Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Horror in France, Mazur, government chaos, no cucumbers…

About this time, the summer media should be well into the silly season (called the ‘cucumber season', here) in Poland, when UFO’s are spotted in a pub in Olsztyn. Well, not this summer…not yet.

The Sunday morning TV news was full of dire weather warnings of another thunder storm heading this way, after a tornado had blown off roofs in southern Poland on Friday night – apart from that, everything as normal: there was the ubiquitous Andrzej Lepper spouting off about being Andrzej Lepper (and his alleged sex scandals). Nothing new there.

And then at about 11 O’clock the news of the horrific crash of a coach carrying Polish pilgrims from the north coast to a shrine near Grenoble in France.

‘Thirteen dead’; ‘at least thirteen dead’; ‘twenty dead….twenty six dead.’

After the shock, the search for what, for whom, to blame began. It seems the brakes failed on a tight bending mountainous road in southeast France. But why had the driver taken the coach down that road in the first place, when there was clear signs that it was not suitable for large vehicles? Since then we learn that many Polish coach drivers have been doing the same, taking passengers down a road known in the area as a notorious black spot. Many dead, human error.

President Kaczynski pronounced three days of national mourning. This has led to minor deprivations for Poles – such as Rod Stewart delaying a concert in Gdansk by one day. The Rolling Stones will go ahead with their gig, Wednesday in Warsaw. I’m sure the Poles can cope.

Election, or not, announcement delayed

But can they cope with the delay of an announcement by the Kaczynskis whether or not they are finally going to ditch their troublesome junior coalition partners of the League of Polish Families and Lepper’s Selfdefense, and have an election that has been on the cards since the very beginning of the government, exactly one year ago last week? Now Poles will have to wait till Thursday.

Someone I was talking to today – who probably thinks of himself as urbane, and not one of the government’s natural constituency – was pessimistic about any future election anyway. He blames the ‘low turnout’ (41 percent last time) for putting in ludicrous regime’s like the Kaczynski’s into government here, anyway.

That view is backed up by a recent Newsweek article:

Widespread voter indifference underscores opposition worries. Turnout in the last elections, in 2005, fell to just 41 percent. Many of those who might vote against Law and Justice—and the new generation of politicians who might stand against it—have already left the country. As for those who've stayed behind, they seem unable and unlikely to redeem Poland's name in Europe.

But maybe many of those who do not vote – often poor, uneducated – would come out and vote for Kaczynski anyway.

I’m sure the Poles can cope.

Mazur free, trail cold

Last week we also had the announcement from a court in Chicago that Edward Mazur – a Polish businessman that has lived in the US for over forty years – would not be extradited back to his homeland to stand trial for plotting the murder of police chief Marek Papala in 1998.

It was alleged that Mazur had relations with organized crime and Papala was getting in the way of ‘a little bit of business’, so he had him eliminated.

The American judge that heard the case said she could not believe how the case prepared by the Polish government against Mazur was so clumsily and sloppily put together. Even small but necessary details like dates were incorrect. They had failed to make a proper case. She threw the extradition request out of court.

The man ultimately responsible for the farce, Polish justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, vowed to ‘fight on’ to get extradition.

Though the present government was requesting extradition, it was the previous ex-communist SLD government which had let the trail go cold on the Papala murder. It had seemed, under the premiership of Leszek Miller, reluctant to dig too deep into the case.

The present government has pointed to links between Miller, former first lady Jolanta Kwasniewski, etc, and Mazur, the ex-communists and organized crime.

Whatever, many here think that they never now will get to the bottom of the case.

Can Poles cope with that?

Maybe it’s time for a few cool cucumbers…


Anonymous said...

Hey Beat,

Are you at all upset about the fact that the Polish government is giving money to the victims' families? I feel that the coach accident in France is a tragedy, but do you feel it's ethical for the government to be giving money (our taxes) to the families? Maybe I'm the only one a little pissed off about this, but what about the multiple people who are killed daily on the Polish roads? Their lives are worth nothing? Not to rant, but when I heard that I got a little upset. Be nice to know your thoughts on the matter...

beatroot said...

Well, of course, it might just be part of the election campaign. It looks as though the Sejm will be dissolved on Aug 22 and election will be Sept 30 (this seems definite otherwise why would Jarosalw delay telling us that the coalition will continue – ). So we are now into a campaign period. Etc.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point Anon!

Not unique only in Poland, it seems that it's a worldwide practice, the occurrence of a large scale accident garners the attention and generous finances of the country's government in question. Let's take the accident in the World Trade Center. Several thousand perish, a true catastrophe. However, why should the victims families recieve special assistance as opposed to smaller scale accident victims who receive nothing. Is this due to the attention produced by the mass media? Thousands of inidivuals die in a wide array of various accidents daily and their families receive nothing in the form of assistance. Then, a highly generated media frenzy of a particular mass accident captures the attention of the government and special assistance fund efforts. Fatal accidents, regardless of 'how many people are involved', should receive equal assistance and media attention. But keep in mind, that isn't done in the real world. A shame.

Berkel S.

michael farris said...

I'll mention that a good friend who's usually a sensitive and sympathetic to others' misfortunes has been disgusted by the recent behavior of Polish disaster victims (and some relatives).

Too many are turning these events into star turns, preening and emoting for the cameras (especially tornado victims and some relatives of the French bus accident).

Also in the case of the tornado victims a number of them have made it clear that no help will be sufficient to satisfy them.

Anonymous said...

I read that the tornado victims are getting 6,000 PLN. I can understand some of the attitudes the "no help will be sufficient to satisfy them", mainly because a lot of the things destroyed during the disasters are of sentimental value. Of course I'm looking at this with the belief that that's what they mean. If they mean nothing will be sufficient for them because of greed, well life's tough. But at the same time, the destruction of sentimental items are priceless for many people. I would rather see the 100,000 zlotys going to the living who are in desparate need instead of the dead's families.

michael farris said...

I mean "no help will be sufficient to satisfy them" in the sense that some people are just never satisfied (and I'm sure that's not true of most of the victims but Polish tv has an uncanny knack for finding malcontents and giving them airtime.

One woman interviewed seemed to expect whichever Kaczynski was visiting the area to be carrying cash and start dispensing it like a bank machine.

I remember a few years after the big flood in Wroclaw they did a 'where are they now?' story and interviewed a family who despite not having any insurance had received a free new home. Grateful? Don't be ridiculous, they were upset that they couldn't keep chickens and ducks in the yard...

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting of [b]Generic Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=http://listita.info/go.php?sid=1][b]Generic Viagra in US and Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also [url=twitter.com/iuyjopg]Viagra Sales Market[/url] you can find on our sites.
Generic [url=http://fovunec.freehostia.com]Ordering Viagra to Canada[/url] is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
[b]Sex Using Viagra
12 generic meltabs viagra
Viagra Uk Shop
hebal viagra
india viagra cialis vicodin
pharmacy silagra brand name viagra cumwithuscom
Viagra Frequency Of Use
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.