Monday, May 19, 2014

Youth Allowance is Not Wasted on the Young

Most of what people write about generations is useless. The bloated, self-satisfied op-eds that litter the dying newspapers of this country (and around the world) usually say far more about the people who write them than the people they are about.

There is, however, a story to tell about generations in this country and it has nothing to do with beards, hipsters, violence in Kings Cross or whatever indecent or immoral thing old people think we are doing with our smart phones.

The story is this. Long term unemployment for young people has tripled since the GFC. Australia may have avoided recession and kept a respectably low unemployment rate overall – but while Gina Rinehart has made billions in the Pilbara an entire generation of Australians has been locked out of the workforce.

This is a structural shift in the economy. A reasonable government would look at this problem, look at where this trend is heading and think complexly about ways to bring young people into the workforce. That's why we have governments, to find and implement solutions to the big problems in our society.

Instead this government removed financial support for people under thirty for six months at a time.

That means that an entire generation that has been already locked out of a structural shift in our economy will essentially be forced, quite consciously, into abject poverty for six months at a time. Even in a budget that seems to have made a point of being unfair to vulnerable groups in our society this is unusually cruel.

It attacks an idea that has been at the heart of Australian politics since the Great Depression, that people unable to find jobs have the right not to live in complete poverty. That people have a right not to die in the streets. That in order to justify the wealth of this Nation we have an obligation to support those who have not benefitted from this wealth.

The perverse Earn or Learn program that the government justifies this with cements the idea that they are utterly incapable of thinking complexly about the problems that young people face. You cannot solve youth unemployment by making youth unemployment as miserable as humanly possible.

This is a government that will literally starve young people into degrees that they cannot afford or into jobs that are simply not there. It tells young people, even those in universities or in jobs, that their lives are not valued by this government. It is, in a very literal sense, sickening.

So how is a generation supposed to respond to a government that refuses to even let it feed itself? This government doesn't care if young people live or die. It is utterly impossible to have a calm and rational debate about this policy, you simply cannot negotiate with a threat of starvation.

The first thing that young people have to realise is that this is a matter for all of us.

Whether you have a job or not, whether you are a student or not – unemployment is something that could happen to any of us at any time. And on a more philosophical level, the indignity of this policy and its flagrant disregard for the lives of young people represents an ideology that does not see us as full citizens and a government that does not act in our best interest.

The next thing is that we need to make a very big deal of this.

This policy wants to put young people out of sight and out of mind. I suggest we do the very opposite. We cannot simply attend the marches, we need to lead the marches. We need to re-energise our student unions, our action coalitions and the youth wings of the political parties. And we need to make sure that the Liberal party knows that this anger and this energy is directed at them.

We need to make it very clear that no members of this government are welcome on the grounds of any Australian universities, TAFEs or private colleges. That if they refuse to treat the young people of this country with respect then they should not expect any in return. That the cosy relationship between elite university governance and the Liberal party will be disrupted at every opportunity.

If you are a student at a High School, public or private, make it very clear that members of this government are not welcome at your schools. Throw sandwiches. Give the Liberals a taste of the indignity that they are forcing young people into. If you get detention, wear it with pride.

This government is relying upon the image of young people that is described to them in their dying newspapers; that Generation Y is lazy, spoiled, entitled and politically apathetic. I refuse to believe this image. We should look forward to proving them wrong.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Lily Allen and How Blurred Lines Changed Criticism

Maybe this is just what cultural criticism will look like in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is left in the wake of the music industry, but boy has the internet been angry at everything that seems to go even moderately viral. Indeed, it seems that a song can barely chart without a cultural fascination with it's political shortcomings.

I, for one, blame Robin Thicke.

Before Blurred Lines successful songs came and went without too much of a fuss made over their political implications. Pop created outrage, it has for its entire history, but rarely has the criticism of the song stemmed from a Left-wing political critique, and rarely has that criticism come to define a song and its reception. For example, Thrift Shop consisted of a white rapper bragging about how he liked to live cheaply - a potent source of criticism for those inclined to write about it - and it did not seem to have nearly the genre of criticism that every monster hit after it seems to generate.

Robin Thicke's uptemp soul revival then arrived and suddenly the internet's capacity for criticism kicked into action. The interpretation, and I stress interpretation, that the song alluded to sexual assault became the dominant discourse surrounding it, and instead of simply being an example of a morally bankrupt industry trying to sleaze its way out of a death spiral it became the cultural Left's public enemy number one.

I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing; if a song is about rape (I remain agnostic on this question) and it becomes a highly influential cultural product then it completely justifies any and all criticism.

