Thursday, March 29, 2007

Poland to ban the Scottish kilt?

Apparently, kilt-wearing, pants-less drunken Scots on stag nights have been puking on pavements in Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, and then flashing their naughty bits at innocent passers-by.


The Glasgow Daily record reports:

The good burghers of Krakow and Warsaw are sick of the sight of boozed-up "men in skirts" flashing their bits in the street.

And the authorities in another popular stag night destination, the city of Wroclaw, have become so fed-up with the badly behaved minority of Scots they are seriously considering outlawing the kilt.

With beer at £1 a pint and £50 flights from Prestwick, Poland is fast becoming a favourite destination for Scots stag parties.

It reminds me of the joke:

Englishman: What’s worn under your kilt?

Kilt wearing Scot:: Nothing, it’s all in perrrfect working order!

But banning kilts is authoritarian and so this blog can not support such a move.

Why don’t they just ban Scots not wearing any underpants under their kilts? It could be a job creation scheme. A new Polish ‘underpants’ police force, perhaps?

We could give them little mirrors on the end of sticks, like they use when checking for car bombs.

Tree hugging anti-Christs

The catholic church is turning against the Greens.

Some time ago you might remember that I was puzzled why a bunch of cross bearing Catholics were protesting against Greanpeace and other tree huggers who were protesting against the building of the Augustow by-pass through the Rospuda Valley nature reserve.

Some on the blog suggested that the crosses were just symbols of the graves being created by the heavy road traffic forcing itself through Augustow.

But I think they are wrong.

During the Lenten Meditations a few weeks ago, arch conservative Cardinal Giacomo Biffi (who Pope Benedict had entrusted the sermon too) said, as spiked reported:

Cardinal Biffi claimed that whereas Christianity stood for ‘absolute values, such as goodness, truth, beauty’, aside from a few hard core Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, the masses are being seduced by ‘relative values’ such as ‘solidarity, love of peace and respect for nature’. Greenness, if it became absolute, would encourage ‘idolatry’ and put serious ‘obstacles in the way of salvation’.


While I am no fan of the tree huggers, it’s a bit rich to try and paint Greanpeace as the anti-Christ.

But you see, arch conservative Catholics are turning against the Greens. With atheist socialism as dead as a dodo, they have had to create another hate figure: the environmentalist.

I later find out that the photo above is of Peter Singer, tree hugging’s philosopher of choice and zoophile – I thought it was a photo of the Cardinal!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abortion, euthanasia: so give us a referendum!

Pro-life and pro-choice supporters march through Warsaw today. (photo: Gazeta Wyborcza)

Two separate marches merged into a demonstration of 4,000 people in front of parliament, where lawmakers were debating amending the constitution to tighten Poland's anti-abortion law, already among the most restrictive in the EU.

See here and here for details.

The pro-lifers want to stop even women who were raped having an abortion, and want to enshrine into the constitution the ‘right to life from conception to natural death’ into the Polish constitution.

Usually, a change in the constitution requires a referendum to decide. That’s why there was one before joining the European Union.

So why do you think that the League of Polish Families, Radio Maryja – and the ruling Law and Justice – are trying to avoid having one?

Because they think they would lose.

I called for a referendum on this issue a long time ago. We need to debate this issue in this country.

The only folk who should be afraid of democracy are those who don’t feel very comfortable living in one.

See video of pro-life march at

Sunday, March 25, 2007

David Irving: nobody was gassed in Auschwitz

Only recently released from jail in Austria for ‘holocaust denial’, the weirdo British historian is at it again. (Irving searches for the ‘controversial Zyklon-B inlet holes’ on the roof of the morgue (Leichenkeller I) of Crematorium II at Birkenau [Auschwitz II] – while on his semi-clandestine trip to Poland, March 4, 2007).

In an Italian documentary screened last Friday night, David Irving claims that Jews (and others) were not gassed to death in Auschwitz, in the south of Poland. He says he has forensic evidence to prove it.

