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August 26, 2013

Hundreds of Czech far-right activists detained after anti-Roma protests

Hundreds of Czech far-right activists detained after anti-Roma protests

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Czech Republic
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Romani population average estimate – the size of the wheel represents the average estimate of Roma population in that country.
Image: Dbachmann, Derived from: File:Europe_blank_map.png by wiki-vr.

Romani people in Lviv Ukraine.
Image: Водник.

Rallies against the Roma ethnic minority in eight Czech Republic cities Saturday have resulted in 75 to 100 far-right activists being detained.

Violent clashes occurred between police and the demonstrators, some of who threw stones at the police forces. The largest rally occurred in the city of Ostrava where between 600 and 800 protestors attacked the police and at least 60 were detained. Seven other cities, including Prague, saw similar protests.

Amnesty International confirmed that the demonstrations had been planned in advance and warned the Czech Republic government earlier this month.

“We have seen a deeply worrying trend over the past year with entrenched discrimination against Roma reaching new heights. This is a fundamental issue that the Czech authorities can’t ignore,” Amnesty International’s John Dalhuisen said.

There are between 250,000 and 300,000 Roma people within the Czech Republic. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights conducted a poll in 2011 that found over 80 per cent of the Roma people surveyed had been subject to discrimination in the past year.



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April 29, 2013

Prague explosion injures dozens

Prague explosion injures dozens – Wikinews, the free news source

Prague explosion injures dozens

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Czech Republic
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A massive explosion in the centre of Czech capital Prague has injured 35 or more people this morning.

The blast occurred just before 10am local time in a building on Divadelní Street. Spokesman for local authorities Tomas Hulan says it is uncertain what caused the detonation but a natural gas leak is suspected. “A gas blast seems to be the most likely cause”, he said. “The explosion was rather massive and damaged windows in several streets”.

The blast shattered windows of buildings in the area, including the National Theatre. Police have sealed off the area and are currently searching for people they believe may be trapped beneath the rubble.

Zdeněk Schwarz, head of the Prague rescue service, said rescue workers had not yet been able to enter the building where the explosion occurred to search for missing people and determine any further gas leaks.



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June 30, 2012

Lamb of God vocalist arrested for Czech manslaughter

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Czech Republic
Other stories from the Czech Republic
  • 30 June 2012: Lamb of God vocalist arrested for Czech manslaughter
  • 21 January 2012: First Czech Winter Olympics champion Jiří Raška dies at age 70
  • 10 November 2010: Czech Republic Minister of Transport banned from driving
  • 29 June 2010: Czech train derails, at least one dead
  • 9 April 2010: Obama, Medvedev sign treaty cutting nuclear stockpiles
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Randy Blythe, vocalist of US metal band Lamb of God, has been arrested upon arrival in Prague, Czech Republic. Blythe is suspected of manslaughter after a fan died during the band’s last visit, in Prague in 2010.

A police spokesperson confirmed Blythe was arrested on Wednesday and a court was due to rule today on continued detention for the singer, who hails from Richmond, Virginia. The rest of the band has returned to Virginia after cancelling Thursday’s Prague gig.

Blythe on-stage in 2009, the year ahead of the incident in Prague.

It is unclear if Blythe is to be, or has been, charged with inflicting bodily harm resulting in death. Details about the incident were sketchy. Initial reports indicated a fight had broken out, but the band’s management denied this. A statement painted the following picture: “This incident deals with a fan that three times during a concert jumped the barricade and rushed Randy during the performance. It is alleged that the third time, security was not able to reach him and that Randy pushed him back into the audience where supposedly he fell and hit his head.”

Local media published statements from a witness and friend of the deceased, who said the dead fan was sober and drug-free, and landed on his head. There is fan footage of the show, but it is not known if any footage captures the actual incident. The fan died after weeks in a coma.

The band has started the hashtag #FreeRandyBlythe on Twitter to establish grassroots support. Support has also come from musicians including Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, and Oderus Urungus of fellow Richmond rockers GWAR, who said “This whole thing reeks” on Twitter.

