Press Review

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The demise of Gaston the seal came too late for today's papers, although they are full of references to his recapture after five days on the run. Mlada fronta Dnes even features a cartoon showing a policeman standing waist-deep in water, directing traffic with a baton. The "traffic" consists of four fish and a seal, presumably Gaston. A sign behind the policeman reads "No Entry for Sharks".

The demise of Gaston the seal came too late for today's papers, although they are full of references to his recapture after five days on the run. Mlada fronta Dnes even features a cartoon showing a policeman standing waist-deep in water, directing traffic with a baton. The "traffic" consists of four fish and a seal, presumably Gaston. A sign behind the policeman reads "No Entry for Sharks".


The floods also capture the imagination of the Lidove noviny cartoonist today, although this time it's the mysterious flooding of Prague's metro system. The cartoon depicts a metro conductor in an improvised gondola, paddling his way along the submerged tunnels. "Mind the doors - the doors are closing" says the conductor. Last week, writes the Lidove noviny cartoonist, it seems someone forgot to do just that - close the doors to stop the water getting in.

Well the metro may be largely out of action, and many buildings in Prague still remain uninhabitable, but one thing is clear, says Lidove noviny. November's NATO summit in Prague - already a huge organisational and security headache before the first drop of rain fell - will go ahead as planned.

Unlike the scrapping of a two-billion dollar tender for the Czech air force, says the paper, the November summit appears to have survived the floods intact. The three- day summit begins on November 20th, and Czech officials say they've received no indication from the alliance's headquarters in Brussels that NATO wants a change of venue.


Back to Mlada fronta Dnes, and the picture-postcard town of Cesky Krumlov in South Bohemia is once again open for tourists, one week after the Vltava river burst its banks. The state of emergency might still be in place, but Cesky Krumlov is definitely open for business - tourism being the town's main income. Now, says the paper, all it needs is tourists.


Meanwhile the clean-up operation in Prague has attracted offers of help from all over, says Pravo, writing that even U.S. Ambassador Craig Stapleton donned Wellingtons and rubber gloves on Monday to help clean up Prague's Kampa Island. Ambassador Stapleton and nine other officials from the embassy have launched a special initiative to restore the picturesque island to its former glory, an operation dubbed "Project Kampa."

The operation consists of both hands-on clean-up work and fund-raising efforts, says the paper. The embassy is raising money from Americans living in the Czech Republic, as well as people of Czech origin living in the U.S. So far Czech- Americans have donated almost half a million crowns to the project.


And finally, this Press Review began with a plucky animal braving the raging torrent, and so it's only fitting I suppose that it should end with one. A horse ridden into a flooded river by its drunk owner has been found, says Pravo. The horse was last seen desperately trying to keep afloat in the raging Vltava near the village of Veltrusy, and was feared drowned. The owner, who'd had a few drinks, had to be rescued from the swollen river by helicopter.

On Sunday the horse was discovered - tired and hungry but alive - cradled in the branches of a tree in the grounds of a nearby chateau. The four-year-old brown mare, apparently a retired racehorse, is now waiting for its owner to come forward. The owner faces cruelty charges - and possibly a good kicking in the, ahem...stable.