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Poland

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Paris-Berlin, Warsaw-Kyiv: Europe's Balance Of Power Will Never Be The Same

A new future is unfolding in real time, one that leaders in France, Germany and beyond could not have envisioned even a year ago.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Quick question: do you know which country is on its way to having the largest army in Europe? The obvious answer would be France, the Continent's only nuclear power since the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and a military that has been tested in multiple foreign operations in recent years.

But the answer is about to change: if we put aside the nuclear factor, Europe's leading military will soon be that of Poland.

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This is one more direct consequence Russia's invasion of Ukraine: a close neighbor of the conflict zone, Poland is investing massively in its defense. Last year, it concluded a huge arms purchase contract with South Korea: heavy combat tanks (four times more than France), artillery, fighter jets, for 15 billion euros.

Warsaw also signed a contract last month to purchase two observation satellites from France for 500 million euros.

This former country of the Warsaw Pact, today a leading NATO member, intends to be ever more consequential in European affairs. The investments in defense are one way of doing that. Yet this is not the only impact of the war in Ukraine.

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LGBTQ+ International: UK v. Scotland On Gender, Uganda Ends “Vagabond” Laws — And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Saturate The East! Poland Revamps Its Military Strategy In Response To Russian Threat

Poland has a border with Russia and Belarus, so it is not just watching how the Ukraine war develops. Warsaw is rethinking its entire defense strategy.

KYIV — It will soon be exactly one year since the Russian Federation launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine. During that time, neighboring Poland has been playing the role of a front-line country — NATO's eastern outpost.

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Polish government agencies have been hard at work on what to do if the country is attacked. In particular, a new defense directive. After all, Poland’s Political and Strategic Defense Directive, which has been in effect since 2018, must be updated because it simply doesn't match today's reality.

Poland's Deputy Minister of National Defense, Wojciech Skurkiewicz, announced a change in defense doctrine with the defense forces set up on the Vistula River, located in northeastern Poland. Ukraine's experience shows the need to protect the country's entire territory as quickly as possible.

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Poland's "Family Values" Obsession Squashes The Rights Of The Individual

Poland's political parties across the spectrum prioritize the family in every area of life, which has a detrimental effect on everything from social services to women. But the state should support a dignified life for every citizen, not just those who are in long-term unions.

-OpEd-

WARSAW — Social policy in Poland means family. Both left and right, major parties boast that they support the idea of family, act in the favor of families, and make sure that families are safe.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that, according to Article 32 of the Polish Constitution, "everyone is equal before the law" and "everyone has the right to equal treatment by public authorities."

What's more, "no one shall be discriminated against in political, social or economic life for any reason." In other words, the state should take care of all citizens, regardless of whether they live alone or are part of large families, have childless marriages or informal unions.

Unfortunately, for many years, Polish state policy has been moving in a completely different direction. The subject of government social policy is not the individual, but the traditional family. Even sadder: this policy is also supported by the entire parliamentary opposition. This actually means supporting Christian Democrat social policies that discriminate against women, single people, or those living in informal relationships.

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LGBTQ Plus
Worldcrunch

LGBTQ+ International: Gender Recognition Changes In Scotland, Same-Sex Ice-Skating — And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing.

🌐 5 THINGS TO KNOW

• Poland to veto discriminatory law: Polish President Andrzej Duda said he would veto a controversial bill that limits access to comprehensive sex ed and anti-discrimination classes in schools, after weeks of protests led by students and activists.

• Protests against homosexuality trial in Tunisia: Activists gathered on Dec. 19 in front of a court in Kairouan, Tunisia, to denounce the trial of six men prosecuted for homosexuality — which is punishable by up to three years in prison in the country.

• Scotland to introduce “gender recognition” changes: The Scottish government has introduced a bill to reform how transgender people can change the sex on their birth certificate, in favor of a self-declaration system that removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

• Anti-LGBTQ+ Ghana churches received millions in Western aid: An exclusive investigation by CNN shows how over the past six years, some Western governments spent millions aiding churches in Ghana that have a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and activities.

• Canada okays same-sex ice-skating teams to compete: Skate Canada, the national governing body for figure skating, has announced it is now allowing “two skaters” to compete in the ice dance and pairs figure skating competitions at the most elite levels of the sport.

🇦🇷🎧 From church choir to DJ icon: the singular rise of Anita B Queen

Alex Zani, writing for Buenos-Aires-based news agency Agencias Presentes, draws the portrait of Ana Belén Kim, daughter of conservative Korean immigrants to Argentina and a rising star in Latin America's electronic music club scene who's impossible to categorize.

In a world that insists on labels, Ana Belén Kim, also known as Anita B Queen, considers herself a "degenerate." That is: someone impossible to classify. The 26-year-old daughter of a Catholic mother and an Evangelical father, both of whom were Korean immigrants who came to Argentina in their early childhood, her musical career began at Cheil, the First Korean Presbyterian Church in the country.

Anita was still a teenager and was surprised to see so many instruments she could use. She taught herself how to play and was soon in charge of the youth band of the church. When she turned 18, her life turned upside down as she questioned her values and her sexuality.

“Imagine, a lifelong Christian girl, growing up in a small, closed, conservative and orthodox Korean community, trying to understand what she was feeling and trying to accept herself.” That year she left the church, withdrew from her peers, separated from her boyfriend, and began dating other women.

