Sunday, November 30, 2008

Studying in Poland easy, but useless?

Even though in Poland you can be admitted to university without much difficulty, a Polish degree does not guarantee you a career, according to research by the EU think-tank Lisbon Council.

According to the study conducted in 14 EU countries plus the United States, Switzerland and Australia, the best educational systems are in Australia, Great Britain, Denmark and worst in Germany, Austria and Spain.

Of all surveyed countries, in Poland it is easiest to start university education, but the country’s weakness is a lack of adjusting the curriculum to the demands of the job market. Hence, in the ranking of countries where studies guarantee a good job, Poland came last in 17th place.

Since a Polish university degree is not enough in Poland’s competitive job market, more and more Polish people want to study abroad. Currently Poles are the 6th largest group of foreigners at British universities.

Data of the Higher Education Statistics Agency indicate that in the academic year 2006/2007, there were 6,770 Poles studying in the UK, while only a year earlier, the number of Polish students amounted to 4,325. Additionally, some 14,000 Poles are studying in Germany.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Citibank making shady money off unsuspecting spenders

Clients of Citibank that have been recently using their debit cards outside of Poland are finding suspicious charge on their accounts, according to Dziennik.

The paper reports that the bank has been charging 10 percent higher than the average daily exchange rate on purchases made in U.S. dollars. The U.S. Office of Consumer Protection is investigating the case, especially in light of the fact that clients have been over-charged up to several hundreds of zloty claims the daily.

Dziennik gives the example of 50-year-old Ryszard from Poland who returned from the U.S. two weeks ago. The paper writes that he used his credit card for purchases since the Citibank card offered zero percent provisions and to use the National Bank of Poland’s (NBP) average daily exchange rate. Apparently, upon return to the country, the daily reports that he paid an exchange rate of 3.25 zloty to the dollar when the NBP rate was 2.97 zloty to the dollar. The paper claims that banks are able to change rates as they wish, but to hide the fact is simply dishonest.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Prominent Polish Politicians to Face Trial over Insulting Obama

The Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky has stirred a big scandal with his statement that the grandfather of the US President-elect Barack Obama has been cannibal, a joke that was deemed shocking by his fellow Polish politicians.

Sikorsky, who is an Oxford graduate had said laughing "His grandfather ate a Polish missionary years ago."

The Polish authorities have asked that Sikorsky is sued for racism.

Another Polish politician, the Member of the Polish Parliament Arthur Gorsky, is also going to face the tribunal over accusations of racism. The reason is another statement about Obama, who Gorsky described as the "black messiah of the new left."

Gorsky further defined Obama's presidential win as the "end of white man's civilization."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Polish internal security agency authorises the scanning of address data on letters

In a pilot project at the Posnan postal sorting office, Poland's largest internal security agency ABW has collected the sender and recipient information on letters as well as the relevant graphological details. Founded in 2002, the government agency for internal security deals with Poland's anti-terror policies, counterintelligence, prosecution of industrial and organised crime and anti-corruption measures.

As reported by the Dziennik daily newspaper – Google translation here, a modern scanner system is used for collecting the data and graphological details of senders and recipients in the city of Posnan, for forwarding to the ABW. The security agency intends to use this information for establishing a database that will allow the surveillance of all letter correspondence. The ABW plans to introduce the scanners nationwide at all postal sorting offices in Poland, which would cost around 250 million zloty (about ?65M).

The project was not only criticised for spying on Polish citizens but also for the way the ABW is said to have influenced the public tendering procedure for the scanners. The Polish postal service reportedly received an offer that was 30 per cent better by Japanese vendor Mitsui. However, the ABW preferred the Siemens machines because they are the only ones that can also provide a graphological analysis, and is said to have put pressure on the Polish postal service accordingly. "In a state of emergency there is a global threat. In such events there is a necessity for the censoring of letters. And the postal service needs to be prepared for such an event". Reportedly this is the explanation given by the agency for internal security in response to the allegations that the agency exerted pressure on the Polish postal service.

Critics say that spying on the letters of all Polish citizens is illegal and against the constitution. The Polish Commissioner for Civil Rights, Janusz Kochanowski, and the Polish Data Protection Agency have announced they will investigate the surveillance measure. The Polish Supreme Chamber of Control also plans to scrutinise the ABW's planned collection of information and its role in the postal service's public tendering procedure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Polish opposition leader calls for resignation of Internal Security Agency head

Poland’s opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski stated that Krzysztof Bondaryk should resign as head of the Internal Security Agency (ABW), The Warsaw Voice reports.