Apparently, Irving has been in Poland recently making the film.

He has said the stuff about the gas chambers before, of course, and his claim that no genocide happened at Auschwitz – it was merely a concentration camp, not a death camp - was central to his libel trial against Deborah Lipstadt.

When summing up the evidence during the trial the judge noted:

‘…the case advanced by Irving was that no convincing evidence exists that gas chambers were at the material time in existence at Auschwitz and that there is no evidence that such chambers were commissioned. Further, said Irving, there is no convincing evidence that any Jew at Auschwitz lost his or her life as a result of being gassed (though he conceded from the outset that many died as a result of the epidemics which, due to the appalling lack of hygiene, regularly swept the camp).

…In the course of the trial Irving modified his position: he was prepared to concede that gassing of human beings had taken place at Auschwitz but on a limited scale. However, he continued to assert that it was not a death factory (totesfabrik).

Irving lost the trial.

He was always considered a bit of a nutcase. But many used to think he was a superb archivist of WW II Nazi material. During the trial, however, it was revealed that Irving frequently mistranslated, or simply fabricated, much of that historical material. So now he is exposed as a bad historian, as well as being a nutcase.

This was only revealed because Irving was allowed to make his outrageous claims. Shutting him up – or banging him up in Austria for holocaust denial – makes it harder to refute the claims that the holocaust never happened.

The EU has recently mooted the idea that holocaust denial should be made illegal everywhere within the union. But what are they afraid of? The only way to beat bad ideas is with better ideas – not by shutting them up.

Free speech must be absolute – even for people like David Irving.

See the ramblings of Irving yourself in his recent Auschwitz travel diary (hat tip: europejczyk). Quote: ‘I don’t like Poland, as the following entries will betray.’ What a twat!

Is Kwasniewski the answer to all our problems?

He remains popular with many, but is this just a mixture of nostalgia and another example of vacuous ‘personality politics’?

What have actor Sidney Poitier and former communist, former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, got in common?

They – along with British novelist Ian McEwan – have won some award in the US:

Actor Sidney Poitier, author Ian McEwan, a journalist and a former president of Poland are this year's Common Wealth Awards winners, according to a trust committee member who helped make the decisions.

Connie Bond Stuart, PNC Bank Delaware president, said the awards recognize people who demonstrate both excellence in their fields and serve as an inspiration to others to follow in their footsteps.


And a poll on the pages of the new (and good) web site finds that 64% would vote for former president Aleksander Kwasniewski if he started up a new party today.

Good news for Kwasniewski, as this week he appears to have announced a comeback.

Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski, 52, has announced he intends to return to politics in the wake of what he terms controversial policy moves by Poland's current right- wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) government, according to the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

'Today.... you can see the take-over of the state by the governing party, the party taking control of areas which should be part of a democratic state or civil society - you can see it everywhere,' Kwasniewski said, referring to the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Of course, self selecting internet ‘polls’ prove nothing at all, but Kwasniewski has retained much of the support he had throughout his two terms as president between 1995 and 2005.

In those days he was by far the most popular politician in the country – even with some of the old Solidarity supporters.

It was only towards the end of his term in office that many began to get disenchanted – particularly after the honours he gave to a few dubious people on leaving the presidential palace (think Clintonesque cronyism).

And now the bad news

Marek Dochnal, three years ago one of the most influential lobbyists in Poland, for the past two and a half years under arrest on charges of large scale corruption, has testified that Poland's most prominent left-wing politicians accepted huge bribes back when they were in power (more here).

The politicians in question are (allegedly) former SLD PM Leszek Miller, and Aleksander Kwasniewski.

The word of a convicted criminal is not very good witness, but the smell of sleaze clings to all ex-communist politicians here, often for good reason.

Last week more news confirmed this, with lurid details of post communist corruption in taped recorded conversations between another former prime minister, Jozef Oleksy, and businessmen. The SLD has some friends in low places, no doubt about that.

