News Bytes From Poland
Compiled by Robert Strybel
US Army to set up HQ in Poland under new defense deal
As part of an enhanced US-Polish defense agreement, the US Army’s Fifth Corps is setting up its Headquarters in Poland. “The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” will improve deterrence against Russia. “An advanced presence in Poland, on NATO’s eastern flank, will improve our strategic and operational flexibility,” explained Pentagon Chief Mark Esper, who announced the deal. The announcement came after President Donald Trump decided to relocate 1,500 American troops formerly based in Germany to neighboring Poland. US troop strength in Poland will grow from the present 4,000 to 5,500 when the transfer is completed. At the official ceremony in Kraków, Polish American Lt. Gen. John Kolasheski (originally Kołaszewski) was introduced as the commander of the new US Army Headquarters. “My grandfather came from Chmielów, Poland,” Kolasheski told the gathering.
Poland attacked over withdrawal from pro-gender convention
European Union brass and liberal-leftist media in Poland and the West have attacked Poland for planning to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. Officially and rather deceptively known as the “Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence”, lower down it legitimizes left-wing gender and LGBT ideology. Gender advocates have exploited that ruse to accuse Poland of supporting “violence against women.” The convention blames the traditional family and religion for such domestic violence, when quite the opposite is true. The most secularized and family-indifferent countries of Europe such as France, Holland and the Scandinavian nations have the highest rate of anti-female battery. Much less household violence is found in traditionally Catholic and family-minded Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Croatia and Austria. The least violence against women has been noted in Poland. Nevertheless, the EU has threatened to slash the subsidies to which Poland is entitled if it withdraws from the treaty.
High Court validates Duda’s win; partial boycott of inauguration
Poland’s Supreme Court has ruled that the results of July’s final round of the presidential election were valid, thereby officially legitimizing the victory of conservative incumbent, Andrzej Duda. The fiercely anti-conservative liberal-leftist Civic Coalition party had questioned the results and flooded the High Court with thousands of electoral protests. They alleged various irregularities such as the use of public television in the campaign and included a demand that the election be repeated. The Supreme Court found only 92 of the protests valid but ruled that they did not impact the final results. Some opposition members boycotted Duda’s inauguration including his defeated rival Rafał Trzaskowski. “I couldn’t attend, because I had to take my kids on vacation,” he explained.
Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Triangle to protect against aggression
The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine met recently in the eastern Polish city of Lublin to create a trilateral political grouping to help defend and safeguard their national interests, mainly against threats posed by their mutual foe, Russia. The formation intends to participate in international peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts under international auspices and will work to promote Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO. Lublin was chosen for the announcement because it is the headquarters of a 4,500-strong Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian military brigade first set up in 2009 and fully operational by 2016. It was in that city in 1569 that the Union of Lublin was signed, leading to the rise of the sprawling Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, once Europe’s largest land empire.
Poland weathering crisis fairly well but pandemic is far from over
With 45 COVID-19 deaths per million population in early August, Poland remained far less affected by the coronavirus pandemic than many other countries. At the same time, European front-runner Belgium had registered 845 deaths per million residents. Other severely affected countries included Spain (609), Italy (582) and France (458). The Polish government’s “anti-pandemic shield” program of financial incentives has prevented many companies from going under. “If I were to send a message to the Polish authorities, it would be: ‘Stay on course’,” said Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, parsing Poland’s tackling of the pandemic-linked economic crisis. According to Bloomberg, Poland’s economy is the most resistant to the ongoing crisis. But a recent spike in the number of new cases showed that excessive optimism was premature. In July, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Poles the pandemic was under control and restrictions could soon be eased. But at the turn of August, a spate of higher than ever new cases have prompted the Polish authorities to reintroduce certain restrictions including refusal to serve customers not wearing face-masks. All told, by early August Poland had registered 48,789 cases, 1,756 deaths and 35,321 recoveries.