The paper refers to daily Gazeta Wyborcza report that the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) Mariusz Kaminski wrote a memo to Prime Minister Donald Tusk in which he stated that “Bondaryk receives from the company Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa [the Era mobile network] compensation which greatly exceeds his monthly remuneration from the ABW.”

According to media reports, the CBA has accused Bondaryk of concealing the size of his severance package when he left his management post at Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa.

This sum is reportedly PLN 1.5 mln. Bondaryk says he never concealed any income and filed an asset statement truthfully before taking the position as head of the ABW.

Prime Minister Tusk came to Bondaryk’s defense, saying that he very accurately listed his assets and income (as required by law) before his appointment as head of the ABW in January.

Meanwhile, Wladyslaw Stasiak, the head of the National Security Bureau (BBN), says that former agents of Poland’s hated communist secret services, the SB, are returning to work at the ABW. He added that this is not a staffing issue, per se, but rather the fact that people tied to the communist secret services are gaining increasing influence on the country’s most important agency. According to Stasiak, this stems from a lack of trust in the newer agents. Stasiak says that his comments are “moment of reflection about the country” and not an accusation related to recent reports about the ABW. The Warsaw Voice marks that Stasiak served as Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration between August-November 2007 under then-Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. In November 2007, he became head of the BBN.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lepper denies Rydzyk tip off

Former deputy PM and agriculture minister, Andrzej Lepper, has denied that he was tipped off about a Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) sting operation against him by controversial priest, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk.

Lepper’s remarks were made at a parliamentary investigative committee which is trying to establish whether a former government influenced investigations by the secret services in Poland in 2007 when he was the minister of agriculture. It is alleged that Lepper was tipped off by founder of Radio Maryja, Father Rydzyk, about an investigation by the CBA into a land deal involving the Agriculture Ministry.

“I was not warned by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk nor by Archbishop Slawoj Glodz,” said Lepper.

Relations between Lepper, a former deputy PM in the Law and Justice led coalition government, deposed in elections last year, and Father Rydzyk, aroused the interest of the head of the parliamentary commission, Andrzej Czuma of Civic Platform. Several witnesses have testified before the commission that the two priests could be involved in Lepper’s case.

The leader of the Self-defence party told the commission, Thursday, that he only met with Father Rydzyk after he found out about a planned sting operation against him, not before hand, as has been alleged. He said he did not recall meting with Archbishop Slawoj Glodz at all.

The parliamentary committee is trying to establish whether former state authorities put pressure on Poland’s secret services and used them for political purposes, as had been alleged by the current government. One of the threads of the investigation is connected with a corruption scandal in the former Ministry of Agriculture which led to the collapse of coalition of Law and Justice, Self-defence and the League of the Polish Families.

The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau agents attempted sting operation against the head of the Ministry Lepper failed after somebody tipped the politician off.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Poland cringes at president's diplomatic blunders

Poland's president has put words in Barack Obama's mouth, kept Condoleezza Rice waiting, and snubbed national icon Lech Walesa.

Now, many Poles are cringing over Lech Kaczynski's gaffes and fretting about the damage to Poland's image.

"He obviously doesn't feel at ease as president," said middle school teacher Wieslawa Ozelska, 57.

A childhood film star who won fame playing a troublemaker alongside his identical twin Jaroslaw, Kaczynski still enjoys support from those who admire his past anti-communist activism, unswerving patriotism and commitment to fighting corruption.

But in three years as head of state, he has made protocol blunders that have raised eyebrows in the carefully choreographed world of foreign diplomacy and made him a frequent butt of jokes.

He is also often faulted for letting personal grudges play out in matters of state.

For instance, he was criticized for not inviting Solidarity founder Walesa, who has come to symbolize the nation's liberation from Soviet dominance, to a recent gala celebrating the 90th anniversary of Poland's independence from Russia, Prussia and Austria.

The slight was seen as deliberate and rooted in animosity that has developed in past years between Kaczynski and Walesa, former pro-democracy allies.

Some blunders appear less calculated.

One high-profile stumble came just days after Obama was elected president. Kaczynski's office issued a statement saying the president-elect promised him during a phone call to stick by George W. Bush's controversial plans to build a missile defense site in Poland.

Very quickly, an Obama adviser said the future president made no such promise, forcing Kaczynski's aides into a humiliating backtrack.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski complained that Kaczynski had caused a diplomatic embarrassment for the country. "We shouldn't be overzealous and put words into the mouth of the president-elect that he didn't say," Sikorski said.

It wasn't the first faux pas with Washington.

In August, Kaczynski held up the signing ceremony of the missile defense deal by 10 minutes, making U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top Polish officials sit waiting for him in hushed expectation in a large hall at the prime minister's chancellery.

