19 June 2007

About some of that time-travelling we're experiencing in Poland

Our deputy PM and Minister of education, notoriously infamous Roman Giertych decided to skip 20th century in his effort to immerse Poland in the darkness of the middle ages as he moves us straight to the era of penny black and Otto von Bismarck.

A new boys-only class is being formed in an elementary school in Świdnik. I wouldn't care much about that except that it's happening in a public school. Wonder whether those boys will also wear uniforms. Pupils were supposed to wear uniforms in Poland until the fall of communism. Even I had to wear it for a year. It was a smart way by country leaders to make some of the ground-school pupils into dissidents. Now, after 17 years our Minister of Education is encouraging schools to mandate children to wear them again. Combined with re-introduction of boys or girls-only classes it will surely erase the problem of drugs, violence and atheism in Polish schools.

For a whole collection of articles about uniforms in schools click here.

17 June 2007

Newsweek Poland: "Ministry of Health will count gays and lesbians"

Marek Grabowski, Ministry of Health has already denied that allegation published by polish edition of Newsweek. Or rather rectified that this is not what he exactly meant. A quote from him:
`This help is targeted at people are hesitating whether to become homo or heterosexual, because they can still be saved.'
In case you were wondering the guy is a physician. A second level specialist in rehabilitation. At least according to Wikipedia. However since he has been recommended for this post by Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland you can never be sure of his diploma. When asked by some other journalists about this initiative he answered:
`Penal code authorizes medical treatment of persons with sexual disorders if they commit a crime. Thus we established a team that will take care of such people and these are mainly pedophiles.'
In Poland obviously all gays are pedophiles and even if they weren't convicted for a crime yet, they surely will. Now if you think he meant the guys from committee being pedophiles then I can't help you, he expressed himself in polish just as ambiguously.

The only positive aspect of this whole affair is what the head of that committee - Wojciech Kłosiński - answered when asked about the issue:
`We were not dealing with homosexuals, since homosexuality is not a disorder of sexual preferences, it's just another orientation.'
A bold statement to make by a government official in a country with high unemployment rate.

15 June 2007

CBA can blackmail their informers during the recruitment process

CBA agents can shut their eyes to crimes committed by their informants, but also force the unwilling to secretly collaborate by using blackmail - the Dziennik Daily newspaper has found out.

'If CBA's operational instruction gives them such powers, it is a pathology' said general Adam Rapacki, former chief of Polish police.

The question on the contents of this secret CBA instruction has been posed yesterday on a hearing by Parliamentary Commission on Secret Services. The CBA chief Mariusz Kamiński reassured that the instruction does comply with law.

'CBA does not break the principles of a democratic state of law; the secret operational instruction does exist, however there is nothing in it that would breach these principles', he said.

According to Dziennik's interlocutors the possibility to use "incriminating materials" in order to recruit new informers is given to CBA's agent by a secret document - Operational Work Instructions. 'This a collection of techniques that can be used. It does not forbid the use of blackmail, it even encourages it. Also during the trainings we are told that we can use "hooks" to recruit informers' - explains one of Dziennik's interlocutors. His revelations have been confirmed by Dziennik at two other sources, including a high ranking official dealing with security of the state. What does the use of incriminating materials for recruiting process mean in practice?

'It can mean various things. The most banal example is when a drunk driver gets his driving license back [in return for information -- transl.]. But much more serious combinations can arise.' He provides an example: knowing that a physician performs illegal abortions, CBA agents can propose a deal to him. They commission him a task of luring another doctor into a trap by asking him to assist in an illegal surgery.

'And the next physician is taken to the CBA's office where he is provided with a deal: you will inform on your colleagues and you won't go to prison for participating in an abortion.'
another interlocutor adds.

The CBA chief communicated to MPs yesterday that he cannot reveal the contents of the instruction, because it's classified by law. However this issue will remain ongoing. 'I can say that we will ask the minister coordinator to provide [us -- transl.] with this operational instruction. The use of such methods is unacceptable' - says ex-Minister of Internal Affairs, Civic Platform MP [and member of Parliamentary Commission on Secret Services -- transl.].

