Meanwhile in Cuckooland 67

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Breaking news! Aliens have landed! They look pretty much like people, except that they white, are 33 metres tall and antennas stick out from their heads. One of them have landed in western Poland… Ah no, wait, on a closer look it turns out it is our well known statue of Jesus from Świebodzin. One can say, that since his official title is “Jesus Christ, The King of the Universe” than he might be considered to be our space overlord. But what with those antennas?

Some nosy drone users have noticed, that in the crown worn by Jesus, several antennas are hidden. Those antennas probably deliver wireless internet to nearby residents. Local priest denies any knowledge of them, even more making any money from hiring Jesus’s scalp to Telecom companies. One thing is sure: Jesus from Świebodzin is even better symbol of the Polish Catholicism today: concrete on the outside, hollow inside, tries to dominate everything around, it is funded by ordinary people’s money, and yet if someone makes some profit from it, ordinary people see none of that.

England has also seen some strange visitors. Outside Liverpool’s hospital where baby Alfie Evans has been unplugged from life support, there was a group of strange men dressed in military gear, sitting in a BMW parked on the lawn. The car was made to look like a police car. On the side of it, there was a sign: “Rutkowski Patrol”. Krzysztof Rutkowski, former MP, a convict and an un-licensed owner of a detective agency is mostly known for trying to change any media-covered tragedy into yet another PR stunt. He is said to have recovered some kidnapped children, and he claimed that he’s been asked by Alfie’s parents for help. This was just a international splinter from the craze that this case caused in Poland. Because Alfie Evans was a big thing there: leading faces of the festival of hypocrisy were, as usual, PiS politicians, who tried to use this tragedy to score some points

“It is unheard of that the living children that struggles for it’s life is denied of it’s right to medical treatment” said Beata Szydło, currently deputy minister for social affairs. Then she ignored parents of disabled Polish children, who protest in parliament, and went to enjoy a traditional rafting trip on Dunajec river. She wasn’t the only PiS MP who had “more pleasant things to do” than dealing with the problems of parents of disabled people. Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk for example used that very expression to explain, why instead of talking to the protesters she have chosen to participate in archbishop’s jubilee. President Duda tweeted: “Alfie Evans must be saved! His brave little body has proved again that the miracle of life can be stronger than death. Perhaps all that’s needed is some good will on the part of decision makers”. Beata Szydło went further and explained who exactly needed to act: EU commission and Donald Tusk. It’s funny, isn’t it? When EU Commission intervened in Poland’s affairs, she was up in arms about it. Now suddenly the same institution should get involved in another country’s internal matters, because apparently if it’s about disabled children, it’s different. I wonder, what Beata Szydło’s reaction would be, if EU institutions decided to get involved in the matter of those parents with disabled children that occupy the parliament building?

But perhaps PiS government shares opinion of certain former MEP? Janusz Korwin-Mikke, an ultra-right politician, mostly known for spectacular suicides, as whenever his current party (he is getting kicked from his own organizations, and then starts new ones) closes to get past the electoral threshold, he says something stupid, like praising Hitler etc. and looses any chance to get his people into the parliament. He did managed by accident to become an MEP, where he planned to destroy EU from within, but get bored quickly and his whole term could be summed as period of passivity disturbed by occasional outbursts of talking random rubbish. After he got punished financially for his offensive and radical language, he gave up his mandate and came back to Poland, when he begun his return into the local politics by accusing protesting parents of blackmail. According to him, since they managed to survive so far without those benefits they demand, they don’t really need them.

But don’t worry, even with Janusz Korwin-Mikke back in Poland limiting his audience to his country mates, Europe won’t be free of Polish absurds. Polish National Foundation had made a fool of themselves again after releasing a two-minute short clip on uprising in Warsaw Ghetto. How they managed to talk about it for two minutes, without mentioning leaders of the uprising, but naming Polish soldiers who helped the fighting Jews is a real puzzle (You can see this clip here). For anyone with the basic knowledge of history it is pretty obvious, that their aim was not to inform people about heroic Jews, but to create a picture in which Poles and Jews were fighting arm in arm, which is not true: the Polish help for uprising in ghetto was rather insignificant, and majority of Poles were just going on with their life without paying too much attention to what is going on behind the walls. This Foundation is nothing but the laughing stock, and careful readers of that series are familiar with their biggest achievement – from a campaign to smear judges, through organizing a promotional yachting trip to this – and apparently instead of improving Poland’s image, they only destroy it further. They are probably aware of their qualification in that field, as they’ve decided to hire professionals to take care about their own image: this might be the first organization that aims to do a good PR for something that needs a PR agency to take care of it’s own PR…

