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Poland

In The News

Evacuating Mariupol, Lavrov’s “Jewish Hitler”, Bored Ape Metaverse

👋 გამარჯობა!*

Welcome to Monday, where civilians are being evacuated from Mariupol as Europe looks for a way out of its Russian energy reliance, Spain’s government is hit by the Pegasus spyware and New Zealand reopens for the first time in two years. We also look at the real reasons behind Elon Musk’s interest in Twitter.

[*Gamarjoba - Georgian]

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A War Against Putin, A Fight Against The Patriarchy

In Poland, the support for the war effort against Russia is linked not only to history but to an aggressive male-dominated narrative, tinged with tales of martyrdom and acceptance of sexual violence.

-OpEd-

WARSAW — In addition to all the terrible things we already know about it, the war in Ukraine also appears to be a time machine that takes us back to a very masculine world of heroes and beasts — where the former are worthy of glory, the latter inhuman and deserving of death.

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This way of seeing reality and all that it encompasses is as tragic and retrograde as war itself. We Poles have finally begun to learn such values as equality, rule of law, democracy, dialogue, tolerance, and diversity; and yet once again we are returning to the paradigm of the heroic martyr that is unfortunately firmly established in our history and morality.

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Sofiia’s Story: An Escape From Kyiv, A Springtime Dream

This is how Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has looked to one 16-year-old high school senior from Kyiv, the daughter of Worldcrunch contributor Anna Akage.

My name is Sofiia, I’m 16 and I’m from Kyiv. Like my friends, I had plans … and dreams too. I believed in the future.

And then came 5 a.m. on February 24, and nothing would ever be the same.

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Suddenly, and for the next two weeks, everything around me became very specific and elementary: how many kilometers, how many people, how much gasoline. Life became like simple mathematics — and math never fails.

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Wroclaw Postcard: What We Learn About Ourselves In A Wartime Train Station

The war in Ukraine has prompted a huge outpouring of compassion across the border in Poland. It is a positive reflection of the human condition, but also a reminder that we should care for others and outsiders even when there's no nearby conflict.

WROCLAW — Being born on the banks of the rivers Vistula and Odra that falls within the boundaries of Poland has never filled me with particular pride. People are more important to me than the Polish red-and-white flag.

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Ordinary human solidarity is more important to me than patriotism. And yet, something made my heart swell last weekend when I went to the aid stations springing up like mushrooms after the rain.

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Geopolitics
Klaus Geiger and Dominik Kalus

Kaliningrad Revisited: Where Putin's ​Nuclear Threat Is Most Chilling

Vladimir Putin has put his nuclear forces on alert — a shock for many, but even more so for those just across the Polish border from Kaliningrad where Russian nuclear missiles are stationed, and aimed at European capitals from Warsaw to Berlin.

GOLDAP — In the immediate vicinity of this Polish tourist town, there are three special features: a picturesque lake, a renowned health spa — and Russian weapons of mass destruction. The small town of 14,000 inhabitants is located directly on the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

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The region, which is geographically separated from Russia and located by the Baltic Sea, is of vital importance to Moscow when it comes to threatening Europe — with nuclear weapons in particular.

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Society
Paweł Kośmiński

“Five Years Of Hate” – Being LGBTQ In Poland Has Gotten Worse

With Poland's ruling Law and Justice party and the Catholic Church using gay rights to stir up a culture war, the country's LGBTQ community is feeling the effects. Depression and suicide are rising dramatically, and many now feel they have no choice but to leave.

WARSAW — Suicidal thoughts, violence and lack of support from state institutions. This is the grim reality faced by Polish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and asexual people outlined in the report "The Social Situation of LGBTQ Persons in Poland."

Gay rights have become a divisive issue in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. The ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) has used the issue to galvanize supporters, declaring it "a great danger" and an "attack" on the family and children.

“The situation of LGBTQ people has not really improved, but rather gotten worse," says Mirosława Makuchowska, deputy director of the Campaign Against Homophobia. The organization – together with the association Lambda and the University of Warsaw's Centre for Research on Prejudice – published a report last week that describes the situation of non-heteronormative people in Poland in 2019-20.

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Coronavirus
Justyna Sobolak

COVID, Nail In The Coffin Of Poland's Underground Funeral Industry

A total lack of regulation has meant that virtually anyone can sell funeral service, even people without refrigerated rooms, hearses or pandemic safety measures.

The law governing the funeral market in Poland is nearly 100 years old, and de facto the industry has long been unregulated. As the gray market has continued to grow through the pandemic, shocking practices multiply. “Companies keep corpses in garages or barns," says Robert Czyżak, president of the Polish Funeral Industry Board. "This is what has been happening in Poland."

It is very easy to organize funerals in Poland. Almost anyone can do it, without any certificate, training or official permission. All you need is an entry in the CRIBA (Center of Registration and Information on Business Activity). Even without any facilities other than an office where the families of the deceased will be received, you can offer funeral services.

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Future
Gado Alzouma

Why Africa Has So Few Nobel Prizes In The Sciences

Even as it celebrates this year's literature prize going to Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah, Africa is again completely absent from the list of Nobel winners in science. In research as elsewhere, money is the key.

Nobel Prize recipients from around the world have been celebrating their achievements this month at their respective award ceremonies. But besides Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner in the literature category, the African continent was largely absent from the awards — most notably in the science categories. But this is nothing new.

With the notable exception of Egypt, which boasts a Nobel Prize in chemistry, and South Africa, which has five in chemistry, physiology and medicine, over the years Africa only has obtained Nobel Prizes for literature or peace. By comparison, the United States leads the way with 296 laureates, followed by Germany and Japan, with 94 and 25 awards respectively.

Many would be tempted to find the explanation for this poor African performance in a lack of "predisposition for science" or "scientific spirit" among our people. This is not the case: The capacity to produce scientific breakthroughs and to make discoveries does not lie in any "superior intelligence," in a supposed "genius," in alleged "genetic predispositions," or in the culture of the people.

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Geopolitics
Monika Olejnik

The Train Wreck That Is Poland Right Now

Everything is collapsing: The zloty is sinking, a virus is spreading, diplomacy has disappeared, and so has the rule of law. And the government claims everything is going just fine.

-OpEd-

WARSAW — Everywhere we look, there is a disaster.

The zloty is sinking because of inflation, which we owe to the head of Poland's central bank Adam Glapinski, a political ally of ruling PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski since the early 1990s when the pair demonstrated against then President Lech Wałęsa and joined in burning his effigy.

At the same time, we also have a COVID-19 catastrophe. As we've witnessed, 25,000 daily cases and hundreds of deaths are not enough for the government to introduce any kind of restrictions. The Prime Minister is afraid of demonstrations that could lead to deaths from COVID-19, while tens of thousands of people recently attended the National Stadium without masks and nobody checked whether anyone was vaccinated.

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Geopolitics
Nikolaus Doll

Diplomacy 101 In Belarus: Talking To Bad People Is Part Of The Job

A German politician lashed out after Angela Merkel spoke on the phone with Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko. But like in other hot spots, avoiding the worst along the Belarus-Poland border means casting aside moral superiority and naiveté.

BERLIN — It may well be that in just a few weeks there will be a Green Party politician at the helm of the German diplomacy. It may be co-party leader Annalena Baerbock, or someone else. Either way, what would it mean if the foreign minister was from the Green Party?

Well, we may get a hint of what could happen by looking at Green politician Omid Nouripour's reaction to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's actions regarding the refugee crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. It does not bode well.

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In The News
Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Modi Bows To Farmers, Belarus Camps Cleared, Extra-Long Eclipse

👋 Dia dhuit!*

Welcome to Friday, where Indian farmers win a major victory against the Modi government after a year of protests, Austria announces a full lockdown and mandatory vaccines and the world is treated to the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years. We also have a feature story from Jeune Afrique magazine that traces the international origins of twerking.

[*Gaelic]

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In The News
Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

Russia Space Blast Endangers Astronauts, Belarus Border Clashes, Leo’s Beach

👋 ሰላም!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia is under fire for blowing up a satellite in space, clashes erupt at the Poland-Belarus border and Leo's Beach opens again. Courtesy of German daily Die Welt, we also look at the reasons behind the major discrepancies in COVID-19 vaccination rates across Europe.

[*Selam, Amharic - Ethiopia]

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Ideas
Marek Beylin

Polexit Is Path To Dictatorship, A Cry To Keep Poland Free

EU membership is not in line with Poland's values, say the current ruling party. Will that mean Poland's Exit (Polexit) from the European Union? Everything is riding on where the long-serving conservative government of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński will do as they run counter to popular opinion on the EU question.

-OpEd-

WARSAW — They left it to Julia Przyłębska, President of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, to state where the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) stands: the country should no longer be in the European Union since EU values are contrary to the party's rule.

This was the decision reached by this pseudo-Constitutional Tribunal last week, while nearly 90% of the public wants to remain in the EU — according to a recent Ipsos poll for Gazeta Wyborcza and OKO.press. It means that on this fundamental issue in Poland, the PiS is looking to bypass the absolute majority of Poles.

According to the same Ipsos poll, more than half of us fear that the PiS is preparing a Polexit for us. After the decision of the pseudo-CT, this fear is likely to grow.

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GAZETA WYBORCZA
Anna Mierzyńska

Poland, A Case Study In Modern Political Tribalism

Poles are divided into hostile tribes. Radicalization is on the rise, and institutions do little to support those trying to tame it.

-Analysis-

WARSAW — If you're not with us, you're against us. The enemy must be destroyed. He has no rights or dignity. This way of thinking is, unfortunately, becoming more and more popular in Poland. It justifies hate speech and violence. And even though we know that polarization and radicalization is a growing problem, almost no one is working to slow down the process. Those who are trying to confront the issue get little support in Poland.

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GAZETA WYBORCZA
Marek Beylin

The Cracks In Kaczyński's Grip On Poland Are Starting To Show

The right-wing leader is struggling to appease his coalition partners, raising the possibility of a realignment among the country's various political factions.

-Analysis-

WARSAW — Polish leader Jarosław Kaczyński of the hard-right Law and Justice Party, the PiS, has long followed one simple rule: "I am Kaczyński and I can do anything I want."

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GAZETA WYBORCZA
Piotr Beniuszys

A Smoking Ban On Balconies? Warsaw Tests The Edges Of Freedom

Proposals to ban smoking on private balconies are led by activists trying to modify citizen’s lifestyles and fight 'ideologically different phenomena,' even when the real harm of these divergent behaviors is negligible.

-Essay-

WARSAW — Could there soon be a ban on smoking cigarettes on balconies in Warsaw? Or maybe one day even smoking inside private apartments? A smoking ban on balconies has already been introduced in Lithuania, so there is a precedent and nothing seems to stand in the way of a Polish version. Renata Niewitecka, a council member of the city of Warsaw decided to consult the residents on the issue. If the majority wants to ban the minority from smoking on balconies, will the council democratically vote for such a ban? Only time will tell.

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