Biden Irks Poland …
Biden irks Poland by abandoning sanctions, re-setting ties with Moscow
US President Joe Biden recently decided not to impose sanctions on the controversial Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “The pipeline is almost completely finished, so to impose sanctions now would, I think, be counterproductive for our European relations,” Biden argued. That unexpected change of heart surprised and irked Poland and its neighbors who for years have battled the Russo-German project, arguing that it would increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy which Moscow has at times used for political blackmail. Biden seems to be following in the footsteps of his Democratic Party comrade Barack Obama who had tried to “re-set” (improve) relations with Russia. Putin took that as his cue to annex Crimea, send unmarked troops into eastern Ukraine and turn the conquered area into phony, Kremlin-controlled “people’s republics.” Poland’s strong opposition to the Nordstream project had enjoyed the full backing of the previous Trump Administration.
Nord Stream 2: “a geopolitical power play” – government spokesman
Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller recently described the controversial Nord Stream 2 project in terms of a Russo-German power play. “The continued construction of Nord Stream 2 is part of a massive geopolitical power play by Russia and Germany,” Müller told Polish Television, He added that the project was designed to bypass the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, was clearly political in nature and posed a risk to Poland’s security. GermanChancellor Angela Merkel, a strong backer of the project, claims the construction of the gas pipeline is strictly a “business deal.” |
Polish-registered airliner hijacked by Belarus regime
Poland and other European governments as well as the US have accused dictatorially ruled Belarus of state terrorism for hijacking a commercial airliner, Belarusian strongman Alaksandr Lukashenka sent a jet fighter to buzz and force a Ryanair passenger plane registered in Poland to land in Minsk, the Belarusian capital. There police boarded the plane, falsely claiming there was a bomb on board. and detained exiled journalist Raman Pratasevich, 26, and his fellow-dissident girlfriend, 23-year-old Sofia Sapiega. The two had used had-to-censor blogger channels to mobilize street protests in Belarus and beam criticism of Lukashenka to the captive nation. Poland’s LOT and other national airlines have canceled flights to Belarus and refuse to use Belarusian airspace.
Anti-Lukashenka protest held in Warsaw
Demonstrators gathered in Warsaw to call for tougher sanctions on Belarusian strongman Alaksandr Lukashenko and his regime. Taking part was Natalia Pratasevich, the mother of Belarusian dissident Raman Pratasevich who was arrested after the passenger flight he was on was forced to land in Minsk. “For freedom of speech, my son and (his girlfriend) Sofia and others are in prison,” Pratasevich said. “I want Lukashenka to think this over. I am not ashamed to ask all EU countries, to ask America, to help us.”
Poland unveils Polish Deal, post-pandemic recovery plan
Poland’s conservative government recently unveiled what it called its Polish Deal (Polski Ład), a far-ranging, largely family-centered economic-recovery plan for the post-pandemic period. It includes higher healthcare spending, extended support for parents, home-buyers, pensioners and the business community as well as large-scale infrastructural projects. Poles under 26 have already been exempted from income tax, and now employees earning no more than 30,000 złotys (about $8,100) a year and senior citizens with monthly pensions not exceeding 2,500 złotys ($675) will no longer be taxed. New motorways, roads and bridges are planned, and work on a Central Air Hub, a canal linking the city of Elbląg to the Baltic Sea and an under-riverbed car tunnel in the western port of Świnoujście will be stepped up. According to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the plan is expected to create some 500,000 new jobs in a country that already has the European Union’s lowest unemployment.
Warsaw refuses to close mine; pledges to phase out coal by 2049
The Polish Government has defied the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, rejecting its demand that one of its lignite (brown-coal) mines be shut down immediately. The court was acting upon a complaint from the Czech Republic that the Turów mine in SW Poland was lowering groundwater and spewing dust into a Czech residential area just across the border. Poland says the closure would throw thousands out of work and deprive millions of Poles of electricity from the power plant attached to the mine. Polish-Czech negotiations are under way to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile, the Polish government, Solidarity and other miners’ unions have signed an agreement pledging to entirely phase out coal by 2049. That is a tall order considering that some 65% of the country’s electricity is still generated by coal-fired power plants. The government has promised to provide funds to ease the transition to non-polluting sustainable energy. Italian, Spanish conservatives admire Poland, hope to form new EP group The leaders of the Italian conservative party Fratelli d’Itallia (Brothers of Italy) and the Spanish party Vox (Voice) recently visited Warsaw and met with Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of Poland’s governing Law and Justice (L&J) party. All three parties are members of the European Parliament’s Conservatives and Reformists faction whose significance has declined since the departure of Britain’s Conservative Party following Brexit. Poland’s L&J is now the biggest member of that faction. The political leaders discussed the prospect of creating a new Euro-realist center-right faction in the EP. In genral, European conservatives admire the progress Poland has made under the rule of the Untied Right (L&J and two junior coalition groups). “After hearing about Poland from our progressive media, I thought LGBT people and immigrants would be banned. But LGBT hold parades in the streets and there are immigrants working in Poland not only from neighboring countries but also from, distant Asia,” remarked Pedro Gonzalez, a Spaniard who has lived and worked in Poland for over a year.
Liberal-left opposition continue anti-Polish policy
Gráfin Róża Maria von Thun und Hohenstein, a Polish liberal member of the European Parliament (EP) has signed a petition demanding that the European Commission crack down on Poland over its alleged rule-of-law violations. During the current seven-year budget period, Poland is due to receive its largest ever EU funding totaling 770 billion złotys (about $208 billion). That comprises regular EU payouts as well as a post-pandemic recovery package. But the petitioners want the aid withheld if Poland does not succumb to Brussels’ dictates. Née Woźniakowska. Róża Thun acquired her pretentious title of Gräfin (countess) by marrying an Austrian aristocrat 12 years her senior. Like the pro-German Civic Coalition (formerly Civic Platform) she represents, she has been accused of serving the interests of Berlin over those of her own country.
