Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Poland as Missile Shield Base - Saga Continues

The Prime Ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic have said they are considering a US offer to host part of a global anti-missile defense system on their territories, Deutsche Welle reports.

The US says the defense system would guard the eastern US and Europe from missiles launched by rogue nations in the Middle East including Iran. Russian General Nikolai Solovtsov immediately issued a warning that both Poland and the Czech Republic would risk being targeted by Russian missiles if they went ahead with their offer.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said that Europe is considering a rival missile defence system to a US shield, but acknowledges that Europe does not have the technological know-how to build such a system.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper said Feb. 17 he opposes plans to install missiles in his country as part of a U.S. missile shield plan for central Europe. Lepper, chief of the Samoobrona party -- a junior member of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's party -- said Poland could not ignore the views of its neighbors Ukraine, Russia and Belarus on the matter. Lepper's remarks contradict those issued earlier by Kaczynski, who said his government favors the plan.

Latter Day Goebbels

Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels the Nazi propaganda guru once said, "Tell a lie often enough and people will start to believe it." German film director Volker Schloendorff must have graduated from the Goebbels school of cinema.

Heroes of the 1980 strikes which gave birth to Poland's legendary anti-communist Solidarity trade union on Monday slammed a film by the Oscar-winning German director Volker Schloendorff dramatising the rise of the Soviet bloc's only trade union.

Due to premiere Monday in Gdansk, the Baltic Sea port and cradle of the historic Solidarity union, the film - Strike - the Hero from Gdansk (Strajk -Die Heldin von Danzig), was slammed as "offensive" by several of the real-life heroes who founded the trade union. Schloendorff loosely based the script on key Solidarity activist Anna Walentynowicz, a crane operator whose firing in August 1980 sparked the famous strike at the Gdansk shipyard which gave birth to Solidarity.

"This film does not present the true facts of Anna Walentynowicz' s life," Solidarity activist Joanna Gwiazda said Monday in Gdansk, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency. Gwiazda said Schloendorff misrepresented Walentynowicz as being illiterate and skewed facts about her personal life. Joanna's husband and fellow activist Andrzej Gwiazda also accused Schloendorff of misrepresenting Poles and falling victim to national stereotypes. "The film shows poorly-educated and hard-drinking shipyard workers - it fits perfectly with the (false) vision of Poles as drunks and thieves," he said.

A spokesperson for Walentynowicz said the pensioner was threatening a lawsuit should Schloendorff refuse to cut several scenes she finds slanderous. Schloendorff was awarded a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1980 for The Tin Drum, also made in Gdansk.

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Ich Troje Played Cleveland Feb. 9, 2007

This is pretty much how Ich Troje the number one pop music group in Poland looked like when Janet and I saw them perform in Detroit 4 years ago.

It was the first time I had ever been to a Polish Rock concert. To say the least I was extremely impressed. Not so much by the music, which I had already heard on CD and already thought was great. But, the elaborate stage settings and props they used throughout the performance made the biggest impression.

Back then Michał was the only member with shocking red hair. The blonde female Justyna Majkowska has since left the group.

Recently the group with 2 gold, 2 platinum and 2 diamond (9 X Platinum) CDs played my hometown of Cleveland with Michał's new bride Ania who looks like she already understands aspects of communal property laws by getting into her husbands hair dye bottles.

The 2007 tour of America and Canada is a bit more elaborate than their previous tour. With them they brought a small modern ballet company adding intricate choreographic elements to many of the songs and Konjo the slightly "off beat" and effeminate comedian as a show opener.

Knowing how much we enjoyed the Detroit concert, we decided that it would be well worth the trek to see them in Cleveland this time around. We weren't disappointed.

The group's name means roughly "The Three of Them" and was conceived ten years ago by songwriter Michal Wisniewski and composer Jacek Łągwa. Wisniewski, the charismatic red-haired singer, has been the most popular person in Polish show business for several years.

