01-08-2002

Well it's the latest episode in the battle for TV Nova that makes the headlines in all the papers today, a battle that controversial director Vladimir Zelezny appears to have won, or at least not lost - he remains director of the station, for now at least. Also making the news is the latest suicide bombing in Israel - the papers report that this time the Palestinian group Hamas struck at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, a college where Jewish and Arab students mix freely.

 

MLADA FRONTA DNES says if you had to choose a post-Communist country to live in, you couldn't do much better than the Czech Republic. The United Nations has just released a survey comparing living standards in the world's 173 countries, a survey which put the Czech Republic in 33rd place, just after oil-rich Brunei, and - bizarrely - just ahead of unstable, debt-ridden Argentina.

The only post-Communist country to do better than the Czechs was Slovenia, which finished in 29th place. And if you're wondering, the nicest place to live - according to the U.N. - is Norway, which Mlada Fronta Dnes describes as "boring." The worst, in 173rd place, is war-torn Sierra Leone.

 

LIDOVE NOVINY returns to the case of Karel Srba, the former Foreign Ministry official accused of hiring someone to bump off a nosy journalist. The someone in question is Karel Rziepel, a tattooed petty criminal from the town of Vimperk in south Bohemia, who went to the police instead of carrying out the killing.

Mr Rziepel has had his fifteen minutes of fame, his tattoos having graced the pages of most Czech dailies over the last fortnight. Now, says LIDOVE NOVINY , Mr Rziepel is dining out on the story - or rather drinking out on it - in the pubs of his home town. "He goes around the pubs and tells the story in exchange for a beer," says one of Mr Srba's lawyers.

 

Further on in the paper, LIDOVE NOVINY reports how former policeman Daniel Dimitrov liked his job so much he kept his uniform after he was sacked, using it to stop cars and relieve drivers of their cars and personal belongings. Mr Dimitrov and two accomplices were sentenced to nine years in prison on Wednesday for fraud and highway robbery.

The paper explains that one of the men - dressed in police uniform - would stop cars and demand that the driver opened the boot. As soon as he did so, the other two would leap out from behind the bushes, jump behind the wheel, and drive off. A cunning trick, though not so cunning it seems, as all three are now behind bars.

 

Staying with flashing blue lights, MLADA FRONTA DNES says the Prague fire brigade has started filming drivers who refuse to let fire engines pass in heavy traffic. The paper says the fire brigade is fed up with selfish drivers ignoring flashing lights and sirens, and with the help of the police, has fitted a video camera to one its fire engines to film those drivers who refuse to pull over and let them pass.

The video evidence has been compiled into a report, showing that on average a fire engine becomes stuck behind selfish drivers five times every time it answers an emergency call. "A few years ago drivers would get out of the way as soon as they heard the siren," says fire chief Vaclav Vacek. "Recently, however, they've begun ignoring them." Vacek blames other emergency services for the change in attitude, saying private ambulance drivers regularly switch on their sirens even when they're just late for lunch.

01-08-2002