An ex-UOP chief and former Minister of Internal Affairs, Krzysztof Kozłowski simply says: 'Polish Secret Service did not have such possibilities since Służba Bezpieczeństwa [communist internal intelligence agency and secret police -- transl.]'. Biernacki reminds that there is a proposed bill on operational work techniques, common to all intelligence agencies, but he says that government is blocking all progress. As we found out, the Ministry for Internal Affairs already sees it necessary to create a single legislation. 'It would end all the pathologies in the secret services. I don't think that the openness of the techniques would harm the work of the officers. Just watch a good spy film to see everything' Rapacki thinks.

Author - Robert Zieliński

06 June 2007

"I will not have a minority living without god telling me what I should do."

I will find out which teacher informed on me. I will punish her for sure. It's me the person with spiritual authority over the village.
In case you ever wanted to come to Poland and work here, please be informed that besides your contractual boss you will always have another one: the local parish priest. It's a whole parallel reporting hierarchy, above the local priest there are bishops and it goes all the way up to Holy See.

I case you wondered what it's all about - tomorrow it's Corpus Christi. In every city, town and village, you'll see decorated streets, an altar every several blocks and processions going between them lead by guys wearing dresses. They go along streets in the morning singing loudly and waking up any sleeping sinners. The thing is - all those altars have to be built by somebody. In Kroczewo in Mazowieckie Voivodship, one of the altars is to be built close to the school. And the altar itself is to be built by school teachers. They found out about it when they saw a note in teachers room in their school:
As Rector has assigned teachers to prepare the altar for Corpus Cristi, I assign following teachers to this task [list of five teachers].

The note was signed by Barbara Łubek, the school director. The deputy school director said in an interview, that they could not refuse since rector has asked them to do that. When asked what about the non-believing teachers in that school she answered:
It's impossible. After all this school is named after John Paul II.
Don't expect any comment from me, I'm at a loss of words.

01 June 2007

What's in the news this passing week?

Top news from Poland for this passing week.

You might have already heard about Tinky-Winky being accused of promoting homosexuality by Polish children rights watchdog mrs. Sowińska. When I checked on google news yesterday there were over 300 articles from English language news outlets on the web. Amongst them Washington Post, Euronews, Daily Mail, New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, USA Today. CNN seems to have ignored the issue. Poles will be eternally gratefull to CNN for this omission ;-)

Prime minister and his bank account (or lack thereof)
That's right. Prime minister of a 40 million large nation in the heart of Europe does not have a bank account of his own. However he doesn't need that much money anyway - he lives with his mother, so she probably cooks for him. He doesn't spend much on fuel - BOR takes him to work and back home and when he needs to get somewhere further, he gets a ride on the fastest flying passenger airplane in the world TU-154M (at least since Concorde is grounded). I will not link to all those nasty newspapers that reported this magnificent piece of news, you can have a look at this instead.

A strange way to promote Polish culture
Pupils in Polish high schools will probably be freed from the burden of reading potentially subversive novels by such famous writers of Polish origin as Gombrowicz, Witkacy, Joseph Conrad. They will leave school libraries in first class company - Goethe, Kafka, Dostoevsky have also been assessed as unnecessary.

31 May 2007

thou shall not parade

Neither Putt-Putt, nor Tinky-Winky will join the parade in Poland anymore. Unless, of course, they want to demonstrate zealously their commitment to the nation, catholic or family (only heterosexual) values. Why?

The Ministry of Culture has prepared a new bill project, which will enable the authorities to ban gatherings. The voivode will evaluate whether, for example, a feminist demonstration against abortion prohibition or a demonstration of sexual minorities against discrimination have the right to pass next to crosses, monuments etc.

