Monday, October 30, 2006

Can Poland solve its labor problems?

With unemployment in Poland at about 15.2%, there is a shortage of labour. Foreign companies are investing in Poland expecting to find cheaper, talented Polish labor and are coming up short on their expectations because this labor has emigrated West. Will Poland be able to supply the laborers expected by foreign investors?

The labor picture is interesting.

Emigration of the talented and skilled work force to Western European Union countries is estimated to have removed anywhere between 1 and 2 million talented Poles from the available work force. But there are still about 2.3 million registered unemployed in Poland.

Even though there are 2.3 million unemployed left in the country, companies in Poland are reporting difficulties with finding qualified workers.

It is estimated that one to one-and-a-half million of this unemployed labor pool are not interested in work for one reason or another. Many of these people are illegally employed and are simply registered as unemployed in order to get state benefits.

Other companies report that once that train young workers, a large percentage of them emigrate West.

The Polish government proudly reports that the unemployment rate has been decreasing. The Polish Government Central Statistics office reported that over the past year the unemployment rate in Poland as decreased approximately 3.5% and the Polish government attributes this, in part, due to increased job opportunities.

But is also estimated that about 5% of the Polish work force has emigrated West. If that is the case, it would appear that in fact had these people stayed in Poland the unemployment rate would have actually increased. The reduction in unemployemnt is actually very much the result of emmigration.

Seeing the problem that Polish companies are having finding labor, The Polish government has taken some steps to open its borders to foreign workers in an attempt to fill the requirements for laborers in Poland.

But Poland's attractiveness to foreign investors is based largely on having access to a low cost of well-educated work force. Will the foreign workers that come to Poland include enough talented, well educated people that are necessary to help satisfy the needs of the high-tech companies coming to Poland? Or will opening the borders bring in the low-cost labor that is qualified to work on the farms and in menial positions?

Anecdotal evidence says that some Poles are returning to the country. It is reported that Polish expatriates from the city of Lodz are buying real estate there because they see possibilities for the growing economy in Lodz. According to the report people are returning to Lodz.

People may simply be investing in real estate. Maybe they will invest in real estate in Poland and continu to commute to high paying jobs in the West?

But the information from Lodz is anectotal and anecdotes don't make data. How attractive is it to people working at high wages in Western Europe to come back to Lodz to work once again for low wages? Not very.

It is going to take higher wages to attract talent. But according to some analysts, that will take 20 years.

Thee current government is pursuing a policy of destroying the old system under which Poland has operated. It has not shown a policy of building labor conditions conducive to keeping Polish labor in Poland. It seems very interested in attracting foreign investment to create new jobs in Poland. But on the other side of coin it has not demonstrated any active interest in assuring these companies the required workers.

To increase the wages for Polish workers, the cost of the employment to companies operating in Poland has to drop significantly. That takes the political will to change the labor code in order to make it affordable for companies in Poland to hire new workers no less hire new workers at higher wages.

Does the current government's have the will of or the ability to at least start to solve the labor problem by changing the labor code.?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Polish government accuses opponents of spying

Poland's conservative government accused senior opposition politicians on Wednesday of using secret services to spy on political opponents in the 1990s, saying the affair was "a crime against democracy".

The government made the accusation as Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice party battled to restore its popularity, damaged by months of wrangling with both its leftist coalition partners and the opposition.

The opposition politicians denied the charge.

On Tuesday, Kaczynski -- seeking to deliver badly needed economic reforms -- had to accept the return to government of leftist Andrzej Lepper and his Self-Defence party just four weeks after calling him a "rabble-rouser" and dismissing him.

With even the rightist media criticising this revived marriage of convenience, Law and Justice counter-attacked and said it would expose what it called the evil role of intelligence services in the early days of Polish democracy.

"The secret services received an order to infiltrate rightist parties. We can talk about a crime against democracy," Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told a news conference.

He said the government had found evidence the State Protection Office's (UOP) counter-intelligence unit was using agents in the 1990s to infiltrate and monitor rightist opposition parties, including one led by Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's president.

After years in the political wilderness, the Kaczynskis won power last year with pledges to weed out corruption in Poland and what they called "cliques" of former secret service agents, ex-communists and businessmen.

They accuse the main opposition party, the Civic Platform which groups many centre-right politicians who governed Poland in the 1990s, of protecting such networks.

Last week, the Kaczynskis said former President Lech Walesa, the iconic pro-democracy campaigner and their former leader in the anti-communist Solidarity movement, was involved with rogue elements in the secret services and ex-communists. Walesa denied the accusations.

Ziobro pointed an accusing finger at Konstanty Miodowicz, a former head of counter-intelligence, and former minister Jan Rokita, both prominent Civic Platform figures.

Miodowicz and Rokita dismissed the allegations, saying they were designed to distract Poles from the government's coalition troubles and its weakening position at home and abroad.

Miodowicz, echoing remarks made by Walesa, said intelligence services were monitoring some parties when Poland's democracy was fragile after the collapse of communism in 1989 but that he did not authorise any illegal activities.

"After all those years, for political reasons and in a shameful way, some political groups are trying to twist Polish history and blacken those who served in the intelligence service," he told reporters.

Opinion polls show support for the Civic Platform is way ahead of Law and Justice in the run-up to local elections in November, while two-thirds of Poles are critical of the government.


German cruiser kidnaps Polish customs officers

A German cruiser refused to submit to the control of Polish border guards and escaped detaining three Polish customs officers on board. They were later arrested in the German spa of Hergisdorf .

