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Poland Politics

The Polish government said Tuesday that it will not support a global compact seeking international cooperation on migration, citing national sovereignty as it joins countries including Hungary, Austria and the United States in rejecting it. | 11/20/18
The Polish government and the organizers of a yearly march organized by nationalist groups have agreed to hold a joint march on the 100th anniversary of Poland's rebirth as a state on Sunday. | 11/10/18
Poland’s government is drafting new laws to rush its purge of the Supreme Court, racing ahead of efforts by the European Union to halt what authorities in Brussels view as a rapid erosion in rule of law. | 7/13/18
Poland’s government is drafting new laws to rush its purge of the Supreme Court, racing ahead of efforts by the European Union to halt what authorities in Brussels view as a rapid erosion in rule of law. | 7/13/18
The head of Poland’s Supreme Court defied a new judicial overhaul that has put the nationalist government on a confrontation course with the European Union, showing up to work despite a controversial new law forcing her ouster. | 7/4/18
Malgorzata Gersdorf showed up for work despite being barred by new rules giving the government more control of the judiciary. Hundreds of demonstrators cheered her on. | 7/4/18
The head of Poland’s top court defied a controversial overhaul of the judiciary, showing up for work surrounded by protesters after a decision that has put the nationalist government on a confrontation course with the EU. | 7/4/18
Anti-government protesters rallied in front of Poland's Supreme Court in Warsaw on Wednesday to show support for the rule of law and for the court's president, who is being forced to retire under a new judicial overhaul. | 7/4/18
There was an outcry when Poland made it illegal to say the country was complicit in Nazi war crimes. | 6/27/18

He was soccer’s most flamboyant, controversial and headline-grabbing goalkeeper of all time.

And as this summer’s World Cup begins to feature nail-biting goalie heroics and blunders of its own, commentators are resurrecting highlights of Colombian keeper René “El Loco” (“The Madman”) Higuita’s life and career.

On the field, there were nonsensical moves, such as this one he invented in a Colombia-England match in 1995, dubbed “the scorpion,” and, for perhaps obvious reasons, never tried before or since by a goalie in a major competitive match.

Off the field, he was even more controversial.

Higuita was an avowed close friend of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. In 1993, he was thrown in jail for allegedly carrying ransom money to free the daughter of drug baron Carlos Molina. Although Higuita was mysteriously released without charge seven months later, he missed the 1994 World Cup in the United States because he had been unable to adequately train while behind bars, according to soccer publication

With a bushy hairdo bigger than his wife’s, he was part of a generation of Colombian players known for their flair and controversy. He was a contemporary of the yellow-maned Carlos Valderrama, as well as Andrês Escobar (no relation to Pablo), who was gunned down execution style in 1994, days after committing a World Cup-ending own goal against the United States.

Late in Higuita’s career, he played in the Ecuadorian league, but in 2004 served a suspension after testing positive for cocaine, per

The next year, he became a local reality TV star on La isla de los famosos, Colombia’s answer to Survivor. He was also voted Colombia’s “ugliest icon” by TV viewers.

It must have hurt. While many international soccer players have been coy about whether they’ve had plastic surgery, Higuita changed his look in the most public way possible.

“I am tired of being ugly René,” he said before going under the knife live on the Colombian show Cambio Extremo, according to The Guardian. “I want to be handsome René.” His televised procedures included nose surgery, a chin implant, skin peels and eyelid cutaway, liposuction and muscle enhancement. A month later, he revealed the new him.

“Bodily, I am perfect,” he said.

After a stint as a goalkeeping coach in Saudi Arabia, he returned to his hometown club, Atlético Nacional, to coach its goalies.

After reports in 2017 that leaders of the former guerrilla group FARC wanted him to run for Congress in Colombia, Higuita demurred that he didn’t have the “academic preparation” for the role. But he has expressed an interest in becoming more active in politics.

Golden Ball meets Scorpion Kick . @higuitarene @OliverKahn

— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) June 19, 2018

These days he can be seen on Twitter, cheering for Colombia, Peru and Mexico in the World Cup, and appearing as a guest commentator on German TV.

The Colombian national team, which could use an injection of Higuita’s bravado after its 2-1 loss to Japan on June 19, will play its second group-stage match against Poland. The game will be broadcast live this Sunday at 2 p.m. EST on Fox. | 6/20/18
Officials in Poland say the government is done trying to satisfy European Union concerns about ongoing changes to the country's judicial system. | 6/10/18
Robert Biedron is one of Poland's rising political stars and tipped to run for president. | 5/28/18
Robert Biedron is one of Poland's rising political stars and tipped to run for president. | 5/28/18

We now know what Cate Blanchett’s jury thought of the films that screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival: “a very strong year,” she said at the jury’s festival-ending press conference. And we know what buyers thought of the festival lineup: not bad, judging by the deals.

