A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘poland

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

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  • The BBC suggests bird-like dinosaurs survived the Cretaceous catastrophe because they could eat seeds.
  • Bloomberg wonders what lessons Poland has for China’s economy.
  • Bloomberg View examines immigration controversies in Malaysia.
  • CBC notes that Manulife is now providing life insurance for HIV-positive people.
  • Gizmodo reports from the Pyongyang subway.
  • The Guardian notes the sequencing of Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA.
  • The National Post reports that Québec NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau might well be considering a run for the NDP leadership.
  • Newsweek reports on the decision of the Wall Street Journal to run an ad denying the Armenian genocide.
  • Finally, there has been much written after the death of Prince. Some highlights: The Atlantic looks at how he was a gay icon, Vox shares 14 of his most important songs, the Toronto Star notes his connection to Toronto, Dangerous Minds shares videos of early performances, The Daily Beast explains Prince’s stringent control of his content on the Internet, and In Media Res mourns the man and some of his songs.

[LINK] “Unsettling times for a settled population? Polish perspectives on Brexit”

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Anne White’s Open Democracy essay looks at Polish perspectives on Brexit. With such a large and well-entrenched Polish minority now in place in the United Kingdom, there’s plenty of potential for sadness if there is a break.

When I was asked to write a piece about Poles and other EU citizens living in the UK and their perspectives on Brexit, my first thought was that Polish people in the UK are little different from the millions of UK citizens living or travelling to work in other EU countries, or from French, German and other western Europeans living in Britain. All have equal reason to feel horrified by the prospect of Brexit.

It has been almost twelve years since Poland and other central and east European countries joined the EU: plenty of time for freedom of movement to seem normal and taken for granted, and for individual lives to be planned on the assumption that free movement was a right which would not be retracted. In some cases, exercising the right to free movement involves commuting across international borders. In many others, EU citizens have settled and put down roots in other EU countries, roots which might not be easy to tear up. This applies equally to Poles in the UK. As a Polish mother commented to me in Bristol, “definitely we’ll be in the UK for a long, long time, because, well, it’s obvious that children can’t be continually chopping and changing”.

Insofar as Poles in the UK are different from some other groups of migrants, it is partly because there are so many young families here. This adds a particular dimension to their current predicament. The popular image of the young Polish migrant who could just as easily go back to Poland as stay in the UK was reasonably accurate in 2004, but that was twelve years ago. At the time, many had only just graduated or left school and had never been employed in Poland. Now their whole working life has been lived in the UK.

Though often starting in unskilled manual jobs, many progressed to more interesting employment or set up businesses. They learned their way around their local areas, made friends, found partners, and had families. Existing parents encouraged their spouses and children to join them in the UK. Some people expended huge energy in creating Polish organisations, such as Polish-language supplementary schools, that added to the network of institutions established by the post-1945 Polish diaspora.

Recent research into civic participation among Poles in the UK, conducted for the Warsaw-based Institute of Public Affairs, suggests that many others take part in leisure activities alongside non-Polish people living in Britain. Travelling by bus from Warsaw to Podlasie region last summer, I happened to sit next to a post-accession migrant (like myself, on holiday in Poland) who entertained us during the ride by showing me her photos of walking holidays in the Peak district and mid-Wales.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm

[BLOG] Some politics links

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  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is concerned with Trump: what would happen if a terrorist attack occurred under his rule, would he actually be able to save money from changing foreign basing, do terrorist attacks help him in the polls?
  • Towleroad notes the advent of marriage equality in Greenland.
  • Window on Eurasia notes legal challenges to Russian autocracy in regional courts, notes Tatarstan’s controversial support of the Gagauz, notes Protestants in Ukraine are strongly Ukrainian, and analyzes Russia’s response to the Brussels attack.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World notes Poland’s use of public relations firms to deal with its PR problems.

[LINK] “Why the New Poland Offers Handouts for Kids That Exceed Norway’s”

Bloomberg’s Dorota Bartyzel and Wojciech Moskwa look at the politics behind Poland’s new baby bonus. I’m not inclined to think that much will be altered, demographically, apart from the timing of births. Deeper institutional and cultural changes are needed to make significant upward shifts in fertility.

Poland’s new rulers have outraged their biggest benefactors, stifled opponents and threatened foreign investors — all while keeping their supporters happy with promises of unprecedented largesse.

Welcome to the country’s latest post-communist incarnation: The right-wing Law & Justice party is moving at breakneck speed to upend the status quo with the European Union and impose a new social compact that mixes Scandinavian generosity with a touch of Kremlin imperiousness.