So why is Kwasniewski still popular? It’s certainly not his policies: he hasn’t really given us any, yet. He makes the usual, healing noises about ‘dialogue’, blah, blah. But that’s about it.

Maybe his popularity has more to do with the fact that Poland in the 1990s was quite an optimistic place. The country had a feeling of going forward. But that optimism is a thing of the past. A disappointment with post-communist Poland is more common, these days. It just hasn’t gone the way many hoped it would. There have been too many losers.

So Kwasniewski’s popularity is fragile, resting on a nostalgia for the ‘feel good factor’ and a time when the president of Poland was not Lech Kaczynski.

Maybe it’s as simple as that: People like Kwas because Kwas is not the Duck.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Go Barroso!

On the 50th anniversary of the EU, I should admit I am not a big fan of Eurocrats. But Barroso is a star. Kind of.

As pointed out at the EU Referendum blog, it’s a weird world when EU bonkers-crats like the President of the European Commission (or something), Jose Barroso, starts saying something sensible.

But it’s happened.

Look what he has to say about the UK’s New Labour plans to (green) tax cheap airlines, so the (Polish) masses travel less, just as they have got out of the habit of going everywhere by horse and cart.

EU Ref writes:

He …hails cheap air travel as "a great thing for our civilisation" and expresses grave concerns over fashionable plans, floated by [New Labour], for personal carbon rationing and suspects that proposals to restrict CO2 emissions from an individual's activities will lead to intrusive surveillance into private lives.

"I do not see any need to establish these intrusive approaches that may reduce the freedom of our societies," he says. "We have to find the right balance and I believe the right balance is not found if we start giving these kind of personal good or bad behaviour certificates to people."

What next? Brussels decides to end the obscenity of CAP agricultural subsidies?

Nah...I was just dreaming.

The ‘liberal’ Donald Tusk and friends

They are radical; they are liberal; they are the great Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform), fighting for freedom of the individual everywhere. Not.

Maybe they never read real liberals like J.S. Mill.

Donald Tusk, leader of the so-called ‘liberal’ Civic Platform, was on TV yesterday commenting on the abortion amendment to the constitution proposed by ultras like the Giertychs et al, that in no circumstances may a woman have a termination. Even if she has been raped.


This is in spite of the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Poland seriously violated the human rights of Alicja Tysiac, when she was denied an abortion, even though the pregnancy threatened to blind her completly . She can now only see five feet from her face.

Donald Tusk, is against the idea. Radical, isn’t he?

Not really. On TV last night he said: “The compromise [on abortion] that we came to has been a great success”.

The ‘compromise’ which has been a ‘great success’ he is referring to was when Poland banned abortion in 1993, except in very rare circumstances, such as rape, incest, if the pregnancy seriously threatened the woman’s lifer health (as the Tysiac case did), or if the foetus had a major deformity.

So Tusk supports one of the most repressive laws in Europe.


Radical, progressive, ‘liberal’...

Abortion verdict splits coalition, Reuters, March 21

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

So what has Poland got out of Iraq?

Four years after their government sent in its troops, Poles are scratching their heads as to what exactly they have got out of the bloody mess.

The decision to join the coalition of the (not so) willing in Iraq, on Warsaw’s part, was not just the usual eagerness to support the US in anything and everything. It was naked opportunism.

Way back in July, 2003, three month after the war began (and just after Bush declared ‘mission accomplished’ – fool!) the then foreign minister (for the post-communist SLD government) Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told the PAP news agency:

"We have never hidden our desire for Polish oil companies to finally have access to sources of commodities."

In January 2006, the then Polish prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said:

'Orlen [Poland’s largest oil refining company] should have oil deposits. And it will have them.' Asked if he meant Iraqi oil deposits, he added “Sure, those too.”


