Friday, April 30, 2010

Killer bear scare in the Tatras

From: The News
National park rangers are hunting an aggressive brown bear, roaming the Polish-Slovak border, after it attacked two men and a horse.

The Slovak authorities issued an order to shoot the animal. Rangers from Poland’s Tatra National Park don’t want to resort to such a drastic move. They will try to trap the unruly bear, instead.

“When it enters the trap-cage we have prepared, we will put it to sleep for a while, carry out genetic tests, determine its sex, age and weight, fit it with a radio collar, wake it up and release it,” says Pawel Skawinski, director of the Tatra National Park.

Thanks to the radio collar, the rangers will know the exact whereabouts of the bear at any time and will close certain parts of the park for the protection of tourists. In extreme situations, they will deter the animal with rubber bullets.

Director Skawinski says the bear is aggressive either because it is wounded, was fed by people and is no longer afraid of humans or simply that it has the nature of a killer, but this happens very rarely.

The “killer bear”, as local people have dubbed it, first attacked on April 22, injuring a Slovak lumberjack. Another Slovak man suffered a serious attack five days later and is fighting for life in hospital in Slovakia. Then, the bear crossed the border and attacked a cart horse standing in harness. It stood in front of the horse on its hind legs, and relented only when lumberjacks scared it with their saws.

Since the bear has no radio collar, its movements cannot be traced. Tourists entering the Tatra National Park are warned against a possible attack.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peado-killer dad found Dead

From: NPE
The body of Drasius Kedys, the man wanted for shooting dead a judge and his female companion who helped abuse his four year-old daughter, has been found approximately 30 km from his home town of Kaunas, Lithuania.

Kedys hit the headlines in October last year after taking justice into his own hands and was believed to have been hiding from the Lithuanian law in Poland.

But this week family members positively identified the body, eradicating any suspicion that he may still be alive. The circumstances surrounding his death however, are still not known.

According to the District Prosecutor’s office in Lithuania, a post-mortem examination has still to be conducted but there is little doubt that the body is that of Kedys.

Fearing foul play, the family have also requested that the body is examined by an independent forensic expert from Warsaw.

The ‘Death Wish Dad’ became something of an icon in his home country, and indeed around the world, for shooting dead judge Jonas Furmanavicius, 47, and Violeta Naruseviciene, 29, after learning from his daughter that she had been abused.

His pleas for justice fell on deaf ears. After sending out around 200 letters and DVD discs featuring his daughter to politicians, members of the European Parliament and the national media, he decided to act on his own.

Police later found the bodies of Furmanavicius and Naruseviciene shot to pieces and a gun registered to Kedys lying nearby.

Despite an international warrant for his arrest, Poles and Lithuanians living in Poland had offered him shelter which officials believe he had accepted.

Exactly how Kedys ended up dead so close to his home remains a mystery.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thieves on the run

From: NPE
The three men jailed for stealing the Auschwitz sign are missing after being let out of jail on compassionate leave.

Two of the men, brothers Lukasz and Rodoslaw M., had been entrusted with weekend passes in order to visit their ill mother. The third man, Pawel S., had also been allowed out, to organise wedding plans with his fiancée.

But police have confirmed that all three have failed to return to the jail in Wroclawek and arrest warrants have now been issued by Krakow’s District Court.

The men had been sentenced for their roles in the theft of the famous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign that sits above the entrance gate to the Nazi death camp in December last year.

Police are now worried that their no-show could affect the outcome of the case against Anders Hogstrom, the man who is believed to have plotted and staged the entire theft.

Hogstrom, who founded Sweden’s anti-immigrant National Socialist Front in 1994, was extradited to Poland this month to face trial - with most of the evidence based on statements from the men who are now missing.

The former neo-Nazi leader has pleaded innocent, stating that he was merely asked to collect the sign from the Polish gang in order to pass it onto a buyer. If convicted of the crime, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Miracle escape

From: NPE
A 20-year-old driver and his 48-year-old passenger can talk about a miracle escape after the car they were in was hit by a speeding train in Leczno near Bialogard. On arriving at the scene, police were amazed no one was hurt when looking at the wreckage of the car – an Opel, which had its entire back end ripped off in the incident.

Officers have established that the young driver stopped as required at the open crossing, then for some reason set off again right in front of the speeding Szczecin-Bialogard train. The car almost made it across in time, but the electric locomotive caught the rear end and proceeded to reduce it to a twisted heap of metal. Both driver and passenger, though, emerged from the front half of the wreck completely unscathed.

