Special Guest Star: Bibi!

You know that a TV show has hit a bad stretch when the producers bring in a controversial guest star to boost ratings. A reality show about a two-year-old beauty pageant star is tanking in the ratings? Bring in Sarah Palin to serve as her life coach. Saturday Night Live on a long spiral downward? Invite Anthony Wiener to host — or better yet, Kim Jong Eun. If Congress were a TV show, it would...
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Full Interview List

In 2012-13, as part of an Open Society Foundation fellowship, I re-interviewed many of the people I talked to in 1990 when I traveled for seven months through East-Central Europe. Twenty-three years later, I also interviewed a wide range of additional people in order to get as broad a picture as possible of what has changed (and not changed) in the region since the transformations of 1989. I send...
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The Pankow Peace Group

It was one thing to establish an independent peace group in Poland or Hungary during the last decade of the Communist era. Freedom and Peace challenged military service in Poland, where there was a long tradition of independent organizing. In Hungary, perhaps the most liberal country in the region outside of Yugoslavia, Dialogus opposed nuclear weapons on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Both...
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Working with the Marginalized

Until the 1970s, drug addicts didn’t exist in Poland – at least not officially. In those days, drugs were expensive and the supply was limited, so the Polish state could hide the problem by giving a different label to the small number of addicts. But then heroin became more readily available, in part as a byproduct of domestic poppy farming (poppy seeds are a key ingredient in the Polish...
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Human Rights in Poland

It can be a nightmare to become entangled in the Polish legal system. You could be charged with a crime, for instance, and thrown into pre-trial detention. This detention could even last two or three years. One person was even held for nearly eight years. Abuses in the court system, lawyer Adam Bodnar with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights told me, constitute the most important human...
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