Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Flipping off Russia

Polish Oil and Gas (PGNiG) and German E.ON Ruhrgas are considering forming a consortium that will lay a gas pipeline from Norway which will enable Poland become independent of Russian gas via Denmark.

The new pipeline would become operational by 2012, but a decision concerning its construction is unlikely before 2009.

Cheese War Over

Slovakia will withdraw its veto on the registration of the Polish "oscypek" highlander cheese.

An agreement on the matter has been signed by Poland's deputy premier and agriculture minister Andrzej Lepper and his Slovak opposite number Miroslav Jurenia. Slovakia officially filed the veto with the European Commission on February 19th claiming it has for centuries been the producer of a similar type of cheese under the name of "osztiepok".

If Poland would receive the Recognized Certificate of Origin, Slovakian `osztiepok' could encounter serious barriers in export to other EU markets, Slovakia argued. However, the Polish side had been successful in explaining to its southern neighbors that a bilateral agreement of December 2005 effectively guarantees the two products and their brand names absolute independence of each other, having entirely different cow milk content and place of origin.

This allows for independent registration of the Slovak and Polish cheese product. The contentious cheese has been produced from times immemorial on both sides of the border in the Tatra mountain region with the initial differences becoming more visible, or rather palatable. The Slovak "osztiepok" variety is produced in seven selected dairy plants with Dutch and French capital participation.

[See previous post]

Source: Radio Polskie

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Growing expatriate community that is turning Krakow into Eastern Europe’s newest bohemian capital

Poland's second city is the first choice of a growing number of young Bohemian types. Not too unlike San Francisco in the 1960's.

[NY Times Article]

Monday, May 28, 2007

Katyn Premiere

Polish director Andrej Wajda will premiere his new film Katyn Sept. 17 at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia.

It's a personal story for Wajda because his father was killed in Katyn.

Katyn (Post-Mortem) examines the Katyn massacre of 1940, in which Soviet troops killed thousands of Polish POWs – members of intelligentsia drafted into the Polish army. It shows the massacre and it shows the lie that came after: The Soviets maintained that the massacre was committed by the Germans in 1941 when actually it was the Soviets in 1940.

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A Commie by any other name ...

Switzerland will disclose the list of Swiss bank accounts belonging to Polish politicians to the Polish law enforcement agencies.

Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro has launched an investigation into a number of possible cases of corruption by prominent politicians of Poland's former post-communist government.

Some of the politicians suspected of illegal dealings are still prominent figures on the left of the Polish political scene. The disclosure of their deposits on Swiss bank accounts may be a shock to the Polish political scene. These accounts may contain money obtained from corruption and other abuses. That may prove that Poland was in fact robbed by the previously ruling post-communist, former communists.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Poland Ranked 5th in World for Investment

Ernst & Young sez: Poland is the 5th most attractive country for Foreign Direct Investment in the world.

[Read the entire report]

Friday, May 25, 2007

Poland's Pizza Hut swallowed the Russian One

The operator of KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants in Poland, AmRest Holdings has announced the takeover of Pizza Hut franchisee in Russia – Pizza Nord. The deal went for $48 million.

Pizza Nord manages 41 Pizza Hut and Rostiks-KFC restaurants in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan. AmRest Holdings controls 202 restaurants in Poland, Czechia and Hungary. In addition to being franchisee of KFC, Pizza Hut and Burger King chains, it promotes its own Fresh Point and Rodeo Drive. The analysts say the takeover will bring momentum to Russia’s expansion of Pizza Hut.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Czesc Sarkozy

According to Rzeczpospolita, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will come to Poland in mid June, for a short working visit.

President Lech Kaczyński will meet with Sarkozy in Warsaw, or at the Jurata seaside resort. Poland will be the second country Sarkozy will visit after Germany, "Sarkozy wants France to regain its leading position in European politics.

His visit to Poland is one of the elements of this process," said a senior official from the Polish President's Office quoted by Rzeczpospolita. The two leaders are expected to talk about the EU Constitution and the EU relations with Russia. The French also want to secure Poland's support for the reform of EU institutions.

