Thursday, September 18, 2014

Free Freya!


This was the New Matilda's headline yesterday:
"BREAKING NEWS
"Freya Newman Pleads Guilty Over
"Frances Abbott's $60k Secret Scholarship Leak, by Amy McQuire."
(See here)
Freya Newman (21) is a communications student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and used to work as a part-time night librarian at a Sydney-based private institution. She could have to serve up to 2 years in jail.

What was her crime? I'll give you the short version as documented by the local media, in their own words:

May 21,
The New Matilda published the following piece:
"Leaked Documents Cast Doubt On Abbott's $60k Scholarship Claims
"The Prime Minister is tonight under fire over a scholarship awarded to his daughter Frances. Chris Graham and Max Chalmers report."
(See here)
While Paul Farrell and Oliver Laughland, for The Guardian (Australia) write:
"Tony Abbott's Daughter Was Given Scholarship For $60,000 Design Degree
"Exclusive: Frances Abbott was awarded a chairman's scholarship for bachelors degree at prestigious Sydney institute where a donor to her father sits as chair of board of governors
"- Liberal donor recommended Abbott's daughter for scholarship
"-Frances Abbott was courted for scholarship, says New Matilda."
(See here)
The story also informed that a spokeswoman for the prime minister confirmed that Ms Abbott was a recipient of a scholarship, but denied that any impropriety had taken place.

August 2,
Writing for the right-leaning and Murdoch-owned The Australian, Brad Norington writes:
"Revealed: The Plot To Bring Down Tony Abbott's Daughter Frances
"NSW police are close to completing a criminal investigation into computer hacking that led to confidential student records about a $60,000 scholarship granted to Tony Abbott's daughter being leaked to the left-leaning, online magazine New Matilda."
(See here)

August 6,
Helen Davidson, writing for The Guardian (Australia):
"Frances Abbott Scholarship: Former Worker Is Charged With Data Breach
"Whistleblower who used to work at the Whitehouse Institute of Design to face court after police investigate news of $60,000 scholarship given to PM's daughter."
(See here)
The next event was Newman's plead, which opened this post.

----------

Speaking now on my own behalf and in my own words, there are two things I find appalling and disturbing in this issue.

First of all, it's simply unbelievable that in a country claiming to be civilized this issue was allowed to escalate in this manner, out of all proportion. Whether there were or not any improprieties (which apparently there weren't), the whole thing reeks of vindictiveness, meanness, and shameless abuse of power.

Writing on The Monthly (September issue), David Marr reminds us of Abbott's words in August 2012, at an Institute of Public Affairs ("right of centre, conservative, libertarian") event:
"We stand for the freedoms which Australians have a right to expect and which governments have a duty to uphold. We stand for freedom and will be freedom's bulwark against the encroachments of an unworthy and dishonourable government." (See here)
As God is my witness, I have many reservations about the Australian Labor Party. The readers know this. So far, these reservations have extended to Labor Party supporters, like Marr. But I have to agree with him on this:
"Abandoning his freedom crusade has left him [i.e. Abbott] a diminished figure: not a pioneer of liberty in anyone's eyes, just a blowhard on the campaign trail. The promises of freedom join all the other broken promises. Under Abbott no laws limiting freedom have changed for the better. Movement has all been the other way. The Coalition is running on instinct. We are back where we were under Howard. Freedom counts for little in political contest in this country."
Secondly, to mobilize police and judicial assets in this absurd manner, when the Abbott government, seconded by the NSW government, has claimed we are in a "fiscal crisis" is not just beyond the pale, is an embarrassment for Australian police and judiciary. Don't you people have anything better to do?

And it casts doubts on these institutions, particularly with the recent crackdown on alleged islamic terrorists.

Have we fallen so low?

I ask PM Abbott to intervene on Ms Newman's behalf; I demand from the Labor Party, the Greens and all the left and pseudo-left parties to make immediate and categoric public pronouncements against this abuse against a harmless Australian citizen, who, on top, is almost a child.

And I'll urge readers to consider this appeal: link

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday!

"Ever had the feeling that your job might be made up? That the world would keep on turning if you weren't doing that thing you do 9-5?"

A bit over a year ago David Graeber wrote about the phenomenon of bullshit jobs. You remember, don't you? The article about the crappy, boring, soul-destroying, unfulfilling jobs people do, because they have bills to pay, in the process making some rich bastard richer?

(Something like our own jobs, come to think.)

Well, in that piece Graeber had many things right, some very, very wrong. But I won't discuss that.

I'll say this, though. He totally forgot something: the phenomenon of bullshit Mondays!

So, I decided to welcome you to your brand new week, reminding you that today is Monday -- like, yay!! --  with this old Supertramp song:


And, like that great Tasmanian philosopher said: "Don't complain, at least you still have a job".

Have an awesome week!