Kaczynski later blamed Prime Minister Donald Tusk's government for his delay, saying he wasn't allowed to use the elevator and was forced to waste time walking up three flights of stairs.

The government denied that, saying Kaczynski had simply arrived late. Many Poles saw the incident as a petty show of power.

"He's a conceited little Napoleon," freelance photographer Wojtek Antoszek, 55, said of the diminutive president. "Totally unfit for the position."

Some observers blame Kaczynski's inexperienced staff. Political analyst Jacek Kucharczyk says the problem is rooted in a suspicion of veteran politicians by Kaczynski and his ex-prime minister brother.

The twins are thought to view anyone with too much experience as potentially compromised by past contacts with former communist rulers or corruption-stained governments that followed.

"He'd rather be surrounded by people whom he trusts than by very competent people whom he doesn't trust," said Kucharcyzk, deputy director of the Warsaw-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. "If you are too competent, it's almost suspicious."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

17-year-old tries to sell younger brother on Internet auction

seventeen-year-old boy from Namyslow, western Poland, has attempted to sell his 9-year-old brother via Poland’s top shopping web site

The starting price was one zloty. The boy wrote on the website that he is also willing to barter his brother.

The case attracted the attention of Polish police, but the public prosecutor’s office refused to initiate proceedings. The prosecutor’s spokeswoman explained that it was not the case of human trafficking but rather a silly joke.

The action was blocked and the 17-year-old boy admitted that his actions were simply a joke. The 9-year-old is safe and sound at home.

The teenager is not going to suffer any official consequences for his behaviour.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Miraculous fixing on Warsaw bourse?

The Polish Commission for Banking Supervision is conducting an investigation into alleged fixing of the blue-chip index. Near the end of trade on Wednesday, the WIG20 in Warsaw had fallen 9 percent. However, several minutes later the index rebounded 5 percent.

Warsaw brokers say that the new buy orders appeared quite suddenly and concerned several major companies, which usually have a huge influence over WIG20 index.

Among the companies whose quotations went up at the very end of the sessions was Polish fuel giant PKN Orlen. The company closed this unusual session gaining three percent even though, several minutes earlier, its shares were down approximately 10 percent.

This is not the only company posting questionable fluctuations, companies like BRE Bank, Getin Bank, KGHM, Lotos, PBG, Pekao, PGNiG, PKO BP and Polimeksu did as well.

The minor investors are shocked. “This is a scandal,” they say. Those on the futures market could have lost even half of their investment portfolio.

Currently, the Commission for Banking Supervision is investigating who made the orders and who gained on these transactions.

“We have established that the orders come from one brokerage firm. We know from which one, but we cannot reveal that just now. We are checking if there were any manipulations,” spokesman for the Commission, Lukasz Dajnowicz, told Puls Biznesu.

The Commission for Banking Supervision revealed also in September that it asked the authorities of the Warsaw Stock Exchange about the possibilities to introduce some mechanisms securing the market against similar situations, which would, for example, limit the possible fluctuation of closing bids.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Poland: Racist Flyers Given to Children in a Catholic Church

One of the Catholic churches in Poznan, Poland's fifth largest city, generated a lot of online buzz yesterday, when the media (POL) published articles about a religious flyer printed by a Catholic weekly Maly Gosc Niedzielny and distributed to children. On the flyer's cover, there is a quote from the Bible - “A lamp without oil is dark, a human without a prayer, too.” Right above it is a drawing of a black child, who is saying: “What a pity that the prayer does not brighten the skin.”

The chief editor Gabriela Szulik, when confronted (POL) with the fact, responded:

    It’s a mistake, an unfortunate one. We had no intention to offend anyone, because we are not racist. The thought that this can carry racist meaning does not even enter my mind; I simply have no associations of the kind.
Later on, she responded to allegations of racism with a promise of an online statement, also referring to the company's involvement in charity work in Rwanda and their article about Zambia.

Online reactions vary. Some discussion board users, like maczimo (POL), agree with Gabriela Szulik:

    Only a complete idiot can say that we are dealing with racism.
Still others express rather cynical (POL) thoughts on the issue:

    It’s not that I am anti-Catholic, but the whole situation, mainly in the context of the Church, is slightly ridiculous. […] ;-)
One of the Polish London-based bloggers writes (POL):

    […] This Sunday we will pray for [the 15 black children out of the total of 26 in the blogger's child’s school group]. So passionately, so Polish-way. Will it help? […]
The majority of commentators on discussion boards find the flyer highly racist. Mecz-k (POL) said on Forum:

