Monday, February 25, 2008

Czech Republic Reflects On 60 Years Since Communists Took Power

Prague - Events will take place all day on Monday in Prague to reflect on the 60th anniversary of the Communists' rise to power in Czechoslovakia on February 25, 1948. Both the critics of the Communist takeover as well as today's heirs of the former totalitarian regime will participate in entirely disparate events. For example the current Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) plans a demonstration "against the government, for socialism, and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the events of February", while the second annual Mene Tekel festival "against totalitarianism, evil, and violence to revive the memory of the Czech nation" is scheduled to take place simultaneously. (source: CTK)

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Foreigners Who Want Czech Residency Will Have To Speak Czech

Prague - Foreigners in the Czech Republic applying for permanent residency or citizenship will soon have to pass a Czech language exam. Starting next year anyone wishing permanent residency will have to speak Czech at level A1, meaning the ability to communicate and to manage basic day-to-day living situations. Those wishing citizenship will have to pass the much harder test at level A2. "Knowledge of the Czech language or language integration is a basic prerequisite for any sort of integration", stated the Minister for Human Rights, Dzamila Stehlikova. (source: novinky.cz) The author has just added a Czech language widget to this blog for those needing to start learning Czech.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Czech Soldiers Are Helping to Defend the New Border Between Kosovo and Serbia

Pristina/Prague - Today two platoons of Czech soldiers attached to the NATO Kosovo force (KFOR) are helping local police monitor and defend the new border between Kosovo and Serbia. At the border crossing Serb veterans have started burning tires and throwing rocks in protest of the declaration of independence by Kosovo. Meanwhile demonstrators breached the security of the American Embassy compound in Belgrade, Serbia and set fires. So far one unidentified charred body has been discovered by firefighters. Demonstrations are also taking place in Prague, where the Czech government has not yet formally recognized the new state of Kosovo. (source: CTK)

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Czech Serial Killer Gets Life in Prison

Hradec Kralove - The regional Czech court in Hradec Kralove on Thursday sent Petr Zelenka to prison for life. He was found guilty of committing a series of seven murders and attempting ten other murders by giving patients in a local hospital where he worked the anticoagulant drug Heparin. In addition to the life sentence, Zelenka must also pay damages to the families of the victims. (source: Novinky.cz)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prague's Growing Garbage Woes May Turn Into Fortunes

Prague - Last year 81% of the Czech Republic's municipal waste ended up in Czech disposal facilities. Its disposal under the open skies is nevertheless least ecological and capacity is limited. Each person in the Czech Republic produces more than a kilogram of municipal waste daily. Yearly this amounts to nearly four million tons, of which three-fourths goes directly from the garbage can to the dump. The amount of waste grows yearly, while the capacity of waste disposal facilities shrinks.

The city of Prague will start to have problems with its municipal waste in 2010, when the biggest local waste disposal facility in Dablice will be at full capacity, and garbage will then have to be hauled farther away, possibly ending up in central Bohemia. At present modern technology for incineration of the additional waste is cost-prohibitive, but EU laws and regulations may force a switch to this more ecologically sound method of disposal, which also reduces the final volume of the waste to one-third while actually producing energy.

Planned changes in the legislation governing municipal waste disposal are causing a local boom in the waste management business. Recycling will be most profitable, followed by incineration. Both municipalities and companies want to invest billions of Czech crowns into waste liquidation and use. Companies can also get additional hundreds of millions of Czech crowns from EU funds. (sources: novinky.cz, aktualne.cz)

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Newly Re-Elected Czech President Doesn't Favor Recognition of Kosovo's Independence

Prague - Recently re-elected Czech president Vaclav Klaus, in a Sunday talk show on the local TV station Prima, took a cool position towards the recognition of Kosovo, saying "The government determines foreign policy, but if I were to sit with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Europe, I would in the course of dialog say: Let's not hurry, let's not do what isn't necessary." According to him, however, they are moving in the opposite direction. The Czech Republic belongs to those countries who are leaning towards recognition of Kosovo. (sources: TV Prima, novinky.cz)

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Head of Czech Social Democrats Compares Communist Party To A Blind Person

Prague - After the recent Czech presidential elections in which Vaclav Klaus was re-elected for a second six-year term, Jiri Paroubek, head of the CSSD (Social Democratic) political party made the following statement about the Communists: "If this reflects the development of Czech society, as was demonstrated by them during the presidential election, then unfortunately they will remain in the political ghetto for a long time, clearly. And the Social Democrats must reconsider, whether it makes sense to expend energy to help them out of that ghetto. The Communists remind me of a blind person to whom someone offers help in crossing the street, which they then refuse." (source: Pravo)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Viktor Kozeny Claims Czech Court Case Against Him Was Fabricated

Prague - Viktor Kozeny, the former president of the Harvard Investment Funds, has called for Czech state prosecutor Jaromir Jindrich to make all transactions of the funds public on the Internet and to demonstrate which rules were broken, so that all Czech citizens may judge for themselves. "Stocks were never sold for less than the official market prices for the given day and all trades went through the Prague stock market completely correctly", stated Kozeny and he repeatedly stressed that according to him no law was broken. Kozeny also claims the court case against him was fabricated in order to discredit the process of privatization, which was underway in the Czech Republic at the time. Kozeny is accused of tunneling 16 billion Czech crowns (nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars) from the funds during the early 1990's. He remains in the Bahamas and refuses extradition to the Czech Republic to face trial in person. (sources: novinky.cz, CTK)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Abandoned Czech Baby Is 11th Placed in Special "Babybox"


