Press Review

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All eyes are fixed on the continuing election stalemate in the United States. "President Bush? Yes and no," declares MLADA FRONTA DNES today as Republican candidate George Bush forged ahead with plans to move into the White House, while Democrat rival Al Gore tried to shore up dwindling support for his protracted battle to become America's 43rd president.

CESKE SLOVO features a front-page colour photograph of a dog belonging to one of Bush's followers celebrating the Republican's self-declared victory in Palm Beach, Florida. The Republican mutt sports a huge pendant around its neck with an inscription reading BUSH DOG. Could this be the first canine victim of the political struggle raging across America?

MLADA FRONTA DNES leads with the stunning revelation that Communist Czechoslovakia provided cover for a suspected Nazi war criminal. Police in Brno say they have incontrovertible evidence that Werner Tutter was protected by the communist authorities, who refused to extradite him to West Germany. This was despite the fact that Tutter took part in the killing of civilians and burning down of villages in the Czech Lands and Slovakia in the last stages of World War II.

But why was he protected? Tutter switched allegiances after the war and was recruited by the Czechoslovak secret police, or StB, as an agent. The paper says the latest findings in the Tutter case represent a breakthrough for Czech justice. For the first time in the country's post-war history, complete evidence against a war criminal and the actual police agents who provided him with cover has been gathered in the Czech Republic.

PRAVO reports that Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who has suffered four heart attacks in the past, will undergo quadruple bypass surgery in the middle of next month. Mr Kavan suffers from a chronic coronary condition, the paper says, and hopes he could be discharged from hospital in time for his upcoming visit to South Africa, scheduled at the end of January.

Staying with hospitals, MLADA FRONTA DNES relates the outrageous story of a trigger-happy doctor from Pribram Hospital south of Prague. A local kindergarten teacher had a close shave last January when a bullet fired by Jiri Rokyta, an avid weapons collector, missed her by inches. The paper reports that the self-styled gunman has converted his office into a virtual shooting range.

Patients have also complained of Dr Rokyta's unpredictable hours, crude manners and messy office, says the paper. A commission found that his behaviour had indeed constituted a breach of medical ethics, but said it couldn't strike him off the register until the local health insurance company had withdrawn its contract with him. Which, however, is not possible until the doctor has been struck off. A classic case of catch-22.

And finally, how does a Christmas tree smell? No, it's not a joke: according to LIDOVE NOVINY, sheep's fat has proved to be an efficient way of tracking down people who steal Christmas trees in the Wallachia or Valassko region of Moravia. The local forestry authority has declared woods off limits, and on top of that, began smearing coniferous trees with sheep's lard. Transferred into heated households, trees scented in this way begin to emit a truly foul smell. The authorities have taken this drastic step after reporting millions of crowns of damage caused by thieves. Rotting sheep's fat is a stubborn substance -- and as LIDOVE NOVINY writes, the forestry management hopes that next time, thieves will think twice before pinching trees.

Author: Libor Kubík
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