On Tuesday the German cruiser Adler Dania was nearing the Polish port of Swinoujscie, after it had entered Polish territorial waters the customs officers who were on board presented their documents and demanded to check whether there was no illegal transport of alcohol carried.

The ship suddenly turned and began sailing away. The customs officers contacted the port authorities which banned the German ship to leave Polish waters. The Adler Dania refused and despite various demands from the Polish side continued the escape. When the ship arrived in Germany the Polish customs officers where arrested on charges of illegal activities. After the intervention of the Polish side the officers were released. The affair is now being dealt with by the Polish Foreign Ministry

Polish women snared by sex slave trader - court

Two Polish women promised jobs in England were forced into prostitution in Leeds, a court heard.
by Rod Hopkinson
TWO Polish women promised jobs in England were forced into prostitution in Leeds, a court heard.
Grzegorz Szydlowski told the women they would be well paid working in a bar in Manchester, the jury heard.
But they were picked up at Liverpool airport, driven to Leeds and made to work in a brothel in Armley, it was alleged.
Richard Woolfall, prosecuting at Leeds Crown Court, said Szydlowski set them up in a flat in the city, giving them food and bedding. He threatened them and used violence to make them work as prostitutes.
"He made them pay him £200 a week and took other money from them when he could find it," he said.
Szydlowski, 25, of Longroyd Avenue, Beeston, Leeds, has denied two offences of bringing the two women to the UK for sexual exploitation between May and June this year.
He has also pleaded not guilty to two further offences of intentionally arranging for the women to work as prostitutes.
Mr Woolfall told a jury how one of his victims had decided with her husband to go to England to earn money.
But when she arrived in Liverpool with a woman friend, Szydlowski was waiting with a henchman and they were driven by car to a "sparsely furnished room" in Beeston, Leeds.
The women became concerned when they were not taken to do bar work and Szydlowski turned nasty, alleged Mr Woolfall.
"He told them they were going to a brothel," he said. "He was aggressive with one woman and slapped her across the face saying 'Do you think everything is so nice? You have to pay – why do you think you were coming?'"
Mr Woolfall added both women felt they had no option but to do as told, saying: "He controlled them. There was no-one they could rely on for help."
When they were taken to the massage parlour their passports were taken by the receptionist and were told to get changed.
The court heard a taxi driver who befriended them told them to go to police but they did not dare complain.
Mr Woolfall claimed Szydlowski and his friend would often shake and slap the women and also threaten the women, telling them not to run away or they would kill them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Groping’s okay is Poland – apparently!

A case that came up before Weymouth magistrates last week may well illustrate the extent to which we Brits, some say, are being “taken for a ride” by some migrants to our country.

Our Dorset correspondent tells us that the above court was told by a Polish defendant – or rather his taxpayer funded interpreter – that groping women is an acceptable pastime in Poland!

Well that appears to be the defence put forward by one Thomasz Stepniowski. Mr. Stepniowski is charged with four offences, which the local media have explained relates to how ”the women he groped included a teenager aged 15 and a woman in her mid-40s. He fondled the breasts of three of them and pinched another on the bottom.”

Polish interpreter agrees that groping is acceptable – claim!

Perhaps even more surprising is the media assertion that Mr. Stepniowski’s claim of - groping is acceptable behaviour in Poland - is shared by the female Polish interpreter present in court. This lady, we are informed, is alleged to have: “volunteered the view that she was "outraged" such a matter could be brought to court and that she had agreed that such behaviour would be acceptable in Poland.”

But what is absolutely amazing is that sentencing has been reportedly postponed until later this month - when a witness is to be called who will apparently tell the court ”about Polish attitudes to such behaviour”.

Now our Dorset British National Party correspondents asks, with no little indignation - ”What does it matter what Polish attitudes are to this sort of behaviour – the alleged offences were said to have been committed in Weymouth and the only cultural norms that should have any bearing on the matter are our own British ones!”

We await the outcome of the case with much interest!

Prosecutor's Office to investigate political corruption

The District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw has launched an official investigation into the so-called ‘tapes of truth’ recorded by Renata Beger. The opposition SelfDefense MP had taped with a hidden camera her negotiations with two representatives of the ruling Law and Justice linked to the Prime Minister’s Office who had been promising her a high government post and financial aid at taxpayer’s expense in return for switching political sympathies to support the government. The prosecutors have already questioned Renata Beger but nobody has yet faced any charges in connection with the incident. However, it has been acknowledged that the case can be qualified as corruption, which carries a penalty of up to 12 year imprisonment for offenders. The tapes have been handed over to the Prosecutor’s Office by TVN, the commercial station which had initially aired the recordings almost three weeks ago.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Polish firms carve out niche with Nazi uniforms

Andrzej Frankowski runs one of handful of companies in Poland that make copies of Nazi uniforms. Firm sells mainly to film companies and history buffs, but some fear uniforms he offers via internet may be falling into hands of far-right extremists

Andrzej Frankowski holds up a Nazi-era German army jacket and says the officer who wore it must have fought in the hot deserts of North Africa.

"You can tell by the thin fabric it has been made from," Frankowski says, running his hand over the faded olive green jacket.

It's an original that he uses as a model for the replicas meticulously crafted in his cramped workshop.

Frankowski runs one of a handful of companies in Poland that make copies of Nazi uniforms - for many Poles a surprising business in a country subjected to six years of brutal Nazi occupation that cost millions of lives during World War II.

