Press Review

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EU commissioner Gunter Verheugen attempts to sweeten the bitter pill for the Czechs, Social Democrat senators waver between their conscience and their own best interests, and what's a hunger stone and why does no-one want to see it? Find out in today's edition of Press Review, prepared and presented by Daniela Lazarova.

It was smiles all round on Thursday when visiting EU enlargement commissioner Gunter Verheugen and Prime Minister Milos Zeman posed for the cameras in Prague, and the papers not only carry snapshots of the two men clasping each other in a bear hug, but quote Gunter Verheugen as saying "Milos, we can't wait to have you in the EU - we miss you already!" Reporters in the town of Hradec Kralove were also in for a treat, watching the EU commissioner and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan sail boats in a mini-pond as if their lives depended on it, all the while promoting Czech membership in the EU. On the surface all was bright and sunny, but Czech commentators aren't rejoicing, but focussing on the fact that, all said and done, there is still no timetable for admission.

The Prime Minister's struggle to secure enough votes for the electoral law in the Senate has not gone unnoticed. Mlada Fronta Dnes deems it extremely bad judgement on the part of Milos Zeman to try and enforce party obedience through threats and has urged the senators in question to vote according to their own best judgement. If they do, it will be a valuable signal to voters that deception and cynicism have not yet become the norm in Czech politics, the daily notes.

The national football team has also made front pages, but not with the kind of publicity they wanted. Our team returned quietly and under cover of night, says Slovo, sparing both themselves and us unnecessary embarrassment. On the other hand, Lidove Noviny notes that the boys did their best and points out that it is stupid of us to expect the team to boost our self-confidence at every championship. If we ourselves did more for our self-confidence then our team's defeat would not seem that big a tragedy, the paper notes.

Rain, at long last, and high time too, the same paper says, reporting that the record-breaking heatwave of the past few days had brought to a halt shipping along a stretch of the Elbe, and had bared the dreaded 'hunger stone' near Decin. This is a stone in the river that can be seen only in periods of severe drought and years ago someone or other marked it with a warning - chiseled in the stone itself - "If you see me, weep!" it says. Things have not changed since those days and farmers have been lamenting the poor or in some areas practically non-existent harvest. Neither are doctors happy about the weather. Temperatures dropped by 10 to 15 degrees overnight and they have issued health warnings to the public about the risk of heart and asthma attacks.

And finally, dumpling lovers, chocolate lovers and all Czech ladies who sport that famous Slav "hourglass" figure will get a treat on opening today's edition of Pravo. "Rail-thin models are out" reads the triumphant headline. Apparently the editors-in-chief of exclusive fashion magazines around the world have reached agreement to promote a healthier image . Models who are "skin and bone" will no longer be used by us, they promise, admitting that the psychological impact of this trend on the female population the world over has been devastating.