Sarkozy's visit will be the first of the series of Polish-French meetings. In July, a Polish delegation will participate in the celebration of the French national holiday while the representatives of the French government will come to Poland in August to celebrate the Polish Army Day. (Rzeczpospolita, p. A1)

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life - Make a Polish girl your wife

Coming out on DVD - Gary Cooper falls for a Polish Girl

Gary Cooper who for 9 years served in the Paramount Studio system was reclaimed by MGM for "The Wedding Night" (1935), in which, under King Vidor's sensitive direction, he seems to be struggling to reconcile his private and public personas.

Cooper plays a successful New York novelist who has fallen into alcoholism and hack work; he retires to a house in the country, where he is drawn to a simple Polish farm girl (Anna Sten, a Kiev-born star whom Goldwyn had imported as a threat to Greta Garbo). "The Wedding Night," issued as a stand-alone title, is one of the most delicate and moving of Vidor's fables of city versus country life, and MGM has given it a luminous transfer for its DVD debut.

The courage of characters played by Gary Cooper is well respected in Poland. This solidarnosc poster features the image of Cooper from the movie High Noon.

This is probably the most recognized solidarnosc poster in the world.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Polish Victory?

Dateline Brussels.

Polish politicians and analysts are celebrating EU solidarity after Berlin and Brussels took Warsaw's line at the EU-Russia summit on Friday. But, the meeting irked Russian president Vladimir Putin, damaging further the prospects of a new EU-Russia treaty.

This is a great success for Polish diplomacy, in terms of Russian relations. "We got what we wanted," according to the chairman of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, Marek Kuchcinski. "Our critics should finally admit this."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kazimierz District

Local authorities and Jews are trying to revive a medieval district of Poland's southern city of Krakow to prevent Jewish culture from falling into oblivion.

The city hall of Krakow and Jewish organizations in Poland and abroad began working on plans some 15 years ago to renovate buildings and bring life back to Krakow's Kazimierz district, Polish Radio reported Thursday.

The World Jewish Relief Organization plans to build its center in the Kazimierz district.
To help tourists learn about Poland's Jewish history, the Krakow Galicia Museum is organizing exhibitions, concerts and lectures about Jewish life and culture and the Jewish genocide during World War II.

Most of the 60,000 Jews who lived in the Kazimierz district were killed by Nazi troops.
Now, 60 years later, Krakow's Jewish community is down to 150, the report said.

King Casimir the Great founed the Kazimierz district for Jews in 1335, granting them rights they could enjoy only in a few European countries.

British photographer Chris Schwarz, who helped create the Galicia museum, said it keeps Jewish culture alive, honors those killed and helps build bridges between Poles and Jews.

Poor Doctors

Doctors launched a nationwide open-ended strike Monday, demanding a pay raise amid complaints that the Polish health system is underfunded and medical professionals are overworked.

More than 200 of the nation's roughly 600 state hospitals were providing only emergency services according to the All-Poland Doctors' Union. Another 100 hospitals were set to join the strike if a settlement was not reached quickly, he said.

Doctors are seeking a more than 100 percent increase to their monthly salaries, currently at about $460 for general doctors and $1,080 for specialists.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the doctors' demands were unrealistic this year, adding that such a pay increase would cost an estimated $3.9 billion and would "break public finances." He said health care wages should increase starting next year.

The doctors have suggested charging patients nominal fees for some services to help fund changes to the health system. Basic health care in Poland is free.

Low wages have forced doctors to take additional jobs in private clinics, and thousands of doctors and nurses have moved abroad for better-paid jobs, primarily to Britain and Ireland, since Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

The lack of funds has plagued Poland's state health care system and provoked strikes and street protests since the collapse of Communism in 1989.

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Oda do radości

The Polish Ode to Joy

Justyna Steczkowska

Justyna Steczkowska - performing at Przystanek Woodstock 2006

Note: Hear Justyna perform with world renown jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stanko on the www.polishtoledo.com music page.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Polish Midsummer’s Eve

I am always reminded and amazed at the rich diversity of Polish heritage, customs and celebrations when I continue to expand the content of polishtoledo.com. Recently, I decided to post a list of what I consider to be significant Polish holidays and celebrations on the Website. Combining Church oriented and secular events, I came up with no less than thirty. That averages 2.5 celebrations a month.