But what will Oscar voters think?

That’s always a tricky question, because the connection between the world’s most prestigious film festival and the world’s most celebrated film award can fluctuate wildly. In 2011, for example, three of the films that screened at the festival — “The Artist,” “The Tree of Life” and “Midnight in Paris” — landed Best Picture nominations, with “The Artist” winning.

But the success rate hasn’t approached that since then, although 2016 had an impressive across-the-board showing: One Best Picture nominee (“Hell of High Water”), the Best Foreign Language Film winner (“The Salesman”), six other nominees in the Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Feature categories and eight more films submitted by their home countries in the foreign language race.

Also Read: 'Shoplifters' Wins Palme d'Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival

Last year, though, was more typical: two foreign nominees (“The Square” and “Loveless”), one supporting actor nominee (Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project”) and one documentary nominee (“Faces Places”), with no winners among them.

Realistically, this year’s crop of Cannes films will probably fare similarly once Oscar voters get a look at them. The only film that screened at the festival or one of its sidebars that has a significant chance of landing a Best Picture nomination is Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” which could well be in the conversation once U.S. audiences get a look at it later this summer.

Lee’s film, which mixes humor with incendiary anger and looks at the state of America today through a story set in the 1970s, is timely enough and strong enough to be a real player, though it will likely divide critics and audiences in America more than it did in Cannes.

Also Read: 'BlacKkKlansman' Cannes Review: Spike Lee Looks Back - and Forward - in Anger

Otherwise, Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” seems destined for below-the-line categories at best, while a surge of attention for Paul Dano’s understated “Wildlife,” which premiered at Sundance but also screened in Cannes’ Critics’ Week sidebar, could make it a dark-horse contender in the adapted screenplay category.

A few Cannes documentaries could also have a shot, foremost among them Kevin Macdonald’s “Whitney,” which drew headlines out of Cannes for its allegations that Whitney Houston was sexually abused as a child by a relative. Wim Wenders’ “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” will likely be in the conversation, and so might be “The State Against Mandela and the Others” and “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache.”

But really, the most fruitful connection between Cannes and the Oscars this year will likely come in the foreign language category. Only six of the 93 countries that submitted films to the Oscars last year chose Cannes entries, but we could easily see double that many submissions come from this year’s festival.

While the individual committees that select each country’s entry can be making their decisions on the basis of politics, cronyism and lots of other factors, a Cannes berth is a powerful sign that the film might have international interest.

Also Read: 'Capharnaum' Film Review: Nadine Labaki's Searing Drama Brings Tears, Ovations

Among the no-brainer selections: Lebanon’s “Capharnaum,” the Jury Prize winner and the film that received the longest and loudest ovation of the festival; Poland’s “Cold War” from director Pawel Pawlikowski, whose last film, “Ida,” won the foreign language Oscar; Belgium’s “Girl,” which won the Camera d’Or and the Un Certain Regard performance award; Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” from a director (Ciro Guerra) whose last film was an Oscar nominee; and Turkey’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” whose director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has been responsible for four previous Turkish submissions.

Kenya’s “Rafiki,” a same-sex romance that is the first Kenyan film ever accepted to the Oscars, would be an easy choice if it hadn’t been banned in its home country — though if the submitting committee is independent enough to choose it, the ban could give it a boost. First-time director A.B. Shawky’s “Yomeddine” seems likely to be the Egyptian entry, while the Cannes acting award that went to Samal Yesyamova should be enough to put “Ayka” at the top of Kazakhstan’s submission list.

The Icelandic film “Woman at War,” which was bought by Magnolia for the U.S., comes from Benedikt Erlingsson, whose brilliant “Of Horses and Men” was the country’s 2013 submission, though it may have been too weird for Oscar voters. Portugal’s soccer story “Diamantino” seems a logical choice, as does Hungary’s “One Day.”

Countries like France and Italy always have a plethora of choices, which holds true this year even if they don’t consider anything except Cannes movies. Italy, for example, could opt for Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” which won the festival’s best actor award and is from the director of the acclaimed “Gomorrah” (which Oscar voters didn’t go for); or Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro,” a fable that won the screenplay award and was widely thought to be a real Palme d’Or contender.

Also Read: 'Happy as Lazzaro' Film Review: Alice Rohrwacher Charts the Course of a Holy Fool

And France has a variety of possibilities, including Christophe Honore’s “Sorry Angel,” Stephane Brize’s “At War,” Vanessa Filho’s “Angel Face,” Gilles Lellouche’s audience-friendly “Sink or Swim,” Camille Vidal-Naquet’s “Sauvage” or even Gaspar Noe’s hallucinatory “Climax.”