“All I can say is that I can’t recall that particular show let alone a fan being beaten on the stage” said Chris Adler, Lamb of God’s drummer. “I think I would’ve noticed something like that considering the Dime thing” he added, a reference to the death of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was shot on-stage by a fan in 2004. “All we try to do is entertain; the fans are why we’re here. We would never try and harm anyone.” Adler also offered his sympathies to the dead fan’s relatives.

A conviction would see Blythe facing a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.



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June 29, 2010

Czech train derails, at least one dead

Czech train derails, at least one dead – Wikinews, the free news source

Czech train derails, at least one dead

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Disasters and accidents

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Local news websites published pictures of badly damaged City Elefant double deck cars similar to this vehicle
Image: ŠJů (Czech Wikipedia).

According to media reports, at least one person was killed and several more were injured when a train derailed in the Czech Republic yesterday. The incident occurred near Ústí nad Labem in the north of the country.

Ústí is an industrial city in the Elbe river valley
Image: User:Miaow Miaow (Wikimedia Commons).

As a result of the crash, the train was seriously damaged. At least six people were injured with wounds of varying seriousness, all of which were hospitalised; conflicting media reports, however, suggested that the number of hurt passengers was substantially more. According to Czech media, the dead man was the train’s driver.

According to the press-secretary of the local fire department, the train went off the rails a few hundred metres from the station.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that the train derailed when crossing a railroad switch 58 km/h faster than authorized. The safe speed limit is 120 km/h when the switch, also known as a turnout or a set of points, is set to a straight path, and 50 km/h when the switch is set to divert the train to another track. In this case, the switch was set to divert, but the train’s speed is reported to have been 108 km/h.

The accident happened on one of the most important railroads in the country, which is double-tracked, electrified and used daily by long-distance international trains. Therefore it is checked often, and investigators consider track failure to be improbable. Investigators have ruled out signal malfunction. Media reports suggest two possible reasons for the derailment: driver’s error or brake malfunction.

Train operations on the line from Ústí nad Labem to the capital Prague had to be cancelled as a result of the crash.



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April 9, 2010

Obama, Medvedev sign treaty cutting nuclear stockpiles

Obama, Medvedev sign treaty cutting nuclear stockpiles

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START Treaty during a ceremony at Prague Castle, in the Czech capital.
Image: White House – Chuck Kennedy.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have signed a treaty to reduce their countries’ nuclear stockpiles by 25 to 30 percent over seven years.

In the Spanish Hall, an ornate chamber within the Czech capital’s Prague Castle, the two countries, which own more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, agreed to downsize their arsenals.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev sat in front of U.S. and Russian flags and signed their countries’ first major nuclear arms reduction accord in almost two decades.

The new ten-year pact, which is called the “New START Treaty“, requires the U.S. and Russia to cut their inventory of nuclear warheads to about 1,500 each in the next seven years. Both countries are estimated to have well over 2,000 warheads now.

The agreement also slashes by more than half the number of missiles, submarines and bombers that carry the weapons.

The pact replaces the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), which was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the final days of the Soviet Union. START I expired in December of last year. The treaty complements the other two nuclear arms reduction treaties signed by the United States and Russia, which where the 1993 Russia, which where the 1993 START II treaty and the 2002 Moscow Treaty also known as SORT.

Obama said the treaty is a big step forward for world security. “Today is an important milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation and for U.S.-Russia relations,” he said.

Medvedev said because of this treaty, the entire world community has won. The Russian leader said the year-long negotiations were tough, but hard work on both sides brought success.

“That enabled us to do something that just a couple of months ago looked like ‘mission impossible.’ Within a short span of time we prepared a full-fledged treaty and signed it,” he said.

Obama says, in addition, that the treaty paves the way for future arms reduction talks with Russia, mainly on short-range nuclear weapons. “This treaty will set the stage for further cuts, and going forward, we hope to pursue further discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons,” he said.

Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association, says the new treaty is significant in reducing the threat from U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, but more significant because it could lead to further cuts.

“We think we can even go to deeper reductions, and we hope they sign a new treaty after this one relatively soon. But this treaty is a great step forward, it is very important, and it puts U.S. and Russian arms control back on a firm footing, and, again, sets us up for deeper cuts,” he said.

The signing of the “New START” treaty is one of several arms control developments taking place in several weeks.