Here, I’d like to concentrate on Sabotka. It is still observed wholeheartedly in some parts of Poland and in particular Krakow, which is fast becoming one of the premier tourist destinations in Europe. In Mazowsze (near Warsaw) and Eastern Poland it’s known as "Kupalnocka" or "Kupala".

What we know today as "Noc Swietojanska" (St. John's Eve) has ancient roots from pre-Christian Poland. Before conversion, pagans paid homage to the natural elements of fire, water, earth and air. These elements brought both bounty and famine.

The name "Sobotka" originated from Saturday (Polish "sobota"). This celebration coincides with the summer solstice when we experience the longest day and the shortest night. The sun being the source of light and warmth, it was paid much respect.

According to Polish legend handed down for untold generations by babcias everywhere, the eve of the summer solstice is filled with myth, mystery, fortune telling and magic. Certain plants and herbs take on the magical properties to cure illness. Animals speak in human voices, the earth shimmers with transparency and the barren fern blooms for just one moment in the deep recesses of the forest at midnight with a flaming flower. Those lucky enough to observe the elusive occurrence were destined to find treasures.

Huge bonfires were set ablaze because fire protected against misfortune. Filling crop fields with smoke insured a good harvest. Maidens wore white, danced in circles and sang love songs, while boys showed off their agility leaping the flames. Amorous frivolities this night were a manifestation of readiness for procreation. Wreaths (wianki) woven by girls with flowers and herbs symbolized virginity, which girls were ready to offer for the promise of marriage. At dusk a lit candle was added to the wreath and launched in nearby rivers. The fate of the wreath’s course and destination would predict the maiden’s love fortunes.

The great Polish poet Jan Kochanowski immortalized this custom in his Piesni Swietojanskiej o Sobotce (Songs of St. Johns Eve), and William Shakespeare used it as his theme in his most famous work - A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

While the traditional candle-lit wreaths are floated on the Vistula along with fireworks and outdoor concerts in Krakow to commemorate the holiday, in Waterville, Ohio we trek to the Maumee River at dusk after remembrance of the ancient rites of our ancestors at Dom Kutylowskiego.

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No Homo or Porno Promo

Poland's education minister called for a ban on the "propagation of homosexuality" in the country's schools, a plan that he argues would protect traditional family values.

Amendments to the education law would require school directors to scrap or ban any activities that promote "homosexuality, pornography or other phenomena violating moral norms," said Education Minister Roman Giertych. Giertych's outspoken views on homosexuality have attracted condemnation abroad in recent months.

He unveiled his proposal at the education ministry less than a month after the European Parliament passed a resolution sharply criticizing senior Polish officials for declarations "inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation. "However, the minister — who leads the ultraconservative League of Polish Families, a junior partner in Poland's governing coalition — insisted Wednesday that his proposals "do not discriminate against anyone.""It is only to protect youth from the propagation of views that threaten marriage, threaten family, and threaten the duties of school, which are to prepare one to fulfill family duties and the duties of a citizen," he said.

Source: AP

Friday, May 18, 2007

Polish Exports Up

The value of Polish exports in 2006 was over 87 billion euros, 22 percent more than in 2005.

2007, exports are expected to grow by 16-17 percent. Over the first two months of this year, exports increased by 16.4 percent. The economy ministry estimates that over the entire year, the value of exports will reach 102.5 billion euros, over 17 percent more than in 2006.

This year, imports are also expected to grow, by over 16 percent to 116.3 billion euros. 77% of Polish exports go to developed countries, mainly to other European Union members. Poland sells them primarily cars, metal products and electronic equipment.

To Be, or Not To Be Devoted

Poll show two fifths of Polish Catholics view their religion in a highly personalized manner.

The Public Opinion Research Center, has just published results of a survey concerning the attachment of Polish Catholics to their Church and its religion. The majority of respondents - 55% - identify themselves with the Church in the religious dimension, claiming they are devoted believers who fully adhere to its teachings. Another large group - 39% - is comprised of declared believers, but they treat their religiousness very individually.

The remaining 6% could not clearly define their status.

I need some money, Ma

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski revealed on Thursday that he doesn't have a bank account and instead hands his salary over to his mother.

"I still don't have a bank account," the 57-year-old conservative premier said in an interview with the weekly news magazine, Wprost.

"I'm not joking. I keep my money in Mom's account," he said.

