Reading Time: 1 minutes

So here I am, joining the ranks of millions and millions of bloggers posting cute baby photos. Only that this time it might well be the best picture ever posted. Say hello to the kid who’s turned me into an uncle and designated godfather:

Astor - the baby

It’s Astor Karl Theodor, by the way.

PS: Ooh, black and white looks good on my site. I really should post more of these…

Tuition or bust

Reading Time: 1 minutes

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, and answering the comment by “eigenschaft”, I will now write a bit about the watered down compromise I mentioned yesterday: the one about the tuition fees.

Tuition fees were introduced by the Schüssel government in 2001, only shortly after the minister for education, Lisl Gehrer, had promised that no such thing would ever exist under her reign. They were protested by almost every student union, but to no avail. Before last year’s election, the SPÖ promised that in case they won the election, they would get rid of the fees. Well, now that they have been taken by their word, it turned out to be not as easy as they thought. In return for becoming chancellor by the grace of election loser but necessary evil ÖVP, Gusenbauer, head of the SPÖ and leader of the coalition talks, presented his version of what “getting rid” means. For him, getting rid of the fees means being able to work them off.

Starting next semester, any student who doesn’t want to or can’t pay the fees, has the option of doing 60 hours of social work per semester. Divide the bi-annual fees of about 360 Euros by that amount of work, and you get the absolute minimum wage of 6 Euros. Basically this means students will be used for jobs that require unskilled labour (because, of course, they won’t spend ten of those 60 hours training someone), in order to pay for the fees.

Now, I don’t think anyone could have come up with a better solution of NOT getting rid of the tuition fees, even if they had tried really, really hard (next to actually NOT getting rid of them, of course).

Here’s an article on the whole thing to make up for my scandalous lack of sources.

An unholy marriage

Reading Time: 1 minutes

People would think that people learn from mistakes. People are mistaken.

About an hour ago, the Socialist Party’s head Gusenbauer announced the finalization of coalition talks with the People’s Party. Even though the SPÖ had the majority after last year’s elections, they have now handed over all the key resorts to the election losers headed by legendary mute chancellor Schüssel.

Key issues like free access to Austrian higher education and the anullement of the Eurofighter contract, as demanded by the SPÖ, have been either watered down to just about no change at all or have now miraculously disappeared from the coalition papers.

Oh well, goes to show that it’s really quite useless to vote for anything else than the Greens.