    Oh, yes, Polish Catholicism is a religion of hate and despise. Pity that there is nothing left of Jesus preaching. Now we have Father Rydzyk [a very controversial leader of the Catholic Radio] preaching… Shame, shame really.
Jww commented on a post about the issue on this blog (POL):

    I am not surprised by the content and the level of the flyer. I know more examples of that type or even worst acts of ‘tolerance’ and ‘freedom of speech’ within the church, sadly most of them stay away from political scandal similar to the one about the flyer.
One of the parents involved in the incident happens to be an outspoken blogger. After describing (POL) the day when the child came home with the flyer, she wrote:

    confiscated the flyer discreetly, but there is no way to cheat on my son: Mom, why did you hide the flyer in the pocket? Did you dislike it for some reason? Is there something wrong with it? This text is bizarre, isn’t?

    Yes, a little bit. After one hour of serious thinking whether I am overreacting and consultations with Kuba’s parents: do you also agree that someone was thoughtless? Do you see it too? I am calling the parish office:

    Dear Father, I understand you meant no harm, but this joke is tasteless, since all kids take such messages seriously, they do not see the intentions behind them; and you can see here clearly: the black baby regrets having dark skin, meaning being black is the worst…

    I do understand where you’re coming from, but I believe the priests who ordered those pictures aimed to stress Christian values, the message of the Holy Bible…

    Dear Father, you can be a Catholic and not a racist, you cannot promote messages of the kind, especially amongst children, for whom the Church sets example…

The discussion continues. On, a Polish version of Digg bookmarking site, an article on this topic is on the main state category and has generated over 100 comments and gained 783 ratings so far.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scorned lover shoots woman in church

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man in a church in the Lubuskie region of Poland for shooting a woman in the mouth with an air rifle, during mass.

The motive was apparently love, according to a tip off to the police.

The victim, a twenty-year-old woman, sustained no serious injuries and returned home after emergency personnel treated her.

According to police from this western region of Poland, the man entered the Catholic Church during mass before noon on Sunday, exposed an air rifle and shot the woman. Licenses for such type of gun are not required.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Polish Foreign Minister swindled in internet auction by fellow Pole

The Foreign Ministry purchased a fake Order of the White Eagle medal off of the internet for 6,000 USD.

According to Dziennik, what is thought to be an original medallion from the 1800’s, is actually a twentieth century copy. Specialists claim it was a medal awarded to Ignacy Jan Paderewski for services in the U.S. between 1905 and 1929, not an older medal from the 1800’s as originally claimed by the Foreign Ministry.

Dziennik reports that collectors think the Ministry got swindled. Historians claim it is impossible to be certain without any sort of original certification from Paderweski accompanying the medallion. The paper claims that it is certainly not worth $6,000, but rather only a maximum sum of $4,000.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski approved the purchase, bought in an internet auction from a Pole living in North America.

On the eve of Independence Day celebrations, the conservative daily Nasz Dziennik is appealing on behalf of war veterans who have fought for Poland’s independence to take into consideration their issues as parliament reviews the retirement laws. According to the paper, a large amount of soldiers who refused to participate in the communist People’s Army of Poland have not received any sort of documentation of their services.

Nasz Dziennik asked the Ministry of National Defense if they will push for any changes in benefits regarding the soldiers who refused to serve under the communists. The Ministry replied in such a way that the paper accuses them of skirting the issue. The daily adds that not only are sldiers affected, but also their families. There is an apparent lack of political will to recognize and address the issue.

Trybuna - a descendant of the communist party daily Trybuna Ludu - writes about the memory of Mieczyslaw Rakowski, the last Communist-era party chairman and prime minister, who died on Saturday at 82-years-old. Former president Aleksander Kwasniewski commented for the paper that “his esteem, personally, as a human, as a journalist, an intellectual and a politician is without any doubt.” Kwasniewski added that Rakowski was able to carry out relations with the Germans despite the fact that the Nazis killed his father.

The paper writes that Rakowski became head of the communist party too late to change the hopeless situation it faced. Despite that, he was successful as head of the party. Kwasniewski recalled his visit to the Ronald Reagan library in 1994, which, according to Trybuna presented Rakowski as a really successful head of state despite only being in position from July 1989 until 31 January 1990, the very end of the communist system in Poland.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Duck" moniker not fowl play

Political satirists and caricaturists in Poland can rest a little easier this week, following a decision by the Regional Court in Warsaw

The court ruled that using the term "kaczory" (literally "drakes," but often translated as "ducks") in reference to President Lech Kaczynski and his brother Jaroslaw, a former PM and current head of the Law and Justice party, does not constitute defamation.

