Wednesday, April 24, 2013

News 4.24.2013

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

News Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech prime minister has criticized President Zeman for his
remarks about the post-WWII expulsions of ethnic Germans.

* A group of MEPs has called on top Czech officials to take action
against the destabilization of the country's totalitarian studies
institute.

* The Czech government has approved a controversial bill on the Sumava
National Park.

* One third of Czechs want a snap general election, a new poll has
found.

* The Czech Education Ministry has finalized a draft reform of
university education.



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PN Necas slams President Zeman over Sudeten German remarks
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Prime Minister Petr Necas on Wednesday criticized President Milos Zeman
over his remarks over the post-war expulsion of ethnic Germans from
Czechoslovakia. During his visit to Austria, Mr Zeman on Tuesday said
the expulsion of around three million Germans was justified as 90
percent of them had voted for a Nazi party. He also suggested that for
collaborators with an occupying power, the expulsion was less severe
punishment than death penalty. Speaking in Prague on Wednesday, Prime
Minister Necas said the president should adopt a more measured tone,
and realize that "we live in 2013 and are members of the EU".


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President Zeman concludes Austrian visit
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In related news, President Milos Zeman on Wednesday concludes his
two-day visit to Austria, his second foreign trip abroad since his
inauguration last month. Mr Zeman visited the Austrian Parliament on
Wednesday; at a meeting with Austrian and Czech entrepreneurs, the
Czech president spoke about the future adoption of the euro by the
Czech Republic, and it would protect the country against speculations
with the national currency. Mr Zeman also said the two countries should
increase economic cooperation.


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MEPs call on top Czech officials over totalitarian studies institute
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A group of 25 MEPs on Wednesday called on top Czech officials to take
action against the destabilization of the country's Institute for the
Study of Totalitarian Regimes, the news agency CTK said. In a letter to
the Czech president, prime minister and the head of the Senate, the
deputies expressed their concern over the recent replacement of the
institute's director, which could lead to the closing down of the
government-sponsored institute, the MEPs said.

Earlier this month, the institute's overseeing board dismissed its
director, Daniel Herman. Critics believe the move was politically
motivated by the opposition which wants to change the discourse of the
country's communist past.


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Presidential amnesty halts prosecution of 415 cases
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Czech judges and attorneys halted the prosecution of 757 people in 415
cases by the end of March on the basis of an amnesty issued in January
by then president Vaclav Klaus, a spokeswoman for the Supreme State
Attorney said on Wednesday. Around half of the cases were related to
alleged economic crime. The controversial amnesty, which among other
things ordered judges and prosecutors to stop cases lasting for more
than eight years, came under severe criticism and prompted the Senate
to raise high treason charges against then president Vaclav Klaus at
the Czech Constitutional Court.


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Government approves controversial Sumava bill
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The Czech Government on Wednesday approved a controversial bill on the
Sumava National Park. The draft legislation would, among other things,
change the park zones and allow logging in places where it is now
prohibited. The bill would also relax the rules for building skiing
resorts and hotels. While the Environment Ministry believes the bill
would provide better protection for the park against the bark beetle,
but critics says it would in effect expose the park's most precious
areas to developers and logging firms.


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Poll: one third of Czechs want snap elections
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Around 34 of Czechs want a snap general election, according to a new
poll by STEM agency. Meanwhile, 16 percent of those polled said they
wanted the current coalition government to continue until the next
regular election scheduled for May 2014, and another 12 percent believe
the government should continue but changes at some ministerial posts
should be made.


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Education Ministry finalized draft university reform
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The Czech Education Ministry has finalized a draft reform of university
education, the news agency CTK reported. The reform should give
universities more autonomy, change the system of their financing and
accreditation, and introduce several new fees such as for recognizing
degrees earned abroad. The reform will also allow universities to hire
experts without the otherwise required academic ranks. The draft reform
will now be discussed by university officials. If eventually approved
by lawmakers, it could enter into force by mid 2015.


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Prague City Hall coalition "in crisis"
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The coalition of the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 group at Prague City
Hall is undergoing another major crisis, the news agency CTK reported
on Wednesday. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, of the Civic Democrats, abruptly
ended Tuesday's session of the council over disputes concerning a
planned restructuring of the city hall. Council members for TOP 09
threatened to leave the coalition, and said they would announce their
decision by Friday.


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Zeman's presidential stamps enter distribution
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Czech Post on Wednesday began distribution new stamps with the portrait
of President Milos Zeman. The president's portrait on the stamp was
based on a photograph by Herbert Slavik. Czech Post has so far produced
10 million pieces of the new stamp which is worth 10 crowns.
Previously, it had produced 94 million presidential stamps with the
portrait of Vaclav Klaus, and 260 million with Vaclav Havel's image.


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Model Eva Herzigova gives birth to third son
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Czech model Eva Herzigova gave birth to her third son, the news website
idnes.cz reported. The boy, named Edward, was born in London on Sunday,
an associate of the 40-year-old model told the website. Eva Herzigova
and her partner, Gregorio Marsaij, already have two sons, five-year-old
George and two-year-old Phillip. Eva Herzigova started her modelling
career in 1989, and has worked for Dior, Chanel, Victoria's Secret and
other brands.


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Man gets 8.5 years for setting apartment building on fire
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A court in Prague on Wednesday sentenced a 31-year-old man to 8.5 years
in prison for setting a high-rise apartment building on fire. The court
said that in February 2012, the man set fire to the door of an
apartment where his ex-girlfriend was staying with three children. The
fire destroyed the flat; the woman with the children was rescued by
fire fighters while 25 inhabitants of the building were also evacuated.


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Police catch thief of 400 cremation urns
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The police have caught a man suspected of having stolen some 400
cremations urns from cemeteries in northern Bohemia. The police said
the 23-year-repeat offender, who confessed to the crime, emptied the
urns and damaged them in order to sell them as scrap metal, causing
damages of around 200,000 crowns. The man faces charges of theft and
desecration of human remains; if convicted, he could land a five-year
sentence.


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Weather
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The current warm and sunny conditions with daytime highs of around 23
degrees Celsius should continue until the weekend when a cooler spell
with rain is expected.



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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Number of Prague cyclists doubles - despite City Hall's approach, say
activists
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A recent study for Prague City Hall found that the number of people who
regularly get around the city on bikes has doubled over the past two
years, reaching 120,000, or around 10 percent of the city's population.
But biking advocates say this was achieved in spite, rather than due
to, the authorities' approach to cycling in the city.

http://radio.cz/en/section/marketplace/number-of-prague-cyclists-doubles-despite-city-halls-approach-say-activists


Clash between Czech president and foreign minister revived in
neighbouring Austria
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They were supposed to have buried the hatchet a week ago but a clash
between Czech President Milos Zeman and the country's foreign minister,
Karel Schwarzenberg, was revived on Tuesday. Most remarkably, during
the president's visit to Austria. All it took was a few words to again
shake things up. The president suggested if he couldn't reach agreement
with the foreign minister on ambassadorial posts, he would sidestep him
entirely.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/clash-between-czech-president-and-foreign-minister-revived-in-neighbouring-austria


Church starts process of beatifying "miracle" priest killed by
Communists
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The Roman Catholic Church has begun the process of beatifying a priest
who was at the centre of one of the most bizarre and gruesome episodes
of the initial phase of communism in Czechoslovakia. After a cross was
said to have moved in his village church, Josef Toufar was brutally
tortured into confessing to fabricating the "miracle". However, if he
is beatified, it will be a lengthy process.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/church-starts-process-of-beatifying-miracle-priest-killed-by-communists






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