Polish schools: alternative teaching modes as required
“We would like the coming school year based on the traditional model, in which classes are held in schools,” Education Minister Dariusz Piontkowski told a conference a month before the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Decisions on whether to organize remote classes for all or some children are to be taken jointly by school principals, school supervisory bodies and health authorities, In general, face masks will not be mandatory at schools, but the ministry recommends frequent hand-washing, and classrooms are to be aired out and sanitized throughout the school day. Only healthy students, teachers and other staff, will be admitted to schools, Piontkowski also encouraged students to ride to school on bikes or walk rather than using buses. But considering the unpredictability of the pandemic, school principals, in consultation with local health authorities, have been authorized to use traditional, mixed or remote teaching methods as the situation requires,
LGBT agitators step up provocations, desecrate monuments
Gay-promoting activists have stepped up activities designed to provoke and offend ordinary Poles by draping key monuments in Warsaw with their rainbow flag. They included the rebuilt, historic statue of Christ in front of Holy Cross church, destroyed by the Germans in 1944, as well as monuments to Copernicus, Piłsudski and other national figures. The desecration appeared timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and preparations for the centennial of the pivotal 1920 Battle of Warsaw. Patriotic Poles taking part in a Warsaw Uprising March, many accompanied by young children, were forced to view an LGBT activist who sat on a rainbow-draped balcony sticking out his tongue and stroking his groin. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the provocations acts of vandalism and accused the activists clamoring for tolerance of denying it to those who hold religious and national symbols sacred.
Former Polish cabinet member charged with corruption
A former minister in Poland’s previous liberal government, who landed a VIP post in neighboring Ukraine, has been charged with masterminding a corruption scheme. Sławomir Nowak had headed Poland’s Transport Ministry, later took out Ukrainian citizenship and was put in charge of that country’s road and highway authority. A joint investigation by Poland’s CBA (Central Anti-Corruption Bureau) and its Ukrainian counterpart found that Nowak had accepted $335,000 in bribes for awarding road repair and construction contracts to private businesses. He is also suspected of leading an organized-crime ring and money-laundering.
EU executive abuses rule-of-law to blackmail Poland
The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has subjectively abused the rule-of-law argument to attack Poland, Polish Prosecutor General and Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro stated recently. That argument has been repeatedly used by the EC whenever some sovereign decision of Poland’s government is not to the liking of the EU’s liberal-leftist elites. US Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, told Reuters she believed many of the EC’s attacks on Poland’s democracy were “overblown.” Most recently the EC has denied funds to six Polish towns which have declared themselves zones free of LGBT ideology. Ziobro said that could provide Brussels with a pretext to arbitrarily block payments worth billions of euros. “There is a real risk that the EC will try to force us to introduce so-called homosexual marriage with the right to adopt children,” he told a news conference. “We cannot agree to that under any circumstances.”
Poland rushes to assist explosion-damaged Beirut
Poland was one of the first countries to respond to an appeal from the Lebanese government following two huge explosions that initially killed 73, injured thousands and flattened the Lebanese capital’s port area. .The death toll soon exceeded 100 and continued climbing. Poland’s State Fire Service sent a 50-strong team of rescuers including four sniffer dogs and a chemical-rescue module to help sift through the rubble in search of survivors and locate the bodies of victims. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that Poland would also be sending medical supplies to Lebanon, Caritas Polska, Poland’s leading Catholic charity, is also involved in the humanitarian effort. The first explosion of unknown origin set off the second, and 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, went up in smoke and huge balls of fire. The chemical compound, used to make explosives, had been stored in portside warehouses for years.
Vouchers provide vacations for young Poles, aid tourist industry
Millions of Polish children and teenagers have enjoyed summer fun around the country thanks to a system of tourist vouchers launched by Polish President Andrzej Duda. He indicated that the vouchers will boost the country’s tourism industry which had been badly hit by the pandemic crisis. Each child under 18 has received a 500-złoty ($134) voucher, and disabled kids got double that amount. The money was used to pay for summer camps, guest houses, recreation and other vacation activities but only in Poland. An estimated 6.5 million children benefited from the program which cost $940 million. In addition to the one-off vacation bonus, for years Polish kids have been receiving a monthly allowance of 500 złotys until they reach age 18.
Illegal medieval-style castle may have to be razed
Police have detained seven people on charges of illegally building a huge medieval-style castle in an ecologically protected area near the west-central city of Poznań. The structure was erected as a residential building in Notecka Virgin Forest, an area protected under the European Union’s Natura 2000 network. It contains several nature reserves including a bird sanctuary. Environmental approval for the project was revoked last year, but construction continued nevertheless. The 14-floor castle stands on a made-made island and includes a 230-foot tower, It is intended to house 46 luxury apartments for 97 people and 10 staff. A court will decide what to do about the building which may have to be razed.
Polish baby girl weighs in at just under 15 pounds
A baby girl named Maja was born recently in the southern Polish town of Piekary Śląskie weighing 14.96 pounds. It was the largest birth ever recorded at the local Piekary Medical Center. Initially, doctors believed that twins would be born. The 35-year-old mother and her daughter were reported doing fine. Maja (a popular girl’s name in today’s Poland) has two elder brothers – Wojtek, 13, and Kuba, 6. Both were husky newborns weighing in at around 11 pounds but a far cry from their baby sister.