Kaczynski is one of several surnames in Polish derived from the word "kaczka" ("duck"). Judge Alina Rychlinska ruled that use of the word was not defamatory on the grounds that comparisons of people to animals were not always negative.

Monday, November 17, 2008

As if they have nothing better to do:
Sikorski's remains to be exhumed

The remains of General Wladyslaw Sikorski will be exhumed on November 25, as part of a probe to determine the cause of his death

The remains of Poland's prime minister as well as commander of its armed forces, General Wladyslaw Sikorski will be exhumed on November 25, as part of a probe into whether he died accidentally in 1943 or was assassinated.

The head of the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) Janusz Kurtyka told TVN24 on Monday that investigators will open Sikorski's tomb on November 25, which is resting in the WawelCastle in Krakow among Polish kings, and return the body on November 26.

Sikorski died on July 4, 1943 moments after his plane took off and crashed. His death has generated theories whether he was murdered or died accidentally.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Poland Court Reprimands Women Over Topless Sunbathing

A Polish court Friday reprimanded two Polish women, including a model who has appeared in men's magazines, for indecent exposure after they sunbathed topless, a rarity in the deeply Catholic country.

"Showing nudity goes beyond social customs and norms in Poland," read part of the verdict issued by a court in Szczecin, northwest Poland. "Personal freedom ends where the freedom of another person begins."

"I completely respect the court's verdict, but at the same time I disagree with it and I will certainly appeal it," Dorota Krzysztofek, 28, told Poland's TVN24 news channel. She also said she would be contacting Poland's ombudsman, a civil rights watchdog.

The court also ruled the women would have to pay court fees of 130 zlotys (36 euro, 46 dollars). The verdict is subject to appeal.

"Perhaps men will also have to cover up their torsos on the beach?" Krzysztofek said. "I see nothing indecent about the chests of men or women," she added.

In May, policemen fined Krzystofek and her 26-year-old friend for sunbathing topless on a public beach in Szczecin.

The women went to court after they failed to pay a fine of 150 zlotys (40 euros, 55 dollars).

The case of the two women, one of whom is a model and has appeared topless in Polish men's magazines, sparked such massive media interest that a first hearing in September had to be postponed when too many reporters turned up to fit into the court gallery.

The women pleaded not guilty to indecent exposure, arguing there was no explicit ban on going topless at the beach.

They also said fellow sunbathers had not been offended, insisting that many had jumped to their defence.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Poland’s 100,000 addicts

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates that in Poland there are some 100,000-120,000 people with addiction problems, which is close to the European average.

Klaudia Palczak of EMCDDA told Polish Radio One that the most dangerous drugs remain heroine and its derivatives. The study by the Centre reveals that the availability of heroine has increased considerably due to the record-breaking poppy harvest in Afghanistan in 2007.

Still, the study shows that while in countries like Great Britain or Spain cocaine and heroine are the most popular narcotics, in Poland it is amphetamine.

Head of the National Bureau For Drug Addiction Piotr Jablonski points out that apart from the regular drugs in Poland there is also a large market of so-called “stimulators”. Among the most popular substances are diviner’s sage, Hawaiian baby woodrose, hallucinogenic mushrooms and various “party pills”. He added that these are all legal and the all the more dangerous because of it.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s research indicates that every hour one European dies of an overdose.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Janusz Wojcik bailed at half million zloty

The former national football coach detained two week ago on corruption charges has been set bail at 500,000 zloty.

According to the decision of the District Court in Wroclaw, Janusz W, the former football national team coach Janusz W. will not be put under arrest, but bail has been raised from 150.000 to 500.000 zloty.

The Public Prosecutor's Office made 11 charges against Janusz W. who is accused of having fixed eight matches when he was coaching Swit Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki in the season 2003/2004.

He is charged of bribing officials to the tune of 500.000 zloty and could face five years in prison.

Although now the former coach can stay at large, he is banned from his working in football and cannot leave Poland. By 21 November the bail of 500.000 zloty must be raised.

According to the court, Janusz W. pleaded innocent but he declared his willingness to cooperate.

The Wroclaw prosecutor's office, south west Poland which launched an investigation into match-fixing in Poland in 2005, had called for 3-months custody over the former trainer in order to prevent him from prevaricating. He was said to act together with Ryszard F., alias Fryzjer – “the hairdresser” - accused of being connected with an ongoing football corruption investigation. So far, the police have detained about 160 people coaches, referees and players on a charge of fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Polish Pedophile in Pomerania arrested

Pomeranian Police detained a 20-year-old resident of the Baltic Sea town of Gdansk for pedophilia.

The man’s computer reportedly contains 13,000 photographs of child pornography.