More in the way of suffering was inflicted on the passengers of the train, who were stuck for two hours waiting while police carried out their investigations.

Monday, April 26, 2010

National Bank in turmoil

From: NPE
The tragic death of the head of the National Bank of Poland Slawomir Skrzypek in Saturday’s plane crash leaves questions open about who will replace him, and how his loss will affect monetary policy and other issues.

The succession issue is a major one, since both the parliament and the president must make the choice jointly. Because President Lech Kaczynski was also killed in the crash, it is unclear whether a permanent replacement will or even can be made before the presidential election scheduled for June.

The Monetary Policy Council, which determines interest rates and is headed by the NBP president, announced on Monday that Vice-Chairman Piotr Wiesiolek will preside over the body until a new head can be named.

The announcement came during a previously scheduled meeting of the MPC and was made after its members consulted with constitutional experts. “We will hold normal meetings unless somebody, such as the Constitutional Tribune, decides that it is against the law, MPC member Andrzej Bratkowski told Reuters.

The law states that a member of the MPC must be replaced within three months, which is roughly when a new national president will be elected. Since acting president Bronislaw Komorowski does not possess all the powers of the office, it is uncertain whether he can select a replacement.

On Wednesday, Komorowski said that choosing a successor to Skrzypek should not be made in haste. “I don’t want to rush the procedure for selecting a new NBP president,” he said.

He downplayed his own potential role in the process, adding that the decision should be “as uncontroversial as possible and best handled by the Polish Parliament.”

Some experts expressed concern about the idea that Komorowski would wait until after the election to select a candidate to succeed Skrzypek. “This might be too long for the markets. There may arise some uncertainty, some fears about the stability of the NBP,” Maja Goettig, head economist for Bank BPH told Gazeta Wyborcza.

Although analysts doubt that monetary policy is likely to change much under Skrzypek’s successor, the fact that a president from the ruling Civic Platform is likely to choose the new head of the NBP may well lead to some change in policies. Among these issues are the amount of profits to be paid from the central bank to the budget and how quickly to move Poland into the eurozone.

It may also test the government’s commitment to a truly independent central bank, since it found itself at odds with Skrzypek on such issues in the past. Markets remained calm after Skrzypek’s death, which indicates that investors do not expect any major changes in monetary policy under the new head

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marek gets two year ban

From: BPE
Kornelia Marek, the Olympic skier caught using proscribed substances, was handed a two year ban by the Polish Skiing Union (PZN) and ejected from the team. In a rather vague conclusion to their initial report, the PZN disciplinary committee stated that she, “acted alone or with others,” in taking the banned performance enhancing drug EPO.

In a brief press conference given after the ruling Marek, looking more relieved than contrite, stated, “I apologise with all my heart that my affair has cast a shadow over all the medal performances of the team.” Asked if she felt guilty, she replied, “Guilty of recklessness and trusting too much.” She also said she had no intention of giving up sport as, “It’s my whole life,” and announced her intention to prepare for the Sochi Olympics in four years’ time.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Polish firms willingly reach for pirate programming

From: WBJ
The incidence of business use of illegal computer software increased in 2009, but the penalties incurred decreased. While 281 businesses were caught out last year – 6.5 percent more than in 2008 – fines totaled only zl.821,000.

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization of the world’s largest software companies, Polish firms were turning to pirate software in an attempt to cut costs during the economic downturn of 2009.

“A significant outbreak was noticed in the first half of the year,” BSA Poland coordinator Bart?omiej Witucki said. He said this spike paralleled increased retrenchment rates and that the recently unemployed were informing on their former employers.

But the increased number of revealed cases did not coincide with the size of fines issued.

Total penalties were 41 percent less than in 2008. Of z?.821,000, compensation cost zl.747,000 and legitimate software cost zl.74,000. That compares to zl.1.4 million in penalties in 2008, of which zl.1.2 million was spent on compensation and the rest was spent on acquiring legal programming.

“We evaluate each situation individually. If we could see that the financial condition of a company using pirate software isn’t the best, we went for a compromise and agreed to milder penalties,” Mr Witucki said. “It is not in our interest to force a company to declare insolvency.”

BSA research shows that in 2008 illegal programming was installed on as many as 56 percent of Polish computers – only one percentage point less than in 2007. That is equivalent to losses to software companies in the amount of $648 million. Statistics for 2009 will be revealed mid-May.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lumberjack keeps his head

From: NPE
A lumberjack narrowly escaped a fatal end with his chainsaw while climbing a tree.

