04-08-2003

Fischer travel agent, photo: CTKFischer travel agent, photo: CTK The apparent salvation of the best known travel agent in the country - Vaclav Fischer - is the big story in all of today dailies, primarily because there's nothing else happening in the Czech Republic at the moment. Yes, the silly season or "cucumber season" as the Czechs say is in full swing - and the papers are awash with the sort of stories that can only dream of making it big during the rest of the year.

And the silly season wouldn't be a silly season without some very silly weather. As MLADA FRONTA DNES reports, the sweltering weather we experienced over the weekend is set to continue until Thursday. Temperatures every day this week will reach 33 degrees Celsius - that's 92 degrees Fahrenheit for our North American readers. The hottest spot in the country on Sunday was the village of Neumetely in Central Bohemia, which recorded a temperature of 33.4 degrees.

The paper warns readers that the tropical weather might be ideal for sunbathing, but also carries some risks. Children should drink at least 1.5 litres of liquid a day, while adults should drink twice as much. And if that wasn't enough, says MLADA FRONTA DNES, swimming has been banned at around a quarter of the country's lakes and pools because of toxic algae in the water.

To escape the toxic algae and the threat of dehydration, how about a nice barbecue? Well, think again before you sink your teeth into that rare steak. MLADA FRONTA DNES says the number of people becoming ill from eating grilled meat has increased dramatically in recent years. Interestingly it's not salmonella which is to blame - the number of salmonella cases is actually falling. The culprit, says the paper, is a bacteria called campylobacter.

Campylobacter - which thrives in poorly cooked meat - causes campylobacteriosis, an intestinal illness whose symptoms include diarrhoea and fever. Last year around 23,000 Czechs fell ill with the disease, ten times as many as in 1993. MLADA FRONTA DNES advises potential barbecuers to keep their meat well chilled before they start cooking, and make sure they give it a thorough grilling before serving it up.

LIDOVE NOVINY meanwhile looks at a different kind of poisoning - this time deliberate. The pine marten is a rather cute furry animal, a close relative of the weasel. Martens usually live in woods and forests, but unfortunately their natural habitat is under threat, and increasingly they're taking up residence in the attics of cottages and houses. The buildings' owners - annoyed by the noise and the smell - try various methods to kill them, says the paper.

These include leaving bread rolls laced with glass splinters outside their nests and even choking them to death with poisonous gases. The problem, says LIDOVE NOVINY, is that pine martens are a protected species, and people should leave them alone. The only legal and effective method of persuading them to leave your attic, says the paper, is to block up the entrances to their nests. Killing them could - in theory - land you in prison for up to a year.

One person who might end up in prison is the man who stole a tram on Friday in the west Bohemian town of Plzen. As MLADA FRONTA DNES writes today, the man jumped onto the empty tram when the driver wasn't looking, and set off for a bit of joy-riding. He drove the tram five stops before dumping the tram and making his escape.

It's not the first time this has happened in Plzen, says MLADA FRONTA DNES. Several years ago a young man who failed to get a job as a tram driver stole one from the depot, drove it around the city accompanied by a TV crew, before returning it safely a few hours later. The paper doesn't say if he eventually got the job.

04-08-2003