“Functionaries from the Pomeranian Regional Crime Bureau have worked on this case for several weeks. The twenty-year-old was arrested Tuesday,” stated police spokesperson Jan Kosciuk.

Besides photographs on his computer, Wojciech Sz. possessed dozens of child pornography films. The man was presented with 21 indictments for the possession of pornography containing children under the age of fifteen.

Wojciech Sz. faces eight years in prison. On Wednesday he will sit before a judge that will decide on his arrest and sentence.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alcoholism related to trauma, shows new Polish study

Every fourth alcoholic is a victim of violence, motor vehicle accident, of some other catastrophe, according to the reports of a several-years-long study of alcoholics in Poland.

Dr. Malgorzata Dragan of the University of Warsaw Psychology faculty, who issued the report, says that 80 percent of alcoholics have undergone some traumatic event in their lives. Sixty percent claim that they have undergone more than one traumatic incident.

The results show that every fourth alcoholic suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in other word, psychological or physical manifestations that recall the trauma they underwent. Dragan claims that her study shows that people turn to alcohol to numb their pain.

“Alcohol fulfills these criteria. After one drunk, problems haven’t disappeared. One starts to drink again and a vicious cycle begins, which is extrememly difficult to break out of. It can become an addiction,” she states.

According to the results of the study, the most commonly occurring trauma amongst women is related to sexual abuse. Thirty percent of alcoholic females were sexually molested in their lives.

Dagan’s study is the first of it’s kind in Poland – a study analyzing trauma and addiction. Full results will be published on 30 October in her book Traumatic Experiences and Addiction to Alcohol.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bungling bureaucrats finally held to account over Centrozap

Following three years of legal proceedings, a Katowice court ruled that Centrozap should receive compensation of zl.42.5 million for unlawful decisions leading to its difficulties
This will be supplemented with statutory interest calculated since March 2005, which amounted to zl.18.5 million as of Tuesday. "This verdict satisfies me despite that I know that it is not legally binding. This is just the court of first instance. [...] Maybe something will begin to change in the approach of officials to entrepreneurs and they will be held responsible for their decisions," said Ireneusz Krol, president of Centrozap.

He went on to say that he will apply for a written justification of the ruling, but he expects the State Treasury to appeal. "Decisions of the tax inspection office had some mistakes, but it does not mean that they were unlawful. The plaintiff did not prove it. It was also not proven that the decisions were the only reason for the bankruptcy of Centrozap," said Wojciech Dachowski of Prokuratoria Generalna representing the state.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hooligans not victims…just hooligans

The regional court in Warsaw dismissed complaints by Legia fans regarding their arrests, reports Zycie Warszawy.

The paper highlighted the fact that the police had the right to arrest the rowdy football fans. The courts have only made it through several of the two hundred hearings. The fans were arrested in the beginning of September before the football match with the second Warsaw team, Polonia.

The Legia fans started rioting outside of the Polonia stadium and approximately 750 people were arrested. The paper writes that most of the arrested were just charged for hooliganism and disrupting the peace, while several dozen were charged with instigating the riot. Zycie Warszawy reports that several of the arrested have accused police of egging them on and then arresting them, and actually took these complaints to court. The courts, however, have thrown these complaints out, favouring the judgment of the police. (

Former head of the “Supreme Chamber of Control” (NIK), Miroslaw Sekula, and government agent in charge of fighting corruption, Julia Pitera, are preparing a new statue for NIK, whose current mission is to promote economic efficiency and effectiveness in public service through audits.

Nasz Dziennik writes that, in Sekula’s opinion, it is essential to provide some control over the appointment process of government employees. The proposed changes would give the director of NIK more power to make decisions. NIK is independent from the government yet fully subordinate to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.

Both Janusz Wojciechowski, another former head of NIK, and Jacek Jezierski, current head of NIK, feel that the proposed changes are unsafe and can seriously affect the body politic. The paper writes that the second issue is the proposed change in the mode of control. Currently, the auditing unit checks political protocols and can make sure that they are constitutional, Nasz Dziennik reports that Sekula would like to shorten and simplify the whole procedure.

Rzeczpospolita writes that the Oncology Center in Bydgoszcz, in northern Poland, is ranked as the best public hospital in the country, according to the paper’s ranking in cooperation with the Center for the Monitoring of Quality in Health Care. The best public hospital for specialized care is the Centre for the Treatment of Burns in Siemianowice in the Slask region of southern Poland. The best private hospital is the Pleszew Medical Centre in central Poland. The paper ranked 256 hospitals in Poland. Sixty percent of the ranked hospitals improved their position and quality from previous rankings.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Drunk man abuses president

A 32-year old resident of Lublin, south east Poland, has been detained by police allegedly insulting President Lech Kaczynski.

