Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Friday, January 31, 2014

Saved and Lost

Poland is one of the brightest emerging markets in the world – with a robust economy surpassing expectations again in 2013 and the only EU country not to have negative grow during the financial crisis -- It may be about to tarnish its reputation.

As part of an overhaul of the country's pension system, Warsaw transfer $50 billion from privately-managed funds to the state of Polish government bonds and government-backed securities, which will then be canceled.

Unions protest pension take-a-ways

Read more in the Financial Times

Thin as a Pole

She was five years old when she moved from Poland to the USA.

But what better occasion to lure Joanna Krupa back to her homeland than the grand opening of the world famous Pacha Nightclub.

The 34-year-old Real Housewives Of Miami star showed off her impossibly slim physique in a sexy LBD as she posed on the red carpet of the venue's launch in the city of Poznan on Thursday night.

Joanna - who essentially put her entire body on show but for a few important bits at a pre-Grammys event last week - showed how little there is to her tiny frame in the garment.

The extremely fitted black dress, designed by Walter Mendez, was wrapped so tightly around her body that there was simply no room for error in the form of lumps and bumps.

Read More: at The Daily Mail

Chuck Hagel in Poland

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, " Poland continues to be an important strategic ally through NATO, in Europe and around the world," during a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Hagel spent the day with Polish military and government leaders. In each meeting -- with Siemoniak and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski -- the secretary emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Poland strategic alliance, noting Poland is a strong U.S. partner and a good friend.

“I want to particularly acknowledge and thank Poland for its contribution in Iraq and Afghanistan. Poland was a partner with the United States in both of those wars at great sacrifice,” Hagel said.

“Over the last few years we have opened up a new chapter of friendship, of partnership that dates back to America’s independence, when Poland’s great Gen. Casimir Pulaski volunteered to serve under George Washington,” the secretary added.

"Pulaski was so good at leading U.S. troops on horseback that he's considered the father of American cavalry" Hagel said. Hundreds of U.S. monuments, memorial plaques, streets and parks are named in his honor.

For Hagel, the U.S.-Poland relationship is personal.

“My grandmother’s maiden name was Konkolewski,” he said, “and her parents were married in a little village here in Poland [called Kiszkow] that I will have the occasion to visit tomorrow. This is the location of the rebuilt church where they were married, and the minister gave me copies of the marriage license.”

The United States and Poland, whose defense cooperation is strong and enduring, Hagel said, are bound by culture, history and personal relationships, and by shared interests in peace and security.

Hagel visited Piłsudski Square and its Tomb of the Unknown, which holds the unidentified body of a young soldier who fell during the Defense of Lwów. The battle for control of that city took place in the early 1900s between attacking forces of the West Ukrainian People's Republic and local Polish civilians who were later helped by regular Polish Army forces.

At the tomb the secretary laid a wreath and signed the guest book.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to salute the brave fallen Polish soldiers represented here at this solemn monument,” he wrote, signing the entry “Chuck Hagel."

Afterward, at the Ministry of National Defense, in his opening statement, the defense minister praised the United State's decisive role in such historical events as the early years of Poland’s struggle for independence, and Poland’s entry 15 years ago into the NATO alliance.

Siemoniak said Poland is ready for concrete action to modernize its armed forces through the great financial effort that is taken by its citizens and through organizing regional security policy.

“The effectiveness of these actions and our efforts depends on the support and presence of the United States,” Siemoniak added. “There is no thinking about the safety of Poland and this part of Europe in the 21st century without the United States.”

For his part, Hagel noted tangible examples of growing U.S.-Polish military cooperation, including in missile defense, where the United States and Poland continue to work bilaterally and through NATO to respond to ballistic missile threats.

“The United States is firmly committed to deploying a U.S. missile defense system to Poland. We look forward to this system coming on-line in 2018 as part of phase three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach,” Hagel said.

The two nations also are working to expand training and exercises through the aviation detachment, including regional partners such as Romania, which is the latest NATO member to acquire F-16 fighter jets.

Because Poland has demonstrated its leadership, willingness and commitment to play a significant leadership role in Central Europe, Hagel said, the U.S.-Poland partnership and the joint action site are particularly important and well suited to future exercises and training opportunities.

“As Poland explores options for its own missile defense capabilities,” Hagel said, “there is an unmistakable opportunity for us both to forge even closer cooperation in this area, leveraging cutting-edge technology and enhanced NATO capability.”

Jewish Chic

Jewish chic in Poland: Polish fashionistas are wearing Jewish entrepreneur Antonina Samecka’s designs, which feature Hebrew words and Jewish symbols.

A curious thing is happening in Poland, Jewish culture is beginning to flourish again. “Jewish-style” restaurants are serving up platters of pirogies, klezmer bands are playing melodies, derelict synagogues are gradually being restored. 

Every June, a festival of Jewish culture here draws thousands of people to sing Jewish songs and dance Jewish dances. The only thing missing, really, is Jews.

 “It's a way to pay homage to the people who lived here, who contributed so much to Polish culture,” said Janusz Makuch, founder and director of the annual festival and himself the son of a Roman Catholic family.

Jewish communities are gradually reawakening all across Eastern Europe as Jewish schools introduce a new generation to rituals and beliefs suppressed by the Nazis and then by communism. At summer camps, thousands of Jewish teenagers from across the former Soviet bloc gather for crash courses in Jewish culture, celebrating Passover, Hanukkah and Purim all in July.

But with relatively few Jews, Jewish culture in Poland is being embraced and promoted by the young and the fashionable.

Poland's Keystone Fixed

While the Obama administration is hostile to the Keystone pipeline, Poland has an official change of heart on shale.

As Exxon Mobil , Marathon Oil and Talisman Energy Inc. leave exploration in the shale fields, Poland is appealing to foreign energy explorers in a last-ditch attempt to secure investment for Europe's biggest shale-gas deposits.

According to the Poland Shale Coalition, newly appointed Environment Minister Maciej Grabowski, met with investors and said he'll remove regulatory hurdles in an effort to stem the exodus of Oil and Gas companies. “It's a definitive departure from the previous leadership, that was at best neutral and at worst hostile to foreign investors,” the head of the coalition said in an interview at a European gas conference in Vienna.

“He is very open to dialogue. Things are definitely getting more positive.”

Poland, ranked as Europe’s biggest holder of shale gas by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, has sought to revive exploration after foreign investors withdrew citing regulatory and tax concerns and poor test well results.

Two months ago Premier Donald Tusk fired the deputy minister in charge of drawing up shale regulations and nominated Grabowski to take over.

The prospects for the shale industry in Poland, where the number of wells drilled fell about 50 percent last year, may be getting brighter after San Leon Energy reported successful tests at a site last week and Poland could see its first commercial shale gas as early as this year.

In an effort to bring investors back, the government must speed up the environmental-approvals process and make sure historical well data is freely available instead of treating it like a “state secret”. Trust has been undermined and Grabowski is working hard to rebuild it and make the government a partner rather than adversary.