In the News 21.7.08

Social workers in bed, špekáčky in Brussels and bees in Olomouc

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews


Prague – How many times have you heard this one before? “Mr. Čunek’s questionable financial matters came under scrutiny once again.” I hope someone can count, because I can’t.

This time it was an American company Kroll Inc. that scrutinized Čunek´s finances. The good people at Kroll, a corporate investigation and risk consulting firm, were also the ones who “linked Saddam Hussein to millions in assets held through nominees in the U.S. and Europe”. The results of the recent audit, commissioned by Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, stated “no irregularities”. But…

Despite the fact that no bribery was detected, the embattled KDU-ČSL leader’s murky finances still remain kind of murky. Nonetheless, Karel Schwarzenberg stays in power and life goes on.

The only thing that is more than clear now is that the name of Jiří Čunek does not exactly evoke attributes such as honesty and transparency.

You can view Kroll´s report in abridged and full versions here.


28 years after his death, John  Lennon is going to be remembered by local social workers who decided to go for a bed-in protest against failing social services.

December 10 will see lots of social workers staying in bed late, trying to draw attention to communal services and make NGOs´ transparency and plenty of other issues priorities for the government.


Statistics say domestic violence cases are on the rise and it seems that more adequate solutions are needed, but specialist who have been recently trained to deal with such situations cannot use their knowledge in practice.

That is the case with municipal police officers who have been trained to deal with domestic violence. According to a new law, though, all they are allowed to do is sit and wait.

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Someone must have forgotten about the domestic violence issue, or else how can one explain the fact that new police legislation skipped the paragraph that would allow municipal police to intervene, thus completely skipping over the whole issue?


Czech “spreadable butter” is not butter, says the EU. Pomazánkové máslo is a kind of Czech creamy cheese, however it seems to have stayed on the shelves despite EU´s regulation not to use the word “butter” in the name of this popular dairy product.

The name restriction came in December 2006 but Czech dairy producers keep using the name “butter”, which is actually the bone of contention.

How to define butter? EU thinks they know, but so do the Czech dairy producers. To put it simply, Czech “spreadable butter” (pomazánkové máslo) was found by EU not fatty enough to be registered.


Moravian vintners have surprised the world (not me) once again. Not long ago they were awarded in Bordeaux, this time it was San Francisco that appreciated Veltlínské zelené, Neuburské, Tramín červený and plenty of others.

Moravian wines collected two silver and twelve bronze medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition which is considered to be the gate to the US wine market.


Collecting bugs for your next book series on larvae may cost you a lot, no matter how famous you are in the academic world.

Two Czech scientists who happened to be in a national park in Darjeeling, India did exactly that and ended up in prison. A world-renowned entomologist Petr Švácha and his amateur colleague Emil Kučera have been jailed together with the local criminals, and are waiting for their next trial, which is to take place today.

The international community of scientists drafted a petition calling for the release of the two Czech scientists on bail. Over 800 scientists are said to have petitioned India’s Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the West Bengal Chief Minister. Let´s see what they have to say about the case. You can see the petition here.

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And we can keep going on the topic of prisons. Aktuálně.cz reporter Zdeněk Mihalco researched last week how many Czechs are jailed abroad at the moment and what kind of crime they commit most often. Try to guess before you open the report here.


The Czech Republic is involved in record eleven international arbitration cases. If the Czech Republic were to lose all of them, the state would have to pay CZK 13.5 billion (EUR 0.56 billion).


Last year, some of the highly-ranked civil servants who, by law, had to submit a personal property statement admitted to investing millions of CZK but, surprisingly, they claim to have no debts.

Buying luxurious flats and cars and being able to put millions into savings, presumably, from salaries – that is the reality of some of the Czech high-ranking civil servants. Not bad, ain´t it?


Czechs and Slovaks are going to fight shoulder to shoulder in Brussels to register four traditional meat products: two types of salami (lovecký salám and liptovský salám) and two types of sausages (spišský párek and špekáček).

Slovakia was the first to ask for the registration of these products, the Czech Republic eventually joined their effort but ministers of both countries agreed on a common strategy. To make sure all are in agreement about the consistency of the delicacies, the two sides will exchange the recipes. Have a look at who is going to fight for what here.

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In these times of referendums, plebiscites and have-your-says, I personally suggest a referendum with degustation of all the salamis and sausages. Let the consumers decide about their párky and špekáčky for once.


If you go jogging in the woods around Olomouc, you better keep your mouth shut. Why?

At the World Orienteering Championship hosted by the Czech Republic in Olomouc, one of the sport´s biggest stars, France’s Thierry Gueorgiou, who had won the gold medal last Thursday in the middle distance event, was well on his way to yet another triumph in Sunday´s men´s relay event, when he ran into unexpected trouble less than a mile from the finish line.

He was stung by a bee, which flew straight into his open mouth in that fateful moment and poor Gueorgiou disappeared in the woods to reappear again, but only after everyone else finished. I bet, this is the first time in sports history when a bee deprived a sportsman of a gold medal.

Czech runner Dana Brožová was a bit luckier a day before. She won the first gold medal ever for the Czech Republic (excluding the former Czechoslovakia) in Saturday´s long distance event with no aggressive bees around. Congratulations, Dana.

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