The group's music is castigated by the critics, and Michał Wisniewski frankly claims himself, that he can't actually sing. I can't really understand the critics or Wisniewski's self depreciating humor. Most people I hang with like the music and stage show. The wild hair is neither here, nor there. At my Zapusty celebration this year we danced to their music with somewhat wild abandonment.

Despite everything, since about 2000, Ich Troje has been the most popular Polish group. In the last two years Ich Troje has given over 300 concerts. Their fans come from different backgrounds: from amused children to pensioners in tears. Their concerts are great shows that combine the power of pop music with the verve of a musical. They talk about love, betrayal, break-ups in a dramatic atmosphere using theatrical devices to great affect.

Ich Troje is considered by aficionados to be one of the most influential Polish pop groups in recent times.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

U.K. to post traffic signs in Polish

Now there are so many newly arrived Polish "lorry" drivers in England that the Roads Administrator there is considering posting detour and other traffic signs in the Polish Language underneath the English signs. Many Polish truck drivers have not understood diversion signs in the past and have come "into conflict" with road workers.

"Możemy to naprawić prowizorycznie."

Poetic License, or Not?

Google has launched legal action against a group of Polish poets, demanding that they give up their Internet domain name gmail.pl.

Izabela Krawczyk of GMAiL -- the "Grupa Mlodych Artystow i Literatow," or Group of Young Artists and Writers -- told AFP (the French News Angency) that Google had turned to the country's IT and telecommunications tribunal to try to stop them using the Web site address www.gmail.pl.

Google charges that GMAiL has no rights to the name, which resembles the US firm's internationally known email service www.gmail.com.

The service is enjoying snowballing global success, encouraging Google to try to snap up variants of the name which use national suffixes, such as .pl in Poland.

Besides turning to arbitrators and the courts to stop so-called cybersquatters from abusing their names on the Internet, companies sometimes pay big money to buy back such domain names.

Krawczyk, however, blasted the suggestion that the poets were looking for a fast buck.

"We didn't buy this name just to sell it to Google. As a matter of pride, we're refusing to give it up," she said.

"We bought the name legally, with our own money. Nobody gave it to us for free. We refuse to be deprived of what we consider is our property."

[Story from Yahoo News]

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Going Organic Will Save the Family Farm?

Poland's traditional 2 million-strong family farm sector has prospered since the country joined the EU in 2004. Direct EU farm subsidies have injected much-needed cash into impoverished rural areas and provided farmers with the funds necessary to boost production.

Poland has some of the most environmentally pristine regions in Europe, perfectly suited for organic farming. Poland's first organic food brand presented a food fair in Warsaw this week. The spread was set out at Poland's Ministry of Agriculture where nearly a dozen Polish organic food producers joined forces to launch the new O!eko certified organic food brand in the hope of gaining marketing clout both in Poland and European Union neighbour Germany.

Marketing coordinator Waldemar Sadowski said, "We have more European storks than any other country on the continent - and these birds will only nest in ecologically clean regions." This explains why the O!eko brand chose the bird known in Western folklore as the bringer of babies as its marketing symbol.

A quarter of European storks - roughly 52,000 couples - nest in Poland each year, according to statistics compiled by Poland's Bird Protection Association.

"The stork knows best," says Sadowski, hoping the popular symbol for health and happiness will win over consumers in both Poland and Germany and allow the new brand entry into competitive hyper-market retail food chain-stores.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

A Tiny Bit Over

Although the Polish treasury is benefitting from strong economic growth, the EU Commission has called on Poland to step up actions to bring its public finances in line with EU rules, projecting that Warsaw was likely to miss an EU deficit target.

Under the EU's Stability and Growth Pact, members are required to keep their public deficits to 3 percent.

The commission forecast that the Polish deficit would stand at 3.4 percent in 2007 despite a promise from Warsaw to its EU partners to meet the three percent limit this year.