What is significant about Blurred Lines is that the way that we criticise songs changed. This song made people, including people I know very well, viscerally angry in a way that was unprecedented. The success of a song that had such a troubling message was something that people took very personally and very seriously. This took a political dimension too, with universities in the UK banning it from being played on their campuses.

After the anger at Blurred Lines had dissipated somewhat the torch was passed to Miley Cyrus, whose performance at the VMA's represents the junction of the two critical obsessions. Every half-baked thought on the implications of what she was up to made its way onto the internet, especially though the medium of the Open Letter (can we stop writing those, they are the McDoubles of op-eds: cheap, unsatisfying and ultimately bad for you), to the point where there were critiques of open letters to other open letters to Miley Cyrus like the Cultural Studies version of Inception.

After Miley, rage and criticism seems to be the default response to a hit single. Katy Perry mistreats animals. Lady Gaga appropriates from Islam. Most bizarrely, Lorde is apparently racist. These responses are now tired and familiar, and seem to follow an increasingly repetitive and cynical structure where the virality of a music video is in direct proportion to the chance that it will be criticised for political incorrectness.

Which leads me to Lily Allen. A few days ago, pop music's snarky older sister released the provocative film clip to her song 'Hard Out Here for a Bitch', a viciously satirical take on the way that the music industry treats women - with nods to both Blurred Lines and Miley Cyrus.

Almost immediately there was a (now familiar) backlash that was concerned with the way that the film clip portrays the back-up dancers, who are all women of colour and are all sexualised in the same way that women of colour are sexualised in the landscape of the current music industry.

At best, the debate that has erupted over this film clip is about the responsibilities and function of satire, and whether or not the portrayal of these women is appropriate in this context. At its worst it is the ultimate iteration of the now methodical need to criticise the intersectional aspects of every single pop song that is in any way popular or interesting.

What frustrates me about Allen's critics is not that they are critical, it is the tone of their criticism. Seemingly every post that I read made some reference to their author being enraged by the Allen video, and that that visceral anger (precisely the same sort of anger that Robin Thicke generated) is what drove them to write such criticism.

The criticism of Allen's video is an abstract interpretation of a single aspect of a video that is boldly feminist in a way that is extremely rare in pop music. If that is making you 'mad' then this ability to be enraged by minutiae is no better than that of the people who are convinced that there is a War on Christmas.

There is oppression in the world. There is injustice in the world. Being angry at Lily Allen solves nothing and actively makes your cause against oppression look and injustice look ridiculous. It is the intellectual low-hanging fruit in an endless cycle of distraction that is extraordinarily unhealthy for the Left as a movement.

For my money, I think that the film clip is an effective piece of satire. I understand if you disagree with that. But Lily Allen is not Robin Thicke, she is certainly not deserving of the level of vitriol that this debate seems to have created. And maybe we should start thinking of better ways to spend out intellectual energy than getting angry at pop songs.

I look forward to your open letters.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why We Give Money To Foreign Aid

In 2010 David Cameron, the Conservative British Prime Minister, embarked upon a policy of savage austerity that fundamentally altered the size and scope of the UK's government and continues to be a defining reason why Britain remains in recession today. The cuts that Cameron made utterly dwarf anything that Joe Hockey could imagine, let alone politically enact, yet he refused to cut the budget of two department, the National Health Service and foreign aid.

Let me be very clear, there is very little that I agree with David Cameron about and refusing to cut foreign aid was indeed a condition of his coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, but Cameron has consistently defended the decision, saying that the foreign aid budget makes him "proud to be British". He has suffered a political price for it too, the far-right UKIP party has exploited it many times claiming that Cameron is spending money in 'Bongo-bongo-land' rather than in the UK.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the LNP has announced that they will cut $4.5 billion from foreign aid that they will instead invest in roads. Considering that the current AusAid budget is $5.2 billion this is a devastating result for Australia's commitment to foreign aid.

The saddest thing is that the LNP will not lose a single vote for this. The people who are concerned about these cuts were never going to vote for Tony Abbott in the first place, the swinging voters in marginal seats will probably celebrate it as an act of fiscal responsibility. You don't win votes by funding foreign aid, there is certainly not the electoral price of cutting from other areas such as health and education. But we are a crueller, dumber and more insular nation for these cuts.

Which brings me around to answer the question that I started with, why do we fund foreign aid? If it is electorally unimportant why does it even exist in the first place?

