Thursday, February 14, 2013

News 2.14.2013

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

News Thursday, February 14th, 2013

By: Daniela Lazarova

* There is mounting speculation regarding the possible dismissal of
Culture Minister Alena Hanakova who has come under fire for
incompetence.

* The Czech and German interior ministers met in Prague on Thursday to
discuss measures aimed at curbing drug smuggling across the common
border.

* The Czech economy remains in recession, having contracted by 1.1
percent year-on-year in 2012.

* The Prague 1 state attorneys' office says it will not deal with
criminal complaints regarding the presidential amnesty.

* The maker of the famous herbal liquor Becherovka reports losses to
the tune of 100 million crowns as a result of the enforced prohibition
last year.



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Culture minister under fire
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There is mounting speculation regarding the possible dismissal of
Culture Minister Alena Hanakova who has come under fire for
incompetence. The ruling TOP 09 party which appointed her to the post
on Thursday met to discuss the situation. The party has come under
pressure from its coalition partners who clearly consider Ms. Hanakova
a weak link in the cabinet. The culture minister says no one has
approached her on the matter but according to well-informed sources
cited by Czech Television her party has already approached the head of
the Prague Music Academy Ivo Mathe with an offer for him to take over
the ministry of culture.


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Czech artists protest against lower subsidies
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Czech artists are staging a protest outside the culture ministry over
dwindling subsidies for live art. The ministry slashed this year's
budget for live art by 100 million crowns to 280 million, sparking
protests both from artists and the art committees which hand out
grants. Critics say that the ministry's policy is devastating this
field of culture. Subsidies for it have dropped by 57 percent since
2007. Culture Minister Alena Hanakova has promised to try to find
additional funds, but points out that the ministry is restricted by a
significantly lower budget due to the government's fiscal consolidation
drive.


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Czech-German officials address cross-border drug smuggling
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The Czech and German interior ministers met in Prague on Thursday to
discuss means of curbing drug-smuggling across the common border.
Bavaria and Saxony report a steep rise in drug trafficking from the
neighbouring Czech Republic. The authorities say the problem concerns
mainly the home-made drug pervitin, known in Germany as Crystal, and
cheap marihuana, smuggled across the border both by Czechs and German
tourists. There have even been cases of German dealers paying Czechs to
come and make the drug pervitin in Germany. The two sides have agreed
to intensify cooperation between customs officials, police and the
judiciary.


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Czech economy remains in recession
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The Czech economy contracted by 1.1 percent year-on-year in 2012 and
gross domestic product in the fourth quarter dropped by 1.7 percent in
annual terms and by 0.2 percent compared to the previous quarter,
according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday.
Higher taxes on consumer goods contributed negatively to the GDP drop,
their annual decrease at almost 2 percent, the office said. The GDP
figure is in line with analysts�� expectations. The Czech economy has
been in recession since the end of 2011.


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State attorneys not to deal with presidential amnesty
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The Prague 1 state attorneys' office says it will not deal with
criminal complaints regarding the presidential amnesty. A spokesman for
the office said on Thursday that according to the constitution the
president had acted fully within his powers in declaring the amnesty
and neither state attorneys nor the police were in a position to
challenge the decision. The broad amnesty declared by President Vaclav
Klaus on January 1st, has resulted in the release of over 6,400
prisoners and may pertain to a number of high-profile corruption and
embezzlement cases.


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Becherovka reports heavy losses in wake of methanol deaths
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The maker of the famous herbal liquor Becherovka reports losses to the
tune of 100 million crowns as a result of the enforced prohibition last
year. The Jan Becher-Karlovarska Becherovka company said sales were
down by 12 percent year-on-year. The losses were caused not only on the
government enforced ban on spirits, which lasted for two weeks, but by
lower exports due to the methanol scare. Close to 40 people died of
methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic last year after consuming
dangerous bootleg alcohol. Liquor sales dropped by an average 10
percent as a result and have not yet fully returned to their previous
levels. According to the head of the Union of Spirits Producers Petr
Pavlik, 2012 was the worst year for Czech spirits producers since 1990.