Poland rolls back lockdown, launches pro-vaccination lottery
Initially, Poland’s vaccination target had been to inoculate a total of 20 million Poles with one or two anti-Covid shots by the end of June, but that level was achieved before the end of May. With daily new infections down from 35,000 a month earlier to several hundred at the start of June, schools, cafés, restaurants, fitness gyms and other facilities have reopened, Poles showing a Certificate of Vaccination at the border are now able to freely travel within the European Union. To speed up the acquisition of herd immunity which is expected to contain the spread of the disease, the government has announced a pro-vaccination lottery with cash prizes of up to 1 million zlotys ($273,000) to encourage people to get immunized against COVID-19, Michał Dworczyk the minister in charge of immunization, said that although 69% of Poles have declared they want to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the biggest challenge was making sure they actually do so. “That’s why we’re carrying out yet another promotional campaign in which well-known. sports personalities, actors and influencers are involved.”
Unknown “dinosaur” species discovered in Poland
A team of paleontologists from the Polish Academy of Sciences have discovered a new species of aetosaur in southwest Poland. The aetosaur, whose name translates from the Greek as “eagle-lizard,” was a prehistoric reptile resembling today’s crocodiles. The specimen was found among fossils of vertebrates from about 210 million years ago, including lungfish and turtles. They were unearthed at an archeological dig in the village of Kocury in Opole voivodeship. The scientists managed to find the jawbone and fragments of the protective armor of the new aetosaur, which was named Kocurypelta silvestris (Kocury-armored forest dweller).. The new species “looked like a cross between a crocodile, an armadillo and a wild boar,”,” remarked Łukasz Czempiński, one of the scientists, “They were about three meters (10 feet) long and most of them were omnivorous.”
Poland’s Lewandowski breaks 49-year-long goal record
This past spring, when Polish star striker Robert Lewandowski scored 40 goals in a single season of Germany’s Bundesliga, German fans begged him to stop there and not try to break it. For 49 years that title had been held by Germany’s Gerd Müller, a German national icon, and no-one before Lewandowski had been able to match it. The Pole broke it recently by scoring his 41st goal of the season in the last minute of the league’s last match, triggering jubilation in Poland and deflating egos across Germany. Müller’s wife told reporters that her husband had wondered when someone would finally top his record, adding that he would have been the first to congratulate Lewandowski. She had to speak for Müller, now 75, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, FIFA (the world soccer authority) declared Lewandowski the world’s best player.
Centaurus Foundation boasts Europe’s largest horse shelter
Poland’s horse population has dropped from 329,000 in 2002 to an estimated 180,000 at present. Trucks and tractors have largely replaced the draft horses of yesteryear, and racing thoroughbreds also become useless if they break a leg or simply get old and decrepit. The non-profit Centaurus Foundation, headquartered in the SW city of Wrocław, has made it its mission to save as many such equines as possible by arranging adoptions with horse-lovers who will let the animals live out their days in relative peace and comfort. So far the donor-financed foundation has saved 1,100 horses from the butcher’s knife and cleaver. Those it couldn’t help got sent as roasts. steaks and hamburger to such horsemeat-loving countries as Italy, France, Belgium and Holland. Poles have an aversion to horsemeat and many view the “koń” (horse) as a noble beast that has played an important part in their nation’s heritage.
“Trees Unite Us” afforestation campaign continues apace
A campaign known as “Trees Unite Us” launched earlier this year hopes to have 33 percent of Poland’s territory afforested. Pioneered by Poland’s Ministry of Climate and Environment, it is under the personal patronage of President Andrzej Duda. On the front line are foresters who have been trying for decades to rebuild Polish woodlands which have been destroyed by war and overexploitation. The aim of the campaign is to plant 1,000 trees per minute. With woodlands covering some 29 percent of its territory, Poland already ranks among Europe’s most forested countries. But, like everywhere else, developers are constantly on the lookout for woods and meadows in or near metropolitan areas they can cover with asphalt, malls and condos.
Polish company starts production of revolutionary solar panels
A Polish company called Saule has opened a 5,000 square meter (540,000 sq. foot) factory to produce what it calls “a revolutionary, new type of solar panels.” These are inkjet-printed, ultra-thin, lightweight and flexible solar panels coated with a thin layer of perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral which can be synthetically manufactured. The award-winning technology was developed by Saule founder, chief technologist and CEO, physicist Olga Malinkiewicz. The innovative technology generates energy not only from sunlight but also from artificial light, which means perovskite panels can be installed on building exteriors and used to generate electricity on the inside and even in space satellites.
E-mailing – Polish “monkey business”
Prior to the e-gadgetarian revolution, the @ (at sign) was primarily used to indicate the unit price of goods. Now it mainly appears in e-mail and other online addresses. But in Poland it is called a “małpa” (monkey), presumably because it was initially perceived as such a critter with its tail wrapped around. An address like email@example.com would be read in Poland as “s kropka (dot) nowak małpa gmail kropka com.” But Poles are not the only ones. The Dutch call the @ “apenstaartje” (monkey tail), as do the Germans: “Affenschwanz,” while in Serbia it’s simply “majmun” (monkey). Russians call it “sobachka” (little dog), and it is seen as a snail by the French (“escargot”) and Italians (“chiacciola”). Swedes call it “elefantöra” (elephant ear) and to Hungarians it’s “bejgli” (a bagel).
Compiled by Robert Strybel