26-11-2003

All the papers report on the shocking figures released by the UNAIDS and WHO organisations warning that a record three million people have died from AIDS this year. Domestically, it's a mix of stories that make the headlines ranging from Hyundai Motor's decision not to build its car plant in the Czech Republic to the increasing number of junk mail sent to Czech homes.

MLADA FRONTA DNES releases more alarming figures but on a different topic in a half-page article called "Battered women call for help". The paper notes that one third of Czech women are victims of some form of domestic violence and gives examples of the horror some women undergo at the hands of their husbands. On Tuesday, the ROSA organisation placed ten red sculptures in the building of the lower house of parliament, representing and telling the stories of ten battered women. The aim is to make deputies approve a law that takes a tougher stance on domestic violence, and most of them have already expressed their support, the paper writes.

And dental care for the country's younger citizens is another issue that many lower house deputies have promised to support. PRAVO writes that all children between the ages of five to fifteen will most likely be required by law to visit the dentist twice a year. "It used to be the responsibility of schools to have children undergo regular check-ups, today it is up to their parents and they often fail to do so regularly", the paper quotes Jiri Pekarek, President of the Czech Chamber of Dentists, which is currently pushing for this requirement to be included in an amendment to the public health insurance law that would take effect in 2005. A failure of parents to take their children to the dentist could then be punished with a handsome fine, Mr Pekarek adds in PRAVO.

The Czech House of Deputies has agreed to have four more days designated as important anniversaries on the calendar, writes LIDOVE NOVINY. Czechs are to go back to celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day, and June 27, the day on which Milada Horakova was executed in 1950, will commemorate the victims of communism. Its introduction was highly opposed by Communist MPs, the paper says. July 27, will mark the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and War Veterans' Day, is to be celebrated on November 11, the day on which WWI came to an end in 1918. The lower house deputies also agreed to re-name Liberation Day, which is celebrated on May 8, to Victory Day. However, unlike this day, the four new days will not be public holidays.

But four Czechs don't have to worry about that as they could have their own "special" holiday soon - behind bars. MLADA FRONTA DNES writes a Czech family living in the Bavarian town of Passau was dealt a heavy blow on Tuesday, when four of its members were sentenced to prison for smuggling drugs. The Czechs were caught by the police in March, trying to smuggle 260 grams of hashish from Jordan and Syria that was hidden in their camping vehicle. A 22-year-old family member is to serve six years, his wife 2.5 years, and his father and uncle three years each. The hashish would have had a black-market value of one hundred million Czech crowns, the paper notes.

Moving on to what doctors in the Sumava region are calling a "little miracle". PRAVO writes a 65 year old Belgian tourist was driven to Prague's Ruzyne airport in an ambulance and then flown back home in a private jet, all at the expense of her insurance company. If this has not made you raise an eyebrow, just wait when you hear what she was suffering from. The lady was diagnosed with nothing more than the flu.

The doctor who treated her before she left tells the paper that his patient was scheduled to go back by bus in three days but did not want to infect the other Belgian passengers in the bus. "This is what health care should be like", he says, adding that he hopes his children will get to enjoy the same kind of service. Sceptic minds would question whether the insurance company that ordered the ambulance and sent the plane actually ended up paying the bills. Well, believe it or not, all expenses have been covered.

26-11-2003