05-12-2001

Several of Wednesday's front pages feature pictures from Sparta's surprise win over Porto in their Champions League match - the team now find themselves in second place in their group behind Real Madrid. But it's more sombre events that dominate the papers today - Pravo has a picture of Palestinian civilians fleeing Israeli helicopters in the Gaza strip.

Lidove noviny leads with claims that the Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr - nicknamed "Atomic Granddad" by environmentalists - will offer his resignation in January because of delays in starting up the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant. Last year Mr Gregr made a public promise to resign if the plant's second reactor wasn't operational by January 1st.

That will certainly not be the case, says Green Party spokeswoman Anna Starkova, who's convinced Mr Gregr will offer to step down. But the whole thing will be a farce, she tells Lidove noviny - Mr Gregr will go through the motions, and Prime Minister Milos Zeman will merely refuse to accept his resignation. Simple as that.

Well it's Mikulas this evening of course, and Prazske Slovo asks some of the country's MPs what they'd give their political rivals. Communist MP Vojtech Filip says he'd arrange for right-wing deputy Ivan Langer to come home and find a female angel and a female devil waiting for him in bed. "Well, he's newly married," says Mr Filip, "and I'd like to see how his wife would take it."

But there's little humour in Ivan Langer's response to his Communist colleague. "I'd give Vojtech a metal basket full of burning coal," he tells Prazske Slovo. "Actually giving him burning coal doesn't go far enough," he tells the paper.

Lidove noviny features the astonishing headline -"Czech Children Can't Speak Czech". It seems a recent survey conducted in 32 OECD countries found that Czech children are severely lacking in "text analysis". Could this be due to the fact that Czech is such a difficult language to master? Not so, say the experts. They're convinced the poor results are directly linked to the number of hours that children spend playing computer games instead of reading books.

That explanation, however, fails to account for the fact that students from Finland, Canada and New Zealand got top marks for "text analysis". Surely they spend a lot of time at their computers as well? The Czech Education Minister, who is not at all happy with the mediocre results, blames teachers and their old-fashioned teaching methods which are based on memorising facts rather than being creative.

And finally, fancy a flutter? Mlada fronta Dnes reports on strange goings on surrounding the appointment of the Czech Republic's new national football coach, who will be named in two weeks' time. Jozef Jarabinsky was the hot favourite, but last weekend someone walked into a betting shop in Brno and put 100,000 crowns - that's around 2,700 dollars - on Jarabinsky's rival Karel Bruckner.

The bookies are now changing their odds, but some of them are crying foul. "Someone's obviously found out who it's going to be," said the spokesman for one chain of betting shops. "Rubbish" says the Czech Football Association. "Nothing will be decided until on December 18th."

05-12-2001