Press Review

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All the papers report today on the deaths of dozens of schoolchildren in southern Italy, who were killed when their school collapsed during an earthquake. Also on today's front pages, the central bank slashes interest rates for the fifth time this year, and a Czech scientist invents a groundbreaking new treatment for hepatitis B.

All the papers report today on the deaths of dozens of schoolchildren in southern Italy, who were killed when their school collapsed during an earthquake. Also on today's front pages, the central bank slashes interest rates for the fifth time this year, and a Czech scientist invents a groundbreaking new treatment for hepatitis B.

The local and Senate elections are upon us once again, and MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a deal between the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Communist Party. The deal, described by the Communists as "historic", means the two parties will support each other in the second round of the Senate elections, to stop candidates from the right-of-centre Civic Democrats from getting in.

The Social Democrats banned themselves from entering into government with the Communists, but the two parties already co-operate on a local level. The Civic Democrats are our main rivals, says Social Democrat Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, and we'll support Communist candidates wherever they stand against the Civic Democrats, and vice versa. My enemy's enemy is my friend, he reminds MLADA FRONTA DNES.

On the same page, the paper writes that leaflets explaining how to vote have been printed in minority languages in those areas where ethnic minorities make up more than 10 percent of the local population. So in the Sokolov area of West Bohemia, says MLADA FRONTA DNES, the leaflets appear in Czech, German and Slovak.

"It's a nice gesture to us Germans," says Hartwig Ruppert, from the village of Krasno. "It means Germans belong here and we're eligible to vote. I think it's natural, seeing as we're about to join the European Union," he says. MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that in the past, some German-speaking citizens had to seek advice because they couldn't understand the complicated Czech on the ballot papers.

It's just three weeks to the NATO summit in Prague, and the debate about how to ensure security without infringing on civil rights continues. LIDOVE NOVINY reports that ombudsman Otakar Motejl has written to Police President Jiri Kolar, asking him to let independent monitors into police stations during the summit to ensure that protestors detained by police are treated properly.

The monitors say their presence could prevent cases of police brutality, like those reported during the IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague. The idea hasn't gone down well with the police - they claim Czech law doesn't allow it. "Monitors don't have any official status, they're just volunteers" said a police spokeswoman, explaining that police inspection bodies would be the ones doing the monitoring at the summit.

And finally PRAVO reports today on the Czech scientist who's come up with a groundbreaking treatment for hepatitis B. The unique chemical formula, unveiled by Dr Antonin Holy on Thursday, forms the basis of a new anti-hepatitis B drug being produced in the United States. The paper says the drug could help millions of hepatitis sufferers around the world.