Earlier in the week, President Obama announced a major shift in U.S. nuclear policy. He said for the first time that preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is at the top of the U.S. nuclear agenda. The threat of destruction by Russian warheads is now considered a secondary menace.

Under Obama’s nuclear posture review, the U.S. pledges not to use nuclear weapons on non-nuclear countries that abide by their nonproliferation obligations.

Frank Gaffney, a former arms control adviser to President Ronald Reagan, says the president’s nuclear posture review is based on a false and dangerous premise. “The idea that he can, by reducing America’s nuclear arsenal, contribute to the universal abandonment of nuclear weaponry. It will not happen. It will not happen on his watch. It will not happen ever,” he said.

Obama also plans to hold a conference on nuclear security next week in Washington, D.C..

In their hour-and-a-half meeting before the ceremony, President Obama urged Medvedev to support new U.N. sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. The Russian leader said the issue is not whether to impose sanctions, but what kind of sanctions.

“Smart sanctions should be able to motivate certain parties to behave properly, and I am confident that our teams that will be engaged in consultations will continue discussing this issue,” he said.

Obama said, “We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran and we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).” He added, “My expectation is that we are going to be able to secure strong, tough sanctions on Iran this spring.”

The nuclear treaty is almost certain to be approved in the Russian Duma. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Russia reserves the right to drop out of the pact if it believes U.S. missile defense plans for Europe threaten its security.

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Many experts agree passage in the U.S. Senate is not as certain, but that its prospects are good. To ratify the treaty, it will require 67 votes, to pass it will require Republican votes. Republicans in the Senate have expressed concerns that too many restrictions have been placed on America’s nuclear arsenal.

However, Obama is confident the treaty will be ratified when asked during a press conference following the signing. Obama stated, “And so I’m actually quite confident that Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, having reviewed this, will see that the United States has preserved its core national security interests, that it is maintaining a safe and secure and effective nuclear deterrent, but that we are beginning to once again move forward, leaving the Cold War behind, to address new challenges in new ways.”

Obama also noted, “[T]hat both in Russia and the United States, it’s going to be posed on the Internet, appropriate to a 21st century treaty. And so people not only within government but also the general public will be able to review, in an open and transparent fashion, what it is that we’ve agreed to.” Copies of the treaty and it’s protocol have been posted on the State Department’s website.

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March 24, 2010

US and Russia to sign new arms control treaty

US and Russia to sign new arms control treaty

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meeting in July 2009
Image: Presidential Press and Information Office.

According to officials from the United States and Russia, the two countries are to sign a new treaty on the control of nuclear weapons in Prague sometime next month.

According to the unnamed officials, some work still remained on the treaty, a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed in 1991 and expired in December 2009. An American official said that while “we are still working to finalize the treaty,” diplomats from both sides said they were optimistic that the deal was near completion.

The new-found optimism came after a recent breakthrough in negotiations, which have taken nearly a year, longer than either the Americans or Russians expected. Originally, the treaty was to be negotiated in London of April 2009, but the completion date was then pushed back to December 2009, a deadline that passed with no deal.

Contentious issues in the negotiations included devising a way to make sure each side was complying with the requirements, the sharing of technology between the two sides, and how to limit defense programs in both countries. While an original plan for an American defense system was abandoned by Barack Obama, a second plan presented by the US was also opposed by the Russians, which were pushing for language that would restrict the American nuclear program. The final text will be composed of largely non-binding language recognizing the relationship between different types of weapons.

Under this text, both countries would be forced to reduce their deployed nuclear warheads to around 1,600, down from a current limit of 2,200. The treaty would also require the arsenal of “delivery vehicles,” aircraft or missiles that can carry the warheads, to be halved to 800. Arms-control advocates consider the reductions in the treaty relatively minor, but the Obama administration hopes to end negotiations with a simpler and more straight-forward treaty as a way to rebuild trust with the Russian government in preparation for more drastic changes in the future.



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April 27, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2009 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: April 27, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, April 27, 2009.

Five U.S. lawmakers detained after protesting outside Sudanese embassy

Police arrested five members of the United States House of Representatives Monday after they refused to leave the site of the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, DC. The lawmakers were at the embassy to protest against the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

According to organisers, the lawmakers, among them Democratic representatives John Lewis and James McGovern, were arrested on charges of civil disobedience after they ignored an order by police to disperse.

