Press Review

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"Czechs come up trumps again in new US administration," announces the front page of today's LIDOVE NOVINY. The paper writes that the Czech Republic might be about to lose a Czech-born Secretary of State - Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia and spoke perfect Czech - but as a consolation prize it's gaining another senior U.S. official with a close relationship with the Czech Republic. It's Condoleezza Rice, who's been appointed President-elect Bush's National Security Advisor .

Miss Rice is an expert in East European affairs, says the paper. She was taught by Madeleine Albright's father, professor Josef Korbel, and she speaks a few words of Czech. But some experts are more skeptical: it's like attending a school where your mother is a teacher, they say. It's not without its advantages, but on the other hand, she always expects more from you than from other students, writes LIDOVE NOVINY.

The majority of Czech politicians have welcomed Friday's decision by NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, that the alliance's next summit - in May 2002 - will take place in Prague, writes PRAVO. President Vaclav Havel was the first to welcome it, probably because it was he who made the proposal in the first place, in a letter sent to the NATO Secretary General George Robertson last May.

The Communists, however, have expressed their absolute disagreement - they say the IMF and World Bank meeting held in Prague in September proved that the Czech Republic was unable to host such big events. The Communists are utterly opposed to the Czech Republic's membership of NATO, and their leader, Miroslav Grebenicek, did not rule out the possibility that his party would make its opposition to the summit part of its election programme.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on scenes of jubilation in the mountains. The owners of chalets and ski centres were rejoicing at the weekend, after snow finally appeared in the mountains, heralding the start of the ski season. People would be pretty unhappy if there was no snow for Christmas, one of the owners told MLADA FRONTA DNES, adding that last week, a lot of clients were phoning to ask if they could cancel their holidays.

The paper reports on people setting out on roads to travel to the mountains to ski on just ten centimetres of snow. But if the weather gets colder, it will be possible to spray the hills with artificial snow - one chalet owner told the paper.

And back to LIDOVE NOVINY with another Christmas theme: Christmas presents. The paper has been finding out what Czech children want to find under the Christmas tree, and the result is a page of photos and answers of 42 children and young people from 3 to 16 years of age. Those attending kindergartens usually pine for Barbie dolls, toy cars and fluffy animals, whereas 6 to 8 year olds want something more expensive, such as computer games.

But what about teenagers? Mobile phones, down-hill skis and collapsible scooters are high on the list. But not all the answers were so predictable: 9-year old Marketa wants Jezisek - the infant Jesus who steps in for Santa in the Czech Republic - to bring her a trap-door-spider....