US armed forces will probably make use of Czech research for protecting computer networks against hackers and terrorist attacks, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday. Czech experts at the cybernetics department of the Czech Technical University have developed algorithms which can better protect networks against attack, the agency said. That research will probably be taken up by the US army this year, it added. The research into network security forms part of a series of projects at the university funded by US defence and government agencies with more than 20 being financed since 1999. The Czech Republic is one of a handful of countries that have signed a strategic defence cooperation agreement with the US.
Average Czech unemployment rose in January to 9.8 percent from December’s 9.2 percent, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Monday. The unemployment rate in January 2009 stood at 6.8 percent. The latest figures represent a five year high in the jobless rate last seen at this level in January 2005. Continuing lay-offs and the end of seasonal work are factors contributing to the higher rate. Some analysts expect the worst is now over and that the Czech unemployment rate might not push through the 10 percent barrier. Others, however, warn that further rises in unemployment could occur in the first quarter of the year and that the rate will only then stabilise given expected economic growth of around 1.5 percent this year.
State-controlled carrier Czech Airlines transported 4.7 million passengers in 2009, a drop of 1.5 percent compared with the previous year. The airline suffered a severe drop in passengers at the start of 2009 but by the end of the year there were signs that demand was picking up again. Separately, a special board meeting on Monday discussed an offer from the country’s biggest charter company, Travel Service, to take over Czech Airlines’ charter division. No decision, apart from a resolution that no airlines would be sold, was taken with further talks between the two companies planned.
Former Czech President Václav Havel has been forced to cancel his engagements for the coming days because of breathing difficulties, his office announced on Monday. Spokeswoman Sabina Tančevová said Mr Havel was taking antibiotics to counter respiratory problems. Havel was due on Monday to take part in a press conference of a new book by journalist Karel Hvižd’ala which includes interviews with Havel and fellow communist era dissident Pavel Landovský. Mr Havel, a former heavy smoker whose health suffered during imprisonment under the Communist regime, had part of his right lung removed in the late 1990’s when cancer was diagnosed.
The Czech government on Monday approved a list of 38 new national cultural monuments. The list includes the striking modern Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord in the Vinohrady district of Prague, the Imperial Spa at Karlovy Vary, the colonnade in Mariánské Lázně and the renaissance castle in Vimperk. The list also includes the famous Czechoslovak locomotive the so-called “Slovenská Strela” which was first built in 1936 using an aerodynamic design. The train was used between Prague and Bratislava. Before the additions, there were 236 national monuments.
Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Narodní fronta or National Front, a grouping which served as a kind of bogus alternative to the Communist Party during the latter’s four-decade rule in Czechoslovakia. The National Front of Czechs and Slovaks was originally a coalition of democratic and anti-fascist groupings which made up the country’s first government in 1945 following the end of World War II. However, after the Communist takeover of 1948 it was turned into a puppet party under the control of the totalitarian regime.
The Czech Republic’s footballers will face title holders Spain, Scotland, Lithuania and Lichtenstein in the qualifying stages of the next European Championship in 2012. The Czech coach Michal Bílek had said he hoped to avoid the Spaniards in Sunday’s draw in Warsaw. The winners of each group will automatically for Euro 2012, which is being held in Poland and Ukraine, along with the team that comes second with the best results; the other four berths will be decided by playoffs. Qualification for the tournament begins this autumn after the World Cup in South Africa, which the Czechs failed to reach.
Prime Minister Fischer also said on Sunday that he planned to hold talks with the country’s union leaders on new rules regarding the taxation of benefits. Transport unions in particular are opposed to the change and have not ruled out strike action. Mr Fischer said the only way to get around the impasse was to send the relevant legislation back to the lower house. He also said he would discuss the matter with the minister of finance, Eduard Janota.
Prague’s Rudolfinum is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the day it was first opened to the public. The neo-Renaissance building was designed by the architects of the National Theatre Josef Schulz and Josef Zítek and was named after the Austrian crown prince Rudolf, who attended its opening on February 7, 1885. It has been used as a concert venue by the Czech Philharmonic since the orchestra’s foundation in 1896; its Dvořák Hall is named after the composer, who conducted many concerts there. The Rudolfinum is today also home to one of Prague’s leading art galleries.
Ten people have been killed on level crossings on the Czech rail network so far this year, which is around a quarter of the total number for 2009, the Czech News Agency reported. The latest victim was an 85-year-old man whose car was hit by a train running between Častolovice and Kostelec nad Orlicí in east Bohemia on Sunday. Two other people died in a similar accident on Saturday.
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