• Czech Television will not have to apologize to Agrofert for reporting, court rules

    09/16/2020

    Czech Television will not have to issue an apology to Agrofert for connecting the company to the dismissal of the director of the Pribram Financial Administration, the Municipal Court in Prague ruled on Wednesday. The verdict is not yet final and Agrofert can appeal to the High Court in Prague.

    Agrofert, the company founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who has since placed it in trust funds, originally issued a lawsuit against Czech Television, stating that the station’s reports broadcast as part of the Reportéři ČT programme last year had damaged the company’s reputation. However, the judge ruled that many members of the public had already noted before that Mr. Babiš was the owner of Agrofert at the time that he was finance minister and therefore that it was fair for the reporters to make such a connection.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Newly designed Prague buses to start operating from Thursday

    09/16/2020

    The first of Prague’s new visually designed buses is set to start operating from Thursday, September 17. The grey-red design will first be featured on the bus line 176, which transports passengers on the route from Karlovo náměstí to Strahov. After the new design manual is approved by the Prague Public Transit Company, every new bus will display the new pattern, Deputy Mayor for Transport Adam Scheinherr and representatives of Prague's transport announced on Wednesday.

    The new bus design was approved by City Hall in August. The manual should be finished by the end of this year and will feature uniform designs for 76 of the city’s transport vehicles, Mr. Scheinherr said.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Daily COVID-19 case increase again breaches record

    09/16/2020

    A record 1,677 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus were detected on Tuesday, according to official Ministry of Health data. That is the third highest rise in the EU after France and Spain. It brings the tally of those currently afflicted with the virus in the Czech Republic to 15,807, with a total of 38,896 cases since COVID-19 was first registered in the country in March.

    Most of those afflicted with COVID-19 are experiencing mild or no symptoms. Monday data showed that 333 patients are currently in hospital, with 78 in serious condition.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Positive COVID-19 results to be sent straight from laboratories

    09/16/2020

    Coronavirus testing laboratories will notify people whether their test was positive via email or text message starting Thursday, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch tweeted on Wednesday. According to Mr. Vojtěch, this new measure will enable patients to be more rapidly informed and help in curbing the spread of the disease.

    Until now, people only received information about whether they had tested positive via a doctor, usually a hygienist. However, many individuals complained that this often led to delays in being notified due to the overburdening of local hygienic stations.

    More than 10,000 tests are usually conducted on a daily basis since the beginning of September. The rate of those who test positive currently lies at 2.5 percent.

    Author: Tom McEnchroe
  • Average mortgage rate drops to 2.11 pct, lowest level since October 2017

    09/16/2020

    The average mortgage rate fell for a fifth consecutive month in August, to 2.11 percent, the lowest level since October 2017, according to data from the Fincentrum Hypoindex. Interest in mortgages was again record-breaking in August.

    Banks provided 6,868 mortgages totalling 19.173 billion crowns in August. Although the volume of mortgages provided fell by almost 2.5 billion crowns compared to July, it was still the August in the history of the Hypoindex.

    Since January 2019, when the average mortgage rate climbed to 3 percent from historic lows at the end of 2016, the average rate has fallen by 0.89 percentage points.

    The continuous decline in the average rate since the beginning of last year was disrupted only in the first quarter of 2020, when the average rate rose by 0.1 percentage points over three months.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Chinese firm Zhenhua collected data on 700 Czechs for use in ‘hybrid warfare’

    09/16/2020

    The Chinese company Zhenhua Data Technology, which described itself as a pioneer in the use of data for ‘hybrid warfare’, collected profiles of about 700 prominent Czechs, Aktuálně.cz reports. The counterintelligence service BIS is now looking into the case.

    Before Zhenhua took down its website, it had compiled a database of Czech politicians, diplomats, security staff, academics, businesspeople and their children. The company collected mainly public open-source data on people of interest, such as photographs, social network profiles and media mentions.

    The personal details of about 2.4 million people worldwide were swept up by Zhenhua, which has reported links to China’s military and intelligence networks. A copy of its Overseas Key Information Database (OKIDB) left unsecured on the Internet was retrieved by an Australian cybersecurity consultancy.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Chinese firm Huawei seeks to obtain lower Czech security clearance, Deník N reports

    09/15/2020

    China’s telecom and technology giant Huawei has yet to obtain a security clearance from the Czech National Security Authority (NBÚ) needed to compete in state tenders and is now seeking a review at a lower level, Deník N reports.

    In 2018, the National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NÚKIB) warned against using Huawei software and hardware in government computers and phones. In January, the European Commission advised EU member states not to permit firms considered a security risk to build sensitive parts of 5G mobile networks. However, Huawei does not need a clearance to cooperate with Czech operators.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Austrian customs agents arrest Czech family with 665 kilos of undeclared gold, silver

    09/15/2020

    A Czech family has been arrested in Austria after customs officers found some 665 kilograms of gold and silver in their car. According to the Austrian daily Heute, the family had tried to avoid paying customs duties and now face a heavy fine.

    The family was arrested at a border crossing between Austria and Switzerland. Customs officials found 707 silver bars and 74 gold bars in the luggage of a girl whose parents had only declared 4,000 euros, withdrawn in Lichtenstein. The precious metal is worth an estimated 700,000 euros.

  • Weather

    09/15/2020

    Wednesday should start out sunny but grow increasingly cloudy over the day, with light rain expected in the late evening. Daytime highs should range from 24 to 28 degrees Celsius.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • Covid-19: Dutch add Prague to ‘red list’ of risky travel regions

    09/15/2020

    The Netherlands, like Belgium and Germany in recent days, has placed Prague on its list of risky travel regions to due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases in the Czech capital.

    The decision, which took effect on Tuesday, means anyone who has been in Prague must self-isolate for 10 days upon entering the Netherlands, even if they test negative for Covid-19. The Dutch measure does not apply to other Czech regions.

    Author: Brian Kenety

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