By far one of the most odious arguments to this end is that foreign aid is in 'Australia's strategic interests' which, while being very true, is a repellent justification for our current aid budget - it is equivalent to John Howard's opposition to the death penalty being based purely on the fact that victims might be found innocent. It actually is in Australia's strategic interest to give aid, for one thing it gives us a gigantic amount of leverage over our neighbours which makes policies like the PNG solution possible. It's also true in a broader sense, for example funding secular schools in Indonesia prevents the spread of fundamentalist Islam.

But saying that aid is a strategic decision is precisely the kind of thinking that allows it to be cut, for who is to say that the Coalition won't create a new way of gaining leverage over our Pacific neighbours? The 'aid as strategy' line is also what justified pork-barreling repressive dictators in the Cold War, a practice that threatens the legitimacy of all international development projects. Aid programs should be developed with a huge degree of strategic thinking involved, and the current allocation of aid reflects that, but it isn't why we do it.

On the other end of the spectrum is the idea that foreign aid is 'nice'. Much like taking your neighbour's rubbish bins out for them on a sunny suburban morning, as a nation it is a nice thing to do to try and support the countries around us by combatting poverty. This line of reasoning equates Australia giving foreign aid to private citizens donating to charity, as if foreign aid is a big national Project Compassion box to which the spare change can go so that nice things can be done for the poor.

This argument is far closer to the truth of the matter than the strategy argument, but again it can be used to justify these cuts. Make no mistake, senior Liberals will come out on the news and say that these cuts are regrettable. They will wail and gnash their teeth about how hard it was to come to the decision to cut these 'nice' things, about how Tony Abbott houses orphans in his house and can barely do a push-up without entering a charity fun-run/bike-ride/gang-bang. But we are in a budget 'emergency' and sometimes we can't afford 'nice' things so we are turning down eye contact with the Salvation Army guy at the train station and are instead going ahead with our day.

The truth is that foreign aid should be untouchable like it clearly was in Britain under austerity. Foreign aid is not about being 'strategic' or 'nice' it is about justifying the preposterous wealth (both economic and otherwise) of the society that we live in. Australians enjoy an incredibly high standard of living, with a relative abundance of wealth particularly when compared to our geographic neighbours. The idea that we cannot afford to spend a fraction of this wealth improving the lives of the poor is utter nonsense.

More importantly we live in a democratic society that is centred around protecting the rights of its citizens through all of its institutions. And as a free and democratic society we have an obligation to be concerned with the dignity of other human beings; an obligation that extends beyond 'strategy' and 'niceness' and that is instead an application of the values that actually bind us together as a polity. Foreign aid is the logical outcome of our prosperous and democratic culture and to threaten foreign aid is to quietly begin to bring into question the humanism that underpins that culture.

I want to be part of an Australia that values itself by how it contributes to the world, not by its ability to reproduce an anachronistic and parochial vision of itself. It is a sad day for that Australia.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Four Thoughts on Last Thursday

So last week happened, and almost everything that I have read regarding the anti-climactic spill that occurred on Thursday has been either analysing the pathologies of Rudd and Gillard that led to this bizarre spectacle or simply re-iterating the now overwhelming narrative that the ALP is doomed for electoral oblivion come September. I want to broaden the discussion somewhat so I wanted to share four thoughts I had on the whole business.

1. The way we elect leaders in this country is fundamentally broken.
Nobody who watched what unfolded on Thursday could possibly defend our current model of electing parliamentary leaders in the ALP. The comparisons made to the TV show Game of Thrones are spot on, in that Thursday looked like something that would be more likely to occur in Westeros than a modern parliamentary democracy. And don't even get me started on people who smugly tweeted along the lines of 'well we elect a party not a leader etc' and accuse the baffled of 'not understanding the Westminster system'; the way elections in Australia now operate are thoroughly presidential and even the country that created the Westminster system has developed an actually democratic way of electing its parliamentary leaders. The ALP needs to open up voting for its parliamentary leaders to all party members like most other social democratic parties around the world. It's not even a debate anymore.

2. The fault lines in the Rudd/Gillard conflict are psychological.
Any coverage of the Labor party's mechanisms have a tendency to blame its ills on the opaque and bizarre world of factions within the party, and a lot of the time that is quite reasonable. In this case however, these criticisms do not reflect the reality, as the Rudd/Gillard divide is bizarrely unfactional. Nor is the division ideological, any cause that unites Joel Fitzgibbon and Doug Cameron (both Rudd backers who represent the full ideological breadth of the party) cannot be. No, the Rudd/Gillard divide in the caucus is pure psychodrama, where each individual MP responds to the guilt, shame and terror of Labor's current electoral position in unique and often illogical ways. Nothing expresses this more clearly than the fall of Kim Carr, the Victorian Left powerbroker who actually oversaw Julia Gillard's rise to power, only to become a key Rudd supporter from almost the moment that she took over from Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. What psychological forces could possibly have forced such a drastic change in his mind, I do not know. But at least let's not pretend that this is factional.

