Press Review

Junichiro Koizumi, Asimo and Vladimir Spidla, photo: CTK

There's only one star of today's Press Review, and that is of course the Japanese robot Asimo. Yes, robot fever has hit the Czech Republic this week, and the papers are full of him. Asimo shaking hands with Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Asimo standing proudly by the side of Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi, Asimo declaring a toast of friendship between robots and humans: could this be the most successful official visit ever to the Czech Republic?

Junichiro Koizumi, Asimo and Vladimir Spidla, photo: CTK
There's only one star of today's Press Review, and that is of course the Japanese robot Asimo. Yes, robot fever has hit the Czech Republic this week, and the papers are full of him. Asimo shaking hands with Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Asimo standing proudly by the side of Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi, Asimo declaring a toast of friendship between robots and humans: could this be the most successful official visit ever to the Czech Republic?

Well, possibly. As Mlada Fronta Dnes reports today, there's never been a visit quite like it. Asimo caused a sensation when he strolled into the state dining room of Prague's Hrzansky Palace and headed straight for Vladimir Spidla, his hand extended in greeting. In fluent Czech Asimo shook Mr Spidla's hand and said "Pleased to meet you Mr Prime Minister. I'm a robot. I've come here as an ambassador of goodwill."

"The robot comes home", reads the headline in Lidove Noviny. As every science fiction fan knows, the word "robot" was invented by the Czech writer Karel Capek for his 1921 play "RUR" or Rossum's Universal Robots, when he introduced the concept of humanoid machines doing meaningless, repetitive tasks. There had already been several attempts to create man-like machines in literature, says Lidove Noviny, but Capek was the first to give such a creature a name.

Staying with technology, and the latest virus to hit the world's computer users - Sobig.F - has now reached the Czech Republic, writes Mlada Fronta Dnes. The anti-virus system at the paper's online version IDNES has caught 20,000 emails infected with Sobig.F, and more are coming in every hour. The paper warns readers to beware of emails with suspicious subject lines and carrying attachments. Delete anything that looks dodgy, especially if the subject line is in English, says Mlada Fronta Dnes.

The financial daily Hospodarske Noviny says attacks by Sobig and other viruses in the last seven days have overwhelmed systems across North America, from Air Canada's online booking service to the website of the US Marine Corps. Meanwhile Czech computer experts told Hospodarske Noviny that users themselves are partly to blame: having an anti-virus programme is not enough - you must update it as frequently as possible.

And finally to the country's most popular paper, the tabloid Blesk, and news of the escaped alligator which terrorised residents of Kbely - just outside Prague - on Thursday morning. The one-and-a-half-metre alligator named Dundee escaped from his owner and took a brief stroll around the village, before being captured by police and animal handlers.

"First I thought it was some kind of stupid joke," says the local policeman who was called to the scene by terrified residents. "But when I saw the creature I realised they were deadly serious," he tells Blesk, adding that within ten minutes he was joined by 10 of his colleagues. Dundee was eventually restrained with the help of local animal handlers, and was about to be taken to Prague Zoo when his owner turned up to claim him. He - the owner, not Dundee - now faces a fine.