Tomas Majerczyka, 22, was trimming branches in the forest near his house in Szczawnica when the incident took place.

While climbing a tree, he slipped from a branch and tumbled to the ground, the chainsaw landing on his neck.

“It’s a miracle that he is alive. He will be in hospital for some time but his condition seems stable,” said Przemyslaw Maslowski, head surgeon at the hospital.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nazi extradition expected

From: NPE
The Swedish neo-Nazi who ordered the theft of the famous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign is to be extradited to Poland to face charges this week.

According to reports, Anders Hogstrom had been commissioned by a British collector of Nazi memorabilia to obtain the sign, though this has yet to be confirmed.

Speaking of the extradition, Swedish prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstrom said, “He hasn’t appealed, so the decision has been final since April 1.”

“According to the law, the Polish authorities have 10 days to come and get him, so April 10 is the last day they can come and get him. We will keep him here in Stockholm until they come. But I can confirm that he’s still here,” she added.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The crowds mourning outside the Presidential Palace turned ugly

From: NPE
The crowds mourning outside the Presidential Palace on Krakowskie Przedmiescie almost turned ugly on Tuesday when a young man turned up with a megaphone and began announcing that the deaths at Smolensk were part of a massive conspiracy.

It was just before noon on the pavement nearby the Le Meridien Bristol hotel when the young man began haranguing the people in the queue waiting to file past the coffins of the President and First Lady. Eyewitness Filip Klimaszewski, a photographer for Gazeta Wyborcza described the incident, “Suddenly I saw this man shouting through a megaphone, calling, ‘People, it’s time to tell the truth! This is an awful crime! A conspiracy by Tusk, Obama and Putin. They wouldn’t allow the president to fly to Katyn earlier.”

The crowd, though, turned on the man and a scuffle almost began, with bystanders shouting the man down, saying, “This is not the time or the place!” The young man was rescued by an elderly gentleman who stepped in and persuaded the protester to kneel down and say the Lord’s prayer with him. After saying the prayer, the young man stood up and walked away.

The Last President

Large crowds have been gathering outside Belweder to pay their respects to Ryszard Kaczorowski, Poland’s last president in exile. The coffin, which went on display at 4pm on Thursday in Belweder Chapel, was greeted by crowds in front of the palace when it arrived, ninety minutes earlier, then a queue rapidly formed on Al. Ujazdowska to file past the body of the last man to act as President of Poland’s Second Republic, a post maintained in exile in London for almost fifty years, throughout the cold war period.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Funeral plans cause protests

From: NPE
Protesters hit the streets on Wednesday to show their anger over the decision to bury Lech Kaczynski and his wife at the Wawel cathedral in Krakow.

In total, around 200 people gathered in the capital, waving banners and placards stating “Warsaw for presidents, Krakow for kings”.

The cathedral crypt, located in the grounds of the sacred Wawel castle, is the burial site for Poland’s historic figures, including heroes and royalty.

The news that the Kaczynskis are to be buried in a tomb directly next to Jozef Pilsudski has caused further outrage, with many demonstrators claiming that they have no right to be laid next to one of the country’s most loved and cherished icons.

“The air disaster last Saturday was one of the greatest tragedies our nation has experienced. Our president died a hero and deserves to rest amongst heroes,” says Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

It is not known if government officials were involved in the decision or not, but it appears that the Archbishop of Krakow was asked directly by Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

While the protests passed without violence, tempers flared, leading to some Krakow demonstrators to begin arguing in ul. Franciskanska, in front of the Cardinals’ residence.

Andrzej Wajda, director of the film of the same name has also been vocal in his anger over the sensitive topic.
In an open letter publisher in Gazeta Wyborcza, he stated, “President Lech Kaczynski was an ordinary and good man, but there is no reason for him to lie in the Wawel among the kings of Poland and Marshal Jozef Pilsudski.”

He added that the arrangements were “hastily made in a time of high emotion” and that the decision was “misplaced”.

The protest was fuelled by popular social-network site, Facebook, which had a special group dedicated to the cause. By Wednesday evening, the group had attracted over 35,000 fans.

“We’re all mourning the tragic death of the presidential couple, but we mustn’t go overboard. The Wawel is a special historical place, where the monarchs of Poland and other great Poles lie. Let it remain so,” stated the organisers of the page.

