Press Review

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All the dailies report today on the clean-up operation underway in many parts of Moravia following devastating hailstorms and torrential rain at the start of the week. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that people in the region are afraid of looting and most have taken time off work in order to repair the damage and keep an eye on their property. Glaziers in many areas have run out of material and people are having to wait up to five days to get their broken windows fixed. For the time being many damaged roofs and windows have been covered with cardboard and plastic. According to eyewitnesses the hailstones that bombarded some parts of the country were the size of eggs. Many apple trees have been left bare not just of fruit, but of leaves, vegetable patches have been completely destroyed and even fir trees haven't escaped unscathed.

Many locals believe that the hailstorms, the unseasonably hot spring and the unseasonably rainy summer, is punishment from above for what man has done to Nature. This has led Slovo, which quotes several people who believe in the furious God theory, to ask for a professional opinion from a meteorologist. Borivoj Sobisek tells readers that while it is true that the climate is generally getting warmer as a result of the greenhouse effect, meteorologists recorded severe climatic changes long before people even knew about greenhouse gases. Unusual weather patterns occur naturally once every few decades, and there's no reason to worry unduly, he told the paper. Other experts agree that the floods are not so much due to torrential rain as to bad town and city planning. Houses have been built far closer to river banks than they should and trees and shrubs growing along the banks have been cut down to provide people with a better view. The price of such a view is high, since the root system of trees and shrubs helped to prevent flooding and soil erosion in the past.

On a different topic, Pravo is critical of new legislation which will make faith healing illegal. There is no question that faith healers are here to stay, simply because there is a demand for their services, the paper says. Is it really wise to push them underground, where they will operate beyond any kind of regulation? Ivan Novak, in charge of a pediatric clinic at a large Prague hospital, thinks not, even though he personally has little sympathy for faith healers. Parliament should be doing the exact opposite, he told the paper. It should encourage faith healers to establish their own medical society which would guarantee that its members have received some kind of schooling and are not dangerous quacks. Such societies exist in China and to all accounts work rather well.

Lidove Noviny's Martin Schmartz has a different concern. Looking back at the illegal techno party held on the outskirts of the South Bohemian town of Lipnice last week, he says the media did a miserable job of covering the event. I am no fan of techno, Schmartz says, but there was no doubt at all that the media weren't being objective. The message which came across loud and clear was that normal people don't like techno. Understandably the locals were upset by the hygiene problems but that issue could have been discussed separately from the interest in techno itself. In damning the entire event we have once again shown how intolerant we are of those who are different, the author concludes.