His firm sells mainly to film companies and history buffs, although some people fear that uniforms he offers via the internet may be falling into the hands of far-right extremists.

On one recent day, a few women in his workshop in the western city of Poznan hovered over sewing machines making copies of the uniforms worn by Poland's despised wartime occupiers. They also make related paraphernalia, including armbands saying "Der Fuehrer."

"This is my idea for business and for offering jobs to people," said Frankowski, 36. "I could also make Chinese uniforms, no problem, if only there were a demand for them."

The German invasion of Poland in 1939 started World War II, during which Poland lost more than 6 million citizens - half of them Jews. Today, bitterness toward Germany still resonates in day-to-day politics and among older Poles.

Complete uniform sells for USD 820

Frankowski insists there is no ideology behind what he produces in his little work space, squeezed into an attic above a car repair shop that his family owns in a neighborhood of warehouses and empty lots.

He said the uniforms he makes - some 5,000 annually - include replicas of British, Polish, Russian and American army wear and are used in films and historical re-enactments, a popular activity for history buffs.

He says his clients come from Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and the Czech Republic. A complete uniform sells for about USD 820, he said.

Officially, there is no market in Germany since displaying Nazi regalia is illegal there, but Frankowski said he buys originals at armaments fairs in the German cities of Bremen, Stuttgart and Kassel.

Boguslaw Woloszanski, a popular script writer of state-produced TV documentaries about the war, said businesses like Frankowski's help reconstruct history faithfully.

"You could not make a historic film or a re-enactment scene without them," said Woloszanski, who has bought historical uniforms from

Hero Collection, another producer in Poznan.

Perhaps reflecting the sometimes strongly negative reaction to the work, Hero Collection declined to talk about its products. The company's Web sites says it has supplied uniforms for such movies as the Oscar-winning "The Pianist," the TV film "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" and the Italian movie "Karol, the Man Who Became the Pope."

To make uniforms requires great historic knowledge and accuracy, Woloszanski said.

Surveillance scandal continues

Law and Justice deputies have appealed in a letter to the Civic Platform to comment on accusations against one of their chief figures, Jan Rokita, that he is politically responsible for surveillance operations against right-wing activists in the early 1990s.

At the time Jan Rokita was Minister in the government of Hanna Suchocka. Deputy Zbigniew Girzyński told a press conference that either Rokita knew that the extra-parliamentary opposition at the time was in the interest of the special services, or that he was a very incompetent minister.

He also demanded the then premier Hanna Suchocka, who is currently the Polish ambassador at the Vatican, to withdraw from public life. The surveillance scandal has for several years been the subject of a court probe.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Polish President warns about changing Prime Minister

According to Polish Government opposition party Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk, Poland's President Lech Kaczynski warned him that he would not allow any legislation to pass if the Presidents brother was not the Prime Minister.

Yesterday Donald Tusk held a very short meeting with Polish President Lech Kaczynski. There is the President's version of what happened at the meeting and there is Donald Tusk's version of what happened at the meeting.

According to Donald Tusk, the President became very angry and cut the meeting short after Donald Tusk told the President that the President's brother, the Prime Minister of Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has lost the ability to govern and that he should press his brother to resign.

The President's spokesman, however, said that the meeting was terminated quickly because it was Donald Tusk who became angry.

According to Tusk, the President told him that the only legislation that the president will allow to pass would be legislation passed by government with his brother as the Prime Minister.

According to the president's spokesman, when the President is presented legislation from the Polish parliament he has several options. One of those options is to veto any legislation that is not good for Poland.

That a meeting between the President and an opposition leader gets cut short is not good for Poland.

And any threat, implied or otherwise, to veto or otherwise stop passage of any legislation not passed under a government controled by the President's brother has some people worried.

Gross, Skromach to testify in Unipetrol case

Polish state attorneys will probably be present on Wednesday at the questioning of former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and former labour and social affairs minister Zdenek Skromach (both Social Democrats, CSSD) in the case of the suspected corruption in the privatisation of Unipetrol.

Gross and Skromach will testify about the circumstances of the sale of the petrochemical holding Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen in 2004.

The Polish state attorneys want to clarify whether the sale was accompanied by corruption. They arrived in Prague for the second time within one month. At their request, Czech police are questioning witnesses, including leading Czech politicians who had something to do with the privatisation of Unipetrol.

Former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who was questioned by the police Monday, said after the questioning that in his view, the detectives had found no proof that any crimes were committed by Czech citizens in connection with Unipetrol's privatisation.

Detectives from the anti-corruption police, in cooperation with Polish state attorneys, would like to hear nine witnesses by Friday, including another former PM Vladimir Spidla and current PM and Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Mirek Topolanek.

Polish investigators are also preparing a new application for legal assistance since they want to question another 18 people.

Polish investigators started to take interest in the privatisation of Unipetrol in connection with a suspicion of corruption and damage that PKN Orlen may have incurred.

Polish Bank Asks Its Managers To Disclose Links to Secret Police

PKO Bank Polski SA became the first of Poland's biggest companies to ask its managers to declare whether they worked for the secret police during the rule of communism, part of the conservative government's attempt to expose former spies.

Slawomir Skrzypek, who was named by the Treasury Ministry as PKO's interim chief executive officer September 29, asked as many as 900 managers to disclose any cooperation with the secret services between 1944 and 1990, a PKO spokesman, Marek Klucinski, said.

