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Slovakia
Texting preferred over calling

MOBILE-phone users in Slovakia preferred to send text messages rather than make phone calls on New Year's Eve and in the early hours of New Year's Day, the Pravda daily reported on January 2.
A total of 9.4 million text messages were counted this year by Slovakia's two operating mobile-phone service providers, as opposed to only 9.3 million last year. The number of calls made from mobile phones this year came to 9 million.
Clients of Orange Slovensko sent 5.8 million text messages and made 5.6 million calls, while T-Mobile customers sent 3.6 million text messages and made 3.4 million calls.
However, the number of text messages sent in Slovakia was far lower than that in the Czech Republic, where 35.4 million messages were sent over the same period. This is a considerably higher amount even when population levels are taken into account. The Czech Republic has approximately double the population of Slovakia but sent almost four times as many texts.


Slovakia
Slovak makes it into Top 30 in design competition

"HI-TECH", a futuristic car design by 27-year-old Gabriel Guniš from Slovakia, has made it into the top 30 out of 4,000 designs submitted from 113 countries in a competition organized by car-maker Peugeot, and could well advance further, the Nový Čas daily reported on January 2.
Anybody who likes Guniš' design can vote for it to be in the top 10 on the www.peugeot-concours-design.com website. Voting ends on January 23, 2007. Guniš' car has a special windscreen onto which a 3-D HUD displays traffic information, enabling the three occupants to see other vehicles, motorbikes, and road signs even in foggy conditions.
Peugeot will award the winner by producing a life-size car based on his or her design and exhibiting it next year in its car showroom in Frankfurt.


Partizánske
Mountaineers embark on Aconcagua expedition

FIVE Slovak mountaineers left for Argentina on January 5 to scale the 6,962-metre Aconcagua; the highest mountain in the Americas and the southern hemisphere.
Group leader Ivan Kováčik reported that the expedition, which was organized by the YAMES club in Partizánske, includes two women - including his wife Renáta.
Both women are experienced climbers, having already scaled Mont Blanc in the Alps and Elbrus in the Caucusus range with their husbands.
The group will acclimatize themselves to the southern Andes by first climbing a less challenging 6,000-metre peak. After that they will move on to Aconcagua.
Weather permitting, the climbers hope to plant the Slovak flag on Aconcagua's summit on January 26. They have also taken a banner with them bearing the coat-of-arms of the town of Partizánske, which has provided the mountaineers with financial support.


West Tatras
Czech skier dies in Tatras

SERIOUS health problems, including epilepsy, are likely to have been the cause of a 38-year-old Czech skier's death in the West Tatra ski resort of Zverovka-Spálená in the northern Slovak Žilina region on December 28, the Dolný Kubín district police deputy director, Rudolf Kubík told the TASR news agency on January 4.
"The man, from the south-east Czech town of Hodonín, seems to have had an epileptic fit while sitting in a chairlift. Even his daughter, who was sitting next to him, was not able to help him. She just saw her father fall off the chair," said Kubík.
He also said that the forensic report from the autopsy is not yet available, but so far nothing has come up that would indicate that the skier's death could have been caused by another person, or that it might have been due to some defect in the chairlift.
"Although we immediately provided the Czech skier ... with first aid, we were unable to save his life," Rastislav Šroba of the Mountain Rescue Service in Zverovka told TASR.


Bratislava
President honours communist-era secret agent

AMONG the 17 people who were awarded state honours at a ceremony on New Year's Day commemorating the anniversary of Slovakia's independence was a man who was listed as an agent on the communist-era secret police (ŠtB) files, the Sme daily reported on January 2.
Eugen Rónay was awarded a Pribina Cross Second Class by Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič for his achievements in the sphere of forestry. He denies any voluntary co-operation with ŠtB, stating that he has a clear conscience.
Prime Minister Robert Fico said that his government, which selected the recipients, did not delve into the past lives of those it chose.
Fico also took the opportunity to cast doubt on the work of the Nation's Memory Institute (ÚPN), the body that maintains the ŠtB files archive. "The files have certainly been tampered with," he claimed.
Gašparovič also denied any knowledge of Rónay's past activities.


Liptovský Mikuláš
Skiers prefer thermal pools to slopes

SOME 3,000 people per day are currently visiting the thermal pools at the Tatralandia waterpark in Liptovský

Animals in the Košice Zoo enjoy the delicious meal of discarded Christmas trees.
photo: TASR

Mikuláš in northern Slovakia's Žilina region, the facility's marketing director, Katarína Sarafínová told TASR at the beginning of January.
Most of the visitors are skiers who are not satisfied with the current snow conditions at the local ski resorts, said Sarafínová.
"In past winters, visitors would come to the waterpark late in the afternoon to relax after a full day's skiing. These days they're here from the morning," she said.
On January 2, skiers at the Jasná ski-centre were only able to use two slopes. The centre's administrators are now trying to improve skiing conditions by spreading the snow on the slopes with the help of tractors.
Last January, all of the slopes had excellent snow conditions, Jasná Nízke Tatry (Low Tatras) marketing director, Richard Ortutay told TASR.
In his opinion, the snow shortage is what led to a relatively low number of visitors over the Christmas holidays. Some tourists cancelled their stays, while others came one day later than planned.
"On December 31 and New Year's Day, our hotels had 1,000 beds occupied. After our (Slovak) tourists, mostly Russian and Ukrainian guests come to Jasná to spend New Year here," said Ortutay.

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