“I think it’s a total exaggeration and an attempt by the right wing to raise the Polish republic’s worst president to the status of a national icon for political capital,” said 28 year-old Szymon, who happened to be walking past the protest.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Late Pope 'covered up' sexual abuse scandal

From: Press TV
The plight of the Vatican continues to draw worldwide attention as revelations surface that the late pope John Paul II had allegedly blocked an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests.

The late Polish pontiff, who is close to being beatified and named as a saint of the Catholic Church, was eventually dragged into the child abuse scandal surrounding the Vatican on Sunday when serious allegations were made against him for allegedly blocking an inquiry into a pedophile cardinal, promoting senior church figures despite accusations that they had molested boys and covering up innumerable cases of abuse during his 26-year papacy.

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn made the comments after a special service titled “Admitting our guilt” in Vienna's St. Stephen's cathedral, in which he flatly condemned the “sinful structures” within the church and the patterns of “silencing” victims and "looking away."

According to Schonborn, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, had tried to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse by clergies as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His efforts, Schonborn claimed, had nevertheless been blocked by “the Vatican”, an apparent reference to John Paul.

“I have known Pope Benedict personally during 37 years of amiable acquaintance and I can say with certainty that ... he made entirely clear efforts not to cover things up but to tackle and investigate them. This was not always met with approval in the Vatican,” Schonborn told The Sunday Times.

This comes as John Paul also faced criticism last week from his home country of Poland for protecting Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who was accused of abusing trainee priests.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adoption law opens door to traffickers

From: NPE
Poland could see a rise in child trafficking, if proposed changes to the adoption law come into force, experts have warned.

The proposals, which are currently being debated in parliament, could allow for the adoption of children for money, and this, apparently, could foster an illicit trade in young children.

“Following the changes to the law this could become the norm: Children will be put up for adoption for money, because there will be no penalty for it,” warned Wieslaw Dolegowski of the Foundation for the Child, Family and Adoption. “We’re concerned that when the law comes into force, adoption will be driven underground.”

Jerzy Naumann, a lawyer specialising in adoption law, also struck a negative note, saying that in his opinion the proposals “may lead to a flourishing market in the trafficking of children.”

In particular, adoption experts are concerned the proposed changes fail to include commercial adoption under its definition of human trafficking, thus biological parents could waive their parental rights in return for a fee.

Forums for couples looking to adopt children from anything from a few thousand zloty to PLN 150,000 currently exist, and with such riches already on offer, if the new proposals become law they could provide easy money for people looking to shed a child.

The flexibility and anonymity granted by the internet also allows people willing to sell their children the ability to do so with little problem.

But the insinuation that adoption and child trafficking are on the same immoral level has been rejected by those looking to adopt.

“You can not immediately claim that adoption is an indication of human trafficking,” said Maria, who set up the internet adoption forum, adding that many people on the forum would not consider buying a child.

Malgorzata Pomaranska-Bielecka, a doctoral student from Warsaw University who has studied the phenomenon of commercial adoption, said that the new proposals could ease the burden of guilt experienced by some adoptive parents.

“To date, participants in commercial adoption feared accusations of human trafficking. Now the threat of punishment falls only on the intermediary, the person who arranges the adoption for profit,” she said.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paedophile handed in by crooks

From: NPE
A collection of underage pornographic images were discovered when thieves broke into a man’s house in Bogatynia, Lower Silesia.

During the break-in, Arkadiusz R., 44, had his basement raided and his vast collection of illegal images were found.

“The thieves broke into his basement and the suspect was found under rather unusual circumstances.” says Pawel Petrykowskie of the Lower Silesia police.

And unusual circumstances they certainly were. Instead of making off with their intended collection of loot, the robbers stumbled across the disturbing images before passing the information onto the relevant authorities.

“In the apartment, the suspect had secured more than a dozen albums, all of which contained pornographic material involving minors under the age of 15 years.”

“To make matter worse, in addition to all of this, we found a number of pictures on his mobile phone.”

The suspect’s computer and telephone are now in the possession of the police experts and examinations are being carried out on all of the CDs and DVDs.

Arkadiusz R. has since been taken into police custody where he is now being questioned. For the possession of child pornography, he faces a potential five years behind bars.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Giertych slams Kaczynski

From: NPE
Giertych had a few choice words about Kaczynski's rule
A former education minister has launched a withering attack on Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accusing him of trying to obtain “absolute power” when he was prime minister.

Roman Giertych, who served in the Kaczynski cabinet during the 2005 to 2007 Law and Justice coalition government, pulled no punches in a savage character assessment of Mr Kaczynski.