Kaczynski is unmarried and lives with his mother in Warsaw.

His identical twin, Lech Kaczynski, is president of Poland.

And now, the rest of the Story:

Jaroslaw Kaczynski says that he had chosen not to open a bank account to avoid the risk that anyone trying to manufacture a scandal might transfer funds into it and then try to discredit him.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Won't you come home Bill Bailey

Poland will need to lure 200,000 workers back from the UK and Ireland if it is to get stadiums and facilities ready for the 2012 European Football Championship.

Economists have warned that work will need to be started now on the planning and building of the infrastructure. Poles living in the UK and Ireland, where many have gained experience on major construction projects, are expected to be the first to be targeted.

As well as stadiums, hotels and other tourist facilities, the Polish government has said it wants to use the event to make massive investments in transport infrastructure, including work on major roads and train stations and upgrades of railway lines.

Polish workers abroad have hinted they would willingly take lower wages or even work for free to help their country to prepare for the showpiece event. Paweł Pontowski, a Pole working in London, told a Polish paper: "As soon as the news was announced, my colleagues got together and decided we wouldn't be staying in England much longer.

The English are laughing and saying that, since all the Polish builders are here, there will be no one to build the stadiums in Poland. But when they see how tens of thousands of Poles will just vanish, their smiles will disappear."

The games are also expected to produce a boom in other local industries. Restaurant owners in the Polish capital Warsaw are reportedly preparing for a huge influx of tourists and football fans.

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Enigma of the Polish economy

According to the opinion poll published in Rzeczpospolita newspaper, last year over 370,000 Poles moved to other countries in search of work. 3.2 million people would like to seek jobs in other countries. But, that many people are not going to go abroad and among those who do not all will find and keep a job according to experts.

Many people declare their will to leave the country, but if they all really did, Poland would have an economic crisis. Still the Polish economy suffers vacancies and the Ministry of Economy estimates that due to emigration national income may be getting lower.

Another problem for Poland is that military personnel are not re enlisting. The average pay is more than $100 short of the national median income of $900 per month.

Unemployment still hovers around 14% but certain jobs are hard to fill and some prisons have started work release programs to provide needed manpower.

A huge drop off in the number of postulates plagues the Catholic church.

With all this - The Polish economy is expanding faster than its EU neighbors and the Polish stock market is seeing gains making other European exchanges envious.

This is the enigma of the Polish economy.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Government going to extreme lengths

A Polish lawmaker has called for a miniskirt ban as part of an overall crusade against the "enticement to sex" by women in public.

Artur Zawisza, a Catholic member of the breakaway "Right of the Republic" party (Prawica Rzeczypolpoliteij) , wants to ban miniskirts as well as heavy makeup and see-through blouses in a proposal he says is aimed at prostitutes. His initiative would rob Polish streetwalkers of a means of advertising, he says, according to Newsweek Polska.

Although Zawisza admits the ban might have a chilling effect on women who aren't prostitutes. "It is possible that a pretty girl on the way home from a disco might get arrested," he said, but he trusted Polish police to "tell the difference between respectable women and women with loose morals."

Planning to stay a step ahead of the potential of a government crack down - A little Polish ingenuity by working girls is illustrated at right.

The call for a less "enticing" Polish streetscape comes days ahead of the so-called World Congress of Families, a conference in Warsaw of American and European conservatives. A right-wing American think tank, the Howard Center, has organized the Congress with more than 20 American groups which all blame the weakening of western Europe on its tolerance of abortion, gay marriage, and other perceived social ills. Poland -- which has strict anti-abortion laws, but also a low birth rate -- looks to the organizers like a bastion of family values.

"Europe is almost lost to demographic winter and to the secularists, " reads a WCF paper explaining why this year's conference should be in Warsaw. "If Europe goes much of the world will go with it. Almost alone, Poland has maintained strong faith and strong families ... On family and population questions, Europe is the battleground in the early years of the 21st Century, and Poland is the pivot point."

