Cooking courses, organized by a prison in Znojmo, south Moravia, are attracting increasing numbers of inmates from prisons all over the country. The course, which lasts six months and cater for ten prisoners at a time, significantly raises the inmates’ chances of getting a job once they are released, a spokeswoman for the Znojmo jail said. In the last five years, about a hundred prisoners successfully graduated from the cooking courses. The Znojmo prison is the only one that offers them.
In related news, the governor of the Czech National Bank Zdeněk Tůma told the British paper the Financial Times on Monday that Czech GDP may drop by two percent this year, provided that recession in Western Europe deepens. Mr Tůma’s forecast is much more pessimistic that the official estimate by the Czech central bank, which predicts that the county’s GDP will decrease by a mere 0.3 percent in 2009.
In related news, MP Olga Zubová, who had been elected for the Greens but was expelled from the party last week, joined a newly established political group – the Democratic Green Party. As Ms Zubová has not resigned from Parliament, the new group, which has around 40 members, became the Czech Republic’s sixth parliamentary party. Ms Zubová has not revealed whether she will support the vote of no-confidence in the government on Tuesday.
In an interview for the UK paper the Sunday Times, Czech President Václav Klaus said that the Lisbon treaty would make the European Union less democratic, it would make the decision-making process less transparent, and it would give more competences to Brussels at the expense of member states. Mr Klaus also denied having made a comparison between the European Union and the Soviet-era system in his address to the European Parliament last month; the president said the Czech experience with communism was valuable in that Czechs learnt that where there was no opposition and no tolerance to other points of view, there was is no freedom, either.
In related news, the Social Democrat party congress adopted a resolution
on Sunday asking party leadership and Social Democrat lawmakers to press
for the cancellation of the treaties with the United States on positioning
an American radar base on the Czech territory. The Social Democrat leader
Jiří Paroubek told the convention on Saturday that Parliament would not
approve the treaties in the current term.
The Czech government signed two treaties with the US on hosting a radar base as part of the American missile defence shield in Europe. The deal has yet to be ratified by the Czech lower house.
Rebel Civic Democrat MP Vlastimil Tlustý told Czech TV on Sunday that he
and two of his fellow rebel Civic Democrats may join the opposition in
Tuesday’s key vote of no confidence in the government. Mr Tlustý said
“the cup has overflowed” and that the centre-right cabinet of Mirek
Topolánek should end.
The opposition Social Democrats will attempt to bring down the government in a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday; the opposition had failed to do so on four previous occasions. The head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, said that if the opposition succeeds, the cabinet of PM Topolánek should remain in power until the end of the Czech EU presidency in June.
The band Kryštof was named band of the year at the Czech music industry's annual Anděl awards ceremony on Saturday night, also winning the award for the best song of 2008. Male singer of the year was Dan Barta, while the female singer of the year award went to Lenka Dusilová. The band Katapult, which formed in the 1970s, was inducted into the Czech music hall of fame.
Czech police broke up a neo-Nazi concert in the city of Plzeň, western Bohemia, in the early hours of Sunday after one of the performers played a song with racist lyrics. About 100 riot police intervened and stopped the performance by three foreign and one Czech band attended by some 150 far-right sympathizers. No one was wounded in the incident while seven persons were detained on suspicions of inciting racial and ethnic hatred.
The re-elected Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek has said his party
will reject the extension of the Czech Army’s missions in Afghanistan.
Paroubek, who was re-elected the head of the opposition Social Democrats
a party’s congress in Prague on Saturday, said Social Democrats would
follow the results of an inner-party poll in which 82 percent of the
party’s local organizations said the missions should end, while 87
percent of them believe that the numbers of Czech troops in Afghanistan
should decrease radically. The Czech Republic has more than 1,000 troops
participating in the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
The three-day party congress, which concluded at Prague’s Industrial Palace on Sunday, also elected four deputy chairmen, including shadow foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Brno mayor Roman Onderka. The Social Democrat party congress however failed, after several rounds of voting, to elect a fifth deputy, who must be a woman according to the party statutes; the remaining deputy chair will be appointed by party leadership.
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