Press Review

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The presidential elections have not moved out of the papers' focus for a while and today is no exception. Inevitably, all dailies lead with yesterday's agreement of all the parliamentary parties that a third attempt to elect a new Czech president will take place on Friday, February 28.

The presidential elections have not moved out of the papers' focus for a while and today is no exception. Inevitably, all dailies lead with yesterday's agreement of all the parliamentary parties that a third attempt to elect a new Czech president will take place on Friday, February 28.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that German journalists have started calling the Czech pop singer Karel Gott "Mr President". The Czech pop music legend is currently on tour in neighbouring Germany where he has enjoyed great recognition for decades. The paper points out the German reporters are referring to the fact that three Czech musicians have proposed Mr Gott as a suitable candidate for the vacant post of Czech president.

MLADA FRONTA DNES goes on to say that Mr Gott's mock candidacy has a hidden purpose. The paper suggests it is meant to pave the way for another presidential candidate, Civic Democrat Vaclav Klaus, adding that all three artists who came up with the idea are supporters of Mr Klaus. The paper says that the whole affair is meant to remind the legislators that if they do not chose a decent candidate, anyone could be elected in the direct vote - even a pop star.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports that about fifty Czech travel agents selling package holidays for this year are not insured against bankruptcy. Their clients run the risk that if the agency goes bankrupt while they are abroad, they may be left there without any services or a ticket home. The paper recommends everybody to make sure their travel agent has the right insurance and even request to see a document certifying the agency is insured.

Around 400,000 used cars were imported to the Czech Republic last year, PRAVO writes. Many of them were older than eight years, which is the legal maximum for importing a car into the country. In spite of that, only about 400 vehicles were detained by customs officers last year. The paper suggests the reason why all those rattletraps are flooding the Czech Republic is a gap in the waste disposal law.

Many of the cars are in such a state that they should be declared as junk but their importers declare them as used cars. People need a special permission from the Environment Ministry if they want to import waste into the country, but the customs officers say that if they were to detain every dubious car at the border, the border crossings would soon be clogged up, PRAVO notes.

Staying with PRAVO and the paper reminds us that from today until February 14 a comet can be seen at night above the Western horizon. The comet with the unpoetic name C/2002 V1 NEAT, which was discovered only last November, can be seen with the naked eye. For a better view, astronomer Pavel Suchan from the Stefanikova Observatory in Prague recommends using binoculars and travelling away from lit-up cities to the countryside.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports the government is planning a battle against abusers of the health insurance system. People who take a paid sick leave even though they are not ill rob the state of billions of crowns a year. After the planned reform of the social system, it will be the employer and not the state who will bear the greatest burden of the sickness benefits. That means, for example, that companies will not send their employees home on sick leave every time they are in financial troubles.