Lex Tusk? How Poland’s controversial “Russian influence” law will subvert democracy
Hundreds of thousands joined a march Sunday in Warsaw to protest a new law from the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) that purports to crack down on those skirting sanctions against Russia. The demonstrators say the law is instead a way to attack domestic political opponents, putting Polish democracy at risk, write Piotr Miaczynski and Leszek Kostrzewski in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
Poland’s new Commission for investigating Russian influence, which President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Monday, will be able to summon representatives of any company for inquiry. It has sparked a major controversy in Polish politics, as political opponents of the government warn that the Commission has been given near absolute power to investigate and punish any citizen, business or organization.
And opposition politicians are expected to be high on the list of would-be suspects, starting with Donald Tusk, who is challenging the ruling PiS government to return to the presidency next fall. For that reason, it has been sardonically dubbed: Lex Tusk.
University of Warsaw law professor Michal Romanowski notes that the interests of any firm can be considered favorable to Russia. “These are instruments which the likes of Putin and Orban would not be ashamed of," Romanowski said.
The law on the Commission for examining Russian influences has "atomic" prerogatives sewn into it. Nine members of the Commission with the rank of secretary of state will be able to summon virtually anyone, with the powers of severe punishment.
Under the new law, these Commissioners will become arbiters of nearly absolute power, and will be able to use the resources of nearly any organ of the state, including the secret services, in order to demand access to every available document. They will be able to prosecute people for acts which were not prohibited at the time they were committed.
Their prerogatives are broader than that of the President or the Prime Minister, wider than those of any court. And there is virtually no oversight over their actions.
Nobody can feel safe. This includes companies, their management, lawyers, journalists, and trade unionists. [...]
— Read the full Gazeta Wyborcza article by Piotr Miaczynski and Leszek Kostrzewski, translated into English by Worldcrunch.
• Russia says it thwarted major Ukrainian offensive: Russia said on Monday its forces had thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the region of Donetsk, which may have been the start of Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive. Ukraine dismissed Russia’s report as a lie.
• Indian Railways seek police probe into crash as services resume: India’s railway ministry has recommended the country’s top detective agency should investigate Saturday’s train crash in Odisha that killed 275 people and injured 1,200. Following non-stop efforts to rescue survivors, and clear and repair the track, trains resumed running over that section of the line on Sunday night.
• Sixty Afghan girls hospitalized after food poisoning: Around 60 Afghan girls were hospitalized after being poisoned at their school in northern Afghanistan on Monday. The poisoning, which targeted a girls' school in the Afghan province of Sar-e Pol, comes after intense scrutiny of girls' education in the war-torn nation since the Taliban took over including a wave of poison attacks on girls' schools in neighboring Iran.
• UN boosts Kosovo security: A Turkish commando battalion has arrived in northern Kosovo in response to a request from NATO for more troops to help put an end to violent unrest between ethnic Serbs and Albanians. A military convoy loaded with equipment is also believed to be heading to the Balkans country by land.
• Police detain 23 people in Hong Kong on Tiananmen anniversary: Hong Kong police said they detained 23 people on Sunday for “breaching public peace” as authorities ramped up security for the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Authorities have banned public commemoration of the 1989 incident, which saw China crush peaceful protests in Beijing with tanks and troops.
• World Environment Day: World Environment Day celebrates its 50th anniversary with the theme “Solutions to plastic pollution.” This year’s host country is Côte d'Ivoire in partnership with the Netherlands. Côte d'Ivoire has banned the production and use of plastic bags, supporting a shift to reusable packaging.
• Looted archaeological treasures returned to Italy: Some 750 looted archaeological treasures have been seized from the notorious British antiquities trader Robin Symes and returned to Italy after a decades-long fight for their return. The artifacts worth more than $12.9 million will go on display in Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo museum as part of a collection of stolen art.
The Spanish sports daily AS says “goodbye and thank you” to French striker Benzema, who announced yesterday he was leaving Real Madrid after 14 years. The Saudi Pro League reportedly offered him more than $107.05 million to join the club this summer and void his one-year extension. The Ballon d’Or winner said he had “earned the right to decide his future” and scored a penalty in his last game with the Spanish club, leaving with a standing ovation. In other big soccer news, Swedish icon and AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced he was retiring from soccer at age 41.
Saudi Arabia announced it will cut its oil output by 1 million barrels a day in July, in an attempt to boost oil prices. The Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman called the agreement a “Saudi lollipop,” a sweetener for the other OPEC+ members, and said the cut could be extended if needed.
Purebreds to “Rasse” theory: a German critique of dog breeding
Just like ideas about racial theory, the notion of seeking purebred dogs is a relatively recent human invention. This animal eugenics project came from a fantasy of recreating a glorious past and has done irreparable harm to canines, reports Wieland Freund in German daily Die Welt.
🐶 In one way or another, people have been selectively breeding dogs for as long as dogs have existed. That is why we treat dog breeds as if they were part of the natural order of things that are free from any association with the shameful history of a nationalist, colonialist age. But that is simply not true. Dog breeds are a product of the same era that invented the idea of dividing humans into separate races, an era when pseudoscientists fiddled around with craniometry.
🔍 In reality, the invention of dog breeds is like a huge animal eugenics project, which often has the absurd aim of recreating a supposedly glorious past. The revivals of ancient breeds such as the Hovawart or the Irish wolfhound are romantic projects motivated by a fantasy about returning to a glorious past, a Lord of the Rings of dog breeding.
👑 Sometime in the 19th century our relationship with dogs changed, partly because industrialization was more dependent on human labor than animal labor. As working conditions became even more inhumane for the underprivileged people living in the cities, dogs began to enjoy a more elevated status among the more privileged classes. In Great Britain, Queen Victoria proclaimed that her dogs were part of her family, and they posed alongside her for official portraits.
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“It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world.”
— Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu spoke at Asia’s top security summit yesterday, as tensions between China and the U.S. remain high over various issues, including Taiwan and maritime disputes. On Saturday, the U.S. accused China of “unsafe” maneuvers near one of its destroyers, a second close encounter between military ships in 10 days. Both countries’ ministers claim to be open to dialogue: “The more that we talk, the more that we can avoid the misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to crisis or conflict,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
📸 PHOTO DU JOUR
Lighting candles in Kolkata, India, to pay tribute to the victims of Saturday’s train crash in Odisha that killed 275 people and injured 1,200. — Photo: Dipayan Bose/SOPA Images/ZUMA
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Marine Béguin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Chloé Touchard