In the News 3.9.09

Early elections to take place in November, Czech rest stops among the worst and much more

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MELČÁK IN THE SPOTLIGHT (AGAIN). The Czech political scene has been stirred again. This time one of the former Czech lawmakers has filed complaint with the Constitutional Court, alleging his right to serve a four-year term in office has been violated by holding early elections in October.

Thus Miloš Melčák, once a Social Democratic Party member, chalenged president Václav Klaus’ decree that set the snap elections for October 9 and 10.

Based on this, the court put the early general elections on hold.

All parliamentary parties are screaming loud against the court’s ruling (apart from the Greens and Christian Democrats), arguing it will only aggravate the ongoing economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the court has decided to hold a next session September 10. 

On Wednesday the political leaders agreed to take action to hold the early elections as soon as possible. At the moment it looks like the snap elections could be held at the beginning of November, if things go well.

“We will all try to find a way for the election to happen either on the originally proposed date or as close to this date as possible,” president Václav Klaus told journalists.


SCHWARZENBERG TALKS TO REUTERS. Czechs must get ready to slash government spending and dish out more in taxes if the country is to avoid the kind of financial collapse that has swept Hungary and the Baltics, the chief of a new Czech party said.

Karel Schwarzenberg, a popular former foreign minister and head of the new conservative TOP 09 party which may shake up the balance of power in parliament after next month’s election, told Reuters it was time to admit the scope of the crisis and the need to tighten belts.

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“If our political leaders do not have the courage, if we keep throwing money around as if nothing is going on, we could reach the state of Hungary or the Baltics,” Schwarzenberg said.


INFAMOUSLY FAMOUS COMMUNIST PARLIAMENT. The Czech National Museum opened its newest building to the public for the first time in its history.

It served as the Prague Bourse until the World War II when it was transformed into a storage house and hospital for injured soldiers.

But its most famously infamous history was yet to come. In the 1960s and 1970s the building was transformed into Czechoslovakia’s communist parliament – the Federal Assembly.

The Museum has prepared a series of exhibitions to be displayed in the building in the coming months.


CZECHS REST SPOTS AMONG THE WORST. Pausing at a highway rest spot, drivers most often want to spend a few peaceful minutes in pleasant surroundings. And they can, provided they are not driving in Europe.

A survey by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), Germany’s largest automobile club, says European rest stops tend to be loud, dark and trash-filled “asphalt deserts”. The description proves particularly apt for Czech rest areas.

ADAC tested 101 rest spots in 16 countries in April and May. Austria, Croatia, and Hungary earned A grades, while Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic received failing marks.


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BARK BEETLE BATTLE RELOADED. A month before the early general elections, South Bohemia regional Governor Jiří Zimola has threatened to declare a state of emergency in Šumava national park because of bark beetles.

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Zimola says the policy non-intervention currently applied in selected areas of the park has resulted in a bark beetle pandemic that requires a prompt action. “The state of emergency would mean that I could order the logging and removal of infested trees,” said Zimola, a member of the Social Democrats (ČSSD).

The Environment Ministry and the national park management, on the other hand, say no radical measures are needed. Environment Minister Ladislav Miko called Zimola’s words a political statement.


SURROGATE MOTHERS VS BIOLOGICAL MOTHERS. The Justice Ministry is seeking changes to legislation which would affect the legal rights of surrogate and biological mothers.

Under current Czech law, biological mothers are not guaranteed parental rights to a child born to a surrogate. The surrogate mother could gain custody rights to the child she carries and delivers.

Under current legislation, a woman who gives birth to a child has custody of the child. If a biological mother uses a surrogate, she has no guarantee of gaining parental rights once the child is born.

“The Czech Republic has no clear legislation relating to this issue. For example, there is no law explaining what to do if the surrogate mother refuses to part with the child,” Kovářová said.

There is no record of surrogate mothers in the Czech Republic refusing to hand over children to their biological parents. Roughly 10 children are born to surrogate mothers each year in the Czech Republic.

But psychologists and psychiatrists often hold a different view of surrogacy. At least Radkin Honzák does.

„It is against nature,” said Honzák who strictly opposes surrogacy. “I don’t like it in principal. A child is not a commodity. It doesn’t mean that if I want a child, I can have one, no matter what. Adoptions are also a possibility,” he said.

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VANO REVEALS HIS MALE NUDES AND MUCH MORE. Slovak-born photographer Robert Vano does not take pictures just of male nudes. The Platinum Collection, his latest exhibition in Prague, proves that Vano is a skillful photographer who likes shapes and shadows above all, always with a touch of melancholy.

You have eight more days to see the exhibition, which features over 200 pictures and some of them are for sale. It lasts through September 9 in Prague’s Mánes Gallery.


COMFORT OF STRANGE WOODS. With the summer time one gets to take a stroll in the woods more often than any other time of the year.

Czech environmental organization Hnutí Duha (Rainbow Movement) has selected the best pictures of Czech forests taken by amateur photographers, from the most beautiful to the most destryoed ones. Here they are.

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