The prestigious US Mayo Clinic has threatened to end its Czech collaboration focused on Brno’s International Clinical Research Centre unless outstanding bills are paid by the city’s St. Anne’s University Hospital. Some of the debt has accumulated though the Mayo Clinic’s training of Czech doctors. Both the Brno hospital and Czech Ministry of Education have said that they are keen to prolong the cooperation and pay the outstanding bills dating from last year. The Mayo Clinic is regarded as one of the best research hospitals in the world.
The Czech government did not respond a US offer to lease 14 fighter jets for the Czech Air Force, the news website aktulane.cz reported on Thursday. The report says the offer to lease US-made F-16 aircraft was last made in February, before the Czech government decided to lease the Swedish jets Gripen instead. The conditions of the deal were reportedly better that those offered by Sweden. The website quotes David Cannavo, the head of a US company which was mediating the deal, as saying they never heard back from the Czech government, and that the US embassy in Prague told the firm the deal on leasing Gripen fighters had been sealed long before.
The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution recognising former Czech president Václav Havel’s contribution to the fight against communism, to the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, and entry of the Czech Republic into NATO. The resolution will also result in a bust of Havel joining those of a select few foreign and US leaders in the Congress building. Only three foreign statesmen have previously received such recognition. Havel was already awarded the US’ highest civil award, the medal for freedom, in 2003.
Continuing discrimination and violence against Roma, domestic violence, failure to deal with cases of human trafficking and corruption are highlighted as black marks against the Czech Republic in the US state department’s annual survey of human rights in the world. Societal discrimination and violence against Roma was a problem last year with human rights organisations attacking the government’s failure to deal with it, the report said. Exploitation of illegal and migrant workers and discrimination against labour unions were also highlighted in the report. Attempts to stamp out abuses in the police and other forces were taken but areas of immunity persisted, it added.
Kevin Klose is serving a second term as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, an American-funded international broadcaster based in Prague since the mid-1990s. Mr. Klose oversaw the station’s move here from Munich on the invitation of President Václav Havel, before later going on to head National Public Radio in the US for a decade. In part one of a two-part interview, he discusses RFE/RL’s search for a new identity in the post-Cold War era and its move east.
The defense team for the American Kevin Dahlgren, accused of killing four people in Brno this spring, has filed an appeal challenging his detention. A ruling on the legality of Dahlgren’s arrest and detention will not be made before mid-February. The appeal will further delay a decision on the suspect’s possible extradition to the Czech Republic. Kevin Dahlgren is accused of murdering four Czech relatives with whom he was staying in Brno. He fled to Vienna and boarded a flight to Washington DC where he was arrested on arrival.
Some residents of the town of Dobrovíz, where the internet shopping giant Amazon is planning to build one of its Central European distribution hubs, are protesting against the American company’s decision. Locals are concerned with the damage to the environment that will be caused by the construction and operation of the 95,000-square-meter warehouse, as well as the burden on local infrastructure from approximately 450 lorries that will be coming in and out of the complex on a daily basis starting in the second half of next year. The town’s mayor said that he has not seen any exact plans of the project and has not yet met with either the developer or Amazon representatives, though those meetings are in the plans. Amazon made the announced that it has chosen the industrial complex in Dobrovíz near the Václav Havel airport and another location near Brno for two new distribution centers over a month ago.
The recent presentation of a US award for opponents of Communism to Václav Klaus has sparked a war of words in the Czech Republic. Some believe the former prime minister and president did nothing whatever to fight totalitarianism – and should be stripped of the prize. Now Mr. Klaus has responded with a detailed defence.
A fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas will have to pay a fine of 118,000 US dollars for major breaches of security measures which caused a massive explosion in April. Fifteen people died and hundreds of others were injured as a result of the blast in a town where the vast majority of inhabitants claim to have Czech heritage. Some 350 buildings were also destroyed and a 27-meter wide crater has formed. The Czech government gave approximately 200,000 dollars to the people of West, most of the money was meant to rebuild the local Sokol building.
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