But France could also opt for Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun,” a tough but mainstream war movie about an all-female unit fighting terrorists. It didn’t fare well with Cannes critics, but it could easily become a favorite of the Academy’s foreign language voters.

The biggest question marks might surround the Asian films. Japan, China and South Korea swing between submitting critical favorites and trying to second-guess Oscar voters by choosing less daring movies or big epics. So while China has strong candidates in Jia Zhang-Ke’s “Ash Is Purest White” or Bi Gan’s rapturously received “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” it’s anybody’s guess as to whether their selection committee will deem those films acceptable. Likewise with South Korea and Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning,” which was clearly the hit of the festival, and Japan with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’Or.

Also Read: 'Shoplifters' Cannes Review: Is the Seventh Time a Charm for Hirokazu Kore-eda?

The director of the last of those films has been down this road before. In an interview with TheWrap in 2014, Kore-eda admitted that he was disappointed when “Like Father, Like Son,” which won the Jury Prize in Cannes, was passed over in favor of “The Great Passage” when Japan made its 2013 Oscar submission.

“But honestly, given the track record of how that committee in Japan decides on their films, I was not surprised,” he said. “The committee isn’t particularly interested in the world’s criteria on these films.”

Oh, one more thing:

Lars von Trier’s “The House That Jack Built”? Not a chance.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Asia Argento Condemns Harvey Weinstein During Cannes Awards: 'This Festival Was His Hunting Ground' (Video)

Is the Cannes Film Festival in Decline? Not to the French

Netflix Lands Cannes Award Winners 'Happy as Lazzaro' and 'Girl' | 5/20/18
A court in eastern Poland has acquitted environmentalists who had blocked government-ordered logging in one of Europe's last pristine forests that has been condemned by the European Union. | 5/11/18
The White House says U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an act that Jewish groups praise as helpful in their efforts to reclaim lost property in Poland, but which the Polish government says is discriminatory toward Poles. | 5/10/18
Gazeta Wyborcza, Warsaw – In 2017, the Polish government authorized the cutting of between 160,000 and 180,000 trees in the Bia?owieza Primeval Forest. A measure which the European Court of Justice considers an infringement of the EU’s Habitat Directive, requiring member states to take appropriate conservation measures for special areas. See more . | 4/20/18
Poland's prime minister says the government plans to spend up to $8.8 billion by 2028 on cleaner heating as part of its efforts to fight smog. | 4/12/18
Politicians' salaries will be reduced and bonuses recently paid to government ministers will go to charity, the head of Poland's ruling party said Thursday following a public outcry. | 4/5/18

WARSAW, Poland — The Latest on the diplomatic fallout over the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in Britain (all times local):

7:45 a.m.

Russia's Embassy in Canberra has accused Australia of blindly following Britain by deciding to expel two Russian diplomats.

The Australian government says the two are undeclared intelligence officers and must leave within seven days in response to the recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain.

Poland's government is distancing itself from comments made by the prime minister's father, who claimed Jews willingly entered ghettos during the German occupation of Poland to escape their non-Jewish neighbors. | 3/22/18

WARSAW, Poland — Hundreds of Poles have gathered in Warsaw to express their solidarity with Jews who perished in the Holocaust, were expelled from Poland 50 years ago or feel targeted by a new wave of anti-Semitism today.

Speakers at the demonstration denounced policies of the current Polish government that have led to a dispute with Israel and sparked a wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

WARSAW, Poland — The Latest on the Polish Senate's vote to regulate Holocaust speech (all times local):

8:55 p.m.

The Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group, is calling pending legislation in Poland regulating Holocaust speech an "outrage" and is accusing Poland's conservative government of trying to whitewash history.

The organization calls it an "ill-conceived attempt to whitewash the widespread participation of individual Poles in the persecution and murder of Jews during the Holocaust."

A diplomatic dispute between Poland and Israel over pending legislation that would outlaw blaming Poland for the crimes of the Holocaust has led to an outburst of anti-Semitic comments in Poland, including some in the government-controlled media. | 1/30/18

Prince William and Kate Middleton kicked off their four-day tour of Sweden and Norway on the ice!

The royals visited an outdoor ice-skating rink in the center of Stockholm on Tuesday to learn more about one of the country’s most popular sports: bandy hockey. And they rolled out the red carpet for Will and Kate as they stepped onto the ice to challenge each other to a fun penalty shoot out!

While Kate is a proven athlete, she came in second to William, losing 2-1.

The royal mom, who is expecting her third child in April, kept warm in a black Burberry coat and sweater by Swedish designer Fjallraven, as she met with a group of local bandy players on the ice, which is situated in the middle of a public park.

