In the News 28.7.08

Letná blob, Čunek, and other Czech headlines...

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PUBLISHED 28.07.2008
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In the News 28.7.08



Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

 

Prague - If you follow news, even not that regularly, about the Czech Republic, it will be a piece of cake for you to name just a few themes that have dominated the Czech media lately.

If you guess Čunek case, US radar base in Brdy Region and  blob in Letná, you get 100 points.

Let´s start with the last one, as we have not recently heard about the blob much. Only until last week. 

The whole issue seems to have come to a duel when one side shoots "It will never.." and the other replies "Yes, it will."

***

No "blob" will stand on Letná Plain, Culture Minister Václav Jehlička announced Wednesday. Jehlička said that the new National Library building, designed by world renowned London-based Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický will never be built in Letná park.

"But there will be library in Letná," Kaplický insists in an interview for Aktuálně.cz. "I just don't know when," adds the architect.

And here is another interesting irony - despite the fact the National Library will not be constructed by the end of this government´s tenure, London-based Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický will be reimbursed. In fact, not once but twice. This is guaranteed by the contract of the international architectural competition Kaplický won two years ago. Fair enough.

In the meantime National Library director Vlastimil Ježek has filed a complaint against an "unknown culprit from Prague´s municipality", willing to fight for the blob in Letná.

***

Now let's proceed to the latest development in the Čunek case: someone who was once suspected of taking bribes in past is now angered because his name is mentioned in the audit of Čunek finances, conducted by Kroll, US-based corporate investigation and risk consulting firm.

Jiří Čunek was allegedly involved in lobbying for an armament company Zbrojovka with Finance Minister Kalousek. Both men (naturally) deny this accusation. Now Kalousek wants Kroll to apologize.

Just to remind you who Mr. Kalousek is: Christian Democrat Miroslav Kalousek was the Defense Minister in 1993 - 1998, during which time the Czech army went through a series of corruption scandals. Many believed Kalousek was involved with bribes. He argued that mistakes were inevitable during the period of army transformation, and denied accusations of corruption. see more about his career profile here.

***

And now for the last topic occupying the Czech media´s headlines most frequently and we are done for the day: The first part of the treaty has been signed by US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice on July 8 but one topic is still hanging in the air - taxes.

According to a source from the Czech Defense Ministry, the US has put forward a following proposal - if the tax issue is dealt with in the same way like in treaties with other countries, the Czech Republic could be offered certain compensation and offset loans.

"This could be acceptable for us, though we are waiting for specific proposals," informed the source.  

***

Euthanasia has not grabbed the headlines as much as the above mentioned topics but has certainly sparked heated discussions, even with the public. Called merciful by some and sinful and murderous by others, you make the choice.

Now, the first euthanasia bill in the Czech Republic, drafted by Senator Václava Domšová from the Union of Independents-European Democrats (SNK-ED), has been presented to the Czech government. The bill is to be debated by Czech parliament and Czech lawmakers seem to be pretty fairly divided. As always.

Aktuálně.cz obtained 19 paragraphs of the proposed "law on a dignified death" and you can see some of the conditions set out in Domšová´s proposal here.

***

The Hnutí Duha (Rainbow Movement) environmental group has critised last year´s screening in Prague of the British film The Great Global Warming Swindle, sponsored by the Czech president and a right-wing think-tank.

Hnutí Duha is now asking President Václav Klaus and the think-tank Center for Economics and Politics (CEP) to apologize for screening the film in their institute.

We all know it will never happen but an interesting case that the independent British media regulator Ofcom had to deal with. See the details how they decided

***

Environment Minister Martin Bursík visited the village of Nové Heřminovy in the beautiful Jeseníky Region where a new dam is to be built.

In April, Czech government approved the dam in spite of some Green Party members being against the project. The dam is to help protect surrounding villages against floods, says the government but we do not really care, say the village dwellers.

And it seems neither does money, as the government promised generous compensation to all of them but the villagers seem to want just one thing - to stay were they are.

***

Two Czech scientists who were arrested in India for what the Indian authorities called illegal bug collection were released today on bail and the first thing they did was to have dinner with the local journalists. Good for them and hopefully we will learn more about their point of view than that of Indian authorities.

***

If you would like to live in a bigger and cheaper flat, your chances to find one are in Plzeň, Brno or Pardubice.

According to the figures supplied by the Regional Development Ministry to Aktuálně.cz, landlords these cities having been lowering rent prices.

Just compare this: While downtown Prague you would pay CZK 350/sq m, in Plzeň or Brno you would pay around 140 sq. m. Not a bad deal, is that?

***

There are certain features that characterize the entire nation, some believe. Czechs are said to complain a lot - about anything and any time.

Whether you believe it or not, the results of the latest poll on the state of democracy in the Czech Republic indicates there might be some bits of truth in the generalized belief.

Only one third of Czech citizens see the democratic system working as it should in the Czech Republic. And incredible 70 percent do not believe the Czech political system can be compared to the Western standards

The poll results boil down to one thing - we have higher standards of democracy in mind than we actually have in reality. What do you say to that?


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