While across the globe people enjoy the sun at sunny beaches of Santo Subito, capital of San Escobar, a country invented by Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski, Poland is hidden under winter blanket of snow, but also of smog.
Thanks to decades of governmental support to unprofitable mines, coal is still often the cheapest way to heat private homes. There are no substantial regulations as per the class of coal and boiler standards, so many people use coal rejectamenta (culm etc.) as fuel. And if you have a boiler that can burn pretty much everything, why not burn pretty much everything in it? And so up in smoke go litter, industrial refuse or old furniture, sometimes even tires. In result Poland is a black spot on the map of the air pollution in Europe.
Meanwhile, the government is not too bothered. Konstanty Radziwiłł, minister of health, said in the interview, that he would rather talk about “less theoretical problems”. For him, smog and air pollution is just a theoretical issue, as people live unhealthily anyway – many of them smoke for example. Jan Szyszko, minister of environment, asked about smog alarm levels, that are 10 times higher than WHO requirement and twice as high, as second highest levels in Europe (in Slovakia), refused to adjust them, as “if they were lowered, they would have to be announced too often”.
If there is something PiS is willing to fight to the last drop of blood, it’s Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy. This charity organization, started by a charismatic radio journalist Jurek Owsiak, is nowadays one of the biggest of it’s kind in Poland and culminates in a grand finale every second Sunday of January. Since it’s beginnings in 1993, WOŚP has raised well over 0.5 billion złoty, that has been spent mostly on the medical equipment for Polish hospitals. For the unknown reason, Jurek Owsiak has become a public enemy for the right wing Poland – some suspect that WOŚP competes for people’s donations with Catholic church. Media related to PiS continue to spread lies about his alleged frauds, despite the fact that there were rebuked in court on several occasions and WOŚP is often portrayed as a model when it comes to it’s financial reports. As this tactic has failed (last year WOŚP raised record breaking 72,6 millions), they have changed the narration. Apart from complete absurd accusation, like this of catholic publicist Tomasz Terlikowski, who accused WOŚP of supporting abortion and euthanasia, new angle of attack is that the Grand Finale was supported by local councils and organisations, including the army and a public television and costs of this support were, in best case, barely offset by money raised. To prove their point PiS government has banned any public organisations to support WOŚP this year and decided to start their own fundraising events, but it backfired: a church charity Caritas boldly expressed it’s support for Jurek Owsiak organisation after it’s military branch was used by Antoni Macierewicz to set a competing charity event – military picnics. After TVP refused to be involved, transmission of the event was taken over by private TV station and while Polish Post for the first time in years refused to issue a stamp celebrating 25th finale of WOŚP, such stamp was issued by a post in Belgium. Poles, for whom WOŚP is one of the most trusted institution and it’s Grand Finale is one of the most important days in the calendar, made a stand: many people declared to support WOŚP even more just to annoy PiS, and so it seems that this year’s final will raise a sensational record sum (on Sunday evening the sum counted was higher than that of previous year by over 15 000 000). Public television, run by PiS, was so desperate in pretending, that no grand finale of WOŚP is taking place, that they have even decided to electronically remove a red heart badge of WOŚP (given to everyone who donated money) from the jacket of the interviewed opposition MP and played a documentary movie about coup, as they call recent opposition protest in Sejm (read more here). Marzena Paczuska, a PiS propagandist in state owned TVP, bragged on Twitter that this movie had been watched by more people than transmission from WOŚP grande finale in TVN, but it is hard to tell how many people were watching it for fun or out of curiosity how far TVP can go in their propagandist actions.
I guess many watchers of “The Coup” documentary were disappointed. Let’s be honest: it was not Leni Riefenstahl style quality propaganda, it was pure rubbish in any way possible. The crisis in parliament has ended in very ambiguous way: OK, PiS did not made any significant step back, but on the other hand it’s an achievement for the party that has majority in both chambers of the parliament and a president to pass the most important document of the year – a country’s budget – illegally (as opposition MPs were prevented from voting after the sitting was transferred to another room and many of PiS MPs were also not present, and their chairs were taken by their assistants and random people acting as a place-holders – even leaders of the PiS were caught signing attendance lists well after the voting has took place). Nobody expected from a state TVP, that has become PiS propaganda tube, to give a fair report on the events, but they could at least try to cover up PiS wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the movie, directed by a second-director of the widely ridiculed piece of junk about alleged assassination of the presidential plane, “Smoleńsk”, was just a chaotic assembly of random footage, in which MPs from PiS were shown in equally bad light as those of the opposition (although to be fair, why it’s very easy to ridicule opposition, that seems to have no idea what they are doing, it would be really hard to show PiS in a good light).
But it would be hard to expect quality TV if professionals, just as in every other state controlled companies and institutions (recent report by a weekly magazine Puls Biznes suggest, that in one year of PiS government the scale of nepotism is bigger than after 8 years of the previous government rule) are replaced by complete amateurs related to PiS. The short clip in which the TVP reporter gives advice on preparing your car to drive in winter took the internet by a storm, as this young man surely has no idea what is he talking about, which becomes clear from 1:30 onwards, when he recommends “starting the car from the second gear” as turning the starter when car is on first can “lead to deplete car’s battery”.
Apart from that, the life in Absurdistan goes as usual. Prime minister’s speech has to be rebroadcasted as just before she went live, the signal was lost in a significant parts of Poland, which is propably not a coincidence as the system is managed by American company. Experienced generals are leaving the army like rats that escape sinking ship, while minister Antoni Macierewicz occupies himself with degrading those, who are long gone from the army, or even dead, if their political views were not compatible with his vision. A mother still fights on behalf of her son as the court sentence granting him inheritance from his father, a wealthy Catholic priest and art collector, is sabotaged by his family. There is going to be a new tax on rainwater, but buildings owned by religious institutions will be excluded (obviously it never rains on churches). Opposition movement KOD also has it’s problems: it’s leader Mateusz Kijowski was caught milking it’s finances by issuing a fake invoices for his IT services, in the name of his wife’s company to avoid paying alimentation to his children from previous marriages. Despite that, a demand from Polonia organisation in the US to declare KOD as terrorist organization seems to be a little far-fetched. Meanwhile regular Poles, afraid to go outside due to smog, are letting the steam off in the internet, abusing Arabs and Muslims because a man from Catholic Cape Verde has a slightly darker skin colour on the picture. No, I can’t see logic in that as well.
Photo by Bladyniec (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons