PHOTO STORIES

Every March and April thousands of tonnes of herring come from the Baltic Sea to the Wislana bay in Poland to breed. This is the harvest time for local fishing population, still dependent on fishing for their livelihood.

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Portraits of the people who cared to come and donate money for urgent operation for Natalia Pazdzierska, a young woman with a rare spine desease. The images were shot during a fundraiser event at the photo studio in Warsaw.

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Everyday over half a million people commute to the City and the Canary Wharf - the old and the new financial districts of London. These places are like ant-hills; overworked and full of rush. The City is money, razzmatazz and party - says one developer from the city, while sipping beer at the Borough pub near the London Bridge. All conversations start and end with the money. Who made a good deal, who got a bonus, who got lost, who had a nose for the investment. The rest is nothing, not worth mentioning.

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It may not be everyone's taste in popular music but in Poland, Disco Polo is filling the clubs, blaring out of countless sound-systems up and down the country and drawing even some of the most ambivalent revellers onto the dance floor as the night drags on. With its roots in vulgarised folk tunes pepped up with jaunty refrains, memorable (and minimal) lyrics, earworm tunes and thumping rhythms, Disco Polocontains elements of Italo Disco and Euro Disco but remains, at its core, wholly Polish.
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Before the lycra clad riders of Tour de France whizz by the expectant crowds each year, the Caravan Publicitaire chugs through towns and villages touting everything from washing powder to local bakery goods to bemused bystanders.

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 About 500 thousand people commute every day to Polish capital. This is a story about a group of friends, who commute together to work in Warsaw.
Feature is part of a project about life in Warsaw.

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  DJ Wika in the house
Wika Szmyt is not your typical grandmother. 'Maturity has its charm' she says, smiling elegantly but a little reserved. 'Some people already know what they want when they are 20 while others grow up for longer. I think that I am in the second category.' 
Wika is a 74 year old lady and a DJ, three times a week she throws parties at the Warsaw club. 
Story is part of a project about life in Warsaw.

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Having been at the forefront of the movements that toppled Eastern Europe’s communist regimes at the end of the 1980s, Poland is now staking its claim at the head of the queue in terms of economic growth.

Nowhere is this more visible than at the oppulent Venecia Palace on the outskirts of Warsaw. No longer content with an average, traditional wedding, Poland’s newly monied couples who are planning their special day are now able to make the whole experience look like the fairytale familiar from Hollywood movies, with all the pomp and fanfare that money can buy.

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In America, meat is big business. The meat and poultry industry is the largest sector of US agriculture, grossing an impressive US $ 155 billion in 2009 and employing a total of some 6.2 million people in companies involved in meat production along with their suppliers, distributors, retailers and other connected industries.


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Recycling Souls
Ekon Association in Warsaw is a recycling plant that provides jobs for people with learning difficulties or mental health issues who would otherwise find it difficult to get work. Some people working at Ekon have disabilities which they were born with, others have developed schizophrenia and other mental diseases as adults. But there's something that they all have in common - their unusual enthusiasm for their job. And this job is one which many 'healthy' citizens would prefer to avoid: collecting and sifting through rubbish for things that can be recycled.

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The best call centre consultants are like doctors - they look beneath the skin of client to determine the best way to sell him a product.
Over 200 thousand Poles work in 1500 call centres in Poland. Call centres get commissions from companies that do not want to have their own hotlines or salesmen. One employee of call centre can sometimes work for several client companies, switching from one to another between the calls. They sell mobile phone services, FCMG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) such as cosmetics, provide hotline, or vindicate the debt.
Nowadays western corporations use Polish call centres more because they appreciate the smaller cultural difference, with only 10% more expense comparing to the call centres in far East, main competition.

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As one of the art historians counted: since the death of John Paul II in 2005, on average, every six days one statue of the late Pope is being unveiled in Poland (the most popular artist is working on the 72nd statue at the moment). ‘Popemania’ is not only an a typical cultural phenomenon. It is also - as many anthropologists and religiologists say - an interesting allegory of the Polish people's faith and worship.

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Ireland is famous for its love of horses and the thoroughbreds raised on its verdant hills. During the boom years, when high-tech companies flocked to the "Celtic Tiger" and the construction industry overdosed on cheap loans, pet horses became a popular luxury item. Tens of thousands were purchased for steeplechases, hunts or other equestrian events. For many people a horse was a sign of affluence, akin to an expensive car or a boat.
But the financial crisis in 2008, which hit Ireland worse than most overheated European economies, caused the Irish economy to contract by a spectacular 15%. By late 2010, and after much procrastination, Ireland was finally cajoled into accepting a US $ 90 billion international bailout package and announced spending cuts and tax increases to the tune of US $ 20.

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Flooding waters of Vistula
Poland's larger river, the Vistula, broke its banks in spring 2010, flooding tens of villages and creating a large lake near Plock in central Poland. This news story is the account of people hardship and fight against the elements.

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The Local
According to startling figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) released in April 2010, there are now 39 pubs closing in Britain each week. Were the closures to continue at that rate, last orders in Britain's last pub would be called for the final time one evening in June 2037.

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I remember from my childhood the glory days of the Peace Race, a popular cycling event in which socialist Poland competed against our neighbouring friendly states. Each year the towns would empty as everybody found a television to watch our brave boys compete against the best cyclists from around the Eastern Bloc.
The race did not go through the town of Koszalin, where I grew up. I never really dreamt of seeing it live, with my own eyes. But if it only had passed by my neck of the woods, I would have been there with my father, mother and sister, watching the great untouchables roll past on their colourful bikes, an armada of cars carrying mechanics and spare parts following close behind.

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City of the damned
The City boomed and now the City is bust. Until the final quarter of 2008, the British economy had seen over ten years of continuous expansion led by an unfettered financial services sector. Deregulation encouraged 479 foreign banks to set up offices in London, as the cut and thrust of global finance fuelled the wider economy. For the estimated 340,000 workers employed in the Square Mile they were times of plenty. The bonuses got bigger and bigger, and British society became increasingly segregated as the gap between rich and poor reached its highest level for more than 40 years.
Times changed. As the global credit crunch exposed the financial chicanery behind the years of growth, cut and thrust was redefined as smoke and mirrors, deregulation as criminal negligence.

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The Last Draft
On December 30th, 2008, a group of young men took an oath and became fully-fledged soldiers in the Polish army. Like generations before them, they would have felt a mix of pride and nervousness as they prepared to serve their country. But as they embarked on a journey, an end point was also being marked. After ninety years of compulsory military service, the Polish government had decided to bring a close to conscription.

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Scenes from a crisis
Prince William County in Virginia is one of the highest-income counties in the United States, but it has seen thousands of home foreclosures since the credit crunch started to bite in 2007. In June 2008, Piotr Malecki and writer Tomasz Zalewski went in search of the human stories behind the headlines.

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China took a bow on the world stage in the summer of 2008, as the Olympic Games were held in Beijing. The country's performance was reliant on an army of stagehands who had toiled to prepare the scenery, lighting and props. Around 30,000 labourers are estimated to have been directly involved in the construction and fitting of the Olympic venues, which are amongst the largest and most expensive sporting venues ever built. On a wider scale, the whole of the city's infrastructure was transformed in order to show off China's rapid modernisation to its citizens and the outside world.