I was on the (small) march in Warsaw against the war in the February before it began. It was a weird mixture of people. The usual anarchist types were there, accompanied by the usual dogs on bits of string. There were also grannies from the ultra-catholic Radio Maryja group.

Grannies and crusties, plus Andrzej Lepper, make up what is of the antiwar ‘movement’ here.

The banners accompanying the march read ‘No blood for oil’.

I always thought that was a simplification of the situation – I am against the war on principle, as I am for the right of self-determination, and against imperialism and foreign intervention in all its many forms. I also thought it would lead to the ‘balkanization’ of Iraq. I also thought that Iraqis would not be lining the streets waving little stars and stripes and union jacks as the brave American and British boys charged down the streets in tanks.

Looks like I was right. It’s been a disaster.

But the argument that the invasion was to get grubby hands on Iraqi oil certainly does work in Poland’s case. And that stinks. Reeks.

Polish governments never have got hold of oil deposits in any significant way, however. Oil production is still below what it was before the war and doesn’t look like improving anytime soon.

Poland has lost 19 lives in Iraq. That’s nothing compared to what Iraq has lost. But even 19 lives are way too high a price to pay for this mercenary adventure that has brought Poland nothing, accept a pat on the back from their American and British friends.

Shame on all of them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Population time bomb...tick...tock...tick

Polish Catholic-nationalists, and 'liberal' environmentalists, in their different ways, fear there is a demographic time bomb waiting to go off. Bang!

Poland’s population is shrinking faster than any other country in the EU. Strange that, in a country that claims to be 95 percent Catholic, don’t you think?

The average family in Poland has 1.22 children, and a couple of weeks ago the government announced tax breaks for working women with children which will cost the tax payer 17 billion zlotys (US$5.6 billion, €4.5 billion). At a time when the EU is pressing the government to cut its budget deficit, that's not going to help, fiscally.

Catholic nationalists (of which the governing coalition is full of) blame all sorts of things for this. Feminism is the main culprit, apparently. They would like women to get back in the home and return to what the ‘natural’ function of a woman should be: being a baby machine.

A report by the UN adds to these people’s fears. In half a century’s time Poland will be one of the oldest nations on earth. In a dozen nations - including Japan, Bulgaria, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Korea, Slovenia, Romania and Spain - four in 10 citizens will be 60 or older by 2050, the UN says.


Does this mean that Poland will simply fade away as a nation?

But scratch the surface and you will find that what these people are really worried about is that there will be no Polish Catholics - the 'true' Poles - left in Poland to light up the candles in church before Mass.

A shortfall of population can easily be addressed by immigration, of course. But that, as catholic nationalists like Maciej Giertych would say, would weaken Polish (read ‘Polish Catholic’) ‘civilization’.

But if immigration is the obvious solution, then where would it come from?

There is always the less developed countries. They have lots of babies, don’t they?

And the tree huggers don’t like it

Whereas catholic nationalists in Poland fear that the low birth rate is a threat to (Latin) civilization as we know it, western ‘liberals’ think that there is just too many people in the world.

It’s getting impossible, for instance, to pick up the UK Guardian without being confronted by some misanthropic gibberish like this from ‘columnist’ Juliette Jowit:

In the time it takes you to get to the end of this sentence, seven people have been added to the population of the world…..

Then welcome seven new people to the world, I say! It’s a great place to be, if you avoid reading the Guardian too often, that is.

Jowit works herself up into a froth of indignation about how we cannot deal with ‘climate change’ without cutting down the number of humans on the planet.

Some population activists argue the world can only support a population of two to three billion, even as few as 500 million in future [?!?]. But even if reducing the world's population is unlikely or distasteful, it is incredible that there is not even a debate about limiting and maybe one day reversing growth.

….some braver voices - Sir David Attenborough, Jonathan Porritt and Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, to name a few - have begun to raise the issue.