Speaking before a parliamentary committee into illegal political influence, Mr Giertych accused the former prime minister of trying to remove the checks and balances that limited his power when in office.

“The president of Law and Justice wanted not only to guarantee his absolute authority, but to remove the ‘brakes’ on power and all those who interfered with him in the pursuit of this,” said Mr Giertych.

The ex-education minister, who led the League of Polish Families (LPR) as a junior partner in the PiS coalition government, claimed that Mr Kaczynski’s first target was the constitutional tribunal, which had frustrated PiS’s attempts to create its much lauded fourth republic.

According to Mr Giertych, the PiS leader instructed Zbigniew Ziobro, his justice minister, to draw up changes to the law that would limit the tribunal’s role and put more power into the hands of the president, Mr Kaczynski’s twin brother Lech.

He also wanted to shackle the press, which was giving his government a torrid time, by creating a new court, with its officials appointed by the president, to oversee and rule on any complaints against the media.

Along with striking out at institutions Mr Kaczynski, said the former education minister, also tried to control other politicians by gathering useful information that he could use against them. Along with employing this technique to try and keep his troublesome collation partners under his thumb, he also speculated using it against opposition politicians.

“He had a plan to gain absolute power by winning elections by pulling strings he had on people in the opposition,” said Mr Giertych.

He added that Mr Kaczynski had told him that he had information on the family affairs of Civic Platform (PO) leader Donald Tusk that could be used against him, as well as damaging material on other leading PO members.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A 14-year-old mother had five partners

From: News
16, 20, 25, 26 and 29 years old were the men who maintained intimate contacts with the then 13-year-old girl from a small village in the Pomorze region. She got pregnant with one of them and gave birth to the child in a school restroom. It took a few months to determine paternity.

The girl gave birth at the end of October. It happened in the restroom next to the gym’s changing room at the school which she attends. Before that, nobody had known that she was pregnant.

At the beginning, the girl claimed that she had been raped by two acquaintances from a nearby village. Both men were arrested but it turned out that they had not raped the girl, also neither of them was the father of the child. One of them was acquitted of all charges, the other man has been charged with statutory rape.

The search for the father continued. Eventually it turned out that the girl had had five partners. She got pregnant with the youngest one – nearly 16-year-old boy from the same village. As the girl’s mother put it, “they got on with each other” but “he wasn’t even her boyfriend”.

The little baby-girl is taken care of by her grandmother and the girl has returned to school. The men she slept with will be tried for statutory rape, which is punishable with imprisonment up to twelve years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The biggest Polish plantation of marijuana has been discovered

From: News-Poland
Instead of a dry-cleaner’s, the biggest plantation of cannabis in Poland. In a small village Radzwice (near Kórnik, in the Wielkopolska region), there were about ten thousands plants, occupying an area of nearly one thousand square metres.

The plantation had its own escape routes, leading to the forest nearby. It was also well prepared to a wholesale production of drugs. There were even special hidden trapdoors leading to a basement, where cultivation halls were located. The biggest plants were up to one and a half metre long.

However, the above mentioned escape routes did not work out. The police caught the whole band. Moreover, on the crime scene 150 kilograms of dried plants and 40 kilograms of a ready-to-sale marijuana were found. The value of the discovered drugs was estimated to be about one million zlotys.

All of the arrested are well known to the local police. They had been sentenced for battery and frauds, among others. For production illegal drugs on a big scale, they can be imprisoned for at least three years.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A man of 40 names disguised for a woman

From: News-Poland
He put a lot of effort into not getting caught. A couple of years ago, he travelled through Europe dressed up as a woman. He adopted 40 different identities. But his freedom has finally come to an end. Mariusz W. “Bronek,” one of the most wanted Polish criminals, got caught in Barcelona. According to the prosecution, he is responsible for murders, batteries and robberies.

“Mariusz W. was being tracked down for six years with four warrants of arrest, three European Warrants of Arrest, and a couple of orders of his conveyance. He is accused of murders, mugging, body damage, and thefts,” informed Agnieszka Hamelusz from the Press Department of the Police Headquarters.

