Press Review

All Czech papers have been reporting on the earthquake in Salvador and its tragic consequences. Today's Lidove Noviny on its front page reports on the determination of a group of Czechs to do more than just pity the victims. The search dogs unit in Southern Bohemia has been eager to set out and help find survivors, but the cost of the project is too high for them, and for that matter, for the government, to meet.

Meanwhile, it might be too late for their help, which could have been useful, because the Czech unit is one of the world's best, next to the Swiss and American units and was very active in helping the survivors of earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan.

Another story dealt with by Czech and foreign papers alike is the threat presented by BSE, Mad Cow Disease. Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that measures for stricter control of beef have been introduced by the state. Meanwhile, even though no cases have been reported in the Czech Republic, people are becoming more and more reluctant to buy beef. The paper's reporters visited butchers' shops throughout the country and found that sales of beef have dropped by some 50 percent. And some canteens have stopped serving it completely, using pork instead of beef in some traditional Czech recipes.

Today's Zemske Noviny looks at one angle of the new labor code valid from the beginning of this year, one angle not taken too seriously by most Czechs - namely the fact that it outlaws sexual harassment in the work place. The title of the article says it all: "No increase in number of sexual harassment charges expected". The reason why the issue was included in the new labor code, was to make it compatible with EU standards, the paper says, drawing attention to the fact that the person charged with harassment will have to prove his innocence, not the other way around - which is the norm.

This would complicate matters for management, should they be expected to prove their innocence, but according to Zemske Noviny, it won't happen often. Proving the issue would be too complicated and court proceedings would be too expensive.

Mlada Fronta Dnes looks at the fate of zoo animals with famous politicians as their god fathers. Giving a newborn animal in the zoo its name with TV cameras and reporters present has been a frequent publicity stunt for years. But not many politicians actually make good godfathers and the paper gives some examples to prove that point.

The zoo in the Moravian town of Olomouc has numerous politicians as godfathers, but, the zoo's spokeswoman told the paper, the politicians show up for the ceremony, pour champagne over the animal, have their picture taken and usually give it a present. And, more often than not, that's it. Now, all zoos are constantly short of money, so they are always hoping for a little help from the politicians. But, while there are a few exceptions, most godfathers and godmothers don't help out at all, even though it wouldn't be fair to say that they forget their god-animals, if that's the right word.

For example, senator Igor Lansky gave the zoo's tamarin a huge bag of bananas when he became its godfather, but even though no gifts followed, he never fails to send it a Christmas card, says Mlada Fronta Dnes.

Author: Olga Szantová
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