But who would prevent a rich man from doing stupid things? As Foundation enjoys a steady flow of money poured into it by state controlled companies and institutions. One thing can be sure: PiS knows how to take care of their own. It has emerged that it is not only ministers who were awarded with hefty bonuses: last year drivers in Ministry of Culture have been awarded with 21 000 zł of bonuses per head (on average). To give you a scale: deputy minister of justice received bonus of 30 000 zł. No wonder, that the government still needs more money, so they don’t give up on Puszcza Białowieska yet: activists observed, that State Forests illegally removed timber from unlawfully logged oldest trees, despite the court ruling, that they should remain in the protected forest in order to decompose naturally…

Some hope, that Jarosław Kaczyński might become another source of income for the state budget. Opposition filed for tax man to check on his finances. They point out, that he enjoys protection of professional bodyguards, the cost of ensuring his security is said to be over 1.6 million per year. It is rather obvious, that he is unable to meet such enormous costs himself, so most likely this is covered by PiS. In that case, according to Polish tax laws, this is considered to be a free service, and thus should be treated as profit, so he might be due some income tax. It is also doubtful as this is the right use of taxpayers money (as parties in Poland are funded by the state).

Meanwhile if something needs protection, it’s Polish environment. We’ve wrote about problems of smog in this series, and recently media reported, that of 50 most polluted towns in UE, 33 are in Poland. But this is not the only problem: Poland is also polluted by battery farm industry. Recent report by Greenpeace shows, that this industry is very harmful to the environment. Such farms open in Poland on massive scale – one of the reasons for that might be, that they are not properly controlled in our country, as the recent investigation has shown. Ever growing number of battery farms of chicken, beef and pork is becoming more and more cumbersome for the local population, but at the same time they are often the biggest employers in the area. Last but not least, they are also one of the biggest beneficiaries of the EU farm subsidies, thus providing a significant injection of funds into the Polish economy. But is it worth paying the price for it?

Inhabitants of the city of Mielec recently decided that they have enough. They went to the street to protest against the local factory of chipboards and other wood-derivative products. While investment from the British company was welcomed in 1990, when the town suffered of the extremely high unemployment, today they blame the factory for the quality of the air in their town. The protest exceeded all expectations, it has been estimated that even 15 000 people took part, which means that one of four resident of Mielec was there.

But while local council seem to be often lenient to big enterprises, their expectations when it comes to individual residents are pretty high. In Kudowa-Zdrój there was a competition for the most beautiful house. There was only one entry and it took… third place.

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For last few weeks I’ve been trying to give my readers some overview of the alternatives. So far we’ve looked at Platforma Obywatelska, the former ruling party, that seems to be unable to find it’s own way and tries to mimick PiS in order to gain more support. We’ve mentioned also SLD, a post-communist party that would like to be considered left-wing, but tries to lure some voters by placing new faces forward. The experiment with Wojciech Olejniczak, a new generation politician who was placed as a face of SLD a decade ago failed, as he was often considered too progressive for the old guard and somehow disappeared from the political scene. The old hands get back to power, but were unable to draw any new supporters, so in a daring stunt, they put Magalena Ogórek forward as their presidential candidate. It has been a total failure, as she quickly cut off herself from SLD and eagerly moved to orbit PiS, where she remains today. The new idea with drawing daughter of general Jaruzelski might bring similar results, as her views are nothing close to what left wing voters would expect.

After demise of a chaotic assembly run by Janusz Palikot, the only real left wing option is a young social-democratic party Razem. This is the newest player on the political scene – it was established in 2015 and on the same year participated in parliamentary elections. While failed to get a single MP into Sejm, it went over 3% threshold, securing state funding. Since there Razem activists are involved in several grass-root actions, they are also respected as valued commentators of the current political developments, but the polls show that they struggle to improve new supporters. Partially it might be due to the fact, that (apart from Adam Zandberg, one of it’s collective leaders, who made his name participating as one of the candidates in televised presidential debate), Razem lacks known faces. But in my personal opinion the biggest obstacle is that they have been filled under “radical left” and struggle to break free from this. One might say that with the political scene leaning to the right as much as the Polish one, it is understandable, that anyone with left-wind views is quite extreme, but if we take a step back and try to place Razem on the backdrop of the political scene of Europe, they are nowhere near any extremities. With postulates such as improving protection of workers, progressive tax system, equality for women and sexual minorities and opposition to commercialisation of the healthcare, they can be compared for example to Scottish National Party… Many young voters see Razem as the only alternative to the well worn current political scene, unless one is interested in voting radical-right. But will young social-democrats be able to break through the glass ceiling and enter the first league of Polish politics? Oncoming local elections, in which Razem teamed up with young urban activists and organizations will be the true test of their abilities.

This piece was published by Britske Listy
Pictures: Public Domain (CC0). 



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