In the News 30.6.08

In the News 30.6.08

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

 



Prague – It is hard to imagine what motivates Prague’s authorities to demolish the Masarykovo nádraží. Civic Democrat Councillor Martin Langmajer who stands behind the idea to wipe out Prague’s oldest train station, together with another Civic Democrat MP Jan Bürgemeister, says it is to attract “quality investors”. Rumour has it it should become a second Palladium of sorts. So if you want to take a Sunday trip to Karlštejn in the future, you will have to go shopping instead. What a deal.

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The year 1968 is surely the most talked year in the entire history of Czechs. Now, there is another reason to be thinking about the unfortunate happenings that year. Apart from the ominous day of August 21 approaching, a comprehensive list of documents related to the August 1968´s invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops is presented on a new web page run by the Totalitarian Regime Study Institute.

Besides various secret analyses and testimonies, the web page also offers previously unpublished radio transmissions and a list of 108 victims – people who died between August 21 until the end of 1968 and their death was related to the presence of the Warsaw Pact troops in Czechoslovakia.

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Environment Minister Martin Bursík (the Green Party) wants his office to become a leading example of environment-friendly behavior. Bursík asked the ministry’s employees to go green and use bicycles to commute to work and to recycle waste more consistently. It is far from being green-radical when you consider that most of the offices in the Qwest have been following the green line. Unfortunately, the city of Prague is lagging behind with bike paths through its downtown.

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While the oil price is hitting a record high in the world, lucky Moravian villages are getting most of the oil mining. The money the villages get from the oil mining company Moravské naftové doly (MND), owned by tycoon Karel Komárek, is used to build new roads, wastewater treatment plants and housing projects, and to renew schools. A tiny village of 700 – Uhřice –  has high ambitions, as it is going to invest 38 million without having to go for loan. Who knows, perhaps we all will want to live in Uhřice one day..

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Was he still alive, Jan Neruda, a Czech writer, poet and journalist, one of the leading representatives of the 19th century literary movement Czech Realism, would be pleased. His book of poems Cosmic Songs is to make it to the universe, as it was chosen to represent the Czech Republic on a space shuttle. “Up towards the heavens we would like to head”, are his famous lines. Now, his hundred years old dream can be considered fulfilled.

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On Tuesday the Czech Republic witnessed the biggest strike from the times of the Velvet Revolution. People of diverse professions took to the streets or symbolically read their announcement as a protest against the social and economic reforms of the Civic Democrats´ government. Aktuálně.cz analyst Petr Holub sees predominantly fear of the new reform behind the one million Czechs in the streets. And our political leaders? While PM Mirek Topolánek dubbed the strike a pre-election campaign of the Social Democrats, Social Democrat Jiří Paroubek was actively debated with the protesters at Olomouc´s train station and delivering a giraffe baby later on.

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The fame of Czech biologists knows no border. Literally. Unfortunately, it has been gone the wrong direction again. Two entomologists were arrested in Indian national park for illegal bug collection. But they are not alone to share this infamous fame – in 2004 their “colleagues”, respected scientists as well, were arrested for a similar misdemeanor in New Zealand, claiming it all was a misunderstanding.

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Same sex partnerships was on the agenda more than one would imagine. To no one’s surprise president Klaus did not sign the amendment to the bill on registered partnership but to surprise of some, he did not veto it. Which means the law will take effect “by default”.

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The town of Brno saw the first ever Queer Parade on Czech soil, the main aim of which was to join the international tradition of gay parades to point out some inequalities in the bill on registered partnership. Last but not least, pressing for more parental rights of same sex couples in the Czech Republic was also on the agenda.

That said, people who only learned about it from the news, could be forgiven for believing that the event’s goal was not to highlight the sexual minorities and their demands, but instead showcase their sworn enemies from the neo-Nazi camp who were gladly posing for the cameras with their banners that read „No to adoptions by homosexual couples” or „I defend hetero family”.

Again, Czech media swallowed the neo-Nazis´ bait and paid more attention to their violent attack the peaceful crowd than it would be appropriate. How easy it is to grab the media’s attention in this country.

Aktuálně.cz Pavel Vondra would not let the topic of same sex parenthood go and interviewed a gay parent who actually HAS the experience of bringing up children (probably unlike most of the young neo-Nazis present at the march). 



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