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Czech delegation to travel to Lebanon over five missing Czechs

A Czech delegation is to travel to Lebanon next week to try to gain more information on the case of the five Czechs who went missing in the country in mid-July. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek made the announcement on Wednesday after a meeting of the government’s crisis committee. The delegation will include Deputy Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek and the head of the anti-organized crime squad Robert Šlachta. Mr Zaorálek, who had originally planned to travel to Lebanon himself, has postponed the journey after consulting with his Lebanese counterpart Gibran Basil. The Czech delegation will, among other things, try to establish close cooperation with local investigators and share information that the Czech side has assembled on the case. Two Czech intelligence experts are already in Lebanon working in the field.

Authorities in Bělá demand more control over migrants

Local authorities and police in the East Bohemian city of Bělá pod Bezdězem, will be receiving information about migrants released from the nearby asylum facility. The town’s mayor Milan Lomoz made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that he wanted to limit the movement of migrants in the city and have the situation in the town under better control. The asylum facility in Bělá currently accommodates illegal migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, who were detained trying to get to Germany. The situation in the town is tense after violence broke out in the facility last week.

New refugee camp in Vyšní Lhoty to open on Friday

The Ministry of Interior is set to open a new refugee camp in Vyšní Lhoty in the Moravia-Silesia region on Friday, Deputy Interior Minister Jiří Nováček said on Wednesday. The facility, which had been used as a refugee camp until 2009, will have a capacity of 220. The capacity of the refugee camp in Bělá nad Sázavou in East Bohemia has recently been enlarged to 700. By the end of the year, the Czech Republic should provide altogether 1400 places for migrants. Another 300 are to be created in a former prison in Drahonice in the Louny region.

Senate likely to broaden intelligence services’ powers

The Senate’s Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has issued a recommendation for senators to approve a government draft legislation proposing to broaden the powers of the intelligence services. Under the draft legislation, intelligence services will have access to information on bank accounts, protected by bank secrecy. So far, information could only be provided by the intelligence to the financial institutions in question, but not vice versa. The draft bill would also entitle intelligence services to data from telecommunication operators, which would enable them to identify the owner of a particular telephone number. The draft is set to be debated by the Senate next week.

Czech Banking Association improves GDP growth estimate for 2015 to 3.2 percent

The Czech Banking Association has improved the Gross Domestic Product growth estimate for this year to 3.2 percent from April’s 2.4 percent, according to a forecast that the association made public on Wednesday. The GDP growth estimate for 2016 remains at 2.7 percent. According to the CBA’s chief economist Eva Zamrazilová, the full-year estimate of economic growth for 2015 was raised on the basis of favourable data from the last quarter. She also said the growth in the rest of the year will be driven in particular by domestic demand.

Czech man among three people killed by landslide in Italy

Three people, including a Czech man, were killed in a landslide caused by a severe rainstorm near the town of San Vito di Cadore in the Italian Alps on Tuesday night. A Czech woman, who was severely injured in the incident, has been taken to hospital. The landslide swept down a mountain, which covered nearby roads and parking lots with mud and debris. The corpses of the Czech man as well as a teenage girl and another man, whose nationalities have not yet been identified, were dug out on Wednesday. According to Italian authorities, no one else is reported to be missing.

Ostrava's ArcelorMittal bans smoking on premises

Smoking is to be banned on the premises of the ArcelorMittal metallurgical plant in Ostrava from September 1, the firm has announced. ArcelorMittal, which employs around 7,500 people, is the first major company in the Czech Republic to make such a move. The smoking ban has been prepared for some time and workers have been offered treatment to help them kick the habit. Company officials say repeated breach of the prohibition could result in dismissal.

Number of marriages slightly increased in 2014

The number of marriages in the Czech Republic increased in 2014 for the first time since 2011, Czech Radio said on Tuesday, quoting data from the Czech Statistics Office. Nearly 46,000 couples tied the knot last year, which was 2,000 more than in 2013. Czechs are also willing to spend more on their wedding day. Nearly 50 percent of couples said they were ready to spend up to 50,000. The marriage rate had been gradually falling since 2011, hitting the bottom in 2012, with only 44,000 couples getting married that year. The current rate is still about fifty percent lower than in 1990, which saw over 90,000 weddings.

Open-air film series launched at National Gallery’s Veletržní Palace

An open-air cinema has been launched on the terrace of Prague’s Veletržní Palace, the home of the Czech National Gallery’s modern art collection. The first film, The Last Adventure by Robert Enrico, was screened there on Tuesday night and more archive movies on the theme of art, heights and aviation are planned for the remaining Tuesdays in August. The terrace of the Functionalist building housed a café in the past but since a fire it has rarely been used.

Petr Čech is best paid Czech sports person

International football goalkeeper Petr Čech was the best paid Czech sports person last season. According to Forbes magazine, the Czech goalie earned 351 million crowns during last season, compared to the previous season’s 295 million. Tennis player and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová came second with 178 million crowns, an improvement from last year’s 24th position. Czech football captain and Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický placed third with 172 million crowns.