World Opinions | Poland’s campaign against the press could devastate what’s left of its democracy
Video shows WWII "earthquake bomb" exploding underwater
Dramatic drone video shows the detonation spewing water high into the sky, with waves hitting the shore. It was discovered last year embedded at a depth of 39 feet with just its nose sticking out during dredging close to the port city of Swinoujscie in northwest Poland. More than six meters long, it was laden with 2.4 tons of explosives -- equivalent to around 3.6 tons of TNT.The navy had said earlier it had ruled out the traditional option of a controlled explosion for fear of destroying a bridge located some 500 meters away.
POLAND AND Hungary have both been at odds with the European Union over breaches of the rule of law, but until now one difference between them has been the relative robustness of Polish media, which counts numerous independent outlets. That may be about to change. Following a narrow victory in July’s presidential election, the ruling Law and Justice party broadcast its intention to “re-Polonize” and “deconcentrate” the nongovernment media — by which it evidently means, turn them into official mouthpieces.
Senior Polish officials last weekreports that a state-owned oil company is 20 of the 24 regional newspapers in the country, which are currently owned by a German publishing group. That has been the pattern in Hungary, where independent journalism has been eliminated not by brute censorship but through the purchase of outlets by the government or friendly businessmen.
A political scientist explains why the GOP is a threat to American democracy
And why the November election is an opportunity to fix it.As things stand, one of our two major political parties is committed to suppressing as many votes as possible, and the leader of that party, the president of the United States, has said outright that he won’t accept the legitimacy of the election process if he doesn’t win.
For those not eager to sell, Law and Justice’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski hasthat the party may press ahead with two laws it has long threatened to pass. One would limit foreign ownership of Polish media outlets, while the other would force the breakup of media companies that have multiple outlets. “Media in Poland should be Polish,” says Mr. Kaczynski, a nationalist populist who crusades against immigrants and gay rights. The obvious targets are newspapers, magazines and a television channel wholly or partially owned by German and U.S. companies.
The government’s campaign could devastate what remains of Polish democracy, which has already been badly weakened by Law and Justice’s takeover of the judiciary. Poland’s most popular and respected newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, is part of a conglomerate that also owns radio stations and a publishing house and is partly owned by two U.S. companies. The most influential television station — now that Law and Justice has turned the state broadcaster into a propaganda outlet — is TVN, which is owned by Discovery Inc., an American multinational. The government has already damaged Gazeta Wyborcza by blocking advertising purchases by state companies.
Top court in Poland strikes down law allowing abortions for birth defects
Poland's top court ruled Thursday that a law permitting abortion of fetuses with congenital disabilities is unconstitutional.The country's Constitutional Court ruled the ban will be effective immediately, outlawing abortions in cases where congenital disabilities are discovered and further limiting abortion access, the Associated Press reported.Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, already maintains one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
Media with U.S. connections might have some protection: The Kaczynski government styles itself as pro-American. To her credit, the U.S. ambassador in Warsaw, Georgette Mosbacher, hasagainst the incipient crackdown, tweeting that “forced fragmentation of the media will limit freedom of speech because only State-owned and small outlets will survive.” Pressure on German-owned media could also attract attention in Berlin and Brussels just as the European Union is debating whether to link an economic recovery package and long-term budget to respect by aid recipients for the rule of law.
Mr. Kaczynski, however, is sounding defiant. Hethat Poland would veto the E.U. budget rather than meet its democratic standards. As Donald Tusk, a former president of the European Council and a former Polish prime minister put it, Mr. Kaczynski “is ready to block E.U. aid for Poland so that he can continue to violate the rule of law with impunity.” If he persists in his attacks on free press, his government ought to suffer consequences in Washington, as well.
Polish police: 15 detained after abortion ban protest
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s police said Friday they detained 15 people during protests in Warsaw against a court ruling that toughened the nation’s strict abortion law and banned abortion of fetuses with congenital defects. Hundreds of people protested Thursday night in front of the ruling right-wing party offices and the home of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in defiance of a pandemic-related ban on public gatherings. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Video: Belarusian opposition leader joins demonstration in Copenhagen (AFP)
'Give me a break': Sen. Martha McSally brushes off Trump's treatment at Arizona rally .
Trump has kept McSally by his side, unlike some GOP candidates facing tough campaigns. But Trump has exuded little warmth for McSally lately. On Wednesday at a rally in Goodyear, Trump hurried McSally on stage and told her to speak quickly, a departure from his recent rallies in Iowa and Michigan where the GOP Senate candidates were not brought on stage to speak during his prime-time slot. "Martha, just come up fast,” Trump said, after issuing her praise and slamming her Democratic challenger Mark Kelly. “Fast. Fast. Come on. Quick. You got one minute! One minute, Martha! They don’t want to hear this, Martha.