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Poland lays claim to Oscypek

Not enough to go to war over, but Poland and Slovakia are in a fight over oscypek. No, it's not a territory - it's a cheese.

The tiff is over the right to register a traditional smoked cheese, made from ewe's milk, soaked in brine and smoked. Poland had wanted it added to the EU's protected list this month. But, Slovakia objected, meaning that neither country can lay claim to it. Can a local tradition be patented?

It’s a regional product in Poland, a speciality of the Podhale region. Tasting oscypek, and of course bringing it home to family and friends, is a must for anybody who goes for a trip to the Tatra mountains or visits Kraków and Zakopane. For centuries oscypek has been produced locally by mountaineers in fairly primitive conditions and sold in stalls and open-air markets. The precise procedures of its production were closely guarded family secrets, passed on from generation to generation. Now, because of EU hygienic standards of food manufacture and processing forced on member nations - it just ain't the same.

The two countries have six months to come to an amicable solution. If not, the EU will have to rule on the matter.

According to the Associated Press, Oscypek would have become only the second listed agricultural product from the eight Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004. The first was Budejovicke beer from the Czech Republic.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Reagan Was Ready to Rock

An article from CyberNews says Ronald Reagan considered sending U.S. Troops into Poland as early as his inaguration day to stop a threat of Soviet invation caused by the Solidarity movements growing popularity. However, advisers insisted the military gutted by Jimmy Carter was in no shape, way or form up to the task.

[Full Story]


It’s commonly said, especially among the intellectualoids, that the downfall of communism in Europe was due mainly to Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Polish people aren’t buying it.

From Newsmax:

"Polish admirers of Ronald Reagan plan to raise a statue of the former U.S president in Warsaw, where he is revered for his role in the downfall of communism in Europe.

The 11 foot stone-and-bronze statue will stand across from the U.S. Embassy. The group raising money for the memorial includes Poles living in Poland, Canada and the United States."

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Poland's Priests Want To Say 'I Do'

Tygodnik Powszechny is the weekly newspaper that caters to Poland's Catholic intelligentsia. Last week it lifted the "vail" of mystery exposing the results of a survey that indicated 60% of Roman Catholic priests in Poland want the right to marry and have families.

But, according to a yet to be published study, only a third of young priests in staunchly Catholic Poland who quit the priesthood do so for the sake of women.

Existential problems and ideals are the main reasons young priests quit. According to the social scientist, Jozef Baniak of Poznan's Adam Mickiewicz university, "A woman, if she appears, is in the background. First there is a crisis of the priest's identity and then he looks for someone in whom he can confide his problem.

Jesuit Father and psychologist Jacek Prusak told TP more and more priests consider leaving the priesthood because they feel lonely, isolated and misunderstood. "Not everyone can cope with the fact that at the beginning of the 21st century priests are no longer regarded as the priest they knew in their youth," he said.

The question of marriage I understand. The prospect of a divorce ...

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Friday, February 02, 2007

A Bang-Up Economy

The export of Polish defense equipment has exceeded ZL 2 billion. Arms companies that several years ago were on the verge of bankruptcy are now developing at a impressive pace and even conducting their own research programs.

Other economic news: Wal-Mart is coming to Poland.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Poles Win World Cup Poker

The third annual PokerStars.com World Cup of Poker was won by Team Poland. The Polish group defeated Team United States in heads-up play to win the $100,000 top prize.

In a dramatic finish, Jacek Ladny, 40, an online qualifier, called a massive bluff by the USA Team Captain Joe Harwell. With A-6 of spades, the ice-cool Warsaw stockbroker called Harwell's unsuited 6-3 to win $20,000 for himself, and an additional $20,000 for each of his four teammates.

Team USA took home $50,000 for second place, while Team Canada won $30,000 for third place. Fourth-placed Israel won $20,000.

Note how the US flag morphs into the Polish flag in the picture above. What's that all about?

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