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Danish tourists take Prague by storm
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Two Danish students were detained after assaulting police officers in a
brawl in the centre of Prague on Wednesday night. A group of 15 Danish
nationals, who had been out drinking got into a fight in the city
centre and the police was called to restore order. It is the third case
of violence involving Danish tourists this week. A Danish national was
stabbed in a hotel where his compatriots demolished several hotel rooms
in a wild party on Tuesday and later that night a Danish student
smashed a shop window with a garbage can. The Danish Embassy has
expressed regret over the incidents.


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Police investigating murder of four-year-old charge mother
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Police investigating the brutal murder of a four-year-old girl in the
town of Ceska Lipa have charged her mother. The child, who was alone in
the house with her mother at the time of the incident, died of stab
wounds to her throat and the mother was found in critical condition
with slit wrists. According to media reports she may have been on drugs
at the time of the tragedy. If convicted of murder she could face a
jail sentence of 15 to 20 years.


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Heavy snow closes Lanzhot border crossing to trucks
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The Lanzhot border crossing on the Czech-Slovak border was closed to
trucks on Thursday morning due to heavy snow in Slovakia and Hungary.
Police said the decision was made in coordination with the Slovak
authorities who reported severe traffic problems along the D2 highway.
Trucks are reported to be blocking many roads and parking lots are
bursting at the seams due to severe transport problems in Hungary. By
the time the border crossing re-opened at 1pm there was a 4 km long
line of trucks waiting to cross the border.


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Smog alert in Moravia
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The Hydro-meteorological Institute has called a smog alert in Moravia,
the eastern part of the Czech Republic where air pollution is a chronic
problem in the winter months. Dust particles in the air on Thursday
exceeded permitted levels at all monitoring stations in the region. The
air pollution is reported to be worst in Trinec, Frydek-Mistek and
Karvina. The local authorities have asked drivers to restrict their
movement in cities to a minimum and use public transport wherever
possible. The fact that many people in the region use coal heating is
further complicating the situation. Children and elderly people as well
as chronically ill patients have been advised to stay indoors.


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Weather
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The coming days should bring overcast skies and scattered snow showers
with day temperatures between 1 and -1 degrees Celsius.




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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Bill curbing anonymous shares faces legislative hurdle
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The Czech Republic is one of three countries in the world that allows
companies to issue anonymous bearer shares which has long been
considered a major hurdle in the fight against corruption. Czech
lawmakers have now moved to end the practice - but draft legislation
that would reveal bearer shares' owners was stalled in the lower house
this week when it ran into subtle opposition by a group of Civic
Democrat deputies. MV has the details.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/bill-curbing-anonymous-shares-faces-legislative-hurdle


Rap video exhorts Roma parents not to send children to special school
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A new rap video exhorting Roma parents not to allow their kids to be
sent to special schools for the mentally handicapped is currently doing
the rounds on YouTube. So far it's been seen over 25,000 times, a
respectable number for the Czech Republic, and has several hundred
'likes'. It's the work of a Czech NGO involved in the decade-long
struggle to get Roma kids into regular primary schools.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/rap-video-exhorts-roma-parents-not-to-send-children-to-special-school


Government considers guaranteeing electricity prices to pay for Temelin
expansion
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The Czech state-controlled energy giant CEZ is looking at bids in one
of the biggest investment projects in Czech history - the construction
of two new blocks at the Temelin nuclear power plant. However, dropping
electricity prices have raised questions over the project's long-term
profitability. To ensure the 300- or-so-billion-crowns investment pays
back, the Czech government is now considering introducing fixed
electricity prices.

http://radio.cz/en/section/marketplace/government-considers-guaranteeing-electricity-prices-to-pay-for-temelin-expansion






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