In Polish lake region, city folk becoming cheesemakers | AFP

Known for its many large lakes, Poland’s Masuria region is home to more than a few former city dwellers who fled to the countryside to become small independent farmers.

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Pandemic brings panic, solidarity to Polish sex industry | AFP

The coronavirus pandemic has closed down Poland’s strip clubs and massage parlours, leaving many sex workers struggling to make ends meet but also inspiring solidarity via an online fundraising campaign.

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Trump’s Dangerous Coronavirus Name Game is Part of a Long, Crazy History

For the second day in a row, President Trump opened a press conference today devoted to an outbreak that has now killed more than 200 Americans without saying the word “coronavirus.” Instead, he substituted his chosen name: “The Chinese Virus.”

Other Republicans are also racing to rebrand the virus that causes COVID-19. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called it “Chinese Coronavirus,” while Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar is trying to make “Wuhan Virus” a thing. One White House official even allegedly referred to the global pandemic as “Kung-Flu.”

The World Health Organization intentionally avoids this, and advises against any possible nickname for a disease that calls up people, places, groups, or even professions, because those names can create a stigma. Even the Trump-appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, told the House in a hearing that using location-specific labels for the virus is “absolutely wrong and inappropriate.”

There is a long, inglorious history of naming diseases after disdained groups. In 1495, Russians called a syphilis outbreak the Polish Disease, the Polish called it the German Disease, and the French and Italians named it after each other. The 1918 flu pandemic that infected over a quarter of the world’s population is still referred to as “The Spanish Flu,” even though there is no consensus on where that outbreak originated. Spain just happened to have the most reliable reporting at the time, as other countries censored their press to boost morale during World War I. Because Spain reported the first illness-related death, it got stuck with the name.

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Coronavirus: in Poland, priests celebrate Mass in empty churches | AFP

At the call of the Polish episcopate to fight the epidemic of coronavirus, Catholic worshippers remain at home to pray on Sunday, leaving priests who wish to celebrate Mass in empty churches.

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Today in History for January 17th

Highlights of Today in History: Benjamin Franklin born; Soviet and Polish forces liberate Warsaw; Eisenhower farewell address; Japan earthquake; Al Capone is born;Muhammad Ali born.

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The prolific rise of Polish chicken | AFP

With more than a billion slaughtered in 2018, Poland has become the leading European chicken producer and exporter in just ten years, overtaking its European competition. But profitability at all costs is alarming animal rights advocates.

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Polish far-right groups march, filling Warsaw streets with red smoke | AFP

Polish far-right groups demonstrate in the country’s capital, holding up banners and taking to the streets with red flares on the country’s National Independence Day. IMAGES

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Polish far-right groups gather for march in Warsaw | AFP

Polish far-right groups gather for a march in the country’s capital. In October’s elections, Confederation, a new far-right libertarian coalition known for its anti-EU views, made it over the five percent threshold to enter parliament with 11 seats. IMAGES

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Saudi Arabia hopes tourism pioneers will bring economic bonanza | AFP

In Riyadh’s old quarter, a small group of Polish holidaymakers exploring the mud-brick Masmak Fort were making history as some of the first foreign tourists to visit Saudi Arabia since it opened its doors.

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Populists win Polish election, expand majority: exit poll | AFP

Supporters of Jarosław Kaczyński celebrate the PiS victory at party headquarters as Poland’s incumbent right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party won a general election in Poland on Sunday, expanding its majority, according to an exit poll by the Ipsos institute. IMAGES

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Polish politician Robert Biedron votes in the parliamentary elections | AFP

Robert Biedron, the leader of the progressive Spring party, votes in Warsaw in the country’s parliamentary elections. IMAGES

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Nobel Literature Prizes announced for 2018 and 2019 | AFP

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk wins the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize and Austrian Peter Handke the 2019 prize. Olga Tokarczuk, considered the most talented Polish novelist of her generation, has a string of bestsellers to her name and a style that blends the real with the mystical. Handke is a novelist, playwright and translator that the Swedish Academy praised for his “influential work”. SOUNDBITE

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Polish community thrives in northern France 100 years after post-war wave of immigration | AFP

One hundred years after immigrating to the mining hotbed of Nord-Pas-de-Calais at the end of the First World War, the Polish community and its culture remain firmly established. A restaurant run by the grandson of an immigrant keeps traditions going strong through traditional menus, songs and dancing.

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Renia Spiegel, ‘Poland’s Anne Frank’, gets her due | AFP

Stowed for several decades in a bank safe, the diary of Renia Spiegel, a young Polish Jew who was murdered at the age of 18 by the Nazis in 1942 and nicknamed “the Polish Anne Frank”, has now been published and adapted to the big screen. The Polish premiere of the film “Broken Dreams”, telling the story of Renia Spiegel and her sister during the Nazi occupation, took place this month in Warsaw, attended by members of Spiegel’s family.

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Fridays for Future: Climate strike in the Polish capital | AFP

People take to the streets of Polish capital Warsaw as part of the global Fridays for Future climate strike. Young people from around the world are leading a massive coordinated strike from school on Friday to protest government and business inaction on climate change. It is likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in history. The strikes are inspired by Greta Thunberg, who rose to fame after she began sitting outside the Swedish parliament in August last year to get members to act on climate change. IMAGES of the climate strike in Warsaw

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Polish and German heads of state commemorate WWII 80th anniversary | AFP

The Polish and German Presidents, Andrzej Duda and Frank Walter Steinmeier, together commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War in Wielun, the first city bombed by Nazis on 1 September 1939.

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Poland, Germany recall first WWII Nazi bombs 80 years on | AFP

The heads of state of Poland and Germany mark 80 years since the outbreak of history’s bloodiest conflict with a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun, where the first World War II bombs fell. IMAGES

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Ukrainian President Zelensky arrives in Poland for official visit | AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda during his official visit of Poland, to mark 80 years since the outbreak of World War Two. IMAGES

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Wielun: the first civilian casualties of Nazi Germany | AFP

The city of Wielun is claimed to be the first civilian target of the Second World War. On the same day, on September 1, 1939, as Nazi Germany attacked Gdansk in the north of Poland, the Luftwaffe bombed Wielun killing over a hundred civilians and destroying nearly three quarters of the town. Despite not having any military targets historians claim Nazi Germany decided to bomb Wielun because it was home to a significant Polish community and no German diaspora, unlike other towns near the border.

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