Press review

07-10-2003

Many of the papers have gone abroad for their lead front page stories today. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on three front pages with attention grabbing titles such as "Arnold's Judgement Day" and "The Terminator goes into action". Pravo carries a photo of tennis Grand Slam champion Steffi Graf reporting on the birth of her baby girl Jazz. And on a more serious note, the papers all feature the news that Pope John Paul's illness is now seriously interfering with his duties.

The papers are still reeling from the news of what is being described as a black weekend on the country's roads. Although Monday's statistics put the number of casualties at 26 Tuesday's papers report that the toll has risen to a frightening 34 deaths, as a result of more people succumbing to their injuries.

Although the situation on Czech roads is well known -and the papers have often commented on it with a certain air of resignation, the past weekend has stirred emotions and brought a lot of anger to the surface. Especially the news in Mlada Fronta Dnes that the driver of the speeding Mercedes which killed three policemen over the weekend was playing a game of Russian roulette. The laws pertaining to road traffic must be changed and they must be made strict enough to bring about change, argues Pavel Verner in Pravo.

Czech drivers get away with a great deal and although the drivers who kill someone are charged with manslaughter they are not held properly responsible for their actions and often get off with light sentences. But where is the actual difference between a criminal who shoots someone in the metro and a criminal who gets behind the wheel of his car drunk to the eyeballs and hits the gas pedal? Both are doing it with the knowledge that they will probably kill somebody, Verner argues.

In Hospodarske Noviny Martin Denemark also argues in favour of tougher legislation because, as he points out, nothing else will work. This is all too evident from the outcome of the week long safety operation organized by the Interior Ministry, Denemark says. Traffic police were out in full force but when they caught the culprits there was precious little they could do.

Traffic police should have the right to revoke drivers' licences on the spot, Denemark says. Does that sound like a police state? No. The basic goal of a democratic society is to defend the public from criminals, he concludes.

And finally, Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that despite the drizzly weekend, the effects of the long summer draught are still making themselves felt. Many villages are still entirely dependent on bottled water since people's wells have dried out and the water level of rivers is now so low that it is killing water life in many parts of the country.

The paper reports that the water shortage in also uncovering long lost sites. One-time settlers from the vicinity of the Orlik dam who were evacuated from their homes in the 60s and whose houses disappeared underwater are now returning for a nostalgic glimpse of their old homes and the places where they once walked.

07-10-2003