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David Duke arrested, expelled of country by Czech authorities

United States Ku Klux Klan figure and Republican Party politician David Duke of Louisiana was arrested and later released, on the condition that he leave the country, by Czech Republic officials in the Czech capital of Prague over the weekend. The reason given was that Duke holds that the Holocaust never occurred, which is illegal in several countries, including the Czech Republic.

Duke, age 59, was hosted in Prague by Filip Vávra to promote his book My Awakening, and had been scheduled to give a lecture at Charles University, which the University had cancelled prior to his arrest.

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October 17, 2008

Fire ruins historical building of Prague Exhibition Grounds

Fire ruins historical building of Prague Exhibition Grounds

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Collapsed wall of the Industrial Palace during final phases of fire extinguishing

View of palace on fire

The Industrial Palace in 2007

The left wing of the Industrial Palace (Průmyslový palác) – central building of the Prague Exhibition Grounds (Výstaviště) in the capital city of Czech Republic was destroyed by fire yesterday night. The fire began at the roof and flames were visible from kilometers away. Two hundred firefighters fought the fire and got it under control in less than three hours. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The left wing of the Art Nouveau building was destroyed, the roof and most of enclosure walls collapsed. The amount of damage can rise up to 1 billion Czech crowns (approx. 40 million euro). Although a student music festival was organized in close surroundings, none were injured.

Mayor of Prague Pavel Bém promised the city will rebuild the Palace, but refused to comment immediately on the view of the new or renewed building.

The Industrial Palace was inaugurated in 1891. It was the biggest building on the exhibition grounds. Architect Bedřich Münzberger used the glassed-in steel structures for the first time in the Czech lands. The building was 238 meters long and its main tower was 51 meters tall. It was used mainly for trade fairs and exhibitions, but also for concerts and other culture events.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and could take a week to discover the cause. Press reports suggest the fire is connected to the October 9 murder of businessman Václav Kočka junior, whose father is engaged in the Incheba company and has been leasing the exhibition grounds since 2001. Václav Kočka senior is a friend of former Czech prime minister Jiří Paroubek. However, authorities mentioned an accident – explosion of pressure gas cylinder – was the probable cause. Incheba said they have video of the explosion recorded from the security cameras.



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August 8, 2008

Train hits collapsed bridge in Czech Republic, killing ten

Train hits collapsed bridge in Czech Republic, killing ten

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Friday, August 8, 2008

An express train struck a collapsed motorway bridge in the Czech Republic, leaving 7 people dead and 64 injured. The EuroCity train, which was en route from Kraków, Poland to Prague, derailed after it collided while traveling at 134km/h (84mph).

A German EuroCity train in 2006.
Image: Qualle.

According to Czech Railways spokesman Radek Joklik, “it probably hit part of a motorway bridge under construction which fell onto the track.” It is believed that the bridge, which is near Studénka, may have fallen onto the train, crushing carriages below it.

The train, which was carrying 400 people, saw a derailment of its locomotive and first three passenger carriages.

Rescue operations are underway, with 16 fire brigades and 30 vehicles at the scene, which is 215 miles from Prague and close to the Polish border. Numerous ambulances and several helicopters are transporting the wounded to hospital.

Many of the passengers were traveling to a music festival in Pardubice. The toll of dead and injured could rise further as investigators release information.



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January 27, 2008

National Hockey League to open 2008-09 season in Stockholm and Prague

National Hockey League to open 2008-09 season in Stockholm and Prague

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The National Hockey League has announced in a press conference earlier this week that it will open the 2008-09 NHL season with two series’ in Europe. On October 4 and October 5, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will play in Prague, Czech Republic at the Sazka Arena, and the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will play in Stockholm, Sweden at the Stockholm Globe Arena.

Each of the four teams will also play exhibition games in Europe. The Rangers will play against Metallurg Magnitogorsk of Russia’s elite league in the IIHF-sanctioned Victoria Cup. The Senators will play against Frolunda of Sweden’s elite league. The Lightning and Penguins will play exhibition games in Germany and Finland respectively.

This will be the second season in a row that the NHL season kicks off with regular season games being played in Europe; at the start of the current 2007-08 season, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks played games at London’s O2 September 28 and September 29.



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