Thursday, April 18, 2013

News 4.18.2013

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

News Thursday, April 18th, 2013

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The Czech ambassador to the US is in West, Texas providing assistance
to Czech-Americans in the wake of Wednesday's devastating fertilizer
plant explosion.

* Health Minister Leos Heger has announced several hospital mergers in
connection with the government's austerity measures.

* The Energy Regulatory Office has launched an inspection into dozens
of solar plants which received a license to operate in late 2010 just
ahead of a significant drop in state subsidies.

* Town mayors are planning to demonstrate against the government's
proposed plan for the distribution of EU subsidies in the years between
2014 and 2020.

* The finance minister has refused MPs money to set up a Parliamentary
football team.



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Ambassador Gandalovic goes to Texas
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The Czech ambassador to the US, Petr Gandalovic, is in West, Texas
providing assistance to Czech-Americans in the wake of Wednesday's
devastating fertilizer plant explosion. According to local police
sources 15 people were killed in the blast, over a hundred were injured
and many people have been left homeless. West has some 2,700 residents
and is home to large community of Czech immigrants. A number of
Czech-Americans are reported to have been among the firefighters who
fought the blaze.


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Health minister announces planned hospital mergers
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Health Minister Leos Heger on Thursday announced several hospital
mergers in connection with the government's austerity measures. The
health minister said the planned mergers would save the health sector
approximately 60 million crowns annually. Among others the Prague
Rheumatology Institute is to merge with Prague's General Teaching
Hospital and in Brno two teaching hospitals are to merge with the Brno
Centre for Cardiology and Transplant Medicine. The move has come under
fire from the opposition which says it will lower the quality of health
care, extend the waiting period for operations and reduce the number of
hospital beds for patients.


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ERU launches inspection of solar plants
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The Energy Regulatory Office has launched an inspection into dozens of
solar plants which received a license to operate in late 2010 just
ahead of a significant drop in state subsidies. According to ERU
reports some solar plant owners filed an application on December 30th
and received positive confirmation of their request within 24 hours on
the last day of the year. The police are also on the case. An internal
audit at the Energy Regulatory Office earlier this year indicated that
former employees may have illegally upped the prices of electricity
from solar plants. The suspected scams involving solar energy are said
to have incurred damages worth tens of billions of crowns.


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Foglova confirms more dismissals
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The newly-installed head of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian
Regimes Pavla Foglova has confirmed her intention to dismiss office
head Pavel Zacek, head of the security services archive Zlatuse
Kukanova and the institute's deputy for economic affairs Rene Schreier.
The institute's former head Daniel Herman was dismissed last week for
allegedly failing to restore order to the troubled institution and make
a headway with digitalization. The institute's 15-member academic
council promptly resigned in protest of the move saying it was
politically motivated.


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Town mayors to demonstrate for better use of EU funds
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Town mayors are planning to demonstrate against the government's
proposed plan for the distribution of EU subsidies in the years between
2014 and 2020. They say the proposal involves excessive bureaucracy,
leaves room for corruption and may leave potential funds untapped.
Mayors say EU funds should primarily be used to improve the standard of
living in rural areas and so to close the gap between the big cities
and the rest of the country. In the 2014-2020 timeframe the Czech
Republic could potentially draw over 20 billion euros from EU funds.
Smaller towns and villages want more direct access to the money.


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Finance minister tells deputies to pay their own way to Soci football
tournament
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Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has refused MPs money to set up a
Parliamentary football team which would represent the Czech Republic at
the next parliamentary football tournament in Soci, Russia. Deputies
from different political parties had asked for 650 thousand crowns from
public funds to pay for travel and hotel expenses. The idea came under
fire from some of their colleagues in view of the country's economic
problems. Minister Kalousek said on Thursday he had nothing against the
idea but that MPS should pay their own way.


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Court rules in favour of man who was four days late in paying alimony
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The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a man who has been
fined hundreds of thousands of crowns for being four days late in
paying alimony. The man's ex-wife filed a complaint the day after the
payment was due and his case was handed to a bailiff even though the
payment was by then settled. The man has now been asked to pay the
costs relating to bailiff services. The Constitutional Court ruled that
the bailiff had no right to demand money for any services other than
certifiable expenditures and sent the case back to the regional court.


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Father faces trial for murdering own child
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A sixty-four-year-old man who murdered his twelve-year-old daughter in
a fit of jealousy has gone on trial. The highly publicized court case
opened in Liberec on Thursday with the state attorney demanding
exceptional punishment. The man himself has refused to testify in
court. Psychological tests indicate he is not deranged and was fully
aware of the crime he committed. The man murdered his own child in a
fit of rage against her mother who was working abroad at the time and
saw the incident on Skype. The girl was repeatedly stabbed with a
kitchen knife and was heard pleading with her father to spare her life.
The man could get 20 years to a life sentence.


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Czech and Slovak university rectors meet in Brno
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The rectors of Czech and Slovak public, private and state universities
are holding a two-day conference in Brno. They are discussing
financing, research conditions and possibilities for future
cooperation. Czech rectors will also debate the planned reform of
university education.


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Hockey: Plzen beat Zlin in finals' game five
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Plzen are one win away from the league title after they beat Zlin 2:1
in game five of the playoffs' finals in Zlin on Wednesday, taking a 3:2
lead in the best-of seven series. Zlin had a good start and scored in
the 7th minute but Plzen equalized just 13 second before the second
intermission, and added another six minutes into the third period.
Plzen's line-up included former Olympic winner and NHL veteran Jaroslav
Spacek who came back for the game four months after he announced
retirement; he took four shots at the goal. The next game is scheduled
for Friday in Plzen.


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Weather:
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After a couple of days of unseasonably warm weather, we can expect
overcast skies and rain with temperatures dropping to between 10 and 15
degrees Celsius.



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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Is the Czech media helping give Romanies a bad name?
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A survey out this week has put Romanies at the bottom of the ladder as
the least popular minority in the Czech Republic. It is not for the
first time that they hold this unenviable position, nor is it likely to
be the last. So what makes the Romany minority so unacceptable in the
eyes of the majority white population? According to the Czech
government agency for social inclusion the media is partly to blame.

http://radio.cz/en/section/panorama/is-the-czech-media-helping-give-romanies-a-bad-name


Many dead as fertiliser explosion devastates 'Czech' farming town in
Texas
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The fire and massive explosion at a fertiliser plant in the small Texas
town of West has flattened dozens of homes and left untold numbers of
people dead - casualty figures haven't been released as many are still
trapped in the wreckage of their homes. The disaster is being followed
closely here in the Czech Republic - the town was settled by Czech
immigrants in the 19th century, and some three quarters of the
population are of Czech origin.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/many-dead-as-fertiliser-explosion-devastates-czech-farming-town-in-texas


Revolution underway on Czech mobile market
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The Czech mobile telephony market is undergoing a dramatic change after
one of the country's three major operators slashed its tariffs by about
half, a move immediately followed by its competitors. Following years
of complaints about high mobile bills, Czechs can now get unlimited
calls and text messages at prices similar to other countries in the
region.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/revolution-underway-on-czech-mobile-market






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