The Warsaw-based bank is trying to ensure decision-makers "are not subject of any pressure that could influence their job," Mr. Klucinski said in an interview yesterday. The declaration on whether they spied is voluntary, he said. While it's been 17 years since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, countries are still trying to come to terms with the past and the number of citizens who informed the authorities about colleagues and even family members. The year-old Polish government has now taken that a step further by trying to vet the managers of state-owned companies like PKO. It's extending existing legislation to include the press also. Anybody accused of cooperating with the communist secret services could be fired, according to the bill. So far, only people in public office needed to make a declaration. The information, often-mundane facts about visitors or conversations, could be used to end a career or result in imprisonment.

Polish PM implicates Walesa in plot

Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Tuesday former President Lech Walesa could have inspired rogue secret service agents to arrange a car crash in a bid to silence him in the 1990s.

The claims of a plot have surfaced at a time of political instability in Poland where conservative Kaczynski is fighting to keep his grip on power after a key ally quit his coalition.

Walesa, an international symbol of the fight to overthrow communism in the 1980s, angrily denied the accusations and said he was considering suing Kaczynski.

"He cannot do much else than talk nonsense," Walesa told Reuters by telephone. "I will sue him if he is indeed slandering me in public."

Walesa is a harsh critic of Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's current president, calling them unfit to govern.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski was Walesa's top aide when the former Solidarity union leader became president in 1990. But the two fell out when Walesa refused to abandon painful free-market reforms during his five-year term and Kaczynski went on to form a party bent on removing his former mentor from power.

Kaczynski alleges some secret agents went as far as to cause car accidents in an attempt to remove him from public life during and shortly after Walesa's term as Poland's president.

"I was in an Opel Vectra car with my driver (when) we had a serious crash," Kaczynski told the Dziennik newspaper in a lengthy interview, when asked for examples of unlawful secret service activities against him.

"The police established that the air valve in one of the tyres was loosened," he was quoted as saying.

Asked who was behind such acts, Kaczynski said Walesa, who had by then been out of office for about a year, "politically inspired" them.

"I absolutely doubt these agents did it on their own," he told Dziennik. "I am deducing that Lech Walesa and his entourage were the spirit behind it."


Documents released this week by a court showed Poland's intelligence service monitored and infiltrated radical parties on both sides of the political spectrum after the collapse of communism in 1989, fearing they could destabilise the young democracy.

Walesa, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has also said the secret service monitored radical parties in early 1990s, but has added he was not aware of any illegal acts.

Since coming to power in last year's elections, the Kaczynski brothers have seen their popularity plunge due to constant political rows with the opposition, the independent central bank, the media and the country's top judges.

Kaczynski's spokesman was not available to comment but Dziennik said his remarks in the interview had been cleared for publication by his office.

In another interview, first published in 1999 by leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Kaczynski mentioned another car accident which he believed was an attempt on his life during Walesa's term as president.

"In 1993, as part of intimidating me during the anti-Walesa campaign, my tyres were punctured with a special tool so that they would burst at high speed," he was quoted as saying by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. The paper re-ran the interview on Tuesday.

Political rows may harm Polish economy

Prolonged political turmoil will undermine Poland's economy by jeopardizing fiscal consolidation plans and undermining investor confidence, Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska said on Tuesday.

She said the European Union's biggest newcomer might grow fast and cut its budget deficit significantly in the next three years if the country returns to political stability. Or it can see its economy suffer if rows continue.

"We face a very stormy situation. We are at a cross-roads: it's either make or break," Gilowska told Reuters in an interview after a meeting of EU finance ministers. "Looking at the turmoil on our political scene, which has lasted three years, I cannot rule out that things will turn out bad," she said.

Poland's parliament will vote this week on a motion to shorten its term after conservative Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski lost his majority in the lower house last month, putting the country on the verge of early elections.

Kaczynski voiced optimism on Tuesday about averting snap polls as he continued efforts to cobble together a new coalition with the small Polish Peasants Party and independent deputies.

His government could also struggle on in a parliamentary minority, making it extremely difficult to move forward with reforms needed to prepare Poland for entry to the euro zone.

"If the current situation continues for more than two or three months, the consequences will be bad," said Gilowska. "We cannot continue with an uncertain situation. Nothing harms the economy and reforms more than a lack of stability and uncertainty about what can be done."


Gilowska said she was an optimist so she did not want to go into details on the economic consequences of a prolonged political stalemate.

She has spoken out in favor of the deeper structural reforms economists and the central bank say are necessary to secure the future of Poland's public finances against any significant dip in the economy's brisk 5-percent growth.

On Tuesday, she reaffirmed her plans to cut the budget deficit to below the euro zone's limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 from next year's planned 4.1 percent, as long as the strong economic expansion continues.

"The current good condition of the economy will translate into a good scenario for the future, unless we mess it up, and here we may do a lot," she said.

The 3-percent target has long been Poland's chief problem with meeting criteria for adoption of the single currency pushing back forecasts for its expected entry to the euro zone into the next decade.

She said that Hungary, where politicians have allowed the budget deficit to soar to 10.1 percent of GDP, should serve as a warning for Poland.

"The example of Hungary shows it is enough to have two or three years of thoughtless belt-loosening to worsen all marcro-economic indicators," she said.

Polish prime minister threatened with non confidence vote

Polish government opposition party Civic Platform has announced that it will submit a motion of no-confidence in the Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski this afternoon after a meeting with the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski. The leaders of Civic Platform will hold a press conference at 1600 today after that meeting.