Prague - Today another Czech newborn was abandoned by placing it in a special "Babybox" mounted in the wall of the GynCentrum in the Prague neighborhood of Hloubetin, bringing the total of such cases in the Czech Republic to 11 since the project was started about two and a half years ago by the Statim Foundation. The history of similar projects is a long one, dating back at least to 1198. Pope Innocent III decreed that baby hatches should be installed in homes for foundlings in Italy so that a woman could leave her child in secret instead of killing it, since such cases were common at the time. (sources: novinky.cz, www.babybox.cz, wikipedia.com)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fugitive Financier Viktor Kozeny - New Hearings in the Prague Court

Prague - The City Court in Prague on Tuesday began to hear the indictment of Viktor Kozeny and Boris Vostry. They are accused of tunneling over 16 billion Czech crowns (nearly one billion U.S. dollars at the time) from the Harvard Investment Funds during loss-making trades with the stock of a number of Czech businesses in the first half of the 1990's. If convicted of the charges both men face up to 12 years in prison. They are both currently fugitives of the Czech police. Vostry lives in Belize and Kozeny is in the Bahamas. (sources: Novinky.cz, CTK, Pravo)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

A Sad Day For Democracy in the Czech Republic

Prague - Opinion - One of the murderers of Milada Horakova will go unpunished, after being sentenced to only eight years in prison for her deed. Milada Horakova was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and a prominent democratic politician who was arrested on trumped-up charges of treason by the Communists, subjected to a show trial, and then executed in 1950, when she was 49 years old. Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, a former prosecutor during the Communist regime was tried and convicted for the murder last year, but today the High Court in Prague ruled that the statute of limitations for the crime had been breached and set her free. I personally feel this action by the High Court in Prague is in itself a crime. In my opinion, an overhaul of the entire Czech court system is long overdue, since Communists continue to sit on the bench nearly 20 years after the Velvet Revolution. Today was a sad day for democracy in the Czech Republic, and an ominous reminder that the Communists have never left Prague.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Trial of Czech Serial Killer Continues on Monday

Hradec Kralove - The trial of Petr Zelenka (31), a former hospital worker accused of murdering seven patients with the anticoagulant Heparin and attempting to murder nine more, continues tomorrow with hospital employees called as witnesses. The murders allegedly took place between May and September, 2006. Zelenka was arrested in December, 2006 and arraigned on January 21, 2008. Zelenka has retracted his earlier admission of guilt, claiming that he was severely beaten by the Czech police and forced to sign his testimony. The hospital where Zelenka worked in the town of HavlĂ­ckuv Brod has since tightened its access controls on drugs and installed a new camera system. (sources: novinky.cz, aktualne.cz)

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

New Czech Presidential Elections Will Be Necessary

Prague - 2:45 p.m. After three rounds of voting by the Czech Parliament and Senate, neither Vaclav Klaus nor Jan Svejnar received the necessary votes according to the Czech constitution to be elected President. New elections should be held within the next ten days.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

The Election Begins - Lawmakers Are Convening at the Castle

Prague - Congressmen and senators began to meet on Friday morning at the Prague Castle. At 10:00 a.m. they will begin to elect a president. They'll decide whether, for the next five years, Vaclav Klaus or Jan Svejnar will be sitting in the Castle. First, however, they must decide whether they will vote publicly or by secret ballot. -News item from Novinky.cz translated by PragueBob

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Czechs Shop the Internet Most Often in the Morning - That Means At Work!

Prague - Czechs reputedly shop on the Internet in the morning, that is, when they're at work. This differs from several other nations of the European Union, for example Norwegians shop the internet predominately in the evening. These facts stem from pronouncements by representatives of Internet shops who attended the Retail Summit 2008 conference. -News item from Novinky.cz translated by PragueBob

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Clear Winter's Day in Prague

Prague - A walk from my flat near the Prague Castle down Nerudova Street to Mala Strana and across the Charles Bridge...




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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Opinion: Google Czech Republic Will Benefit!

Prague - I believe a Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo will benefit rather than threaten Google and Google's Czech Republic research center in particular. Yahoo's Open Source culture will be a poison pill for Microsoft, long the antithesis of Open Source software and a grand purveyor of overpriced and shoddy commercial software. Add to this the fact that Yahoo's core business is entirely different from Microsoft's, even though they both serve up e-mail, search, and online messaging. Yahoo understands this market better than Microsoft, otherwise there would be no 44.6 billion USD offer. In any case it will be many months before the new (Microhoo? / Yasoft!) organization finds its stride, which will give Google extra time to secure even further its hegemony of the online search-and-advertising space. Of course a proper response by Google will require more R&D, which will in turn benefit the brand new and growing research center in Prague! (opinion of the author, PragueBob, who received his master's degree in software engineering in Seattle when Microsoft was still young)

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PragueBob's Prague Blog by Robert Starr Morrison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.