The Public Affairs party has announced it is scrapping its controversial street patrols initiative, after coming under widespread criticism from rival parties and the media. The vigilante-style uniformed patrols appeared in the streets at the beginning of May, reportedly to help the police maintain law and order as well as helping people who live on the margins of society. The move was widely criticized as a populist gesture ahead of May’s general elections and a poll among the party’s own supporters suggested it should be terminated.
The Czech soccer player Tomáš Ujfaluši has won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid, after the Spanish club overcame England’s Fulham 2:1 in the final on Wednesday night. The defender becomes the seventh Czech player to take a winner’s medal in the competition, which was previously known as the UEFA Cup. Ujfaluši, who is 32, made 78 appearances for the Czech Republic and captained the national team.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) has temporarily excluded the Dvůr Králové Zoo from the community, curtailing its membership on the grounds that it was not meeting its commitments in furthering international breeding programmes. EAZA represents more than 300 member institutions in 35 countries. The Zoo responded to the news on Thursday by saying that it was officially ending its membership in the organization. The Zoos director, Dana Holečkova, said EAZA had violated its own statues by curtailing the zoo’s membership. The zoo will now have to return the animals it has on loan for breeding purposes.
The NGO people in Need which organized mock elections in 135 schools around the country has said it will make the results public on Friday. The NGO was criticized for the project by left-wing parties who argued that mock elections politicized the classroom. Many schools dropped out under pressure, but more than 20,000 students took part anyway. The NGO originally promised not to make the vote public until after the real elections, but faced with criticism that he feared the outcome, the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek urged the NGO to make the results public right away. The results from a number of schools that broke the agreement and published them separately, suggest that students generally supported right-wing parties.
There is continuing controversy between the two main rivals in the
upcoming general elections with regard to who is responsible for the
aggressive tone of the election campaign. The right-wing Civic Democrats
warned on Thursday that provocateurs posing as their supporters could
launch a physical attack against Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek and
his wife Petra at the close of the election campaign. A spokesman for the
party said the Civic Democrats had heard disturbing rumors of a possible
attack at their recent election rally. The Social Democrat leader countered
that if that were the case it was their duty to report it to the police.
The Civic Democrats have distanced themselves from all forms of physical aggression at election rallies. The party has now filed a criminal complaint against the Social Democrat election leader, Jaroslav Tvrdík, for alleging that they were operating paid commandoes in the campaign. Ever since the recent physical attack on a senior Social Democrat leader, the party has been holding meeting with the public inside buildings in order to better guarantee security.
The last regular session of the lower house ahead of May’s general elections should be held on May 18. On the agenda is a bill recently vetoed by President Klaus which would raise maternity benefits to 2009 levels, a controversial-anti-corruption package which left-wing parties have been trying to push through and which right wing parties oppose on the grounds that it has been poorly drafted, and a bill which would enable the president to be elected in a direct vote. Of those, the bill on maternity benefits stands the highest chance of gaining approval, in which case the presidential veto would be overturned. Any bills that are not passed in three readings by the lower house by May 18th will simply fall under the table.
Police in Louisiana have arrested two Czechs, one of them a man wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant. Originally the men were detained because their visas had expired, but after conducting a search the police found false identity papers and child pornography on their laptops. One of the men is wanted for fraud in the Czech Republic, while the other has a criminal record here, having served a ten-month sentence for spreading child pornography a few years ago. Both remain in custody.
The Christian Democratic Party has criticized the Education Ministry for an internet guide that provides guidelines on how to teach sex education in schools. The party’s deputy leader, Michaela Sojdrova, says that the guidelines, written by two prominent Czech sex-therapists, are too clinical in their approach to problems such as unwanted pregnancies, STDs, different sexual orientations and sex deviations. The Christian Democrats want the guidelines revised and are pushing for girls and boys to be instructed on the subject separately.
The 16th International Book Fair opened at Prague’s Výstaviste exhibition centre on Thursday. More than 400 authors from around Europe and the United Sates are represented with the main focus on “literature and the rapprochement of cultures” .The four-day event includes meetings with writers, panel debates and book presentations. One of the festival’s sidebars is Book World in Film with screenings of film adaptations of famous literary works.
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