In the News 12.5.08

In the News 12.5.08

Written by Masha Volynsky
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

 

AS THE SIGNING OF THE AGREEMENT between US and Czech officials concerning the radar base in Brdy is getting closer, the details of the document are also beginning to surface. That is not to say, though, that they are sending completely clear signals about the reality of what will go on at the base.

The preliminary document, which was made available to Aktuálně.cz, states that the administration of the military base will be given to the US. Not surprisingly, some Czech politicians are not thrilled about the prospect. What is unexpected is that the loudest protests are coming from some of the youngest in the crowd, such as Education Minister Ondřej Liška, who wants the radar base to be fully integrated into NATO’s systems from stage one.

The agreement, though recognizing the importance of close cooperation with NATO, seems to put greater emphasis on the cooperation between USA and the Czech Republic in the seemingly unavoidable struggle against terrorism. Although the administration should be under US control, according to the yet unsigned agreement, the Czech Republic will be the owner of all the facilities on the radar base. The construction of all buildings will have to be controlled by the Czech side, and Environment Ministry will have the right to control some of the US actions if they will threaten the surrounding area. How nominal this power will be, time will only tell.

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For a while, it seemed that the focus in the Liberec snow “displacement” fiasco, which happened earlier this year at a cross-country skiing races, has moved away from the organizing team, lead by former skier Kateřina Neumanová. The actual perpetrators – the firms that moved the snow from the nature preserve – were given fines of up to two million crowns. APB Plzeň, may be facing the highest penalty for causing the greatest damage on the slopes of Jizera mountain. Stavby silnic a železnic (Highway and Railroad Constructions) and Jizerská o.p.s. may get off easier. All three companies have already filed appeals of the sentences.

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By the end of the week, though, reports have started to seep out about the questionable practices some of the firms involved have used in the past. Whether Neumanová’s organizing team knew about this beforehand is still unclear, but this may not bode well for the appeals of the fines.

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On the other hand, Environment Minister Martin Bursík is taking another decisive step towards helping Czech government help the environment. He has announced a plan to replace at least a part of the automobile fleet that is used by members of the government and public administration. Bursík wants politicians and public servants to set an example by switching to environmentally friendly cars, which would use bio-fuels or produce minimal amounts of emissions.  It seems that the minister is trying his best to push all of Czech government’s transportation into the “green” age, having proposed incurring special fees for all of government’s business-related flights, earlier this year.

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The judiciary system has decided to take football matters into its own hands. Soccer ultras and other rowdy fans will be charged and tried right at the stadium. The general idea is nothing new, and has worked to an extent in the past. Now, though, there will be a team of a judge and two public prosecutors present, and a criminal record database provided for better litigation.

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The system was supposed to be test on Saturday at the game between Sparta and Ostrava-Banik, a match that the visiting team won with the support of almost 2,000 fans that had arrived from the north Moravian city.

 

Although no one was actually brought to court at the Sparta stadium this past weekend, there was on unfortunate incident among Ostrava fans on the way to the game. A 30-year-old fan who was traveling to cheer on his team in Prague was killed as he fell out of the moving train.

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Some real court-room proceedings may get easier for divorced parents, if an amendment to the Civil Procedures Act is passed by the parliament. Alimony payments would be made into a priority for the responsible party. It will introduce stricter rules for alimony dodgers and ease the other parent’s legal and logistical plight to receive the money owed to them. Hopefully, given a more controlled legal framework, those stuck in the middle of these disputes – the children – will reap some benefits as well.

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It seems that the number of Slovak citizens working in the Czech Republic is starting to slow down. The economy and growing professional opportunities in the neighboring country are luring much of the valuable labor force back to the homeland. According to statistics, there were 300 more Slovaks working in this country at the end of 2007 than there were in the first three months of this year. Many specialized professions are still being sought out by Slovaks in the Czech Republic, but manual labor influx has stopped.

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With the economy in Slovakia growing at a faster pace than in the Czech Republic and the awaited acceptance of the euro, it is no wonder that many are returning to find opportunities closer to home.

 

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Czechs, on the other hand, are learning to appreciate their own homeland through the evolving agrotourism in the country. According to the Czech Rural Tourism Association, which encompasses only a fractions of all entrepreneurs in the business, over 32 thousand overnight visitors were registered on Czech farms last year. Czechs, Poles, Austrians and Germans come to learn how to milk cows, take care of the pasture or just enjoy the fresh air. Let’s hope that everyone finds a way to enjoy their holidays best this spring!



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