Well, Juliette (where does the Guardian get these morons from?) Sir David Attenborough, Porritt et al have not suddenly 'began to raise this issue', they have been raising it for sometime. In 2003, these people - who have formed the scary sounding Optimum Population Trust (sounds like a bunch of Nazis) - were calling for the UK’s population to be cut in half!

Attenborough, the BBC’s natural history guru, seems to prefer the company of tigers and algae to his fellow human beings.

But whereas these kind of people would be scoffed at in the past, today this kind of thinking is becoming almost mainstream.

It’s basically a form of neo-Malthusian ‘analysis’ – which progressives used to laugh at when I was at college in the late 1980s – which fits in well with the culturally miserable-ist times.

What both Catholic Polish nationalists, and the tree hugging human haters need to be told is that too many humans, or not enough Poles, is not the problem. The problem is the lack of faith in human ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

It just goes to show that neither conservatives nor liberals have the ideology to cope with the modern world.

A little more faith in humanity, and a little less fear of the future, will sort this out. Humans - even immigrants! - are not the problem, they are the solution.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Q: When is a piss artist not a piss artist?

A: When he is a Polish piss artist.

A new European-wide poll by Eurobarometer claims that Poles are not one of the continent's heavy drinkers of alcohol. In fact, they are not heavy drinkers of alcohol, at all.


Twenty eight percent of Poles claim that they have not had a drink in the last 12 months. Which means, according to Eurobaromter, Poland is the fifth soberest nation in the EU!


It appears that Poles – a nation which loves a drink as much, if not more than most European countries – are a little embarrassed by their drinking habits, and have been slurring a few fibs to opinion pollsters.

For instance, only one percent of Poles admit that they drink every day; four percent say they drink 4 - 5 times a week; and just nine percent say they drink 2 - 3 times a week.

All in all, Poles claim they drink less than the EU average [?!].

Me thinks someone is...well, taking the piss.

See the whole Eurobarometer survey here (pdf).

This poll should be put forward for a Nobel Prize for Fiction.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Russian NGO fights for Polish Katyn massacre victims!

The Russian NGO Memorial has pledged to pursue all legal means to get Moscow to recognize Soviet responsibility for the deaths of over 20,000 Polish officers in the Katyn massacre of 1940.

This is a turn up for the (history) books. A group of Russians are fighting to get Putin and others to face up to Soviet war crimes.

And for a group of Russians to campaign on behalf of Poles is truly refreshing.

Reuters (no link) reports that Director of the Memorial NGO, Arseny Roginsky, has said that, “A Russian court, specifically a Russian court, must examine all aspects of the crime of Katyn and give its verdict.”

So far, Moscow has failed to acknowledge the extent of the crime, even though the rest of the world thinks it's self evident.

In November, 2005, after years of investigation, Chief Russian Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov announced, to Poles disbelief, that the criminal case was now closed because investigators didn’t find any evidence of genocide in the 1940 Katyn killings.

And in March, 2006, Moscow informed the Polish government that they would not recognize the massacre as an act of political repression.

In April and May 1940, the Soviet secret police (NKVD) executed over 20,000 Polish officers and policemen imprisoned in camps Kozyelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk as well as Poles imprisoned in the Western regions of Belarus and Ukraine.

When the Nazis found evidence of the massacre they blamed the Soviets. The Soviets blamed the Nazis. But it soon became evident that, this time, the Nazis were right.
In 1990, Moscow finally acknowledged that NKVD officers did commit the crime, but claimed it was not a 'political crime'.
But a memo sent by Stalin refered to the Polish prisoners as 'counter-revolutionaries', and ordered his, by then, usual remidy to get rid of the problem.

Katyn is a location a few kilometers off Smolensk city where the burial site of one group of victims was first found.

There is something about modern day Russia whch makes it incapable of coming to terms with its past. So it's good to see this Russian Memorial group trying to change that.

There is a link to more photos like the one above taken by Nazis as they uncovered the remains of those who were murdered here.

See a translation of Stalin's order to kill the Polish prisoners here.

