Press Review

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The floods have finally been pushed off the front pages, replaced by George Bush and his attempts to persuade the world of the need for military action against Iraq. It's a debate which is now being picked up by Czech commentators, with some coming out firmly in favour of war.

The floods have finally been pushed off the front pages, replaced by George Bush and his attempts to persuade the world of the need for military action against Iraq. It's a debate which is now being picked up by Czech commentators, with some coming out firmly in favour of war.

Analyst Jiri Pehe is one of them - he says in today's Mlada fronta Dnes that taken in isolation, none of America's three arguments for attacking Iraq - stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, committing human rights abuses and supporting terrorism - would justify military action. But Iraq is different, writes Jiri Pehe, because it's guilty of all three. The U.S. must make it clear to the world that the combination is a deadly one, and the Iraqi regime must be overthrown.

Inside the Czech cabinet, however, there seem to be differences of opinion on the matter. Lidove noviny quotes Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik as saying that he's far more hawkish on Iraq than Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla or Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. Mr Tvrdik says that as Defence Minister and head of two military intelligence services, he is "closer" to certain information which has shaped his views on Iraq.


Turning to domestic matters now, and the restoration of Prague's transport and infrastructure in the wake of the severe floods have put a number of ambitious projects on hold. Mlada fronta Dnes says the city will have to spend next year's entire budget on repairing the metro, building new flats and erecting new flood defences. Several projects - including modernising schools, building new parks and hosting a number of cultural events - have been postponed.

In terms of transport, that means that plans to build a ring-road in the south-west of Prague, lay down a tramline to Barrandov and extend the Metro's C line to the north have effectively been frozen, because there's simply not enough money, writes Mlada fronta Dnes.


The ongoing story of a baby called Midnight Storm makes the pages of Pravo today. For those listeners unfamiliar with the story, Midnight Storm was the baby girl at the centre of a row earlier this year which showed the mighty Czech bureaucracy at its most inflexible. The parents gave the little girl the unusual name of "Pulnocni Boure" or "Midnight Storm." The authorities refused to accept the name, so outraging the parents that they in turn refused to obtain a birth certificate. As a result, Midnight Storm was taken into care.

After 24 days the parents relented and chose the name Eliska Gaja, and their daughter was returned. The case highlighted the rigidity of Czech rules for naming children, and also led to a police investigation of the social workers involved. And as Pravo reports today, police have found no evidence that the law was broken. The social workers, meanwhile, remain in their posts. An internal inquiry cleared them of any wrongdoing.