
amount of donations this year. The drive that is held annually on the
occasion of the Christian holiday of the Magi, or the Three Kings in
Czech, celebrated on January 6, brought in almost 77 million crowns,
which is 1.6 million more than last year. Around 50,000 volunteers
collected money for the two weeks surrounding the holiday dressed as
the three kings and singing carols. This was the thirteenth year of the
drive, and the donated money will go to projects and organizations that
help the physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged persons.

City Hall promotes healthier school meals

The Prague City Hall will launch a month-long project in February,
which will see nutrition consultants visit around 30 schools to advise
their lunchroom staff on how to improve the daily menu. The Mlada
fronta Dnes reported on Thursday that the consultants will have a taste
of what kids are offered in the mess and will make suggestions on how
to prepare tastier and healthier food. As part of the project,
organizers will also hold discussions with the school children about
healthy eating choices.

Zeman comes back to Prague

Milos Zeman has ended his post-campaign recuperation the town of Veseli
na Zdarsku where he has a house and has returned to Prague on Thursday.
The president-elect attended the meeting of the Party for Citizens'
Rights Zemanovci, where he is the honorary chairman. Mr Zeman and his
team will also begin making the necessary preparations for his
transition to the castle.

Tennis: Kvitova past first round at Open GDF Suez

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, ranked eighth in the world on
the women's tour, won her opening match at the Open GDF Suez tournament
in Paris on Wednesday. The tennis player, who won the tournament two
years ago and is the second-seed, defeated Swiss opponent Stefanie
Voegele by a score of 7:6, 6:3. Also at the Suez tournament, fellow
Czech tennis player Lucie Safarova came back from a set down against
Spain's Lourdes Dominguez-Lino to win 2:6, 6:1, 6:1.


The upcoming days will see partly cloudy and overcast skies with
intermittent rain in most parts of the country. Daytime highs will be
between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Lemonade Joe: soft-drink purveying cowboy and cult Czech figure

'Limonadovy Joe' (Lemonade Joe) is a cult sixties Czech western cum
musical about a lemonade salesman in the Wild West. The film started
life as column in a newspaper written by Jiri Brdecka during the war,
before becoming a theatre play, and then finally the all-singing,
all-dancing, film production Czechs know and love today. Tereza
Brdeckova is a film critic and the daughter of Jiri Brdecka, the man
who conceived the movie:

Study suggests broader ban would help reduce the number of underage

More than half of Czechs between the ages of 18 and 22 smoke on a
regular basis, lighting up in bars, restaurants and discotheques. But a
new study suggests that if a strict ban were in place preventing
smoking in just such establishments, many young people might avoid the
habit in the first place.

Bike to Heaven monument to honour cyclists' rights activist and others
killed on Prague streets

A junction at Prague's Nabrezi Kapitana Jarose is set to get an unusual
new monument in May, with the installation of a work by the renowned
artist Kristof Kintera. Comprising a bicycle attached to a street lamp,
Bike to Heaven will serve as a memorial to riders who have been killed
in the city, including cyclists' rights activist Jan Bouchal, who was
run over at that very spot in 2006. The monument is being funded by a
public collection organised by the civic association Auto*Mat, whose
project coordinator Tereza Vohryzkova explained the genesis of the idea.

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