The last miniskirt ban in Europe dates to 1967, when a Greek military junta under General Pattakos banned both miniskirts and beards.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

You Kill Me Trailer

Trailer just released

Comedy about a Buffalo Polish Mob Hitman with a problem

[Click Here] See original post & synopsis

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Not prudent, ain’t gonna do it

Poland will veto efforts to draw up a new European Union constitution unless Warsaw wins a battle over the voting clout wielded by certain member states. Gazeta Wyborcza said that Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his identical twin, President Lech Kaczynski, were determined to oppose plans for a new EU accord if Poland did not get its way within the 27-nation bloc.

The EU reform process has been on ice since a constitutional treaty was rejected by French and Dutch voters in referendums in 2005.

Current Map of the EU

Over the past two months, Warsaw's conservative government has been unable to garner support for its proposal to shake up the way votes for EU decision-making are distributed between member countries.

Poland, which has grown increasingly assertive since joining the EU in 2004, wants the number of votes each member state has in EU decisions requiring a qualified majority to be calculated by taking the square root of the country's population in millions. Thus, diluting the power of sheer population.

Example of Polish formula: Germany, which has 82 million inhabitants, would have 9 votes and Poland, which has a population of 38 million, would have 6, rather than 9 to 3.

"The small, the poor and the weak must be taken into account. That's what Poland is doing," according to Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga.

The stalled EU constitution defined a qualified majority decision as one carried by 55 percent -- meaning at least 15 of the current 27 member states -- and representing 65 percent of the total population of the EU.

The Polish proposal in contrast says a qualified majority decision is one carried by 62 percent of total votes plus a simple majority of members -- currently at least 14 states.

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Get Outta Dodge, nie

A majority of Poles oppose government plans to relocate Soviet-era monuments, according to an opinion poll published Friday by conservative daily Rzeczpospolita.

Just 30 per cent of those polled back the removal of memorials to the Red Army from the Polish streetscape, with 60 per cent expressing the opinion that they should stay in place.

Older respondents in particular belonging to wartime or immediate post-war generations were insistent that the monuments to Soviet soldiers should stay as they are, the newspaper said.

'They were simple people, not political commissioners,' one Warsaw resident was quoted as saying. Opposition lawmaker Tadeusz Iwinski of the Democratic Left (SLD) party meanwhile said the poll results proved that the Polish people were set against the 'instrumentalization' of history.

The national-conservative government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is preparing a draft law on national monuments, which would see the removal of any symbols from the Nazi or Soviet eras and the renaming of certain streets.

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Vee had Vays to make you talk

Poland's constitutional court has struck down sections of a controversial law aimed at uncovering collaboration with the communist-era secret police. The law, which came into force in March, required up to 700,000 people to confess if they were informants.

But the country's highest court has decided that sections of the law violate Poland's constitution. The law broadened existing rules on disclosing collaboration to "people filling a public function". Previously, only senior public servants were required to reveal involvement with the secret police.

The new law would have also covered teachers, academics and journalists, who would have been barred from working for a public company for a decade if they refused to co-operate or lied.

Correspondents say the court's decision will be seen as damaging to Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose party had introduced the legislation.

Just curious, will someone check if the judges were vetted? Those Leninisk beards make me suspicious. Thanks.

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Notta gonna fly in America

A large floating sculpture of a naked man can be seen in the main park of Milan (not Ohio the birthplace of Edison, but Italy). A very large fig leaf is needed to restore park's modesty now!

The balloon self-portrait by Polish artist Pawel Althamer has been hovering since Monday, drawing second takes, amused looks and some reprobation about exposing children to nudity.

"To be honest with you, it's nothing new," said Rosaria Mirabelli, mother of 3-year-old Tommaso who stared at the sculpture from the back of his mother's bicycle.

"He sees his father naked. In this park we see so many worse things than a naked man," she said, referring to the park's reputation as a haven for drug users.

On weekday afternoons, the park is given over to mothers, nannies and grandparents with preschool age children in tow, along with a few joggers, cyclists and dog owners.

"This wouldn't fly in the U.S.," observed 31-year-old American
Adriana Spatafora, an English language teacher passing by.

Flavio Del Monte, spokesman of the show's sponsor, credited the balloon with the high turnout to the event. It has attracted more than 3,000 visitors in its first three days.

Most people have been amused by the sculpture, he said, noting that Italians, surrounded as they are by Renaissance masterpieces, are used to nudity in public places.

