Corrupt MPs?

Civic Platform (PO) has prepared a draft act which provides that the future heads of political offices at the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to meet specific criteria. These would include having a higher education, at least seven years’ work experience, including two years in a managerial position, and security clearance. The proposal was inspired by the current head of the political office and spokesman of the Ministry of National Defence, Bartłomiej Misiewicz. According to MP Cezary Tomczyk from PO: “In the case of Mr Misiewicz, all boundaries of good taste and decency have been crossed.” Tomczyk hopes that the act will preclude “people like Misiewicz” from taking up important ministerial positions. Marcin Kierwiński, head of the political office of the former PM Ewa Kopacz, also takes a negative view of Misiewicz, calling the spokesman a “symbol of the personnel policy of Minister Macierewicz.” Kierwiński notes that experienced and competent people are leaving the Ministry and are being replaced by the passive and mediocre, yet faithful, functionaries of the current governing party. However, the draft act was criticised by Ryszard Petru from Modern (Nowoczesna), who points out that PO had its chance to pass such legislation when it was in power. He contends that no regulations can change the fact that “a bad government will always find a place for bad, unqualified people.” Last week, Fakt reported that Misiewicz had been seen in a club in Białystok, buying drinks for everyone, hitting on female students and offering them jobs at the Ministry. According to the daily, Misiewicz had been accompanied by a security detail, having had arrived in a ministry-owned car. The spokesman, who denies everything, is currently on leave.
Newsweek

Animal Circuses Banned

Animal-Free Circuses in Warsaw

Animal-Free Circuses in Warsaw

The mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz has issued a directive banning circus shows involving animals. On Tuesday, she announced her decision via social media. Warsaw is not the first Polish city to take this step. The mayor of Słupsk Robert Biedroń has previously refused to allow similar performances in his city and has been campaigning with Polish-American supermodel Joanna Krupa for other cities to follow suit. The authorities in Bielsko-Biała and Legnica also decided against using trained animals for entertainment, as such practices are becoming increasingly controversial. The authorities explain that Polish society’s growing awareness of and sensitivity to animal suffering make it necessary for circuses to adapt to changing attitudes. “Objections are being raised with regard to the objectification of animals in circuses, the taming [of animals] in order to force them to perform actions that are against their nature, and the failure to ensure appropriate conditions of life for any given species, as well as the shameful conditions in which the animals are transported and kept between shows and off-season,” reads the justification of Mayor Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s recent decision. Psychologists from the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) provide yet another argument against allowing shows involving animals, claiming that upon seeing the treatment of circus animals, children receive a message that there is nothing wrong with being cruel to animals.
Gazeta Wyborcza

Official Air Quality App

Saving the Planet

Saving the Planet

On Christmas Eve, the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection (GIOŚ) officially launched a new app that provides information on air quality in Poland. The app uses geolocation to pinpoint the closest measuring station and download data, updated every hour, allowing its users to access alerts and warnings for the country and for specific cities. The app features all available air quality measurements as well as emission norms for particular substances. Depending on the concentration of harmful particulate matter, air quality is rated on a 6-degree scale from very good to very bad, where each level is assigned a colour from green to red. If, for example, the air quality is deemed “satisfactory” then spending a long time in the open air combined with physical exertion can have a negative impact on one’s health, and so the app will advise its users to “consider limiting activities in the open air, especially if they require prolonged or strenuous physical effort.” While the new app is not the first of its kind, GIOŚ cautions against using unauthorised programs, citing their unreliability. The official app is available free of charge.
Gazeta Wyborcza

Royal Garden of Light

Wilanów by Night

Wilanów by Night

The Royal Garden of Light is an annual exhibition set up to brighten up the area around Warsaw’s Wilanów Palace in the cold autumn and winter evenings. Every year, thousands of colourful lights are arranged into baroque motifs and floral shapes. Various installations set up across the Wilanów gardens include the King’s Magical Garden, filled with gigantic plants; the Golden Courtyard, complete with a royal coach, and the Garden of Imagination, accompanied by the music of Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Khachaturian which enhances the visual experience. On Saturdays, guests can also watch so-called mappings: audiovisual 3D displays, which take advantage of the architecture of Wilanów Palace in order to create the illusion of the building coming to life. During these 10-minute shows, King John III Sobieski and his wife, Marie Casimire Louise, appear in the windows of their erstwhile palace, to name but one of the featured attractions. This year’s exhibition will be open to visitors until 13 March 2016.
wilanow-palac.pl

