From the Weeklies

Mlada Fronta Dnes Magazine brings an interview with one of the best-known Czech soldiers, Lieutenant-Colonel Karel Klinovsky. He was operating in Kosovo last year as the head of the contingent of Czech paratroopers, and was praised internationally for his work. Now in his forties he's back in the Czech Republic studying at the Military Academy in Brno.

Klinovsky talks about his numerous experiences, which he described in his diary. He likes to recall such missions as the one with the British, in which they made Serbs and Albanians give back tractors, cows and pigs they'd previously stolen from each other. Or another time when the whole battalion was trying to catch a herd of pigs at six a o'clock in the morning. The pigs survived the whole conflict in the woods only because Muslims don't eat pork. And so the Czech KFOR soldiers were trying to give them back to the Serbs. Running after a 200-kilogram pig in some woods and trying to catch it with your bare hands was like a bad dream, he says. The shining faces of the Serbs, when they brought them back was a big enough reward.

But there are also memories which are not so funny and pleasant. But Lieutenant-Colonel Karel Klinovsky would still like to go back just to see how things are progressing. Now, he says, the Czech battalion is doing much more there then we did, they are helping to repair buildings and restore normal life and that is great.

Karel Klinovsky went to Kosovo to protect Albanians from the Serbs, whereas now it is the other way round. So what went wrong, asks the magazine. Lieutenant-Colonel Klinovsky claims that it is not NATO that has failed, but the civilian mission, headed by the United Nations. For example there are only a few hundred policemen in Kosovo, when in fact a couple of thousand are needed. That's why the KFOR soldiers are forced to do jobs like investigating crimes or running prisons. And that is not what they are trained for. Soldiers cannot replace policemen, they are trained to fight, says Klinovsky to Mlada Fronta Dnes Magazine.

Tender loving killers is the title of an article in this week's Tyden which talks about fighting breeds of dogs. The article comes as a reaction to the recent sad story of a six-year-old boy who was killed by two dogs in Hamburg.

After the accident there were very strict measures taken. In Germany today dogs of "breeds dangerous to humans" have to go through various tests to find out how aggressive they are. These include a baby-cry test and to fail it is an immediate death sentence for the offending hound. And there are similar precautions in many other European countries. And yet the Czech Republic is an exception.

According to professional Czech dog breeders, there's no need for such legislation. It is not the dogs who are to blame, it is their keepers who are fully responsible for their loving pets. Just as no-one asked pitbulls in the second half of the last century whether they wanted to be bred into what they are today, a dog has no chance to choose its keeper. Tyden claims that many people say it was the drug dealers in the 80's who chose pitbulls to guard their wealth and drugs, and trained them to be so aggressive.

The real danger starts when such a dog is owned by some amateur, who doesn't realize that the dog needs a very careful upbringing. And if such people are also mean to the dogs, it can turn against them in a bad way. Tyden also points out that once something is forbidden, it becomes more attractive and the price of such dogs on the black market will rise. As a consequence it will be only rich people who will be able to afford them, and they are usually the ones who buy the dog as a matter of image, not spending enough time with it.

And so creating legislation which will forbid such dogs, doesn't solve anything. There should be more appropriate legislation which will prevent situations like in Hamburg, where the dog was clearly in the wrong hands, concludes the magazine.

In another article Tyden magazine takes a closer look at the difficult and controversial role of Czech men in society, more precisely in family life. Czech families have no head, says the paper and goes on to explain why Czech men gladly and quickly adopt their position of a mere observer, sitting in front of the television hidden behind an opened newspaper. Is the situation really that bad?

Well, according to last year's study carried out by an Independent British research center Demos, the roles and positions of men and women in today's society have changed significantly, which is also true for Czech men. They are no longer the only breadwinners, they are losing their importance in the formerly patriarchal society, and that is causing them a lot of anxiety too. Many psychiatrists say men actually feel threatened in today's world full of emancipated women, almost like 'a rare species'. Obviously they are not as strong as women, says Tyden, so they can't cope with their failures and therefore they get depressed a lot.

However, now more then ever before, men feel the economic pressure to provide the family with enough financially. One income in the family is no longer enough, and even if the woman is working too, many men come home from work too late to spend some quality time with their children, let alone the fact that they have neither the energy, nor the patience. Not spending much time with their family, it's no surprise that men end up having little influence on it. Therefore it is the woman who's in charge and makes more and more of the important decisions. On the other hand it is still true that men are better paid, women are still required to do the traditional jobs like teacher, nurse, or social worker. These jobs are very demanding psychologically and many say that men could not do them for so little money.

The Tyden weekly also mentions a different angle of the changing position of men in the society. That is that men hardly ever get the custody of their children after a divorce. And in many cases, which Tyden lists, they also have big difficulties seeing the children after the divorce. A feminist writer, Eva Hauserova, concludes: unless employers will acknowledge that men should play an important role in the family life, and will also create appropriate conditions for them, they will be losing touch with it more and more.

Lidove Noviny Magazine comments on the Czech love of the outdoor life and country music. No matter how strange it might sound, all over the Czech woods you can find cowboys and fur trappers all through the summer. Czechs were probably the first ones who welcomed American culture way before McDonald's and Coca-Cola took over Europe, says the magazine. Outdoor culture in the Czech Republic has had such a deep impact that in 1931 there was even a law passed to prevent men and women camping out together.

Although the whole tradition is based on the American Wild West, the Czechs have traditionally sung their own songs with Czech lyrics. One of the leading country singers, Jan Vycital, says that for a long time he knew only ten words of English, but that didn't stop him from singing and composing country songs. In the early years of the communist regime, country lovers were often arrested and interrogated, but later on, during the 60's, the folk & country lifestyle and music was no longer seen as a danger to the regime. At that time there was even a festival, called Porta, devoted entirely to this sort of music. The true revival came after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when the first real Americans arrived in Prague and the Czech cowboys found out they had to learn English after all. Today the Czechs have a well-established place in the world country-and-western community.

Author: Zuzana Šmídová
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