She added that the apprehension was possible only thanks to the cooperation between the Polish and Spanish police. “Bronek” was caught in Barcelona. The pinpointing of his whereabouts and the arresting procedure posed serious difficulties, since he was using the identities of 40 different people. The Police from Gdansk even managed to establish that in the years 2001/2002 he was travelling through Europe pretending to be a woman,” added Hamelusz.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grievous after-Easter report

From: News-Poland
Since Friday, Polish police have detained almost 1.8 thousand drivers driving under the influence. During those four days of Easter, 27 persons died and 393 were injured in 292 accidents. These data are promising because they mean that there have been 25 per cent fewer accidents than in the previous year.

The countrywide police campaign connected with Easter started on Friday. Almost ten hundred policemen controlled, first of all, drivers' speed. “There were 20-25 per cent fewer accidents than last year” - told us Robert Horosz, a spokesperson of Polish Police Headquarters.

To compare: Last year during Easter, 35 persons died and 542 were injured in 382 car accidents. The police detained then as many as 1959 under the influence drivers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poland Ambassador: Delegation Likely Pressured Kaczynski Plane Captain

The captain of the Polish government plane, which crashed near Smolensk on Saturday, was likely pressured by the high-ranking delegation, said Poland’s Ambassador to Sofia, Andrzej Papierz.

“The easiest thing is to put the blame on the pilot because he was in charge but I would abstain from doing that,” His Excellency said talking to Bulgarian journalists after the service in the Catholic cathedral in Sofia honoring the memory of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the other 95 person who died in the horrific crash on their way to the Katyn Massacre remembrance ceremonies.

“I wouldn’t want to elaborate on this topic but I have traveled with such delegations many times, and I know that there is enormous pressure piling on the pilot in such cases even if the person in charge of the flight believes landing should not be attempted,” Papierz declared commenting on why the Polish pilot attempted to land at Smolensk even though he was advised by the Russian dispatchers to land in Minsk.

Papierz pointed out that a lot of people had gathered for the remembrance of the 70th year since the Katyn Massacre, and after landing at Smolensk, the VIP Polish delegation, which was led by President Kaczynski, had to travel another 15 km to the actual spot of the ceremonies. The Belorussian capital Minsk, where the plane was advised to land, is located 150 km away from the Katyn Massacre site, and the delegation probably decided that landing there would mean a huge delay.

Ambassador Papierz said he participated in the opening of the Polish military cemetery near Katyn 10 years ago, and knows the fatal airport at Smolensk where Kaczynski’s plane attempted to land.

“This is one of the many military airports, in the woods, I don’t see any fault on part of the Russians here. These are very narrow, surrounded by forests, there was a very thick fog, and this is what caused this tragedy,” Poland’s Ambassador in Sofia suggested as cited by BTA.

He said that authorities would probably be more careful in sending such large VIP delegations on one plane. In his words, the Bulgarian President travels the same way with his delegations when he visits foreign countries.

“We are not so rich as to have Air Force 1 planes, and to transport everyone individually. This is our reality. There has been much talk of buying new planes but the society is very sensitive towards such purchases; such decisions are viewed very negatively by the people, I think the situation in Bulgaria is similar. People see them as a kind of privilege, and as a result our government had two Tu-154 airplanes, and one of them crashed,” Papierz concluded.

He did stress that the specially appointed commission would have to investigate and find out what exactly happened with the plane.

“There are many personal tragedies here. The President’s mother was brought home from the hospital yesterday, she is in a very serious condition. She probably has not even been told that her son perished,” said the Polish Ambassador.

The one-week mourning in Poland for the casualties of the horrific crash started on Sunday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Clemency for Polish rapist?

The District Court in Poznan, mid western Poland, has postponed till Wednesday, a review of a petition for the pardon of Jakub Tomczak (pictured) convicted to a double-life prison term by a UK court for a brutal rape.

The man was sentenced in January 2008 to double life imprisonment by a British court after being found guilty of the rape and battery of a 48 year-old woman in Exeter, southwest England. The attack was so brutal the woman has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

Tomczak’s case has set a legal precedent as, originally, the Polish court had not evaluated any of the evidence at the trial, limiting its verdict to the duration of imprisonment in Poland ruled by the British side. Though it upheld the sentence, the Polish penal code does not envisage “double life imprisonment”.

Tomczak’s family filed the request for a pardon with the Presidential Chancellery with over 6,500 signatures in support. They claim Jakub Tomczak’s case had not been fully reviewed by the court in Exeter and the fact that the victim was a local police employee and her husband a policeman, stirred public emotions and subsequently could have influenced the court’s decision.

Tomczak, then back in Poznan, voluntarily gave a DNA sample to police after he was suspected of committing the crime. The DNA matched a semen sample from the scene of the crime.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Virgin Mary puts drivers’ lives at risk?