It's a no-brainer, Moscow. Own up now! What couild it have been but genocide? And if something is a war crime then somebody has to be prosecuted.

See Memorial NGO web site here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Disco polo: the mafia connection

Is the rise and fall (and rise again) of what was once the most profitable form of music in Poland, connected with the similar rollercoaster ride of Polish organized crime?

That was the thesis behind an article in the current affairs magazine Wprost a couple of weeks ago. As the police fight a re-emergence of large organized crime groups, disco polo – a unique Polish contemporary music form, popular in the 1990s – is rearing its tone deaf head.

If you have never had the dubious pleasure of hearing a disco polo hit, then imagine a late 1980s Casio keyboard rhythm track, plus simple chords played under a simple Polish folk type melody.

It didn’t sound very good.

The ‘genre’ emerged in the early 1990s in the small dance halls of small Polish towns. Originally known as piosenka chodnikowa (sidewalk songs – sold via cassette on the streets from little stalls) it was a truly do-it-yourself music, much in the same way as British punk music circa 1976 was. Locals got together in groups, bought a few cheap keyboards, pressed one of the few pre-set rhythm buttons and composed their own little songs.

Sounds horrible, and it was. But it was also amazingly popular.

When I first came to Poland, you couldn’t turn on the Polsat TV station without being confronted by the latest disco polo sensation. Though effectively banned from mainstream radio, ‘artists’ like Shazza (the Madonna of disco-polo, pictured above) or disco polo boy bands like Skaner or Boys - sold much more ‘units’ than more establishment pop singers like Edyta Gorniak.

In 1995, more than 80 million disco-polo cassettes and records were legally sold, and many, many more illegally.

Because the normal channels of recording and distributing this music were not open to disco polo ‘artists’ - no major record label would touch the stuff, neither would publishers, distributors and most retail outlets - alternative recording, publishing and distribution networks emerged (under the guidance of organized crime groups) to cater for what was a genuinely popular form of music among rural and small town folk.

As the TV station Polsat had a good demographic base in such places, they picked up the music and devoted hours of broadcasting to it.

It’s also been suggested that Polsat had a rather too comfortable relationship with organized crime, via disco polo record labels.

And then, in the late 1990s, Polsat suddenly dropped it from their scheduling.

This was, maybe, because they were trying to improve their demographic, and get more advertising friendly viewers in the large cities.

But disco-polo was in a decline anyway.

Partly this was due to ‘cultural’ factors. Disco-polo lovers started getting hip to the more urban hip-hop. The do-it-yourself music of choice now was rap. Disco-polo tried to follow the trend – Rapo-polo? – but the fan base was slipping away.

But there was an economic factor, as well. The financial base of disco polo – the Polish mafia – was also in decline. A high profile series of busts by the cops in places like Pruszkow and Wolomin, on the west and eastern fringes of Warsaw, hit them badly. Suddenly the gangs that run much of the early 1990s proto-capitalism were collapsing.

But now, disco polo is experiencing a kind of comeback. Groups like Boys, etc, are getting invited to power up their Casio keyboards once more. This time, however – with the appropriate amount of knowing irony – Boys and the others are getting invites to fashionable night clubs.

Maybe people long for the relative simplicity and feel good factor of the 1990s, compared with today’s complexity and disappointment. Maybe singers like Shazza have come to symbolize the good old times, when skirts were short, when hope was long, and when music was utter, utter rubbish.

Experience the true musical horror of disco polo with this video of Boys' greatest hit, Jestes szalona (You are crazy) here .

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Time for Polish politicians to take early retirement

A whole generation of Polish politcos – from both sides of the divide – have failed to grasp the meaning of a ‘free and open society.’ It’s time for them to be forced to ‘spend more time with the family’.

The current government’s de-communization zeal is insatiable. All journalists – public or private - born before 1972, must now be vetted for communist era collaboration.

Brilliant idea, isn’t it?

