HAGEL OFFERS CONDOLENCES.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak to express his condolences for the loss of a Polish soldier serving with international forces in Afghanistan. Hagel thanked Poland for its steadfast support of the ISAF mission, and its continued leadership in NATO and within the European community.
He also expressed his appreciation for Poland’s understanding of changes to the European Phased Adaptive Array missile defense system
(see next story).
Finally, Hagel lauded Polish efforts to modernize its armed forces. He repeated the United States’ appreciation for the close working
relationship with Poland, and expressed his desire to further deepen U.S.-Polish ties.
U.S. SAYS MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM NOT ENDANGERED. U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman paid a visit to Warsaw to reassure Poland
over recent changes in a European missile defense system.
A few days earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the United States was abandoning the final (fourth) stage of its Eastern
European missile defense plan with the focus shifted to perceived threats from Iran and North Korea. As a result, deployment of several ballistic missile interceptors in Poland will be scrapped.
However, the third missile shield construction phase in Poland is not endangered, Sherman said in Warsaw, and shorter-range interceptors would
still be based in Poland as part of NATO’s missile defense system in Europe.
She added that Poland knew about changes in the fourth phase before the announcement.
The Obama administration has planned to put medium-range interceptors in Redzikowo, in northern Poland, starting in 2018, as part of the NATO
system. They are meant to protect Europe from attacks from Iran.
Sherman said the Polish site “will go forward as scheduled.”
FIRST STOP: POLAND. Paul McCartney will kick off a world tour in Warsaw on June 22, four days after he turns 71, the former
Beatle’s official website announced.
McCartney’s appearance at the National Stadium will be his first-ever show in Poland, said www.paulmccartney.com, adding that his
“Out There!” tour would feature music from his entire career.
McCartney will also perform in Vienna on June 27, the website said, with confirmed dates for concerts in other cities to be announced.
BASIA JOHNSON DEAD. Barbara “Basia” Piasecka Johnson, 76, a Polish farmer’s daughter who worked as a maid for an
American heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune before marrying him and eventually inheriting much of his wealth, has died.
Her death was announced by her family in Warsaw’s daily, Rzeczpospolita, saying only she died “after a long and serious
illness.” Johnson was buried April 15 in Wroclaw, the southwestern Polish city where she grew up.
Johnson became embroiled in a nasty feud over the Johnson & Johnson fortune after her husband, J. Seward Johnson Sr., died in 1983. She
prevailed over his six children, getting much of the money. In 2007, Johnson was listed on the Forbes 400 World’s Richest People list with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, making her the
149th richest person.
YOU CALL THIS SPRING? Heavy snows plagued Poland over the Easter weekend, leaving more than 80,00 homes in central Poland without
electricity because of the unseasonably heavy snowfall. Over 30,00 homes in the major city of Bialystok alone were without power.
Police recorded 162 traffic accidents which resulted in sixteen fatalities and 232 injuries.
COMPROMISED REACHED. A compromise has been reached over church funding in Poland, said Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Archbishop of Warsaw,
and Michal Boni, Minister of Administration and Digitization.
Talks began in April 2012 between government ministers and the Roman Catholic Church after the government announced plans to eliminate the
state’s Church Fund as part of austerity measures.
Although about 28 million dollars per year will be cut from state spending, as a result of the compromise, tax-paying Poles will be allowed to
give from 0.8 to one percent of their income tax to the church. The government had proposed 0.3 percent.
The vast majority of church funding — about 80 percent — already comes from donations by church members.
Separate government talks with representatives of Poland’s smaller religious denominations are set to begin. As ninety percent of
Poland’s population is Roman Catholic, the majority of the annual funding has gone to the Catholic Church.
HOLOCAUST DOCUMENTS UNVEILED. Meticulous records kept by the Nazis detailing the fate of 17.5 million of their World War II victims
have been rediscovered in the German town of Bad Arolsen. The archive shelves, stretching 16 miles and containing 50 million pages of documents, are gradually being made public. They were confined to
secret storage after World War II by the victorious allies out of concern for the privacy of the victims and also for political reasons.
Among the records are details about many of the imprisoned and murdered Jews, Christians, Russians, and others, including 1,900 priests who
met horrific deaths under the German and Russian aggression. The archive stands as incontrovertible proof of the World War II exterminations which refute the ignorant and wilful claims of holocaust
deniers. The “60 Minutes” segment detailing the archives is available on YouTube.
“CAPPUCCINO FOR AFRICA.” A group of Capuchin friars in Poland used the order’s historical link to cappuccino to raise
money to help Africans.
Coffee shops in six Polish cities joined in the three-day action “Cappuccino for Africa” for missions that the Krakow-based friars
are running in the Central African Republic and Chad.
Capuchin monks have been often credited with inspiring the name for the frothy coffee drink because of their coffee-colored habits.
A project coordinator, Piotr Gajda, said a friar got the idea for the charity last year while drinking a coffee, and
wondering how the order’s association with the pleasurable drink could be used to help the missions. The group says proceeds from selling one cappuccino in Poland will provide 10 hot meals for
children in the central African republic.