The Old Polish Style of Folk Music - Really Old

The New Tradition festival, a leading folk music festival in Poland, is held over three days in the Lutoslawski Polish Radio Concert Studio. Audiences will hear Polish groups, including Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa (Warsaw Village Band).

This ain't even the folk music your great-great babcia would be familiar with. It's the really old style of singing in "White Voice." Back when shepards yelled from hill top to hill top. The vocal technique is like that sort of communication. The Warsaw Village Band traveled throughout Poland to find and record older musicians who still played almost-forgotten styles of music, thereafter incorporating those melodies into new songs and expounding upon them. It takes a little time to start to grow on you if your the kind of person who appreciates music in all its forms. Most schlubs will find it irritating.

The first New Tradition event was organized in the studio 10 years ago. It soon turned out that folk music performed by new musical groups drawing on Slavic folklore has established its own faithful audience. This year, 24 ensembles entered, and half of them qualified for the final auditions.

The genre's popularity is thanks to performers like Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa, the festival winner in 1998. The Folk World music periodical considered their performance at the Tanz & Folk Fest in Germany as the second best folk performance of 2000. Soon after the group appeared in the European market as the Warsaw Village Band, and won the prestigious BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in the Newcomer category in 2004. Schlubs found that irritating.

Take 6 minutes to see & hear. Unless of course you are a schlub. You're probably hearing Maryla Rodowicz as you entered this page. You can scroll down a few posts and put her on pause before clicking on the music video(s).

In The Forest - MTV Style Music Video of Ancient Folk Song
Age old story of relationships

Żurawie - Comment on Video Style:
The band's very name appears to evoke what troubles them about Poland's new capitalism after the nightmare of Communism: many large Polish cities do not have suburbs in the traditional sense, leading to unsettling transitions directly from city to field.

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Monk-Mart - Poland

Unfaithful and angelic Poles will soon be able to buy jam made for their vice or virtue when the Benedictine monks of Tyniec open a chain of shops selling hellishly good food.

The Monks will be opening more than 100 franchise outlets.

Pear and apple "angelic jam", zesty lemon "unfaithful jam", and even cinnamon, raisin and apricot "prayer book jam" are already available online.

[Order Online]

The new chain of shops will also sell cheeses, herbal teas, fruit syrups, prepared meat products and alcoholic beverages, all sold under the "Benedictine Products" label.

All the products are organic and produced either by the monks or by small family businesses located, like the monastery, near the southern Polish city of Krakow.

Franchisees will help to fund the monks' plans to go forth and multiply the number of shops selling their heavenly foods.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

G.I.s reporting to Polish CO

In the next few weeks, a company of U.S. soldiers is scheduled to set up camp in southeastern Afghanistan and report directly to a Polish lieutenant colonel.

A similar swap is in the cards for a Polish company and an American battalion. This signals an increased willingness in the U.S. military to selectively mix and match regular infantry units with allies in a combat zone.

As recently as a couple of months ago, the Polish military had no more than a couple of hundred troops operating in Afghanistan, mostly engineers and de-mining specialists. Now there are about 1,200 in Afghanistan, nearly half of them special forces personnel.

The move was in response to "a request from NATO to increase the number of troops in the eastern theater" of Afghanistan. "Poland decided to set the example for the
other European NATO nations, which are not very eager to supply personnel.

NATO's call for reinforcements came late last year, so Poland's response was relatively quick, given the country also has about 1,000 troops in Iraq.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

South-Central Polish Plan in Iraq Working

Not sure of the success of the American troop surge in Iraq so far - but, the Polish plan in their field of operations seems to be working.

Operation `Black Eagle' conducted in the central-south stabilization zone for the past four weeks by Polish soldiers in Iraq is yielding concrete results, according to Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo. The aim of the military action has been to counter increasingly frequent attacks on the Polish base in Diwanija by rebel forces.

Minister Szczyglo disclosed that two Iraqies suspected of direct involvement in a road ambush two weeks ago, in which a Polish soldier was killed, have been detained. They will be put on trial before a local court.

General Pawel Lamia, commander of the multi-national forces in Diwanija, expressed confidence the `Black Eagle' operation has contributed to increased security of the local population and quoted voices of appreciation for the troops' effort coming from telephone calls directly to Polish headquarters. General Lamia also noted that
since the start of the operation on April 6th , there have been only two attacks attempted by rebel groups. Another positive factor is that they have been made from outside Diwanija limits and not from within the city, as had been the case before.

