Press Review

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In a badly needed respite from the stress of the past few weeks - today's front pages are not dominated by the war against terrorism and the growing anthrax scare. As Mlada fronta Dnes puts it "America is beginning to recover". Business and entertainment are back in spite of the country's serious problems.

Although the anthrax scare is prevalent in Europe too, the papers appear to be following this example, their main focus being Afghanistan-related developments - they look at the humanitarian angle and the plight of civilians, in particular children, in view of the coming winter.

By and large, though, today's front pages are dominated by domestic stories. The news that the owners of the country's most successful private station NOVA have been granted a broadcasting license in neighbouring Slovakia has received plenty of attention, as has the fact that the Czech film Dark Blue World has entered the race for an Oscar nomination.

The film's director, Jan Sverak, who already has one Oscar on his mantelpiece for the film Kolja, says he's gratified but not expecting to win a nomination. "If it happens all the better," he told Lidove noviny. The paper notes that if Dark Blue World, a film about Czech pilots serving in the British RAF during WWII, does eventually get nominated, it will most likely be up against Pearl Harbour.

The Cabinet has been getting a lot of negative publicity recently and today is no exception. This time, commentators slam the Cabinet for filing joint libel charges against the weekly Respect, which allegedly accused them of corruption. The Prime Minister's words - that he wanted to see the weekly put out of business and that the demand for roughly 5 million US dollars in compensation was likely to achieve that goal - has not gone down at all well with journalists.

Hospodarske noviny says that the Cabinet has crossed the border where freedom of speech ends and censorship begins. Mlada fronta Dnes says that the Czech Cabinet has once again displayed an arrogance of power which can only be compared to that of the Belorussian President Alexander Lukasenko.

On a different topic, Mlada fronta Dnes carries a lengthy front page report about the system of child adoption in the Czech Republic, the major drawbacks being the vast amount of bureaucracy involved and the long waiting lists. In an increasing number of cases, couples who want to adopt are using various methods to avoid these obstacles. According to the paper, one of the easiest and most widespread means of doing so is for the couple to find a pregnant single mother who wants to give up her child or have an abortion.

The couple pay the mother an agreed sum of money and then the man pronounces the child to be his - the result of an extramarital affair. The mother signs a statement saying she'll give up the child and the way is clear for the supposed father to lay claim to it. This practice is very popular because unlike others it is not in violation of the law - so neither of the parties is at risk. However there is one major risk which most would-be-parents overlook, says the paper. That is the fact that the child's natural mother knows who she has sold her baby to and she may try to blackmail the couple in the future.