Press Review

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And we begin with a headline from Lidove noviny that blames Prague conservationists for blocking anti- flood protection proposals in recent years, that could have prevented the recent flooding of Prague's famous Kampa island, adjacent to the Vltava river. According to the paper conservationists blocked earlier proposals on the grounds that anti-flood barriers would have ruined one of Prague's most well-known tourist sites, and would have marred the famous city panorama featuring Kampa and Prague Castle.

And we begin with a headline from Lidove noviny that blames Prague conservationists for blocking anti- flood protection proposals in recent years, that could have prevented the recent flooding of Prague's famous Kampa island, adjacent to the Vltava river. According to the paper conservationists blocked earlier proposals on the grounds that anti-flood barriers would have ruined one of Prague's most well-known tourist sites, and would have marred the famous city panorama featuring Kampa and Prague Castle.

Lidove noviny quotes Culture Minister Pavel Dostal as saying one of those instrumental in blocking the barrier proposals was the head of the State Conservation Institute, Josef Stulc, who heavily criticised the plans submitted by Prague's Town Hall in a letter. Minister Dostal had never been shown the document, and when he finally saw it, he was surprised - Mr Dostal said that a decision involving a potential threat to people's lives and property should have been widely consulted. One thing is certain: after the swollen Vltava river swamped the island two weeks ago, the discussion about the conservationists' role in the damage done to Kampa will go on.

Mlada fronta Dnes writes that a planned pay-rise for public sector employees has been cancelled for the third time. 750,000 people will have to wait once more because the cabinet desperately needs the money for flood compensation. The sector's trade union organizations are now in discussion with the Finance minister and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, to find a way the public sector employees could be paid more.

While the governmental proposal mentions a 3,5 percent rise at the most, the trade unions want the same rise as it is in private companies - 7 to 8 percent. The negotiations, which are being held in a strained atmosphere, will continue on Friday. Meanwhile, promises that teachers would get 50 percent more than the average salary and that university brains would be able to enjoy a higher living standard than they have now, have been postponed indefinitely.

The business daily Hospodarske noviny informs readers about a government decision to increase value added tax rates soon. The lower rate - that of 5 percent, imposed mostly on food - will go up by 2 percent, while the basic 22 percent rate will be one percent less. The daily writes that political party leaders as well as experts see slightly higher prices of food as acceptable, because the prices of the cheapest and most often sold products will remain the same. The price of fuel will not go up for the time being, Hospodarske noviny assures.

And finally, Pravo carries quite an amazing story from the West Bohemian city of Plzen, where people are standing in long queues to buy a video showing the floods in their region. The paper notes the queues are similar to those when people were waiting for bananas in the times of Communism.

A 60-minute film came into being as a joint work of three cameramen who were producing news material. It contains shots from flooded streets of Plzen and bird-eye views filmed between August 13th and 17th - all without a single spoken word, just authentic sounds complemented with music. The proceeds from the sale of the cassette will go to a special flood account opened by the Plzen town hall.