In a sudden turn of events, former coalition party Samoobrona, which party has been courting the Prime Minister's party to re-enter the Polish Government Coalition, has said that it will support the motion of no-confidence in the Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

At the present time it appears that there are not enough votes in the Polish Parliament to force new elections. But a vote of no-confidence in the Polish Prime Minister could force a change in the government.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The four Polish bribary scandal films

Opposition rally calls for new elections in Poland

Thousands marched through the streets of the Polish capital Saturday, calling for new elections and the ouster of the government after weeks of political turmoil.

More than 10,000 people carrying opposition Civic Platform placards and Poland's red-and-white flag marched through downtown, urging Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski -- whose Cabinet no longer has majority support in Parliament -- to step aside.
"A good government is for people to feel free and safe, and the road to that is new elections," Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk said at a rally at a square outside the Royal Castle. "We want new elections; we want a better government."
Three weeks ago, Kaczynski dumped the leader of the rural-based Self-Defense party from his Cabinet, causing his government to lose majority support.
He immediately launched preliminary coalition talks with the opposition Polish Peasant's Party. But those collapsed two weeks ago after footage was broadcast showing a government aide offering a senior government post to a Self-Defense lawmaker in exchange for her membership in Kaczynski's Law and Justice party.
The tape sparked fierce criticism of Kaczynski's party, plunging the government into crisis and increasing the prospect of early elections.
Opposition lawmakers accused Law and Justice of corruption and filed a motion for a vote to dissolve Parliament. Senior lawmakers added the motion to the agenda of Parliament's starting session Tuesday. A vote could be held Friday.
Supporters of Kaczynski's party held a pro-government rally in front of the Palace of Culture, and backers of the League of Polish Families, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, separately took to the streets to support the government.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Polish government punishes charitable givers

Warsaw, Poland October 7, 2006. The Polish Government discourages charity. Furthermore, the Polish Government punishes those who try to feed the poor.

By way of example, if you own a bakery in Poland and at the end of each day you have excess production, the Polish Government expects that you destroy that production and not give it to Poland's poor people or an organization such as a church charity.

You are expected to fill out a form that shows that you destroyed the excess production. If you do not destroy the excess production, you must pay the value added tax on that excess production.

If you give the excess production to a church charity, or put it out for the poor to eat, you must pay value-added tax.

And if the Polish tax office catches you feeding people, you will be penalized for not paying that tax.

This is exactly what has happened to a Polish Baker who at the end of each day gave his production to the local church and to others who would distribute food to the poor.

His tax bill is very high and he cannot pay it. His customers have abandoned him because they are afraid that if they have anything to do with him the tax office may pursue them.

The man is now on the social welfare rolls. He does not have money to pay the tax. He is waiting for the government to take his assets.

What is the solution that the tax office recommends for this?

Today it is reported in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that someone in the tax office said that the man caused his own problems. He should have just filed a false destruction report.

Or, as one Catholic Priest said, farmers dump loads of potatoes at his church at night and do not want to be contacted or thanked. Make your charitable donations on dark, cloudy nights when there is no danger of the moon shedding light on your good will.

The Polish Government does not want private people to help the poor. It wants a monopoly on providing social services so that it can show the people how it is taking care of the people.

Should private people or private business start helping the poor, the social programs promoted by the government may not be as important and government bureaucrats may find themselves with less work and fewer excuses to tax the businesses to provide social benefits.

The baker has to pay about $40,000 in taxes for helping the poor. Shame on him for helping people. The Fourth Republic Of Poland does not allow you to do this unless you pay a tax for the right to do it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Polish coalition of desperation

Poland's political parties are scrambling to form a coalition so that they do not have to face early elections. Public dissatisfaction with the Polish political parties that have controlled Poland's government to date is such that unless they form a coalition to stave off elections they are likely to be eliminated from participation in the Polish Parliament should new elections be held. Press conferences held today in Poland show just how desperate some of the parties are.

The current political polls indicate that if new elections were to be held now, the opposition party Civic Platform would likely win enough seats in the Polish Parliament to have a voting majority. The ruling coalition party now, Law and Justice, would be relegated to a minority position. All the other parties would either not be returned to the Polish Parliament or would be returned with extremely small margins.

Andrej Lepper ,of Samoobrona, announced today at a press conference that he was ready to go back into coalition with the Law and Justice Party and League of Polish Families. He held the press conference in conjunction with Roman Giertych of the League of Polish Families who publicly implored the Law and Justice Party to readmit Samoobrona to the coalition.

But the Law and Justice Party, officially not in negotiations with PSL, stated that it would not take Samoobrona back into coalition. And it indicated that perhaps by the middle of next week a new coalition would be formed with PSL and some dissident members of the Samoobrona.

Over 70 percent of the people polled in Poland this week expressed dissatisfaction with the Polish Government's attack on the Polish television station TVN for its role in exposing alleged political corruption on the part of the Law and Justice Party

This dissatisfaction has rolled over into a general dissatisfaction with the Government and a drop in the popularity of the Law and Justice Party. The Law and Justice Party now sees that it must put together some coalition or be shoved aside in new elections.

As it is with politics in general, Polish political decisions are a matter of preserving one's own self interest and the benefits one gets by being a member of parliament. So the Law and Justice Party and the other parties who would be hurt in new elections are desperate enough that to stay in power they will negotiate with people with whom they have been fighting for months.

