Press Review

Without question the main story in all of today's dailies is the ruling coalition's success in overturning a presidential veto on a tax bill amendment raising the country's VAT on some goods and services from 5 to 22 percent. The bill amendment was the first step for the government's planned fiscal reforms, and its passing puts the government on steadier ground. PRAVO writes that President Klaus has "lost his first clash with the coalition" and the daily features a photo of a jubilant Finance Minister Bohulsav Sobotka on its cover. One hurdle overcome, all of today's dailies note the government will face another trial this Friday when it faces a no-confidence vote.

Can the government pass this test? LIDOVE NOVINY quotes a Civic Democrat claim that as many as ten government MPs may turn against the government on Friday, though obviously this number is impossible to confirm or predict. The paper does note that if nothing else the opposition Civic Democrats are playing their tactics carefully. The lower house will meet on Friday at 9 a.m. - less than a day after former prime minister and Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman is expected to give a speech in Prague.

Many predict the speech will be scathing - criticising the policies of his successor Vladimir Spidla. LIDOVE NOVINY quotes an unnamed Civic Democrat as saying Mr Zeman's words still carry a lot of weight within the Social Democratic Party. Clearly the opposition is hoping that Mr Zeman will help tip the scales and bring down the government.

Turning to other - no less dramatic - stories in the press MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that charismatic police president Jiri Kolar is considering resigning, apparently upset over recent failures by the country's police force. Recently it came out that the police had ruled as suicides the deaths of eight old age pensioners - in reality they had all been murdered.

Another motivating factor for Mr Kolar is the revelation of the high number of bribes accepted by traffic police in the Czech Republic. Whether the police president will ultimately decide to quit remains to be seen - but he is clearly troubled by the developments. He tells MLADA FRONTA DNES this is the worst kind of thing that can happen to the police.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the forest MLADA FRONTA DNES notes that the main hunting season has begun. Deer, wild boar, and wild goats: nothing wrong with shooting them except the daily writes that Czech hunters mistakenly kill an average of five people every year, and injure thirty-five. If that's not alarming enough - court rulings in such cases tend to be disproportionately lenient - usually only suspended sentences.

MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that a hunter who shot and killed a farmer in his field received a little over two years in prison - suspended. The same goes for another hunter who shot and wounded a child on a sled, mistaking it for a wild boar. But, controversy surrounding hunters in the Czech Republic is nothing new: according to the daily, hunters are not even required to notify locals that they will be hunting in the area. With conditions like that - if you must go into the forest in the autumn - wear a bright orange vest. Otherwise, stay away.

While you're at it you might also want to stay off Czech roads: HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that this year has already seen thirteen thousand car crashes in the Czech Republic, resulting in 890 deaths. In spite of the alarming numbers, the papers says the Transport Ministry is not satisfied with an ad campaign created by the Leo Burnett agency, which came up with billboards of coffins shaped like various race cars, complete with racing stripes, tail fins, and even a flame motif.

Even less acceptable for the ministry: a commercial showing a speedy funeral procession in which the casket is tossed quickly into the ground. The campaign's slogan, loosely translated: "Speed. Enjoy it to the end." While rejected by the Transport Ministry as potentially offensive, the campaign will be picked up by the Czech Auto-Moto Club.

And finally for this edition we end Press Review with racy but more positive news from LIDOVE NOVINY on the Czech libido: according to a recent survey Czechs match the French between the sheets - with respondents saying they had sex an average of 144 times a year. Survey leaders are Hungarians at 152. Also ranked in the survey: the importance of pornographic material to set the mood: the Czechs ranked quite high - an estimated 58 percent while Norwegians topped out at 61. Ooh la la.