14-10-2002

Reports of the bomb blasts on the island of Bali that killed close to 200 people fill all of today's front pages. "A tourist heaven turns into hell" says the lead headline in Lidove Noviny. The paper carries a snapshot of two Canadian tourists kneeling in silent prayer at the scene of the massacre. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that the terrorist attacks on Bali have given the war waged by extremists a frightening new dimension. The next bomb could go off anywhere, the paper says, the only condition is that there be enough Americans, Europeans and Australians on the targeted site. The Al-Queda extremists have re-grouped and although they are no longer in a position to mastermind mega-terrorist attacks such as those on September 11th, they still have the strength and support needed for attacks on tourists in less guarded locations, Mlada Fronta Dnes says.

On the home front, the main story revolves around the latest presidential candidate - the outgoing Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus - and the fact that his party has suddenly decided to support direct presidential elections in order to give him a better chance of success. The party has performed a summersault to provide its outgoing leader with a cushy job, says Pravo, but will it be enough?

Hospodarske Noviny thinks it is unlikely. According to a poll commissioned by the paper only around 16 % of Czechs would like Mr. Klaus to replace Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle. Moreover, the paper notes, the other parties on the Czech political scene, who have pushed for direct elections for months and been repeatedly thwarted by the Civic Democrats, are now in no particular hurry to accommodate Vaclav Klaus. Mlada Fronta Dnes has devoted a full page to drinking spirits at the workplace, in this case in Parliament. For most of us the idea is inconceivable - but not for our parliament deputies, the paper says. And who could ban the practice? As law makers, they would never allow that!

The paper has done some investigative work on Parliament ground and claims that deputies often leave the assembly hall between votes for a quick Becherovka or Fernet. Beer and Martinis are also said to be very popular. Our deputies claim that a quick drink doesn't affect their judgement or work morale, the paper notes and provides readers with a list of "transgressions" committed by drunk MPs. They include car accidents, pub brawls and even waving a knife and giving the Nazi salute.

Pravo says that two days of persistent rain over the weekend sent many people in south Bohemia into a panic. Rivers in the region swelled noticeably and many people donned raincoats to check out the situation for themselves every few hours. A second degree flood alert in the region revived plenty of bad memories, Pravo notes.

And finally, on a lighter note, this weekend 38 cigar smokers competed in the art of who could make their cigar last longest. In this case "take your time" was the name of the game and the winner spent a pleasant two hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds smoking an 11 gram, 15 centimeter long Henry Winterman cigar.

14-10-2002