The largest test of this political pivot comes in a few weeks with a child-subsidy program that’s more generous than oil-rich Norway’s. The handouts will lift an average family of five’s income by a quarter. The goal is to narrow a yawning wealth gap and reverse what is projected to be one of the steepest population declines in Europe. Critics of the initiative, which will cost almost half as much as national defense and endanger crucial funding from Brussels, call it a populist ploy to distract voters from a nationalistic agenda.

“People come to city hall almost every day to ask about the money that Law & Justice has promised,” Robert Biedron, the independent mayor of Slupsk in northwest Poland, said by phone. “They appear to be willing to sell some of their freedoms for more financial comfort.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 16, 2016 at 7:06 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes that, this summer, there will be a play in Toronto about Target Canada’s demise set in an old Target store.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of women using boxy early 1980s office computers.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting most super-Earths are mini-Neptunes and to another noting the odd disk of L1455 IRS1.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the huge problem of corporate debt in China.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a new Indonesian ban on “effeminate” men from television.
  • Language Hat notes German/Polish ethnolinguistic tensions in late medieval Poland.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a link to posters of the New York subway.
  • The Planetary Society Blog introduces readers to the new Lightsail 2 cubesat.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at the terrible housing shortage in the coastal United States, especially the most desirable areas of said.
  • Torontoist notes York University’s construction of new dorms.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the continuation of Western sanctions against Russia depends on Ukraine’s continued reforms.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes issue with WordPress’ categorization system, from a linguistic perspective.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes some interesting-looking apartment complexes scheduled to be built in Toronto.
  • Dangerous Minds notes that, in the late 1970s, Debbie Harry wanted to remake Alphaville with Robert Fripp.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that the Hubble telescope directly imaged gas giant 2M1207b, determining its rotation about its brown dwarf primary.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at continuing developments in stealth technology.
  • Far Outliers notes some grim Soviet jokes from the 1930s about famines.
  • At The Great Grey Bridge, Philip Turner wonders if President Gore could have avoided 9/11.
  • The Map Room Blog notes “Null Island”, at 0 degrees of longitude and latitude.
  • North’s Justin Petrone grimly contrasts Estonian newspaper headlines before and after the 1940 Soviet annexation.
  • The Understanding Society Blog considers ways of using schematics to understand society.
  • Window on Eurasia shares an unconvincing argument that many minority languages in Russia are endangered.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog considers the political impact of allegation Lech Walesa was a spy for the Polish government in the 1970s.

[LINK] “Sister cities: One foot in Germany, the other in Poland”

This DW article looking at how German Görlitz and Polish Zgorzelec, divided after the Second World War, have been brought together in recent years is enlightening.

“Nowadays it looks very different over there!” A couple in their 50s has settled comfortably on a bench on the Altstadtbrücke bridge. Ice cream cone in hand, they gaze across at the other shore. To this day, “over there” still means the Polish side – Zgorzelec – to anyone who was born in Görlitz.

They are impressed with the colorfully restored houses on the banks of the river Neisse. “Back then,” the man recalls, “everything over there used to be utterly ugly.” The woman nods and says “Nu,” which means yes in the local dialect.

On the Altstadtbrücke – literally, Old Town bridge – people from Görlitz, Zgorzelec and tourists come together. A constant stream of people cross this moderate construction placed where the river has a width of some 60 meters (200 feet). It is not apparent that there is a border here. There are no signs marking German or Polish territory and most definitely no border checkpoints.

For centuries the Altstadtbrücke connected the center of Görlitz with its eastern suburb, which today is Zgorzelec. In 1945, that bridge was destroyed, and the town divided into the sister cities of Görlitz and Zgorzelec. Ever since, the river has been the German-Polish border. In 1998, along with a dozen other German towns, Görlitz and Zgorzelec jointly declared itself to be a “Town of Europe.” It’s not an official title but more a means of self-expression, showing a commitment to the European ideals of understanding and integration.

The Altstadtbrücke was reconstructed in 2004 to mark the European Union’s eastward expansion – that was the year Poland joined the EU – and it has become a symbol of a merging Europe.

“The construction of the bridge made a big difference for us,” says Barbara Szutenbach, 52. “Those of us who come from Zgorzelec now know every corner of Görlitz.” Szutenbach works at the Dom Kultury (Cultural Center) in the Ulica Parkowa, which is definitely worth a visit.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 20, 2016 at 6:46 pm


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