Photo of Anita B Queen with other musicians while in Madrid on Europe tour

Anita B Queen with other musicians on Europe Trip in Madrid — Photo: anitabqueen

"It was at that moment that I started working as a DJ, making electronic music, learning from local and foreign DJs who, without knowing it, were my mentors." It was a world commanded by men into which Anita stormed confidently, without asking for permission. "It's simple," she says. "Breaking through is a matter of attitude.”

Read the full story on Worldcrunch.com

👉 OTHERWISE

• LGBTQ Nation focuses on Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Russian composer of Swan Lake and Nutcracker fame, and how his being homosexual was carefully from Russian history.

• 76Crimes highlights the challenges transgender Pakistanis have to overcome today, faced with both a strong conservative Muslim society and a groundbreaking transgender rights law.

• “You've probably heard of the male gaze, but what exactly is the lesbian gaze?” asks Pride.

• T’is the season for queer couples to try to survive Christmas with the family ...

• Feeling nostalgic and looking to binge some good flicks for the holidays? Here’s a nice list of 17 Gay Period Dramas That Will Take You Back in Time.

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In The News
Anna Akage

Poland’s Ruling Party Seeks Tough New Blasphemy Law, Jail For Mocking Church

Poland’s legislature is in the process of passing new “blasphemy” restrictions that would impose jail sentences for denigrating the Catholic Church, Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported Monday.

Parliament’s lower house has approved an amendment that—if passed into law—would impose “a fine, a penalty of restriction of liberty, or imprisonment up to two years,” on anyone who “publicly lies or makes fun of the Church or other religious association with official legal standing, or dogmas or rites.”

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Economy
Ireneusz Sudak

Why Poland Still Doesn't Have Nuclear Power

Poland has announced plans to build its first nuclear power plant with the help of a U.S. firm. But it's not the first time the country has tried to build such a plant. So, will it actually happen this time?

-Analysis-

WARSAWPoland is surrounded by numerous nuclear power plants in the neighborhood: in Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden. But we don't have our own. There are more than 500 reactors in operation worldwide, and another 55 are under construction. Most are slugging along, and their prices have risen well above the original construction costs.

The best example is Britain's Hinkley Point C power plant. The UK owns the most expensive nuclear power plant in the world. But the work is still going on, as the construction has been delayed.

The construction of a Polish nuclear power plant seemed to be underway in the 1980s, when the country was to join the ranks of nuclear-powered countries. We were to have not one but two power plants — one in Pomerania in Żarnowiec in the north of the country and another in the village of Klempicz, near the city of Poznań in the west. But the government abandoned these plans in 1990. The reasons were a lack of money, the collapsing USSR, and a lack of enthusiasm following the Chernobyl disaster.

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Shaun Lavelle

LGBTQ+ International: World Cup Pressure, Buenos Aires Pride — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Wojciech Mikołuszko*

Russia's Turning The Small Dark World Of Ukrainian Bat Rescue A Whole Lot Darker

Struggling to save trapped and injured bats, scientists endure Russian shelling and accusations of spreading bioweapons.

As Russian forces advanced this summer on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, the façade of an eight-story apartment building in the Saltivka district suffered heavy damages from shelling, as did many other multi-family structures. Dozens of bullets scarred the gray front wall, and most of the upper windows were shattered.

By August, only a few families remained. Some noticed dozens of bats trapped in the lower windows. The animals had flown through broken panes of glass, then got stuck, unable to find an exit. Soon they were dying of dehydration and starvation.

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: Polish Schools Progress, Qatar Arrests Gay Activist — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Green
Shaun Lavelle

Why The Netherlands' Exit From An Obscure Energy Treaty Is Such Big News For The Climate

The little-known Energy Charter Treaty protects oil and gas firms from regulation that harms their interests. The Dutch government has pulled out, and now the rest of Europe may follow.

AMSTERDAM — For many, the big climate story of the week was the two young activists who tossed tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting in London. But the real story with lasting impact was unfolding in the Netherlands, which announced on Tuesday that it intends to withdraw from the “Energy Charter Treaty” (ECT).

Environment policy experts say the Dutch exit — with Spain and Poland poised to leave — could set in motion the complete collapse of this little-known pact.

Climate activists were jubilant. Dutch politician Christine Teunissen of the Party of the Animals described it as a “huge win”. Just last week, Greta Thunberg announced that five young victims of the climate crisis were taking action against the ECT at Europe’s top human rights court.

But outside climate circles, few had even heard of a treaty that brought risks of leaving governments open to billion-dollar lawsuits by fossil fuel companies.

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Society
Helen Parish

What Happens When Soviet Monuments Are Torn Down

The toppling of statues and other political symbols creates new spaces that are themselves a reckoning for society.

In the Latvian capital of Riga, an 80-meter concrete obelisk came crashing down in late August to the loud cheers of a nearby crowd. It was created to commemorate the Soviet Army’s capture of Latvia in 1944.

Days earlier in Estonia, another Soviet monument, this time of a tank adorned with the communist red star, was removed and taken to reside in a museum.

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Such scenes are happening all over central and eastern Europe – in Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The removal or destruction of Soviet-era monuments is a powerful reminder of the complex relationship that exists between history, memory and politics.

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