Press Review

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A sombre George W. Bush appears on the front pages of all the Czech dailies today: "Remove the Parasites" reads a headline in Lidove noviny, quoting President Bush as he unveiled phase two of the "war on terrorism." Closer to home, Pravo features a photo of Monday's demonstration by construction industry employees, who are calling for five weeks of annual leave and a six percent pay rise.

A sombre George W. Bush appears on the front pages of all the Czech dailies today: "Remove the Parasites" reads a headline in Lidove noviny, quoting President Bush as he unveiled phase two of the "war on terrorism." Closer to home, Pravo features a photo of Monday's demonstration by construction industry employees, who are calling for five weeks of annual leave and a six percent pay rise.

All the papers report today on Monday's train journey to the town of Pardubice by the Czech cabinet, the latest in a series of out-of-town sessions as the Social Democrat government seeks to win favour ahead of the elections. Lidove noviny, which is highly critical of the government, points out that the one-hour train journey cost the taxpayer around 31,000 crowns, including extra security measures such as stationing policemen at one-kilometre intervals along the tracks.

Meanwhile Pravo, which is close to the Social Democrats, tries to give the trip a more positive spin. "I don't mind at all," said one train passenger interviewed by the paper. "It's a good thing that ministers get to see how people travel and live outside the capital," she tells Pravo. However one thing the paper could not gloss over was how the ministers travelled back to Prague - in a fleet of government limousines.

Lidove noviny says average monthly wages rose sharply in 2001, ending last year at around 16,200 crowns, or 450 U.S. dollars. The country's stock brokers and financial analysts led the field, taking home an average of 29,000 crowns. The worst paid jobs remain in agriculture and the restaurant business, with farm labourers and waiters earning just over 11,000 crowns per month.

Meanwhile Mlada fronta Dnes features a depressing story of human greed today, reporting how an elderly woman who recently received financial compensation for time spent in Nazi concentration camps was beaten to death by an attacker looking for her money. The 88-year-old woman, from the eastern town of Karvina, had recently received more than a quarter of a million crowns in compensation, and a lot of people in the area knew it, says the paper.

One of them was a man who visited her home two weeks ago, beating her unconscious with an ashtray and strangling her with an electric cable. Ironically, all he managed to find was her pension money, amounting to just nine thousand crowns. Incredibly, says Mlada fronta Dnes, the quarter of a million was hidden under the bed, and the robber didn't find it. Police say a 66-year-old former miner has been arrested and charged with murder.

And finally on a lighter note, the paper writes that passers-by near Prague's historic Charles Bridge were no doubt shocked to see what looked like a bomb exploding in the River Vltava on Monday, sending 15-metre high plumes of water into the air. It wasn't a terrorist attack, says Mlada fronta Dnes, but a Hollywood film crew working on a new film featuring Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson.

The film has the working title "Triple X", and no, it's not a porn flick, but a James Bond-type action thriller. The shot near Charles Bridge involved an eight-metre model submarine apparently exploding into pieces in the water. Special effects man Pavel Sagner says the scene took two weeks of preparation and ten tonnes of steel. Cynics might point out that the water around Charles Bridge is just a few metres deep, hardly enough for an eight-metre submarine. That's Hollywood...