01-06-2001

The leading story in all Czech papers today is a leak of radioactive water at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Lidove noviny dedicates a whole page to explaining the accident, caused by one of the plant's employees, and lists past instances when the controversial power plant has run into trouble.

It also publishes examples of similar leaks in nuclear power stations in other parts of the world, all of them with far more serious consequences than the one in Temelin. 38,000 liters of highly radioactive water leaked from America's largest nuclear power station in Athens, Alabama in 1981.

And three tons of radioactive water leaked at the Mihama power plant in Japan that same year, to quote just two of the examples listed in today's Lidove noviny.

One of the few dailies that does not carry the Temelin story on their front pages today is Mlada fronta Dnes. Instead, the paper's top story reports on the fact that in the first three months of this year, the average Czech wage increased by more than 9 percent compared to the same period last year. As consumer prices increased by only around 4 percent during the same period, on average Czechs saw their salaries rise by 5 percent in real terms during the first quarter of this year.

It's the biggest recorded growth in wages since 1999. But at that time, the unemployment rate was much higher, so pay increases affected a smaller section of the population. People working in the banking sector and computer experts were amongst those receiving the highest pay increases in the first quarter. The average Czech monthly salary now stands at 13,300 crowns, or roughly 330 US dollars.

This means that Czech salaries are still far lower than in Western Europe. In the EU's fifteen member states, employees take home nearly five times as much as the average Czech. But as prices in the EU are on average about two and a half times higher than Czech prices, the actual value of their earnings is ONLY double that of the Czechs.

Zemske noviny reports that the number of passengers flying with Czech Airlines increased by a fifth during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. Nevertheless, the company's financial losses have increased. The paper does not explain the reasons behind this, but it does say that the company's financial results are in accordance with its business plan.

And finally - today's Pravo has an unusual offer of short-term work that appears not in its help wanted pages, but in the form of an article. Volunteers are being sought to monitor falcons on the Old Town Square. A pair of them chose this most unusual site to build their nest this spring - on one of the spires of the Tyn cathedral in this, the extremely busy center of Prague.

Now that their two young are just about ready to take off, ornithologists are afraid that one of them might fall and end up on the pavement, in which case they'd have to be rescued and carried back all the way up to the nest. Volunteers are needed to take turns and be on hand ready to help, reports Pravo.

The nest itself and everything that goes on in it can be seen by the general public on the Internet, thanks to Czech Radio. If you'd like to visit the site and watch the falcon nest live, you'll find a link to the webcam on the website www.cro.cz/sokoli/english/.

01-06-2001