From: The news
The Roads and Transportation Office has asked archdiocese in the central city of Lodz to remove ads informing about an exhibition of the holy icon of Black Madonna of Czestochowa in a local church - because they constitute a health and safety risk.

The road administration office claims that the banners and decorations are not fixed properly and when the wind blows they fall on passing by cars - which is not very conducive to safe driving.

Besides, the office stresses, the ads are, in effect, Catholic propaganda and the archdiocese did not get a permit to display them, nor have they paid for it.

The Roads and Transportation Office’s call to remove the adverts has been fiercely criticized by members of the Lodz Citizen Alliance, who say that even communist authorities would not dare to forbid the exposition of the holy icon.

The conservative Law and Justice city councilors also condemned the office’s decision and promised to reverse it.

After the city authority’s intervention, head of the Roads and Transportation Office Maciej Winsche apologized to the archdiocese for the “inappropriate form and content of the letter”.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Corruption in Poland’s armed forces

From: The News
Nine people, including soldiers, reserve officers and civil workers in the Polish Armed Forces, have been charged for fixing tenders on military equipment.

The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau has revealed that the armed forces lost several million zloty as a result of corruption.

“The Military Prosecutor’s Office in the western city of Poznan, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Military Gendarmerie opened an investigation on the case several months ago. They established that the suspects formed a kind of criminal group which aimed at cornering the military market in Poland,” says Jacek Dobrzynski from the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The suspects are accused of giving and taking bribes, fixing tenders, not meeting their obligations and exceeding their authority, revealing official secrets and belonging to a criminal group.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Perhaps an answer to the great question concerning Poland: Poles smoke and drink while pregnant

From: The News
The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate has released alarming statistics that 14 percent of Polish women consume alcohol while pregnant and 38 percent smoke cigarettes.

The statistics are the result of a survey conducted by the Health Ministry and the Inspectorate in June 2009 in 382 clinics throughout Poland – about 3,300 women were polled.

“These statistics explain why there are so many babies lying in hospital incubators crying because they are addicted to alcohol or nicotine,” says Professor Anna Dobrzanska, one of the doctors who worked on the survey.

Despite such health risks, 11 percent of Polish women claim to smoke regularly while pregnant, 38 percent admit to having smoked cigarettes on occasion and 14 percent say that they have consumed alcohol while pregnant. One in one hundred women surveyed admitted to having taken narcotics while pregnant as well.

Health Minister Ewa Kopacz says that mothers must be provided with clear information about how their actions while pregnant affect their unborn child – both how it affects the baby’s weight, immune system, height and general health after birth.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I too am a female smoker – I was when I was pregnant and I smoked when I breast-fed,” admits Kopacz.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hotline for black students in Poland

From: The News
Another racist attack on a black student in Warsaw has spurred his university into action.

Collegium Civitas, which has about 50 African students, joined hands with the Different Africa Foundation to create a support line for black students with funds obtained from the EU and the labor ministry.

Africans in Warsaw, as well as other cities, say they hear racist insults on a daily basis and attacks on them are not isolated incidents.

When in trouble, they can now phone the hotline, which is operated in three languages: English, French and Portuguese by Africans who have lived in Warsaw for years, know the city and its people.

They will offer help not only in crisis situations, but are also ready to give advice on where to buy African food in Warsaw or where to go. A website was also created with Collegium Civitas and Warsaw University students as moderators to enable Africans and Poles to exchange views.

Last May, Collegium Civitas appealed to the Warsaw city mayor to launch an anti-racist campaign and asked the municipal police department to start an English language help line for African students.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Yet another 64 caught in child porn sting

From: The News
Sixty-four people from around Poland have been detained on charges related to child pornography, under sting operation ‘Charly,’ a cooperation between Polish Luxembourg police.

“The investigation opened when police from Luxembourg discovered a server containing thousands of pornographic photographs of children from which dozens of Polish people were downloading photos,” stated Agnieszka Hamelusz, from the press office at the National Police Headquarters.

The Luxembourg police provided their Polish counterparts with IP addresses, allowing local police to indentify the locations of the computers containing pornographic material.

During the sting operation, which took place simultaneously in 14 provinces around Poland, 56 computers, 1600 CDs and DVDs and 21 hard drives were seized.

This is the third such crack down on child pornography in Poland already this year. In February, police arrested 12 people for distribution of underage porn in cooperation with German police. In January, 120 people were detained on similar charges.