They are driven by the inspiration of desperation and little more. Should a coalition be formed, as one can safely bet it will be, it can aptly be named the "Coalition of Desperation."

Polish Ministry will ‘‘not support cooperation of homosexuals organisations"

The Polish Ministry has rejected a youth proposal from Polish LGBT organisation Campaign Against Homophobia with the words ‘‘the Ministry does not support actions that aim to propagate homosexual behaviour and such attitude among young people.’’

This decision violates article 13 of the Amsterdam treaty, which explicitly forbids the discrimination of sexual minorities in the European Union.

The homophobic rejection comes in relation to a European Union (EU) scheme, which the Polish LGBT group had applied.

The European Youth programme is run by the European Commission and designed to facilitate cooperation across Europe between youth aged 18-25.

The youth programme is designed to be equally opened for all, but this Polish example shows this is certainly not the case.

The Polish campaign against homophobia had applied for the European Voluntary Service (EVS) which gives a young person the chance to spend up to 12 months in another country working as a volunteer.

Decisions are made by national agencies which are in every member state of the EU. This means that decisions are made locally, they should however be in accordance with the general programme guidelines.

The Polish National Agency rejected the campaign against homophobia application stating: ‘‘the campaign is against the policy of raising children and youth, which is implemented by the Ministry. The policy of Ministry does not support actions that aim to propagate homosexual behaviour and such attitude among young people.’’

The policy of the Polish ministry ‘‘is not to support cooperation of homosexuals organisations."

Homophobia in Poland will no doubt surprise few, yet this is the first time the Ministry has openly declared its homophobia, stating that they refuse in principle to support LGBT organisations.

This overt homophobia contradicts Poland's supposed ‘official’ attitude against homosexuals. Prime-Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on a trip to Brussels told the European Commission: "(Do) not to believe in the myth of Poland as an anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic country… People with such preferences have full rights in Poland, there is no tradition in Poland of persecuting such people."

Polish MEP angers Germans in EU parliament

Polish MEP Maciej Giertych has sparked outrage among German MEPs by displaying large WWII posters in the European parliament.

The six black-and-white posters, which tower 1,80m high outside Giertych’s office, depict Hitler, German WWII fighter planes, and crying children surrounded by wartime destruction.

The move was rejected as an “anti-German attack” by a number of prominent German MEPs including Elmar Brok, socialist group leader Martin Schulz and EPP chairman Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Brok said that the posters should not be allowed inside the parliament, adding that “this minority uses anti-German attacks for the same political reasons that the communists once used in order to justify their power”.

Pöttering added that the posters were “targeted at the unification of Europe”.

According to Die Welt, this is not the first time that a prominent member of the League of Polish Families (LPR) has agitated against Germany in the parliament.

The paper says Giertych’s party has been trying to collect MEP signatures for the last few months against the alleged “incessant human rights infringements” perpetrated by the German authorities and the “resurgent nazism in Germany”.

Giertych himself is no stranger to controversy – in July, he endorsed the political views of dictator Francisco Franco as a “brave fighter against the communist plague” in a speech at the European parliament.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Poland's Andrej Lepper tempts fate

Poland's former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Agriculture, Andrej Lepper, holds the financial future of all but 800 people in his hands. He has the ability to financially destroy almost all these people by calling promissory notes in the amount of 500,000 zloty each signed by approximately 857 people. He may find that one of these people will do something unexpected.

Andrej Lepper took promissory notes from people who were put on his political party, Samoobrona, election list

According to reports, he was supposed to return the promissory notes to those people who were not elected to the Polish parliament in the last round of elections. It is claimed that after many requests, people who have asked to have their promissory notes returned were ignored.

A spokesman for the Samoobrona said that if these people really wanted their promissory notes, they could come visit Andrej Lepper rather than expecting to get the promissory notes returned by mail.

When repeatedly questioned by television reporters about how many promissory notes Andrej Lepper held he simply ignored the question and walked on. He would not answer any questions at all about the promissory notes and what he intended to do with them.

Rumor has it that Andrej Lepper has used some or all of these promissory notes as security for loans.

The promissory notes in value of 500,000 zloty each far exceed the total wealth of many of the people who sign them. Calling of the promissory notes by Andrej Lepper, or a third-party that holds the note as security for loans, could destroy a the life's work of many people.

Andrej Lepper has already, in the past, escaped death when his home was set afire. At that time the he made the comment, "They tried to kill me."

As it stands now, Andrej Lepper maybe subject to a legal offensive by a former member of the Samoobrona party who coincidently is one of the richest man in Poland and who has offered to help others with their legal bills in defending against Andrej Lepper.

But it may be that not all the people who are threatened with financial ruin by Andrej Lepper will be satisfied with the legal offensive. One of these people may take a chance and threaten Andrej Lepper physically. Worse yet, one might take the unexpected path of doing the unexpected.

Andrej Lepper seems to think that he is in a position of control. Andrej Lepper should not be so cocksure and expect the unexpected.

Tempting fate in this instance may not be the wisest thing for Andrej Lepper to do

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Corruption tapes in prosecution

Renata Beger from Self Defence is testifying before the prosecution in the case of the secret tapes aired by TVN. Earlier the deputy has informed the prosecution of a breach of law committed by Law and Justice politicians. According to Beger the politicians tried to corrupt her. The prosecution has demanded that the TVN station provides the tapes of the programme and pointed that the interrogation may continue in the coming days since all aspects of the situation have to be clarified. For the time being the prosecution has not called any other persons to testify in the case

Polish government declares war on TVN

The government accuses private TVN television’s news and current affairs programs of acting as a mouthpiece for ex-communists and the liberal opposition. And there are secret agents working for the broadcaster. And that TVN is part of the anti-government conspiracy...