Constitution Day Parade

Thousands of people lined Columbus Drive in Chicago to watch 140 units participate in the 116th Polish Constitution Day Parade Saturday, May 5th.

The parade marks the creation of the Polish Constitution of 1791, the first democratic constitution written in Europe and second only to the U.S. Constitution.

More than 140 units participated in the parade.

This year's grand marshal, Cecylia Roznowska, is a choreographer and taught at Lublin University, before moving to Chicago in 1984. She was the founder of the Northwest Center Traditional Polish Folk Dancers. Born in Poland and trained in Gdansk, she finished her studies in Warsaw, focusing on the traditional folk art and folk dances of her native land.

Roznowska marched at the front of the parade with Mayor Daley, Sen. Dick Durbin, representatives from the Polish consul general's office and the leaders of a host of Polish fraternal groups.

[Highlights of 2006 Parade from ABC]

[Highlights of 2007 Parade from ABC]

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

New Cold War Emerging?

Turn up your thermostat. As Vladimir Putin enters what could be the last year of his presidency, he has become more defiant of international pressure and more willing to challenge the United States and Europe.

Russia's affluence and stability, fueled by high oil prices, have given him the confidence to confront the West and to try to reassert the nation's influence as a world power. But Western critics warn the Kremlin's new assertiveness reflects renewed imperial ambitions and threatens its neighbors.

In his state of the nation speech, Putin denounced what he said was foreign interference in Russia's internal affairs. Angered by a U.S. plan to place ballistic missile defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland, he threatened to walk away from an agreement that regulates the deployment of heavy non-nuclear weapons around Europe.

A lot for LOT to contemplate

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), Poland will become, within the next four years, the fastest growing air transport market. IATA estimates that the passenger number will grow by an average 11.2% annually in the period of 2005-2009, which is the fastest among countries that have over 2m passengers per annum. The rapid growth of the air transport market in Poland has been prompted by the expansion of low-cost carriers. The high demand for this kind of service in Poland came as a surprise even to the airlines.

Meanwhile the traditional Polish flagship airline LOT sees declining passanger numbers. The tee-shirts look pretty good - what's the problem?

This photo added after comment #1 posted

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Cell Phones

The population of Poland: 38 million. The number of Active SIM cards (used to control active cell phones): 37 million. Per capita penetration of cell phones: about 97%.

The word you hear when a Pole answers the phone: Słucham [SUE-HAHM]. What it means: I'm listening.

Polish time-saving ingenuity: priceless.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Film about Polish Mob Hitman

The Film "You Kill Me" will be released in a theater near you just in time for the time honored Polish tradition of Sobotka I think it is a coincidence - Hollywood marketing departments aren't all that smart. [About Sobotka]

Pre-screening by Variety says the film keeps the viewer agreeably off-kilter, John Dahl's latest walk on the wild side gets serious comedic mileage from playing noirish (Czarni) absurdities deadpan-straight. This film should appeal to those who like their humor (and love stories) quietly outrageous.

Ben Kingsley plays Frank Falenczyk, a hitman for his extended Polish family in Buffalo, N.Y., where they control the all-important snowplow franchise. He is also a full-time alcoholic, which increasingly wreaks havoc on his work. After botching a job Uncle Roman sends him to San Francisco to sober up -- or else. He attends AA meetings, gets a gay sponsor and lands a job in a mortuary, where he meets a woman who is a relative of one his hits.

Internet movie trailer not available yet.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

3 Maj

Konstytucja 3 Maja

Freedom, Liberty, Happiness

'Scuse me, while I kiss the sky

Almost 2,000 musicians have gathered in the Polish city of Wroclaw to play a rock anthem by Jimi Hendrix. The guitarists were aiming to set a new Guinness World Record by gathering 1,876 guitarists in the city's market square to play Hey Joe.

Organizers say it was the biggest guitar ensemble in recorded history, though Guinness has not yet officially confirmed the feat.

The event brought together young musicians and rock veterans, both local and from hundreds of kilometres away.