Between 2007-2009, Polish police have detained over 1,000 people suspected to being involved in the distribution of child pornography, 299 of those detained were arrested and charged.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

'Sexist' Polish mammogram campaign 'encourages molestation'

From: Telegraph
The Opole cancer hospital sent letters in recent months to company directors in south-western Poland asking them to encourage female employees to have breast cancer checks.

The letters contained the campaign slogan: "I check the breasts of my employees myself."

Joanna Piotrowska, of the feminist Feminoteka group, said the slogan was sexist and that it encouraged molestation and treating employees like property.

Krystyna Raczynska, who ran the hospital campaign, said the hospital had tried to use humour in order to draw attention to the issue. She said no offence was intended.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

5 million cigarettes stolen from truck in Germany

From: AP
Thieves have stolen more than 5 million cigarettes from a truck at a highway rest area in western Germany as its driver slept in the cab.

Police said Tuesday that the thieves spirited away the cigarettes at some point during the night — emptying about half of the vehicle's trailer. They believe the booty was loaded onto other vehicles and driven away.

The 35-year-old Polish driver had parked his vehicle and was asleep in the cab at a rest area on the A2 highway near Dortmund. Police said the stolen cigarettes likely were worth more than euro1 million ($1.35 million).

Friday, April 02, 2010

Trainer denies shots contained EPO

From: ESPN
Kornelia Marek
A trainer for the Polish cross-country skier who tested positive for EPO at the Vancouver Olympics has acknowleged giving her injections but denies they contained banned substances.

Vitali Trypolski said Tuesday from his home in Kiev, Ukraine, that the injections he gave to Kornelia Marek contained no EPO. He said he did not know how the banned blood-boosting hormone got into her system and refused to say what the injections were.

Poland's Ski Association has suspended Marek and fired Trypolski. A commission is to question Marek and Trypolski about the case.

Marek tested positive after helping Poland finish sixth in the women's 20K relay.

The IOC is also investigating. Marek could be disqualified retroactively and stripped of her results.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Poland ceases to exist; Sells name to corporate sponsor

(Warsaw, IKEA) The country formerly known as Poland has sold its naming rights to corporate giant IKEA. The deal was struck in a meeting of the IKEA board of directors and ministers of the previously Polish state.

“The thing is,” Donald Tusk, prime minister of the used to be ethnically named territory, “In the current business climate, decisions need to be made which allow for the balancing of budgets and for accommodations to be made. Corporations have been buying the naming rights to sport stadiums for years and this doesn’t stop anyone from going to them, so we say said, hey, we have got to get in on this scam.”

The new official name of the territory will be either Ikea-vania, the Ikea-lands or simply IKEA.

Lech Kaczynski, president of the country which might have been Poland, added in that the choice was also influenced by his own Ikea experiences. “I like the meatballs at the food courts.”

Dag Sorenstam, spokesman for Ingvar Kamprad, the original fonder of the global IKEA chain explained to reporters, “A good corporation needs to be aware of the trends of the market place. We saw a potentially undeveloped market and exploited the situation, which is what we do. People like to come to Ilea stores. We have everything you want in an IKEA store.”

The name change officially begins next Tuesday with the unveiling of the new blue and yellow IKEA flag, which is to be flown over all public meetings, on holidays and over government buildings. The right facing, crowned bird symbol of Poland is also to be replaced with a depiction of an end table.

“It was logical to understand,” Continued Sorenstam, “They had employee problems and with corruption and with people running away. They had great budget issues and a bad reputation. We felt we could turn things around for them image wise and that this would help to rebuild how they are seen in the world. I mean, say a man tells his wife: I am going to Poland on business. Is she going to believe him? Hell no! He might as well say: Oh, I am going to drink beer and chase prostitutes, because that is what she would be thinking. IKEA is a cleaner, safer place. People all over the world like coming to us. And the people of, you know, that country, they wanted a piece of the action and to try and make an image someone might believe in for a change.”

The cost of the 10 year naming rights contract included PLN 20 million (5.18m Euro, $7 million USD) in cash, and the use of an IKEA discount card for the people of the president’s office and members of the Ikea-nise Selm.

This is the second time the name Poland has disappeared from the map. From 1795 to 1918, the three partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, and 1795) culminated in Poland's being erased from the map of Europe and its territories being divided between Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

“Come on,” Added, Kaczynski, “IKEA’s cool. And it’s not like we’ve never done it before…”