For some time now, the government has been requiring employees of public media - no matter how lowly – to fill in a form (downloaded from the internet) with a few basic personal details, and then send it to be vetted.

Employees wait a few weeks and back comes a little certificate saying that you were not a collaborator, or otherwise. If you don’t get a clean bill of health then you are sacked.

Well, now the government is insisting that private media forces its journalists to go through the same procedure.

Amazingly, blogs appear to also come under this law.

There has been lots of comment on the net about this – of the English articles see here and here.

I cannot think of an example in any other ‘western’ ‘democratic’ country where the government is trying to intrude in the affairs of private media in this way.

Private media are a little upset, unsurprisingly, and are threatening civil revolt against such a totalitarian-flavoured move. The government is threatening fines against private media that do not comply.

The human rights implications of this was noted in the US state department’s annual review of human rights (though just how the present Whitehouse feels qualified to lecture others about human rights is a mystery).

Same but different

It’s sad to have to say that many in the present government are demonstrating the same mentality as those who they so despise – communists. For both, a free and open civil society is seen as a threat to their own survival.

Since 1989 Poland has been blessed (irony, sarcasm) with a generation of politicians, from the left and right, which have not demonstrated an understanding of how modern democracies work.

Much of the left have been prone to seedy corruption, and there has been an ‘old boy network’ that has done nicely from the change from communism to capitalism. They have also been criminally negligent of the public services, managed in the way that they always have been: badly.

On the other side we have a generation of politicians who represent those left behind in the post communist bun fight. But though oppositional, they seem to have internalized far too much of the old regime that they fought against.

And this has led to an inability to take criticism in the media.

There are a few exceptions (which a camel could count on the fingers of one hoof) but for much of the old left and right, coming to terms with basic freedoms and human rights has been difficult and they are stopping Poland maturing into a modern democracy.

What Poland needs is a younger generation of politician who has not been so badly scared, and deformed, by the experience of the People’s Republic of Poland.

So forget vetting private journalists born before 1972.

I propose a new law which says that if you were born before 1972 in Poland then you shouldn’t be allowed to be a politician.

It’s time for the post-communist failures to take their free bus pass.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Former PM Leszek Miller knew about CIA terror camps

Update: Former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski says CIA had access to two internal zones at the Stare Kiejkuty training school….but thinks the new revelations are to do with US domestic politics...more

British intelligence memo (seen by Raw Story) proves that there was a short term detention centre for keeping terrorist suspects in Poland.

Terror suspects were shuttled in and out of Poland from 2002 to 2004, says the memo. The ‘camp’ was at the previously suspected ex-Soviet intelligence training centre at Stare Kiejkuty, 12 miles from Szymany airstrip.

The centre was only known about by US and British secret services, a few Polish intelligence top brass and the then SLD prime minister Leszek Miller.

"Miller was asked to keep it as tight as possible," the memo said.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano would not confirm to Raw or deny any allegations about the Polish facility.

He maintained the rendition program was legal and conducted "with great care."

"The agency's terrorist interrogation program has been conducted lawfully, with great care and close review, producing vital information that has helped disrupt plots and save lives," Gimigliano said Monday. "That is also true of renditions, another key, lawful tool in the fight against terror."

What has misled many has been the reporting of gulags and large complexes full of prisoners. In fact the facilities were short term and small, says Raw Story.

What some believe was a network of secret prisons was most probably a series of facilities used temporarily by the United States when needed, officials say. Interim "black sites" -- secret facilities used for covert activities -- can be as small as a room in a government building, which only becomes a black site when a prisoner is brought in for short-term detainment and interrogation.

The rest of the Raw Story report rehashes old (but interesting) material, but it’s the best I have seen of some concrete proof that something was going on in Poland.

A direct allegation has been made against Leszek Miller in particular, so it will be interesting to see what he says about this. And if the British intelligence services colluded in the decision to use Poland as a stop off place for terrorist suspects then how much did Tony Blair know?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Simon Mol was not a political refugee

That’s the latest lurid expose in the newspapers and television today.

