03-07-2001

There is no single leading story in today's papers - the dailies obviously mirror the general situation that comes with the summer - the holiday period. In Czech we call it "okurkova sezona" - the cucumber season, when cucumbers grow, but nothing much else seems to be going on. Many years ago, that lack of news was overcome by reports of sharks attacking and killing a Czech teacher on holiday in Croatia. Czech schools would lose at least one staff member a year to sharks.

Now, years on, it seems that the trend is back, be it in a somewhat changed form. Today's PRAVO carries a front page headline: Third Czech Drowned in the Adriatic Sea. The paper does not go on to say whether the drowned man, or any of the two who lost their lives before him, were teachers.

The leading story in today's ZEMSKE NOVINY focuses on the extra income of Czech MPs. According to the law, parliamentary deputies have to file a report on income earned outside their official salaries. The date for this was June 30th. The reports were open to public scrutiny on Monday.

And so the general public now knows that Speaker of the Lower House and chairman of the opposition Civic Democrat Party, Vaclav Klaus, had an additional income of 1.2 million Czech crowns, or around 33,000 US dollars, last year. Others, too, earned more through lectures, articles, as lawyers, or as members of various boards, than their salaries in parliament.

The paper records the private earnings of a number of deputies, but also points out that only one in two members of both houses of parliament handed in their declarations. The law that stipulates that the information has to be submitted, does not include any sanctions for failing to do so, and one in two deputies makes full use of this shortcoming in a law that they themselves passed.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on the increase in the number of road traffic accidents in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period in 2000. The reason, experts say, is the new traffic law, in force since January 1st - not that the law itself has shortcomings, but it was insufficiently explained and drivers, as well as pedestrians, were ill prepared for it.

According to the new law, for instance, pedestrians now have right of way at zebra crossings, and that's where the majority of this year's accidents have occurred. So far, there have been nine more fatal accidents and 160 injuries than last year on and around these crossings. But the number of accidents has decreased recently, which signifies, the paper stresses, that when people get used to the new law, it will make city streets safer for all concerned.

03-07-2001