Just when you thought you had seen it all, Poland manages to pull another weird looking rabbit out of the hat.

All hell went off today after right wing Gazeta Polska published an article claiming that Milan Sobitic, Program Secretary of TVN (and advisor on the program Teraz My which broadcast the Beger Tapes last Tuesday), collaborated with the Polish Secret Services from 1984 to 1993. His contact officer was Konstanty Malejczyk, who went on to head WSI (1994-96), the post-communist Secret Services which the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) are currently disbanding, in the relief that the organization is still, literally, a nest of communist spies.

At lunchtime a spokesman for PiS said, during a very bad tempered news conference (it was the journalists who were outraged) that TVN was indeed part of a campaign to bring down the government; its news coverage was not objective journalism; and that it was putting forward the views and interests of Civic Platform, the opposition party with a lead of 16 points in the polls since the program was aired a week ago.

Gazeta Polska’s article goes on to draw connections between TVN and the ex-communist SLD to prove that it is part of the ex-commie-liberal conspiracy.

For instance, the paper notes that Mariusz Walter, founder of TVN, was a journalist for state television in communist Poland from 1963 and was a member of the Party until 1983. In 1976, Jan Wejchert, Executive Chairman of the owning company, ITI group, one of the richest men in Poland, was the first Pole to open a business in East Germany.

Lots of connections between ex-president Alex Kwasniewski and TVN, between Kwasniewski and Wejchert and Kwasniewski and Walter. Gazeta Polska even suggests something sinister in the fact that his wife, Jolanta Kwasniewska is a regular guest on a health and beauty program on the TV cabal channel TVN Style.

And much more besides. TVN are outraged, saying that the claims are ‘absurd’. They say that Milan Sobitic, the man alleged to have been a secret services collaborator, first heard about what was in the program Teraz My when it went out live on air, last Tuesday night. Only five people knew about what was in the program (and that excluded Walter and Wejchert).

Shoot the messenger

This government’s record with the media has been a dreadful one, almost from the very start (see Reporters Without Borders). They alienated all the mainstream media by giving unique access to TV Trwam, part of the right wing nationalist Radio Maryja group. I commented at the time that if most of the media weren’t against PiS then, then they were for sure out to get them after that. And ‘get them’ TVN did on those now infamous tapes with Renata Beger and Adam Lipinski putting a price on the survival of the government.

PiS have felt entitled to try and control what is in the media, both print and electronic, public or private, in Poland and outside of it (particularly when it’s in Germany).

And now we have open war between a government and a popular and expanding TV station.

Surly it can’t get any worse than this? Can it...?

Update: The editor of Gazeta Polska, who was invited to this week’s Teraz My has failed to turn up. I wonder if he is getting nervous about the ‘material’ he says he has to prove the allegations?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Poland's Prime Minister ruins chances of coalition

Poland's Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, may have ruined the chances for his government to form a coalition in the Polish Parliament when he made his speech at the Gdansk Stocznia shipyard where he said, "you are with us or you are in the ZOMO" See ZOMO.

His comments seem to have had a negative impact on his own party and the survival of his government. See Polish prime minister draws black line

Kaczynski has been attempting to bring members from other political parties into his own party, Law and Justice Party, in order to get enough votes to have a majority in the Polish parliament. But his remarks may be too extreme for members of other parties and also may have hurt him within his own party.

It is rumored that some members of the Law and Justice Party are readying themselves to leave the Law and Justice Party. The extremism that he demonstrated at Gdansk Stocznia appears to be even too much even for members of the extreme Law and Justice Party.

The PSL which has been negotiating with Kaczynski to form a coalition has apparently started to back away from continuing negotiations because even if they agreed to go into coalition with law and Justice Party, the Law and Justice Party coalition would still not have enough votes to carry a majority in the Polish parliament.

Public support for Kaczynski and his party has dropped down to about 16% of the of voters polled and the opposition party Civic Platform now holds a commanding lead of about 36%. And more telling, some 59% of the Polish people polled are not satisfied with the Polish government run by Kaczynski.

It appears that staying with Kaczynski is like staying with a sinking ship. As he becomes more extreme and makes accusations such as he did it at Stocznia shipyard, he is likely to convince people that he will drag them down with him. And they will have seconds thoughts about supporting him.

But the damage may already done as the comments at Gdansk Stocznia are echoing louder each day.

Russia warns US on placing missile defenses in Poland

Russia warned the United States on Tuesday against basing elements of a planned missile defense system in Poland, saying this would undermine strategic stability and require a ‘corresponding’ response from Moscow, Interfax news agency said.

‘This could have a negative impact on strategic stability, regional security and the relations between states,’ Interfax quoted ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying in an interview.

‘Such a new situation objectively requires corresponding measures from us,’ Kamynin said.

He did not specify what those measures would be. Russia, however, announced earlier this year that it was supplying Belarus -- an ex-Soviet republic wedged between Russia and Poland -- with its sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft defense system.

The United States has for years been planning and testing elements of a new global anti-missile defense system that would combine space-based elements capable of detecting hostile missile launches with ground-based rockets that would track and destroy those missiles.

