British actor and comedian Norman Lovett, whose head represented the ship
AI system ‘Holly’ in the television series Red Dwarf, has been
announced as one of the guests at the upcoming Future Gate sci-fi film
festival in Prague. The sixth version of the annual festival will run from
the end of February to mid-March and Lovett is set to introduce a special
Red Dwarf marathon, which will start on March 2.
Red Dwarf is one of the most popular comedy series in the Czech Republic and its latest seasons were recently aired on Czech Television to a dedicated fan base.
Chinese tech giant Huawei has threatened to go to court if the Czech
National Cyber and Information Security Agency does not cancel or adjust
its warning against incorporating Huawei technology, the daily Deník N
reports. The company has apparently stated this in letters sent to Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš and Dušan Navrátil, the agency’s director.
Huawei has demanded an answer by February 14. The government discussed the
matter on Friday and decided that Huawei's letter will be answered by
the cybersecurity agency and not by government.
The threat of international arbitration follows the withdrawal by various government ministries from contracts with Huawei after the Czech cyber watchdog issued a warning in December against using Huawei technology in the state’s critical infrastructure.
The government has rejected a bill by the Communist Party to legally
establish Czech as the state language. Justice Minister Jan Kněžínek
told a news conference on Friday that the proposal was useless because
Czech is already the preferred statutory language and there are already
sufficient laws in existence.
Criticism from other ministries included the fact that the norm does not propose any systemic tools for ensuring it would be adhered to. The Interior Ministry mentioned it found a grammatical error in the proposal's text. The bill will now be debated in Parliament.
The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is considering more regulation
of agency employment. It also wants the Labour Office to have more powers
to combat the exploitation of foreign workers, Minister Jana Maláčová
told the Czech News Agency on Friday. She said these measures were part of
a larger set that will be included in an employment bill due to be
published in the second quarter of this year.
The minister also reacted to an investigative article published by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which reported on miserable conditions for migrant workers employed at a Czech company owned by Agrofert, a conglomerate founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. Ms. Maláčová said the article could act as an incentive for an investigation by labour inspectors. Mr. Babiš has said the Deutsche Welle story was ‘made up’.
While January’s unemployment rates were still the lowest since 1997, the
Labour Office reports that the number of people without work has increased
to 3.3 percent.
Analysts expected this increase due to seasonal factors. However, the numbers are higher by one decimal point than their projections indicated.
Economists do not expect another major decrease in unemployment like that seen in 2018. Furthermore, the growth in vacancies is also projected to go down this year.
Despite increases in the past two months, unemployment levels in 2019 are expected to continue being very low and to fall below 3.0 percent with the onset of spring. This trend is also expected to put further pressure on employers to increase wages.
Junior coalition partners the Social Democrats have come out against a plan
by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO for the creation of a government
district in Prague’s Letňany district, Novinky.cz reported on Friday.
The idea would involve moving state officials out of city centre buildings.
The Social Democrats have joined opposition parties in opposing the plan,
with senior members saying it could threaten the historical locations
currently housing ministries and needed to be analysed in more depth.
The idea’s chances were recently boosted after a meeting between the prime minister and Prague Mayor Zdeňek Hřib, where the latter said he would be willing to give such a project the green light if the government paid for some crucial investments in the city’s infrastructure. While no agreement has yet been reached, Mr. Babiš has said that he wants to continue with the negotiations.
The Czech National Bank has lowered its surplus predictions for the public
finances in 2019 and 2020. In November officials said the surplus should
reach 1.3 percent this year. However, they have now revised that figure to
1.2 percent. Meanwhile, the central bank has reduced its surplus estimate
for next year by two percentage points.
Overall growth predictions for the Czech economy in 2019 have also been cut to 2.9 percent, four decimal points lower than the November forecast.
Government debt is still very low in the Czech Republic compared to among its Visegrad Four neighbours. In 2017 it stood at 34.6%, more than 15 percent lower than in Slovakia and nearly 40 percent behind that of Hungary.
Twenty-two-year-old Czech hopeful Markéta Davidová took the silver at the World Cup Biathlon event in Canmore, Canada on Friday. The gold went to Trill Eckhoff of Norway who crossed the line in 36:32.9 minutes, 9.8 seconds ahead of Davidová. Italy's Lisa Vittozzi took the bronze. Davidová is currently leading the overall World Cup ranking in the women's individual competition.
Three times Olympics winner Martina Sáblíková triumphed at the women's 3,000 meters race at the World Speed Skating Championship in Inzell, Germany. It is the fifth world title for Sáblíková in the 3,000 event. The 31-year-old Czech finished with a time of 3 minutes 58.91 seconds, coming ahead of Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands and Russia’s Natalia Voronina.
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