Press Review

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There are many different types of stories making headlines in Friday's papers, one of the most disturbing being the death of an American stuntman on the Vltava river yesterday. The stuntman died during filming of the feature film "Triple X" when his paraglider crashed into one of the columns of Prague's Palacky bridge. Pravo carries a photo from the site of the accident on its front page.

There are many different types of stories making headlines in Friday's papers, one of the most disturbing being the death of an American stuntman on the Vltava river yesterday. The stuntman died during filming of the feature film "Triple X" when his paraglider crashed into one of the columns of Prague's Palacky bridge. Pravo carries a photo from the site of the accident on its front page.

Meanwhile the top story in Lidove noviny reports on President Vaclav Havel's state visit to Rome, where Mr Havel gave a speech which was uncharacteristically critical of the EU on Thursday. Speaking before the Italian senate Mr Havel criticised a recent EU resolution calling for reforms that would help make the EU economy even stronger than that of the U.S. The paper writes that the Czech president lamented the idea that Europe once again be defined in terms of competitive economic rivalry.

The contents of Mr Havel's speech, however, are not spared by Lidove noviny's Martin Zverina, who writes that Mr Havel's criticism is lacking in depth. Mr Zverina says the problem with Havel's speech is that it is based only on negation and that it offers little in terms of an alternative vision for the direction Europe should take. Says Mr Zverina: "the failure to offer solutions while criticising at the same time, is the mark of political impotence".

From impotency to the very potent Czech crown, Mlada fronta Dnes writes that the recent record-breaking strength of the Czech monetary unit has many travellers smiling, but some businesses in a worry. The paper quotes one firm as saying that if the strong crown continues it will have to reduce exports, which could lead to the loss of jobs. The Czech Central Bank has already issued a warning on the strong crown indicating that its continued rapid strengthening on the exchange market would be detrimental for the Czech economy as a whole.

Mlada fronta Dnes notes that while the Czech Central Bank took intervention measures on Thursday to weaken the crown somewhat, the monetary unit is likely to break the 30 crowns per Euro record soon. Meanwhile Czech travel agencies are offering vacation packages for competitive prices, so if you are feeling wanderlust, now is the time to go.

And if you are on the move, you might just want to take a Czech motorbike with you: the Czech financial daily Hospodarske noviny reports that there has been a renewed interest in Czech motorcycles this year, a positive sign which comes after a severe consumer drop-off in the 1990's. Sales have picked up at both Jawa Moto and Praga, and there has been a renewed interest in moped scooters. So, it is likely pedestrians will be able to see more of those zooming over Prague's cobblestone streets. Mopeds are fondly called masarky in slang by Prague natives, referring to the sound of the buzzing engine - a masarka is a kind of large meat fly.

Finally, as we round out this Friday's Press Review, we turn back to Pravo and an article which will be of interest to sports fans - the firing of Sparta football coach Jaroslav Hrebik. The paper quotes the president of the club as saying it was necessary to change the atmosphere at the club in order to try and retain its league championship title, which now under threat as Sparta is second in the standings, and could finish as low as third.

Mr Hrebik leaves the football club in spite of a highly successful run in this year's Champions League, and will be replaced by Viteslav Lavicka, who was his assistant till now, writes Pravo.