- -  Day # 290  + +

EU > Czech Republic > Prague

Czech news roundup

Prague, CZ (View on map)

A signature analysis of the three presidential candidates in the United States, a handicapped athlete who may be able to qualify for the Summer Olympics in Beijing and the return of a politician who had been accused of taking bribes. That`s the most important news the Czech newspaper `Lidov? Noviny` has on its front page today. With the help of some of the few English-speaking inhabitants of Prague, I am trying to find out which other topics are making headlines in the Czech Republic today.

Michaela (22):

`We used to see the USA as the country of freedom, but we don`t believe in that anymore`
Most of the international newspapers spent another day sacrificing their front pages to the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in China. Czech newspapers have already moved the news to the `World News` section, in the case of Lidov? Noviny on page 9 of the newspaper. The natural disasters still make headlines in the Czech TV news, but have made place for more local news in the papers. The fact that the police have ordered new cars ? all Skodas ? gets more attention. An entire page, the first one behind the cover, is dedicated to the technical details of the cars, the intended design, the price and how the selection of Skoda as a supplier is somehow surrounded by mysteries.

United States
The signatures of the presidential candidates in the United States also get a good deal of attention. Graphologist Roger Rubin has decided John McCain to be nervous, proud, idealistic and impatient, with the first letter of his name to disguise his strong ego. Hillary Clinton is described as intellectual, perfectionist, rational rather than emotional, low on empathy but still caring about other people. Barrack Obama`s signature suggest that he has a personality that is split between the `white world` and the `black world`. Graphologist Paula Sassiov? calls him `pragmatic`. Sassiova links the big letters in Obama`s signature to those of other great leaders of the past, namely Napoleon, Richard Nixon and Adolf Hitler.

Michaela (22, photo) tells me that she is not too much interested in whatever happens in the United States. `We used to see the United States as the country of ultimate freedom, but they are now putting so many rules in place that only serve to reduce freedom. The United States are often in the news now, mainly because of the anti-missile radar they want to install on Czech soil. I am not sure it is the best idea ever, but I think it would be nice to have some protection. Also, the deal that is being put together is based on compromise. If we have the American radar system on our territory, Czechs will be allowed to travel to the Unites States without needing visas.`

Michael (28) also agrees with the installation of the radar base, `even though the procedures that have been followed do raise eyebrows. Some decisions are still unclear. The territory hosting the radars will probably be ceded to the United States, but there still is the question of whether the United States are allowed to extend their actions out of their territory should anyone sabotage the equipment and get back onto Czech territory again. I don`t think the anti-missile system will protect our country. I do think that our willingness to install the system in our country means that NATO and the United States will help us in case we get into trouble.`

According to a group of activists, 70% of the Czech population does not support the plans to build the radar system in the Czech Republic. Some have recently started a hunger strike, aiming to force the Czech government to issue a referendum about the case. Michael is not too impressed: `There are quite some activist groups around in Czech Republic. Some actually enjoy protesting against everything that is worth protesting against and they will use whatever excuse they have to practice their hobby.`

Among the activists operating in the Czech Republic, a group of Neo-Nazis is also causing concern. Lidov? Noviny describes how the marginal Nationalist Party has started to recruit former professional soldiers to create their own `National Guard`. The mission of the National Guard, which officially consists of individuals rather than constituting any association, is to `perform patrol and guard tasks wherever requested by an oppressed and endangered Czech or Moravian`.

Lukas (26) is aware of the presence of Neo-Nazis in Czech Republic, but casts them aside as fairly undangerous. `They are only a very small group and all they want is media attention. The Nationalist Party gets less than 1% of the votes during elections. Fortunately, we are not Hungary, where 15,000 people support such movements. Also, we don`t have many immigrants. Some Vietnamese, some Ukranians. We do have a small Muslim community but 80% of them are Czechs, not immigrants. There is not even much point in being a Neo-Nazi here, with hardly anything even to fight against`, Lukas says. Remarkable coincidence: Lidov? Noviny also reports about the Czech president`s veto against an anti-racism law that he considers `useless`.

Coming and going
Jakub (25) tells me about the departure and return of Jiri Cunek, a politician who was forced to step down to be prosecuted for taking bribes. Six months later, he returns to his post as Minister of Regional Development. Petra (25) points me towards a similar story about the director of the first national radio station: `This lady wanted to drastically change the set-up of the emissions. She got no support and resigned. Now, a few months later, she is coming back and the changes are going to be implemented. Welcome to Czech Republic, where people are forced to leave their posititions and then come back without actually changing their ideas. Well, in this case, it`s not much of a problem, because this lady actually does have good ideas.`

Enlarge photo | Link to this article