News State fund to boost number of nursery and elementary schools
The government has approved an Education Ministry plan to try and increase the number of nursery and elementary schools. Beginning in 2015, existing or planned facilities should be able to draw from a national subsidy fund overseeing 1.5 billion crowns; 12 billion crowns will be made available from European funding. The new framework proposed by the ministry should broaden the number of schools, or renovate existing ones, in areas based on demographics and demand. Prague itself has too few facilities for young children: thousands last year were not able to register at nursery schools, leaving parents little choice but to pay for private daycare or to look for other options.
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Two Czech soldiers have been awarded Bronze Star Medals, the fourth-highest individual military honour in the US military, for their service in Afghanistan, the spokeswoman for the Czech General Staff confirmed on Thursday. Jiří Pazděra, commander of a military company that has guarded the Bagram allied base over the past six months, and David Lavička, a warrant officer, received the Bronze Stars from US Major General Stephen Townsend at US headquarters in Afghanistan. Other Czech soldiers received lower level honours. Major General Townsend praised the role of the Czech unit in Afghanistan and said in a speech that if he could choose only one nation to stay in Afghanistan together with the US, it would be the Czechs. Commander Pazděra said he viewed the medal as appreciation of the whole company´s performance. He added tgat the Czechs had succeeded in reversing the trend of an annual increase in the number of incidents and attacks on the base.
A five-year-old boy who suffered permanent brain damage and damage to other organs when his delivery was botched at Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital in 2009, died last week Czech Radio reported on Thursday. The child, left blind and deaf, had required continuous assistance. The parents of the child agreed earlier with the hospital to a record 20 million crown settlement, following a long-running court case; the facility’s head, who offered the family condolences, confirmed for Czech Radio that the hospital was respecting the agreement, saying the funds were deposited with a public notary and would be released in inheritance proceedings.
The nation’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by commercial broadcaster TV Prima which had fought to overturn a 400,000 crown fine for questionable images broadcast in 2008, the Czech News Agency reports. The broadcaster was handed the fine by the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting for showing – for entertainment purposes – scenes of human suffering in drastic detail. The council found that the images could have had a negative psychological impact on young viewers not least since they were broadcast in the afternoon. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Prague’s Municipal Court and the Supreme Administrative Court had upheld the fine.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a decision by the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, to return from China aboard a private plane earlier in the week a “political mistake”. Speaking to Czech Radio, the prime minister suggested opting for a plane leased by PPF and J&T, rather than a government plane, had marred what had otherwise been a “positive” trip. Along with Mr Zeman, PPF owner and billionaire Petr Kellner met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the trip; the Czech news agency reported Mr Kellner signed a contract with Chinese energy firm CEFC. The President’s Office justified Mr Zeman’s use of the private plane as having saved time so he could attend the promotion of new generals on Czech soil on October 28th, a state holiday marking the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
Two communist-era secret police officers, Petr Beran and Kamil Líbal, have received suspended sentences for beating up a youth of 17 during an interrogation in January 1989. The incident occurred in connection with demonstrations in Prague marking the anniversary of the death of Jan Palach. The two StB men allegedly aimed to force a confession out of David Kabzan that would be used in a case against Václav Havel, at that time a leading dissident. One of the two has appealed the verdict. Mr. Beran told the court that he had merely being fulfilling the orders of politicians, adding that he regarded his prosecution as political persecution.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has told ethnic Czechs in Ukraine that his country supported changes that would help bring Ukraine closer to the European Union. Speaking in Uzhhorod in the far west of Ukraine, Mr. Zaorálek said it was in Czech and EU interests for the crisis-hit state to be politically stable and economically prosperous. Hundreds of what are known as Volhynia Czechs have asked Prague to repatriate them. President Miloš Zeman has offered them support, but Mr. Zaorálek’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists they face no immediate threat that would justify the cost of moving them to the Czech Republic.
Speaking to a gathering of around 130 foreign diplomats in Prague, President Miloš Zeman said we must kill terrorists, by which he defined anybody who deliberately killed civilians. He said it did not matter whether they were members of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or Islamic State. Mr. Zeman said the fight against terrorism was one of two pillars of Czech foreign policy; the other was economic diplomacy. He made no mention of advancing human rights, which was previously a feature of the country’s foreign policy, the Czech News Agency reported.
Film director Jan Němec has returned a Medal of Merit he received from then president Václav Havel in 2002 in protest at the selection of people who got a similar award from current head of state Miloš Zeman on Tuesday. In an interview for iDnes.cz, Mr. Němec, who is 78, described this year’s choice of recipients as an act of arrogant political despotism. Among those honoured were Filip Renč, a film director who worked with Mr. Zeman on his presidential campaign, and Robert Sedláček, who has made a documentary about the president and turned up at the Prague Castle event in informal clothing.
The leading Czech men’s tennis player Tomáš Berdych needs a tougher coach, says Martina Navrátilová. The Czech-born legend, who was world number one for seven years, told Czech Radio that Berdych was talented but could be higher up the world rankings than his current fifth place. The winner of 18 Grand Slams, Navrátilová said jokingly that she had more advice for the 29-year-old but would need to be paid to share it.
The son of a Russian woman who protested the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 says the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, must call on Russia to release political prisoners. Yaroslav Gorbanevsky made the comment on Wednesday, after a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday in which his poet mother Natalya Gorbanevskaya, who died last year, received a high state award in memoriam. Mr. Gorbanevsky said his mother had asked Mr. Zeman not to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, a call he had not heeded. Two others who also protested on Red Square in 1968, Viktor Fajnberg and Pavel Litvinov, have criticised what they describe as Mr. Zeman’s pro-Russian position on Ukraine.