Mailbox

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In this week's programme: the Czech government's new family policy; misspelled film title; Talking Point on Czech media reports on the Arab world; corruption in the Czech Republic. Listeners quoted: David Eldridge, UK; Abheraj Jaswal, India; Curtis Parham, Czech Republic; Brett Aarons; Angelia Beranek, Australia.

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Welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's weekly programme where you have a chance to voice your comments and opinions on our programmes and the topics we cover. Let's start with this e-mail from David Eldridge from England, reacting to our report on the government's new policy aimed at boosting the Czech Republic's low birth-rate.

"As I understand things, probably the biggest problem confronting mankind (at least prior to any flu pandemic) is the world population explosion. Therefore should not China be congratulated by leading the way for consciously tackling this problem by introducing policies to reduce their population increase? Should not the Czech Republic also be congratulating itself on its position in the population increase league instead, as I understand it, considering it is somehow failing in its family policy?"

The government's concern is the ageing of Czech population. Czechs live longer and at the same time fewer babies are born. The government worries that one day there won't be enough taxpayers and working people contributing to the pension scheme. There are, of course, other opinions, for example the more children the more expenses for the state, such as the costs of their schooling and healthcare.

The following e-mail came from Abheraj Jaswal from India, an old listener of Radio Prague.

"In your piece on the Bollywood film festival in Prague you made a mistake in the name of one Indian film. It is not called Meer Zara but rather Veer Zara."

Thank you very much for letting us now. We apologise and the title has now been corrected on our website.

Now let's move on to listeners' response to Dita Asiedu's Talking Point which discussed the way Czech media report on the Arab world.

Our listener Curtis Parham who lives in Brno writes:

"Your report concerning objectivity about the Arab world is a topic that should be explored more completely everywhere. Unfortunately, when an Arab Muslim performs as a terrorist against a non-Muslim, the Arab world, including its leaders, is mostly silent, but let a non-Arab do likewise and the Arabs are so terribly vocal in condemnation. As long as Arab leaders fail to speak out on every occasion against all terrorism, including that by Muslims, the rest of the world rightfully will be sceptical about Arab ethics and good-will."

Dita's Talking Point did not only focus on the objectivity in Czech reporting but also factual mistakes contained in the reports...

This is the opening sentence of the programme:

"When it comes to coverage of conflict in the Middle East, such as US military operations in Iraqi towns to wipe out remaining "Taliban" groups, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how objective and trustworthy is mainstream Czech media? Does it just stick to the facts or does it allow political opinion to slip in?"

Yes, the reference to "Taliban" groups in Iraq is actually a quote Dita found in a major Czech paper but maybe it wasn't clear enough. At least that's what Brett Aarons from somewhere in cyberspace thought:

"There is a problem with this sentence... 'US military operations in "Iraqi towns" to wipe out remaining "Taliban" groups'. Hmmm..."

We apologise for any misunderstanding there.

One of the topics covered this week was also corruption in the Czech Republic. This e-mail arrived from Angelia Beranek from Australia.

"As the wife of a political refugee from the Czech Republic I read your article on the subject of the high corruption in the Czech Republic with interest. The corruption is such a pity as it filters down to the person in the street. We visited Prague this year and the lack of ethics and morality of the general populace blows your mind. Of course, if the ones governing are so corrupt and criminal, what does one expect of the person in the street? You practically have to build a fortress around yourself when visiting the country in order to escape out of it intact and with your luggage. I was even worried about losing the gold fillings out of my mouth, that bad it is... A group of people tried to lift my husband's wallet out of his pocket in a tram. They did not succeed thank God! Oh! yes, I do believe there is a God even though he is dead in the Czech Republic. Anybody with any character left that country during the communist era - from 1948 on to 1989 - and now the communists are gaining popularity - give me a break! The reason for this is that the Czech people are generally so lazy they long for the good old days of going to work and doing zilch. Well, in order to achieve you must work at it and it is high time they all started working together for a better country."

Some strong feelings there but we do hope that at least a few people with character did stay in the country. The Czech Republic can't be that bad if some people actually came back to stay after 1989 or keep returning, such as the mystery man in Radio Prague's October competition.

"We are looking for the name of a Czech-born rock musician - guitarist and songwriter. He was born in Prague in 1948 but in the 1960s he left for New York with his parents. At the legendary New York club CBGB's he met the ambitious and talented Patti Smith and the two of them started collaborating. Over the years, he played alongside some other influential rock artists, including Iggy Pop and John Cale. After the fall of the communist regime, he returned to his native Prague. At present, he is a songwriter, film composer and a sought-out producer."

You have one more week to send us your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or English@radio.cz. Till next time, bye-bye.