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Battle Of The Bulge: Half Of Czech Republic Soldiers Are Overweight

Facing surprisingly high obesity rates, the Czech military is forced to crack down on high-fat diets. Some, however, have pointed out that certain plump generals set a bad example for the troops on the ground.

A Czech soldier (Jametiks)
A Czech soldier (Jametiks)

WorldcrunchNEWSBITES

The Czech Republic's top military brass is cracking down…on calories. After a recent report found that half of the 22,000 soldiers in the Czech army are overweight, orders have come down to halt the helpings of pork roast, dumplings and beer.

The military is also considering using appetite suppressants for soldiers who struggle with alimentary discipline. Czech Defense Ministry Chief of Staff Vlastimil Picek has ordered more fitness checks at all ranks, which comes after his predecessor Jirí Sedivy's pointed out that officers and the (particularly overweight) generals should be on the front line in the battle of the bulge.

"They ought to set the example for their subordinates," Sedivy said.

Experts attribute part of the problem to the changeover from a conscription to professional army, which saw the average age of soldiers rise significantly to 37, which inevitably means more struggling with weight problems.

The Ministry of Defense has requested that recruitment campaigns target younger men who stand a higher chance of having washboard abs.

Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra, who does not himself match the sought-after profile, came to the soldiers‘ defense, saying: "I've never seen anything other than slim, muscular soldiers at the barracks. Politicians, and journalists too, should take a good long look at themselves before casting aspersions."

One newspaper commentator harked back to the good old days when Czechs served in the Austro-Hungarian army. He recommended having the soldiers drilled mercilessly by somebody along the lines of 2nd Lieutenant Dub ("I'm nasty. I make everyone cry.") in Jaroslav Hašek's satirical novel Good Soldier Svejk.

That members of the Czech army would - like Svejk - also be subjected to enemas is, thus far at least, only a rumor.

Read the full story in German by Hans-Jörg Schmidt

Photo - Jametiks

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Ideas

Calmez-Vous, Americans: It's Quite OK To Call Us "The French"

A widely mocked tweet by the Associated Press tells its reporters to avoid dehumanizing labels such as "the poor" or "the French". But one French writer replies that the real dehumanizing threat is when open conversation becomes impossible.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Parisians sitting on a café terrasse.

Dirk Broddin on Flickr
Gaspard Koenig

-Essay-

PARIS — The largest U.S. news agency, the Associated Press (AP) tweeted a series of recommendations aimed at journalists: “We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing 'the' labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead use, wording such as people with mental illnesses.”

The inclusion of “The French” in this list of groups likely to be offended has evoked well-deserved sarcasm. It finally gives me the opportunity to be part of a minority and to confirm at my own expense, while staying true to John Stuart Mill's conception of free speech: that offense is not a crime.

Offense should prompt quips, denial, mockery, and sometimes indifference. It engages conflict in the place where a civilized society accepts and cultivates it: in language.

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