On Sunday, police in Lublin took Przemyslaw D. into custody after he started hurling abuse at Lech Kaczynski on Litweski Square, where the president was meeting local residents.

The man is said to have been under the influence of alcohol when the incident happened.
Przemyslaw D. has pleaded not-guilty; although the accused did admit to using foul language, he did not intend to defame Mr. Kaczynski.

If found guilty, the man may be sentenced to three years in prison.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Polish pickpocket targeted 83-year-old

A POLISH pickpocket, who targeted an 83-year-old North Lincolnshire woman, had a string of previous theft convictions both in the UK and her native land, a court heard.

Marta Rudzinska (22), of Lilac Avenue, Scunthorpe, admitted two theft charges.

Recorder Paul Johnson revoked two previous community orders and jailed her for 10 months at Grimsby Crown Court.

He told her she had 'a dreadful record of criminality'. And, he added, she had been given 'chance after chance' by courts in Poland.
"When you came to this country you resumed what you had left off in Poland. The time has now come for you to pay the penalty," he said.

Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, said Rudzinska went to the Lakeside, Scunthorpe, branch of Currys on September 11. She picked up a webcam, removed the security tag, and left the store without paying. She was, however, stopped outside.

"She was found to be in possession of the stolen webcam," Mr Evans said.
Rudzinska was granted bail but, just two days later, she committed the second crime, which involved an 83-year-old woman shopping in Bargain Madness in Scunthorpe.

"The woman had her handbag in her shopping trolley. Rudzinska has approached, unzipped the complainant's bag and then taken her purse and some ?85 that it contained," Mr Evans said.
The theft was caught on CCTV and Rudzinska was later identified and arrested. Mr Evans told the court she was currently subject to 'a wanted notice' that had been issued by a Polish court.

Richard Lunn, for Rudzinska, said his client had turned to drugs when she was unable to find employment and this had led to the offending.
Mr Lunn said Rudzinska was not an uneducated young woman and, when she was not using drugs, she had the desire to make her way in the world.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Post #750
Satnav leads Polish driver into lake

A Polish man drove his vehicle into a lake after following the instructions of a satellite navigation system, police have said.

The Mercedes mini-van driver ignored a series of warning signs before using an abandoned road which led to the lake. His vehicle was almost entirely submerged by the time emergency services arrived on the scene, but the man and his two passengers had already escaped unharmed.

"The man took a road that was closed a year ago when the area was flooded to make an artificial lake serving as a water reservoir - he ignored three road signs warning of a dead end," Piotr Smolen, police spokesman in Glubczyce, southern Poland told AFP.

"It was still night time and he didn't notice the road led into the lake. His GPS told him to drive straight ahead and he did."

Smolen confirmed that the man in question made his first emergency call while he was still inside the sinking van. He then sat on the vehicle's roof with his passengers as they waited for assistance.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Soccer-Prosecutors charge Polish FA secretary general

Polish Football Association (PZPN) secretary general Zbigniew Krecina was charged with mismanagement of funds on Wednesday, state news agency PAP quoted prosecutors as saying.

Krecina is favourite to replace PZPN head Michal Listkiewicz in an Oct. 30 election that is being held to avoid sanctions from world body FIFA and the potential loss of the country's right to co-host Euro 2012 with Ukraine.

Krecina is accused of illegally transferring 350,000 zlotys ($120,000) to Widzew Lodz soccer club. He denies the charge.

Prosecutors said the investigation was not aimed at derailing the election.

"This part of the investigation had been started in June. The prosecutors were not interested in elections at the PZPN," head of the prosecutors office in the city of Wroclaw, Edward Zalewski, told PAP.

The prosecutors' move comes just a few weeks after the PZPN's management board was suspended by the country's arbitration tribunal at the request of Warsaw's sports ministry in an anti-corruption drive, triggering the row with FIFA.

FIFA, whose rules forbid government interference in FA matters, had warned the Polish government that it was facing the possible suspension of its national soccer team.

The dispute was resolved when the government reinstated the association. The agreement to hold PZPN elections was part of the deal.

Asked if he still intended to run in the election, Krecina told PAP that he would.

As part of the same investigation, police detained former Poland head coach Janusz Wojcik, who led the Polish team to an Olympic silver medal in 1992, on corruption charges.

The charges are related to his time as a coach of small Swit Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki club in 2003-2004 but no further details were available.

More than 150 Polish officials, referees and players have been accused of match-fixing and corruption, with 17 on trial since 2007.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President pleased with progress into football corruption scandal

President Lech Kaczynski will meet representatives of the government next week to discuss the next step in reforming Poland’s allegedly sleaze-ridden football association, the PZPN.

