Press Review

The death of arguably the world's most popular children's writer, Astrid Lindgren, makes the front pages today, "Mother of Legendary Pippi Longstocking dead at 94" says Mlada fronta Dnes.

Pravo meanwhile features U.S. President George W. Bush shaking hands with NBA star Shaquille O'Neal - the basketball Superstar looks about a foot taller than the American president in the photo - and that's probably because he is.

If you thought the Polish ambulance scandal was an isolated affair, than you might want to take a look at today's Lidove noviny. While there are no reports of Czech doctors or paramedics actually killing their patients in order to pick up a commission from the funeral service, the paper claims that some ambulance crews do accept money from funeral directors for information about bodies which could come their way.

The paper says the practice is by no means rare, claiming that paramedics, ambulance drivers, nurses and police are involved. "It's a simple way of making money," says one former paramedic, who declined to give her name. "All they have to do is pick up the phone, and they earn anything between 1,000 and 4,000 crowns." And the practice is confirmed by the director of Prague's state-run funeral service, although he says only commercial outfits indulge in this highly unethical means of gaining business.

Going west to the spa town of Karlovy Vary, and Pravo reports on a tricky problem facing the local authorities. Unseasonably warm weather is melting snow across the country, river levels are rising, and some parts of the Czech Republic could be in for some flooding. That could cause problems for Karlovy Vary, says the paper, because the town is suffering from a severe lack of sandbags.

"We've got the sand," says Karlovy Vary's deputy mayor Michal Mundl. "But we've got nothing to put it in." The authorities have declared a flood alert for the local Ohre river, which has burst its banks in several places. But the people of Karlovy Vary should be saved from a watery fate, says Pravo, thanks to a helping hand from colleagues in South Bohemia. "We've managed to borrow five thousand sandbags from Ceske Budejovice, and they should be here by Friday," says Mr Mundl. "But the emergency flood committee should have ordered them ages ago."

And finally Vecernik Praha - always one to lead with the hard-hitting stories of the day - claims that stressful TV game shows such as "The Weakest Link" could drive unsuccessful contestants to suicide. A Czech version of The Weakest Link begins soon on TV Nova, featuring a severe looking-woman who looks a little bit like the host of the original British version, Anne Robinson.

But in its front page report Vecernik Praha warns that one unlucky contestant on a Swedish TV game show committed suicide after being knocked out of the game. The paper then explains that contestants on the show were stranded on a desert island, which - I'm sure you'll agree - is just a little bit different than being stuck in a studio with Anne Robinson. It seems Vecernik Praha is the weakest link in today's Press Review. Goodbye!