The Duchess takes a shot at goal! #RoyalVisitSweden

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) January 30, 2018

They shared hot chocolate with the school children and were then given their own bandy hockey jerseys.

She and William beat the chilly temperatures by taking sips from a flask (they drank an alcohol-free ripple!). The flask was brought in a bandy portfolj, a briefcase that traditionally contains a flask of warm wine or coffee laced with alcohol.

William and Kate sip from a drink brought them in the traditional Bandy briefcase

— Simon Perry (@SPerryPeoplemag) January 30, 2018

Bandy hockey, which is now played in the Winter Olympics, differs from traditional hockey in that it is played with a curved stick. And instead of a puck, players use a ball.

The royals, who are staying at the residence of the British ambassador in the capital, touched down in Sweden on Monday evening, after welcoming Prince George and Princess Charlotte home from school in London. Unlike their summer tour of Poland and Germany last year, the couple are traveling without their children on this tour.

Following their first event, Will and Kate will travel to the Royal Palace of Stockholm to attend a luncheon hosted by King Carl KVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel were also in attendance. Victoria and Daniel have a lot in common with the British royals. In addition to being the future King and Queen, they are also parents to two young children: 5-year-old Princess Estelle and 1-year-old Prince Oscar.

Following the luncheon, Will and Kate, accompanied by Victoria and Daniel, will walk through the picturesque cobbled streets of Stockholm from the royal palace to the Nobel Museum. From the Nobel Museum, they will travel to Ark Des, Sweden’s national center for architecture and design.

Later in the evening, they will attend a black tie dinner at the residence of the British ambassador, attended by members of the Swedish royal family, and representatives from government, and popular culture, including Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and actors Stellan Skarsgård and Alicia Vikander.

Kate, who is expecting her third child in April, will keep a busy schedule this week, missing just one event during their visit to Norway so that she can pace herself during the four-day tour, according to a royal spokesman. | 1/30/18
Bulgaria will join Poland in an appeal against a European Commission decision to impose stricter limits on toxic pollutants coal-fired plants emit, the government said on Wednesday (10 January). | 1/11/18
If the European Union confronts the populist, nationalist government in Warsaw, it can prove that it stands for something. | 1/11/18
Poland’s new prime minister fired some of the most nationalistic members of his government on Tuesday, ahead of a Brussels visit aimed at easing tensions with the European Union as the bloc considers budget changes that could see deep spending cuts in Eastern Europe. | 1/10/18
Ministers with combative reputations in Brussels have been dismissed. But the policies at heart of the dispute remain unlikely to alter. | 1/9/18
Poland's new prime minister is set to reshuffle his cabinet before heading off to Brussels for talks with top European Union officials. | 1/9/18
The Polish government says the register enables parents to check for paedophiles living in their area. | 1/4/18
The Supreme Court chief justice warns Poland could fall into an "abyss" over its judicial reforms. | 12/23/17

WARSAW, Poland — The Polish government has donated 100 million zlotys ($28 million) to restore and protect a major Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, one of the country's largest public contributions toward preserving the Jewish culture nearly wiped out in the Holocaust.

The Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery, established in 1806, is the resting spot of 250,000 Polish Jews — Yiddish writers, rabbis, philanthropists, scholars, bankers and regular citizens who once belonged to a vibrant community that made up one-third of Warsaw's population before World War II.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, voiced hope that Poland's government would 'come to its senses' and avoid further confrontation with Brussels which could result in unprecedented sanctions. But Polish leaders appeared to remain defiant. | 12/21/17
The changes, critics say, are an assault on the rule of law. The right-wing government could now face E.U. sanctions. | 12/21/17

The politics of Poland take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government of a multi-party system and the President is the head of state. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament (known together by the very same name as the lower house "Sejm"), the Sejm and the Senate. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Executive power is exercised by the government, which consists of a council of ministers led by the Prime Minister. Its members are typically chosen from a majority coalition in the lower house of parliament, although exceptions to this rule are not uncommon. The government is formally announced by the president, and must pass a motion of confidence in the Sejm within two weeks. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, Sejm and Senate. Members of parliament are elected by proportional representation, with the proviso that non-ethnic-minority parties must gain at least 5% of the national vote to enter the lower house. Currently four parties are represented. Parliamentary elections occur at least every four years. The president, as the head of state, is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces and has the power to veto legislation passed by parliament, but otherwise has a mostly representative role. Presidential elections occur every 5 years. The political system is defined in the Polish Constitution, which also guarantees a wide range of individual freedoms. The judicial branch plays a minor role in politics, apart from the Constitutional Tribunal, which can annul laws that violate the freedoms guaranteed in the constitution.

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