Press Review

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Was Forum 2000 of any merit or consequence? A new invention virtually screaming to be awarded the Nobel Prize for physics, and was a foreign spy agency really at work in Prague last month?

Prague's Forum 2000 is history. The three-day conference brought to the Czech capital sages from around the world, from the Dalai Lama to South Africa's former President Frederick de Klerk. LIDOVE NOVINY and MLADA FRONTA DNES each bring their own assessment of the largely ceremonial gathering. MLADA FRONTA DNES is rather critical, saying the Forum was poorly organised and didn't result in a genuine exchange of opinions. In contrast, LIDOVE NOVINY believes the Forum's output will keep the media satisfied for days to come. The press interviewed so many luminaries that newspaper editors now have pages and pages of copy, the paper notes.

On to our perennial theme, it seems, which is the Temelin nuclear power plant and neighbouring Austria's concerns about nuclear power. PRAVO reports on the latest craze in Austria, a kind of mains socket fitted with a filter which, its inventor claims, will not allow nuclear-generated electricity into your household. The clever gadget, says the paper, will even send it back to where it belongs: Temelin. Many Austrians have succumbed to this bizarre gizmo and it's now selling like hot cakes. But Jan Beranek, chairman of the Czech Nuclear Forum, says that scientists have yet to find a way of telling apart nuclear electricity from conventional power, and Vaclava Weignerova, spokesperson for the South Bohemian Utility Company, predicts that such an invention would be worthy of the Nobel Prize. It's not April 1st already, is it?

PRAVO also reports that Interior Minister Stanislav Gross and the secret service chiefs are trying to crack a very tough nut: how to investigate reports that an unidentified agency was deliberately spreading false information during last month's IMF and World Bank meetings in Prague. Mr Gross said his dilemma was who should learn the details, and to what extent. He said he agreed with President Havel on one thing--he wasn't dealing with a global plot against the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, he said, a certain professional organisation was in action, here, there and maybe everywhere, which has a history of manipulating data and cunningly disseminating false information. PRAVO quotes Prime Minister Milos Zeman as saying earlier that an unnamed international media institution had been spreading misleading information about alleged police brutality during the IMF annual session.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY waxes linguistic today. A word of explanation first. 'Hantec' is a unique dialect of Czech, spoken only in the country's second-largest city, the Moravian metropolis of Brno. 'Hantec', a variation on the word 'hantyrka', which means lingo, is what made Brno famous. Linguists in Brno have now published a Hantec/Czech/Czech/Hantec dictionary which explores the untapped riches of the city's vernacular. In Hantec, there are dozens of words for a pretty woman, for example, some of which sound quite unacceptable in formal Czech. There are 23 words for various degrees of drunkenness--one can, for example get bitten, sail away, skate around, run aground and get steamed--and literally hundreds of expressions for money. Hantec, ZEMSKE NOVINY's Brno correspondent points out, is a living language although understandably, it's not taught at school. A sequel to the unique dictionary will be a compendium on Brno's unparallelled phraseology, idioms and underworld talk.