Friday, April 19, 2013

News 4.19.2013

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

News Friday, April 19th, 2013

By: Masha Volynsky

* Press reports: Police have filed corruption charges against former
health minister Tomas Julinek

* The Education Ministry has prepared a draft amendment that introduces
significant changes in school funding to help disadvantaged districts.

* President Milos Zeman has met with former Finance Minister Jiri
Rusnok to discuss plans for a rescue fund that would be used to help
repay the country's national debt.

* Part of Narodni street in the center of Prague was closed down on
Friday after a suspicious suitcase was found by the police.

* A new study has shown that the number of Czech seniors using mobile
phones and the internet has risen dramatically in the past five years.

Former health minister Julinek accused of corruption

The anti-corruption police have filed charges against former health
minister Tomas Julinek, according to press reports on Friday. The
former Civic Democrat minister has been charged with abuse of office
and breach of trust for allowing two private companies to take over the
operation of air ambulances in 2008. The move has so far cost the state
around 800 million crowns, which is the difference between the private
operators' expenses and those of the ministries of interior and
defence, which previously provided the service. Mr Julinek, who could
face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty, will not be taken into
custody for the duration of the investigation.

Education Ministry releases major school funding amendment

The Education Ministry has prepared a draft amendment that
significantly alters the system of school financing in a way that would
better support currently disadvantaged schools and students. According
to the amendment, that is yet to be debated by both houses of
parliament, all regions should receive the same amount of money per
student, depending on the given type of school. The proposal also
envisages simplifying the procedures for disadvantaged children
receiving government support. The ministry hopes to improve job
security for school principals and teachers and wants to introduce the
possibility of homeschooling in the upper level of primary schools.

Necas visits Finland

Prime Minister Petr Necas is on a one-day working visit to Finland. He
is scheduled to meet with his Finnish counterpart Jyrki Katainen and
will be received by President Sauli Niinisto. On Friday morning the
Czech prime minister addressed the Czech-Finnish Business Forum at a
meeting of the European Democratic Union, an alliance of European
conservative parties. Finland is an important trading partner for the
export-dependent Czech economy, with a stable interest in Czech
engineering products and Skoda cars. The Czech side is hoping to raise
its traditional export commodities and is seeking new business
opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and power production.

President has plans for rescue fund

President Milos Zeman met with former finance minister Jiri Rusnok on
Friday to discuss the setting up of a special fund, where the president
is planning to deposit 30% of his monthly salary as a symbolic
contribution towards repaying the Czech national debt, which last year
amounted to almost 1,700 billion crowns. In addition to donating a
portion of his own monthly salary, which totals over 300,000 crowns,
President Zeman is planning to encourage other potential donors to
follow his example.

Suspicious suitcase found in Prague center

The police closed down part of the busy Narodni street in the center of
Prague on Friday morning, because of a suspicious black suitcase, which
was discovered during a regular patrol of the area. While explosives
experts were retrieving the object, a part of the street was cordoned
off and police were re-routing traffic. The police bomb disposal unit
transported the suitcase to a safe location for investigation, after
which the street was reopened.

Mayor of Rath's home town files charges against Prague court

The mayor of the town Hostivice near Prague has filed criminal charges
against an unknown perpetrator at the Prague regional court who
disclosed personal details of the defendants in the case against the
former Central Bohemia governor David Rath. The mayor of the town where
Mr Rath has permanent residency claims that the regional court violated
the privacy law by releasing to the public information about all of the
11 people accused in the ongoing case.

First victory in loan account fees case

A Prague municipal court ruled for the plaintiff on Thursday in the
first of thousands of ongoing court cases against banks and lending
institutions. Michal Novak will receive 4,200 crowns from Hypotecni
banka as compensation for being charged a maintenance fee for his loan
account. Around 130 thousand clients have filed similar charges against
major financial institutions from which they had taken out loans or
mortgages and this decision may serve as a precedent for upcoming

More seniors use modern technology

The number of seniors in the Czech Republic using mobile phones and the
internet has increased dramatically in the past decade, according to a
recent study by the Czech Statistical Office. Ten years ago one-fifth
of all Czechs aged 65 and older used mobile phones, today they are used
by 84% of that age group and around 17% percent use the internet. The
biggest jump in cell phone use is among 75-year-olds and older. Whereas
in 2007, less than 30% of that group were using mobile phones, today it
is around 70%.

Festival of healthy lifestyle begins in Prague

Prague's fairgrounds are hosting a festival of healthy living called
Festival Evolution from Friday to Sunday. This is an umbrella event for
four related exhibits focused on organic food, sustainable energy use,
personal development and alternative lifestyles. The event is open to
the public and offers hundreds of stands, workshops and lectures.

President and cardinal invite pope to Velehrad for Cyril and Methodius

President Zeman met with Cardinal Dominik Duka on Friday to draft an
invitation addressed to Pope Francis for the celebration of the 1150th
anniversary of the arrival of Cyril and Methodius in the Great Moravian
Empire, which will take place in July in Velehrad in eastern Moravia.
Czech church officials had invited Pope Benedict XVI for the
celebration before he stepped down, and now want to urge the newly
elected pope to attend the event. The Pope's secretary has said that so
far the head of the Catholic Church has the dates of the celebration
free, but did not confirm if the Pope is planning to attend.


The recent spell of warm weather will give way to cloudy skies and rain
in the upcoming days, though sunny skies may reappear by the end of the
weekend. Daytime highs should be between 11 and 16 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 19.4.2013

In Business News: The EC proposal to lower the ceiling on business
incentives could severely undercut investment in the country, the Czech
Statistical Office posts the highest Czech current account on record, a
Czech district court passes a breakthrough verdict in a dispute over
bank fees and one in twelve Czechs now have a problem repaying their

GASK to offer a bit of Venice in upcoming exhibition

In this week's Arts I talk to Jitka Hanusova of Art for People,
collaborating on an upcoming exhibition at the GASK Gallery in Kutna
Hora, central Bohemia. The show, entitled "Venice - the Eternal Dream",
opens next week, featuring work by Italian photographer Maria Pia
Severi and Venetian Carnevale masks from the traditional Pietro Longhi

Czech Republic to provide aid to devastated Texan town

The Czech Republic will provide aid to the Texan town of West, which
has been devastated by a massive explosion at a local fertiliser plant.
The country's ambassador to the US has arrived in the town, which has a
very strong Czech heritage, and says the Czech government will help
rebuild the community. More assistance for West should also come from
the north Moravian towns whose inhabitants settled in the town more
than a century ago.

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