Given the amount of churches and monuments in Poland, this means that the new law is applicable virtually all over most major cities. And I've never yet seen a feminist demonstration in the middle of a wheat field. But why, you might ask, would some places be so special that one couldn't organize a demonstration there? And who is to decide which demonstrations are OK, and which not? Maybe not only LGBT and feminist, maybe also the annual Corpus Christi processions are banned from the cities as well? Here are all the answers:

At the moment the authorities can ban a [public] gathering only if it was against the law or could threaten the life or health of people or "excessively endanger the premises". The ministry wants to add to that "maintain the solemnity or the character of the site of commemoration"
This could be traced back to the perplexing bill which protects "religious feelings" and places of worship. As if any other feelings or feelings of atheists (or, implicitly, people of other religion than Catholicism) are not as worthy of protecting. This time they want to go grand - whatever opinion one wants to present in public, he cannot do so, unless in a place designated by the "moral majority" or unless its the correct opinion.

What is worst about the newly proposed law, is its very subjective character:

The community authorities will designate the "sites of commemoration" and if
anyone would want to make a demonstration in the vicinity of such a place, then
the voivode could exercise his law to ban it on the ground that "the goal or the
course of the gathering may severely threaten maintaining the solemnity or the
character of the site of commemoration"
Which basically means that the ban depends on the personal decision of someone not necessarily resistant to bias or political influence.

Is there still hope if Tinky changes his queer purple to papist yellow-and-white?

30 May 2007

just you wait

I wanted to write something, anything, to post here for long. My motivation, basically, was that people from abroad, when I tell him what is happening here in Poland, simply don't believe me and usually I have no time to translate in real-time the news form Polish portals. Also, because the contemporary Polish issues are so out of this world for most, that I need not only to translate the news itself but also provide elaborate background.

Recently the topic of gay Teletubbies exploded. To make a long story short: the children's rights' spokesman found out (7 years after the civilized world gave up on the ridicule) that some people suggest Tinky-Winky might be gay. Almost everyone considered it a joke, but our government took the matter seriously, and commissioned professional psychological opinion on whether Teletubbies are appropriate for children. You can read about it here.

But never mind that - it's so last Tuesday. As I commented on Evans blog, we're bound to have some news to laugh at (or cry at, if you will) any moment. And I was not mistaken:

Polish National Television (TVP) finally cought up on what they've actually been airing for the past few weeks - the abominable Little Britain. Everyone who at least heard of Little Britain wondered how long it will take TVP to realize how much this show is against our government's declared Moral Revolution (mind you: TVP is virtually 100% government controlled). Here's what's just happened:

The controversial comedy scene is set in a village market, where the only town gay has his little stand . The stand raises interest of an elderly lady and companying priest. The seller accuses the two of bad intentions. In the version aired by the Polish broadcaster it ends with the Priest declaring tolerance for people of different [sexual] orientation.

BBC and other viewers could watch a different ending of this scene. In the original version the priest is joined by his homosexual partner who is interested in buying some of the erotic accessories. We also hear the lady's kinky declarations.

TVP justifies the modification with care for its viewers - When we decided to air
"Little Britain" we had in mind the differences between the sensitivity of Polish and British viewers. What is acceptable even in British public television, may offend Polish viewers - Katarzyna Twardowska from TVP explains to wirtualnemedia.pl


So all those who waited for TVP to begin censoring foreign shows (our own productions, which are produced recently, are pro-catholic and anti-left anyway, so no need to censor anything) were not disappointed. It's actually quite surprising it took them so long.

Right now the national television tells us who's the enemy (anyone not condemning the Poland from before Kaczynski were elected to hell, homosexuals, feminists), what's the only moral way to live (catholic) - just like big Brother in Orwell's 1984. I wonder what will come next. Luckily enough we can still change the channel or switch the tv off.

I bet that if "Nigella Bites" was on national TVP, and not on private TNV Style as it is now, they'd drop it - after all Lawson is Jewish, isn't' she? And even if she's not, it would be highly unpatriotic to let people cook fusion instead of traditional pierogi.