The newspaper Rzeczpospolita and the sensationalist, tabloid TVN program Uwaga claim that Simon Moll – who has given seven women HIV in Poland and is currently in prison waiting to be charged for knowingly spreading the virus – was not politically persecuted in either his home country of Cameroon or in Ghana, where he worked for a while in the early 1990s as a journalist.

The Uwaga program sent a team of journalists to the (very poor) village in Cameroon where he grew up to ‘look for his roots’. After showing his photo to the locals they came upon his brother who took them home to see Moll’s father and mother.

None of the family seemed to know where he was and had not had contact with him for years. When his mother heard what had happened to him recently she burst out crying.

Cue camera zoom in to tight, lingering close up of her tears.

But none of the family or his friends had heard about his ‘political persecution’.

Next the journalists went to Ghana where they made straight for the writers PEN club, of which Moll was once a member.

The PEN club is no more but they found some writers and journalists who knew Simon. They too had never heard of any persecution. In fact, one man they talked to had been to prison nine times for political activities.

The man said that Simon went to Poland as an economic refugee – he just wanted to escape the poverty of Africa – and not a political refugee.

The implication, I think, is that Moll had made the whole persecution story up and in fact 'stole' the life story of his fellow journalist.

The is another sad chapter in a story that you just couldn’t make up.

Or could you?

The saddest part of the TV program was when Simon’s mother, shocked from hearing that her son had HIV, and the Polish police had arrested him for spreading it, sobbed: “I am sick, too [with AIDS?], and I was hoping he would come home to bury me.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Polish google bombing

A strange thing happens when you put in the Polish word for ‘prick’ into

If you type in the word kutas (prick) you get this result.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Giertych-isms of the week

Roman wants any new EU Constitution (yawn) to include a ban on abortion and rights for homosexuals.

Education and deputy prime minister Giertych has been justifying what he said in Germany yesterday: legal abortion is a ‘form of barbarianism’, and homosexuals threatened the future of European civilization as we know it.

‘The propaganda of homosexuality is reaching ever younger children." [Giertych said in the speech released to the Polish media Friday].

"In some countries it is even forbidden for children in hospital to talk or read about mommy and daddy, because this allegedly violates minority rights. Let's free ourselves of this unwise political correctness."

"If we will not use all our power to strengthen the family, then as a continent there is not future for us. We will be a continent settled by representatives of the Islamic world who care for the family."

Of course, the image of gays ushering in the European Islamic Caliph is a delicious one and should be cherished by us all.

And it follows nicely on from the recent bizarre ramblings of his father, Maciej, whose nasty little pamphlet, Civilizations at war in Europe, proved that these are minds locked into a 1930s time-warp (see my review here).

Responding to charges that he is an anti-Semite loon, Maciej told the European Jewish Press:

‘Those who said [the pamphlet] is anti-Semitic haven’t read it. My impression is that critical comments come from people who have not read the book. They read only a few sentences".

No Maciej, I read the lot. Every word. It’s anti-Semitic tripe (and much more besides). The EJP continues:

He said his text, published in English, is an attempt to promote the teaching of Polish professor Feliks Koneczny, who has developed a "very interesting" method of classifying civilisations. "I am presenting his methods of classification," Giertych said. "It is in fact a contribution to the big discussion occurring in the world at the moment about the clash of civilisations."

I like the tense of ‘...Feliks Koneczny, who has developed a "very interesting" method of classifying civilizations.’ Note ‘who has’...but the guy died 58 years ago. Koneczny, and his ideas, are well and truly in the past (very simple) tense.

And that’s where the Gietychs should be. There has been a big fuss over the latest antics of the Giertych dynasty. But these people are no big deal, and their ideas – so antiquated – will gradually fall to bits like an old, pre-war, wardrobe.

Giertych-isms are well passed their sell by date.