Jimi Hendrix claimed 30 years ago, "With the power of soul anything is possible," said the gig's organiser, Polish blues guitarist Leszek Cichonski leader of an impromptu band called The Magnificent Seven. (seen Left)

The city's mayor, Rafal Dutkiewicz, was among the participants.

The organisers say the Thanks Jimi Festival, held for the fifth time this year, will keep growing.

Next year, they want to invite more guitarists in many parts of the world to play together; the event would be broadcast online and shown on video screens.

A number of cities, including New York, are said to have expressed their interest.

Jimi Hendrix with Polish colors

Source: BBC News, Wroclaw 5/1/07

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spotkamy sie w Chicago

May 3rd is Constitution Day. It is the most significant National Holiday in Poland not connected to the Church calendar. From a World perspective the Polish Constitution is recognized as the second most important document in modern democracy following closely at the heels of the American Declaration of Independence signed in 1776.

The Polish Constitution was written less than 2 years after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. It brought citizens of towns the rights and privileges of the nobility and the peasants benefits of civil reforms.

While the American experiment in democracy started in the colonies thousands of miles from the Crown, Poland's attempt was in the seat of autocratic Europe where thoughts of power to the people were unacceptable to Royal regimes of totalitarian rule in surrounding countries.

The radical socialist and author of the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx wrote, "It [Polish Constitution] was created by a privileged class, the gentry. The history of the world knows no other example of such generosity by the gentry." Along with the reforms, the first Ministry of Education in the world was created with the aim of universal educational opportunities across classes of people.

It was very progressive and it was also the source of pride during the later decades, especially during the 19th century when Polish insurgents and Polish intelligentsia referred to the Constitution as their source of inspiration in the struggle to end occupation during the partitions which wiped Poland off the map for 123 years.

Once the largest Empire in Europe, Poland had fallen weaker and weaker by the 18th century for several reasons including the pre-Constitution institution of the liberum veto or 'free vote' - which in principle permitted any parliamentary deputy to nullify all the legislation.

Stanislaw August, Poland's last king, proceeded with cautious reforms. Men of great intellectual calibre, adopted in 1791 the Constitution which is unanimously described by historians as one of the proudest achievements in Polish history.

Neal Ascherson wrote in his The Struggles for Poland, given a chance, the Constitution would have given the state real authority to last. The trouble was that the idea of reforms in Poland was viewed with growing suspicion in neighboring countries. In effect, the Constitution of May 3rd remained in force for only a year before being overthrown. In 1793, the Second Partition of Poland – this time by Russia and Prussia - took place and what was left of the Polish Commonwealth was a small buffer state with a puppet king and a Russian army.

The celebration of May 3rd as a state holiday was banned during the period of Partitions. After Poland regained its independence in 1918, it was declared a holiday, to be banned again during World War Two. During the communist period, it lost its legal standing as a holiday in 1951 but for the Polish nation it never ceased to be a source of hope and inspiration. Small wonder that Radio Free Europe, which broadcast uncensored news to Poland during the darkest days of the Stalinist period and for several subsequent decades, was launched on May 3rd, 1952 - and that its signature tune was based on the Third of May Mazurka – 'Welcome, morning star of May'. During the communist period, especially the Solidarity revolution, the Third of May was a day of anti-government and anti-communist protests. After the collapse of communism in 1989, it was restored as a state holiday.

As a person of Polish ancestry I appreciate the philosophy and daring behind the creation of the Polish Constitution. Liberty and Freedom have been the hallmark of Polish political philosophy straight through the monumental successes of the Solidarity movement, which defeated Communism. To me the Constitution of Poland is every bit as significant as our American Declaration of Independence and the contributions by Pulaski and Kosciuszko to the American Revolution in advancing the concepts of democracy we enjoy today in the Western World.

This coming weekend I have a choice. I can either stay in town and go to the Cinco de Mayo party at my local Polish fraternal or go to Chicago for the Constitution Parade and ancillary events. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the end to Napoleon III French domination of Mexico at the battle of Puebla 52 years after Mexican Independence. Polish Constitution Day celebrates the ideals of democracy in a way universally applicable to the human race. I don't need an excuse to throw back margaritas and munch on tacos at a Polish fraternal that seems to be oblivious to an important part of our heritage as much as I feel an obligation to remember and celebrate one of the true cornerstones of democratic freedom. Spotkamy sie w Chicago.

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