Duda Wave of Popularity

Duda in the House

Duda in the House

In the recent parliamentary elections, one surname was more popular with voters than any other. Candidates who share a surname with the President are particularly sought after. There are now three new MPs and one senator by the name of Duda. Interestingly enough, there was not a single MP called Duda in the previous parliament. Back then, the only Duda to be found in the parliament building was a Civic Platform (PO) senator, Jarosław. The new MPs, much like President Duda, came endorsed by Law and Justice (PiS) and include the uncle of the President. According to sociologist Jarosław Flis, this sudden popularity of candidates sharing the president’s surname calls into question reasons behind the candidates’ success. For instance, Elżbieta Duda managed to secure a seat with 6,555 votes despite being a relatively unknown local politician and standing for election from a low place on her party’s list. Another new MP, Jan Duda, active in Solidarity since the 1980s, garnered 9,100 votes. 8,085 voters chose the President’s uncle, Antoni, head of a local job centre. Interestingly, the previously mentioned PO senator and former deputy minister of labour Jarosław Duda was re-elected with 83,369 votes.
tvn24

Speed Camera Sculpture

Modern Art?

Modern Art?

In Mniszew, a yellow box with a round opening, an antenna, and a flash lamp managed to accomplish what no road sign could: drivers began to respect the speed limit of 50kph. While the box does bear an uncanny resemblance to a speed camera, it is, in fact, a garden decoration or, as its owner prefers to think of it, a sculpture: “This isn’t a dummy speed camera; it’s a modern sculpture. I like industrial art and I wanted it here.” Paweł Perudzki placed the ‘sculpture’ in the corner of his property which borders on a turn of an access road into the village. The idea came to him after a number of accidents with cars and lorries crashing into his fence and, on one occasion, his house. Other residents support the initiative, as cars now slow down as they enter the village, making it easier to cross the street. In theory, an alternative route bypassing the village should have been built by now, but, according to borough leader Marek Drapała, this is not a high priority issue for the General Directorate for National Roads (GDDKiA): “We are currently 844th in line.” Admitting that nothing will change in the near future, the authorities have nothing against Perudzki’s ‘sculpture.’ “It stands outside of the lane, on a private property; it emits no light or sound signals and does not distract drivers,” says Jan Krynicki of GDDKiA.
tvn24

Divisive Warsaw Marathon

Warsaw Marathon Medal

Warsaw Marathon Medal

The 37th PZU Warsaw Marathon will take place on 27 September, significantly disrupting travel in the capital city. Races like this inevitably paralyse the city and reheat the old debate between enthusiasts and opponents of organising such events in the capital. About 8,000 runners will cover the distance of 42,195 metres in the PZU race. For the first time in years, competitors will not run through the districts of Ursynów and Wilanów, but the route will take them through the districts of Saska Kępa, Gocław, over Świętokrzyski Bridge, into Powiśle district, Łazienki Park, the districts of Żoliborz, Bielany, the Warsaw Citadel, the New Town, Gdański Bridge, and Praga district. This means further problems in an already congested city; some streets will be closed for hours. Residents complain about a lack of information for those who have no choice but to try to and get to work or to a university. Bartosz Milczarczyk from the Municipal Council counters the criticism, saying that the authorities have strived to ensure that the relevant information is widely available. Regardless of how successful, or unsuccessful, this attempt has been, one thing is certain – the issue of marathons in the capital city remains as divisive as ever. Warsaw hosts two annual marathons, which is more than London or Berlin, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. Every year, the total number of races in the capital of Poland reaches about a hundred.
tvn24