Washington has consistently stated that the objective of the planned system is to protect the United States and allies from ballistic missile launches from what it terms ‘rogue’ states such as North Korea or Iran, and has insisted that it is not aimed against any other party.

With equal consistency however, Moscow has made clear its deep unease at the planned US system. Most recently, the chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, General Yuri Baluyevsky, warned that the planned US system could ignite a new Cold War-style arms race.

‘First of all, we take a critical view of this plan,’ Kamynin told Interfax.

‘On such issues, we cannot be satisfied simply with assurances that ‘there are no plans’ for US and NATO anti-missile defense in Europe to be directed against Russia,’ the ministry spokesman added.

Poland, once a close ally of Moscow that has become a key defense partner for Washington over the past decade, has mad no secret of its willingness to consider deployment on its territory of elements of the planned US system.

‘Russia has very frankly communicated its unhappiness to us, the prospect of the US planting a missile defense base in Poland,’ Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper of the US armed forces, quoted Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski as saying last month.

‘Clearly, we have to take this Russian view, a powerful neighbor of ours, into account. And that makes us even more insistent on a package of measures that would hypothetically come with a missile defense base, if the US asks for it,’ the paper quoted him as saying.

It said that Poland was one of only two countries -- the other being the Czech Republic -- that has said it would in theory be open to hosting US missile defense units.

The paper noted that a possible deployment of US missile interceptors in Poland ‘would represent the first permanent US military presence in the country.’

Monday, October 02, 2006

ZOMO - Jaroslaw and kamikaze politics

Unpopular Prime Minister speaks…unpopular PM digs a hole deeper.

PM Kaczyski hijacked a Solidarity trade union rally in Gdansk yesterday and made a speech to rally the troops. Unfortunately he ended up insulting many of them.

In a speech defending his government after the Beger tapes and the recent collapse of his coalition, he said that either ‘you are with us [in his drive to de-communize of the country] or you are in the [riot breaking thugs during communist times] the ZOMO.

Cue pictures on the TV news of ZOMO breaking skulls of striking workers.

Last week the trade union said that though it had supported the Kaczynskis in last years elections, this year they won’t be.

Opinion polls put the opposition Civic Platform 16 points in front of Law and Justice.

Polish police hunt farting dissident

That’s the headline for what is actually a story from about a month ago. But they have a certain flair when telling it.

Many have commented on this government’s weak grip on the concept of some basic human rights. Well, another is being challenged: the right to fart.

Police in Poland have launched a nationwide hunt for a man who farted loudly when asked what he thought of the president.

Hubert Hoffman [of no fixed abode - and no, that is not him in the photo, that's the president], 45, was charged with "contempt for the office of the head of state" for his actions after he was stopped by police in a routine check [meaning, harassing homeless people] at a Warsaw railway station.

He complained that under President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw, the country was returning to a Communist style dictatorship.

When told to show more respect for the country's rulers, he farted loudly and was promptly arrested.

I am impressed by his self control – maybe he has a future in a circus?

Personally, if I were the cops, I would not have ‘promptly arrested’ him. I would give it a few seconds for the atmosphere to improve a little. But it’s come to something, has it not, when letting off is unconstitutional.

Ss, is a basic human right under threat? Is there a UN charter on farting? Call the human rights lawyers!

Maybe, in connection with the anti-government demonstration this Saturday in Warsaw, the beatroot should organize a mass ‘fart-in’ outside parliament?

‘The workers , united, will never be….phreeeeewwww!!!’

Poland presses US to extradite police chief murder suspect

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and National Prosecutor Janusz Kaczmarek are leaving for Washington to discuss the possible extradition of a Polish-American businessman with US officials. Edward Mazur has been wanted by Polish authorities in connection with suspected involvement in the murder of national police chief Marek Papala in 1998. According to evidence gathered, Mazur could be the person who ordered the contract for the killing of general Papala. Shortly before his assassination Marek Papala had been nominated Poland’s liaison officer with the European Union on matters of countering international organized crime. Poland has been seeking Mazur’s extradition for the past one and a half year to no avail. Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and National Prosecutor Janusz Kaczmarek are to hold talks on speeding up the process with FBI representatives and the US Prosecutor General.

Polish military intelligence officers at the gate

A group of employees of the defunct Military Intelligence Services (WSI) have not been allowed entry to the main building on the unit’s premises in Warsaw, Monday morning. The services have been officially dissolved on September 30th retaining only part of the former personnel. As of October 1st two new organizations have been formed – the Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence. A spokesman for deputy defense minister Antoni Macierewicz, who has been appointed to enforce the necessary procedures, said some of the former staff that did not receive positive verification had not been notified about the fact. He explained they should be on stand by for further instructions. Unofficial sources say, the group included many intelligence officers summoned to headquarters from foreign missions.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Polish opposition to push for snap election.

A Polish opposition party has vowed to call a no- confidence motion in parliament at its next session in just under two weeks time. Recent polls showed two out of three Polish people were in favour of new elections, after an aide to the Prime Minister was caught on film offering a cabinet post to an opposition MP if she switched sides.

The Polish President - the identical twin brother of the Prime Minister - dismissed the idea of new elections. Lech Kaczynski said there was no other government capable of leading the country. But the broadcast of the secret footage has cast doubt on the government's ability to form a new majority coalition, after a small party broke off coalition talks with the Prime Minister's camp. So after entering parliament on an anti-corruption platform, it may be that corruption brings about the Polish government's demise.