Press Review

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It's the Brooklyn Bridge which makes the front page of Pravo today, the bridge was closed on Wednesday after reports of a terrorist threat. And as the Brooklyn Bridge was being sealed off, President George W. Bush was heading for Berlin for talks with German leader Gerhard Schroeder on the "war on terror.""Europe Too Under Threat From Terror" says Mlada fronta Dnes.

It's the Brooklyn Bridge which makes the front page of Pravo today, the bridge was closed on Wednesday after reports of a terrorist threat. And as the Brooklyn Bridge was being sealed off, President George W. Bush was heading for Berlin for talks with German leader Gerhard Schroeder on the "war on terror." "Europe Too Under Threat From Terror" says Mlada fronta Dnes.

But the paper also speculates today on the possible reasons behind a slump in support for the European Union among Czechs - and says two main reasons are the heated debate over the post-war Benes decrees and the tone of the Civic Democrats' election campaign. A poll carried out by the GfK agency shows the number of people who would vote against EU membership in a referendum almost doubling in the first four months of this year - from 20 percent in January to 36 percent in April.

Vladimir Handl from the Institute for International Relations says he's surprised by the figures, but believes a "yes" vote would still win the day in a referendum. "But this is a wake-up call for the politicians," he tells Mlada fronta Dnes. "It's mainly the result of their election rhetoric, which is highlighting the negative aspects of EU membership and ignoring the positive side."

Further on in the paper, could a slag heap be responsible for high levels of cancer in a former mining village? Officials from the State Hygiene Authority recently arrived in the little village of Vinarice, around 25 kilometres to the west of Prague, to examine the claims. Of the eighteen people living next to the slag heap, says Mlada fronta Dnes, seven have fallen ill with cancer in the last two years, and three have died.

The slag heap dates back to a pre-war coal-mine, and has been smouldering since the early 1990s. Officials say they are still trying to determine whether the slag heap is to blame for the high number of cases, and will release their preliminary findings on Friday. They point out, however, that of the seven people diagnosed with cancer, five were heavy smokers.

Turning to Lidove noviny now, and news that Minister Without Portfolio Karel Brezina has cancelled a series of foreign trips scheduled for the next three weeks - his last before he leaves office. Mr Brezina, responsible for...err, I'll get back to you on that one...had planned to spend his last three weeks in London and watching the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, but the visits have suddenly been cancelled.

The reasons for the cancellations remain unclear, says Lidove noviny. His spokeswoman would only say that "the minister's priorities have changed," but Mr Brezina's boss, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, was said to be unhappy with his young colleague's globetrotting - which is sponsored by the taxpayer and coincides with the general election.

Staying with the elections, Lidove noviny takes a closer look at the bird symbol used by the right-of- centre Civic Democrats, or ODS. What kind of bird is it, exactly? asks the paper. Well not even party leader Vaclav Klaus seems to know the answer - "it's from the genus ODS," was all he would say on the matter. Party colleagues are not too sure either - "I think it's a cross between an eagle and a dove" said one.

But ornithologists beg to differ. The ODS bird is a mutant, they say, made up of lots of different birds, including dove, eagle, swift and swallow. And Lidove noviny writes that green groups - who accuse the Civic Democrats of being anti-environmental - have picked up on the mutant theme, saying the skies will be full of mutant birds if people vote for the ODS.