Press Review

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Although the justice minister chose to go quietly--and resigned without consulting his Cabinet colleagues--his demise is still the number-one topic on today's front pages. Lidove Noviny's Daniel Kaiser notes that while other less competent ministers of the Social Democratic Cabinet had to be pushed or hounded out of office, the justice minister's demise will be a true loss to this government. This time there were no sighs of relief from the Social Democrats, and although the justice minister's chair is there for the taking, nobody really wants the responsibility, Kaiser says.

Pravo notes that each of the three candidates thought to be "highly suitable" for the job are pointing their fingers at someone else, citing personal reasons for having to opt out of the running. However, Deputy Minister Josef Baxa has given his colleagues and the public a forthright reason why he won't be accepting the post. "Minister Motejl was an expert in his field; he failed for political reasons. I am not a politician and therefore I could do no better," he said.

On a different topic, the stir created by Denmark's rejection of the European single currency has led Lidove Noviny to find out what Czechs would have done under similar circumstances. While the immediate Czech goal is still the attainment of EU membership, there has been little media coverage here regarding either the pros or the cons of the Euro. However the paper did poll its readers and found that 55.4% of them would agree to give up the crown for the Euro. 44.6% would not wish to do so.

Controversy over the planned activation of the Temelin nuclear power plant is still getting plenty of media attention. All the papers report on Monday's blockade of the Czech embassy in Vienna, where Greenpeace activists told the press that, according to an inside source, Temelin would be activated in the second week of October. Lidove Noviny promptly challenged Temelin's spokesman, who said he could not rule out that possibility. Unless Austrian MPs manage to persuade the Czech authorities to postpone the launch at a meeting scheduled to take place this Wednedsay, Temelin will most likely be made operational within the next two weeks, the paper says.

Should journalists have to reveal their source of information during police investigation and court hearings? A question which concerns everyone in the media world, but none more so that two Mlada Fronta Dnes journalists. The two journalists are currently under immense pressure to reveal the source of a story that has erupted into a major government scandal. They have so far refused to disclose their source and it is with much gratification that Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that the International Federation of Journalists has defended their stand. "Pressure on journalists to abandon their moral principles and break a promise of secrecy is unacceptable," the IFJ says in a statement reacting to the imprisonment of a Dutch journalist for refusing to disclose his source. The International Federation of Journalists has appealed to journalists around the world not to give in to the pressure.

And finally, Hospodarske Noviny has bad news for beer drinkers, which basically means the majority of Czechs. An exceptionally bad hop harvest this year is expected to increase the price of the golden brew. The paper does not say how much higher, but the fact that hop growers have lost 50% of their expected harvest as a result of the summer drought speaks for itself. The fact that wine growers are predicting an exceptionally good year is not likely to make up for the disappointment. Statistics have shown Czechs to top the table of the world's biggest beer drinkers.