The president will have talks with both the minister of sport, Miroslaw Dzewiecki, and his own representative for sporting matters, Michal Kleiber.

President Kaczynski said that he was pleased with the government’s attempt to finally cleans Polish football of corruption, a scandal that has now seen over 160 arrests at all the levels of the game. He said that it was important to return PZPN to full autonomy as soon as possible, as the world governing body, FIFA has demanded, but said it was crucial to return “the rule of law” to the game in order to regain trust of football supporters within and outside Poland.

This week saw the high profile arrest of a former coach of the national team, Janusz W., who has been charged with 11 cases of corruption involving hundreds of thousands of zloty in bribes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poles more disillusioned with politics

More and more Poles are losing interest in politics, a new survey says.

A poll by TNS OBOP reveals that 28 percent of Poles declare that they are not interested in voting were an election to be held this month. Two months ago this group only amounted to 17 percent.

While disillusionment is setting in among many, 53 percent who declare they will vote next election support Civic Platform while the opposition Law and Justice party is supported by 25 percent of the voters.

The Democratic Left Alliance - the third largest party in parliament can count on 10 percent of the popular vote, and the junior coalition partner, Polish Peasants Party has just 5 percent. The League of the Polish Families and the Self-Defence - two junior coalition parties in the previous government voted out of office last autumn, are supported by 2 percent of Poles, making them ineligible to enter parliament.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunken dredger in Baltic Sea poses ecological threat

Polish bucket dredger Rozgwiazda which sunk in the Baltic Sea five days ago killing at least two people poses an ecological threat due to tanks containing 25 tonnes of oil.

So far rough sees sea and strong have hindered divers reaching the dredger and conditions in the next few days are not expected to improve.

Ecologists point to the slick opf oil which has formed above the ship as evidence that time is of the essence to prevent an environmental catastrophe in the area. A crisis centre, operating in the north-western city of Szczecin for a few days now, is preparing for the worst. Fire-fighters, army and other rescue services from the seaside locations are on standby.

The Polish bucket dredger Rozgwiazda capsized on Friday at 6.58 am while it was being towed to the port of Swinoujscie, north-western Poland. The vessel’s towline broke and it sunk. So far rescuers found two bodies of the dredger’s crew, an empty capsized life raft and a lifebelt form the boat. The search for the remaining three members of the crew was broken off.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Poles bribe their way into military service!

Whereas once Poles bribed their way out of military service, these days candidates wanting to join the army are ready to pay doctors up to 1500 zlotys to issue a positive medical opinion to help their application.

Not longer than a year ago young people in Poland were ready to pay for medical certificates stating that they are unfit for military service. Now even the healthy offer bribes to doctors.

Several day’s ago on the basis of information coming from military policemen, the police arrested a doctor suspected of accepting bribes in return for issuing positive medial reports for soldiers-to-be. According to the military police, this is not an isolated case.

The reason for this sudden interest in a military career is the suspension of compulsory enlistment and the introduction of the fully professional armed forces. Now the army in Poland has become an important player on the job market.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Taxmen tackle Polish Football Federation

Tax authorities in Poland seized some 10 million zlotys (2.5 million euro, 3.2 million dollars) in unpaid taxes from Poland’s troubled PZPN football federation, a tax official here said Monday.

"The official notification of the seizure (of outstanding taxes) was served today," Agnieszka Zukowska said.

At issue are unpaid taxes from income the PZPN received in broadcast fees for the retransmission of football matches on television. Revenue authorities discovered the unpaid taxes on the sums during an audit lasting from 2006 to April 2008.

"It is less than 10 million zlotys. The decision is legally binding," Zukowska told TVN24. According to Polish media reports, revenue authorties seized around nine million zlotys from PZPN coffers.

The tax debacle comes just three days before the Polish federation is set to elect a new leadership and a week after senior PZPN officials suspected of corruption faced criminal charges.

On Friday the world football authority FIFA confirmed the Polish federation’s leadership elections would go ahead on Thursday, October 30th, despite "civil and criminal investigations" against PZPN leaders.

Polish prosecutors on Thursday charged Poland’s former national team manager Janusz Wojcik with 11 counts of corruption in a vast corruption probe of the PZPN involving 160 individuals including referees and clubs from various leagues.

Prosecutors have also pressed charges against PZPN Secretary-General Zdzislaw Krecina, one of the four candidates standing in the body’s leadership race on October 30.

Krecina is accused of having transferred 320,000 zlotys (88,800 euros, 116,500 dollars) to a club’s bank account in 2006 even though the money had been frozen by the tax authorities.