3. The Labor Party's approach to the coming election is increasingly existential.
At the risk of sounding like too much of a wanker, Camus would have had a lot to say about the Labor Party in its current state. There is an oppressive sense of despair within the party about the coming election and really about the movement itself, and it creates the kind of environment that lets events like Thursday occur without really surprising anyone. Labor, throughout its history, has lost a great many elections, and often they have been far more painful than this (1975 strikes me as the most devastating), and I do not agree with those who see the polls as entirely catastrophic. The polls do point to a loss, and a big loss, but certainly not the kind of electoral wipeout that has occurred to the ALP in Queensland or NSW in the past few years. But the prospect of losing this one comes at a time when the party sees itself as being in a state of crisis as a movement and against a resurgent Liberal party represented by Tony Abbott, and the result is that it feels as if the very notion of the centre-left government is in question. The fact that this election will be fought and (probably) lost in Western Sydney cannot be overstated, its almost a geographic enactment of Labor's identity crisis.

4. The Labor Party needs to sell something BIG.
The real problem with Thursday, and indeed all of this leadership business is that it looks petty. And it is, it is the sum of each caucus member's personal response to both leaders and the situation the party is in, and that is what has been dominating the media instead of what this government has actually achieved. This government has, in extraordinary circumstances, actually passed some incredibly important pieces of legislation, far more than they achieved under Kevin Rudd. The NDIS stands out as an exemplary piece of centre-left policy that extends the welfare state to people who need it the most. The problem, however, is that the Labor has compartmentalised their reforms and has not drawn a common arc between them to counteract the Liberal Party's false narrative of 'incompetence'. They need to sell a vision of Australia that encompasses all their reforms and they need to place their period in government in the context of the broader Labor narrative of creating a better society. The only way to defeat the cheap populism of the modern Liberal party is to talk to the Australian public like adults and reassure them as to why they periodically elect Labor governments to power. This strategy might not win the election, but it will at least unite the party and offer the media an alternative to talking about whether Kevin Rudd is a nice guy or not.

I'm just going to end on an endorsement of Mark Latham's Quarterly Essay on the Labor Party. There were parts that I disagreed with to the point of anger, but it is a stark and sober discussion on what the Labor party should be and anyone who considers these matters to be of importance should give it a read.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On Qanda

QandA returns to TV today, and I think its worth taking some time to talk about this show divorced from the specifics of a single episode. I'm not going to lie, I missed it pretty hard; there was a point in January where I started rereading my QandA tweets from last year to try and recreate episodes that I have seen.

Everyone has a favourite QandA moment and mine is definitely this.

This clip encapsulates so much about what I love about QandA. For all the discussion of marriage equality in this country there has been surprisingly little direct conflict between the two sides. One side talks about rights and equality, the other tradition and 'family'. They hold events and press conferences and obliquely answer similar questions.

But right there, on national TV, the two sides of this generation's civil rights struggle were in direct conflict, and Penny Wong used it to reveal the fundamental cruelty of opposing marriage equality and the indignity of seeing the love between two gay people as lesser. For all the posturing and speeches and even regardless of the motion voted down by parliament, to my mind this was the epicentre of the marriage equality debate in this country.

Moments like these justify my compulsive QandA watching. But the truly brilliant moments of QandA only come every so often, I genuinely think the show is great for a number of reasons.

For one, it is also wholly participatory; the ability of the general public to watch and ask questions of the panel gives it an accessibility that I think is the secret of its success. I also am of the opinion that the fact that it is live as well gives it an electrifying feel to it and I simply cannot watch it on repeat.

The Twitter feed is important too, though my grandmother hates it with a passion and only checks it to see if I got a tweet on. I tweet heavily for the show because it has a respect for the medium of Twitter, and an understanding that a larger and larger part of our political discourse is happening online. Where on other shows the twitter feed seems superfluous and self-indulgent, on QandA it adds to the experience of watching it, it doesn't feel like a passive activity at all.

I think the main reason that I watch, though, is because it is important. QandA is the beating heart of Australian politics. In the course of an hour it manages to not only reflect, but to truly represent the political discourse of that particular week. It is a space that allows a diversity of views and opinions to comment on the society that we live with and engage with the contested ideas of the state of our country and what it should be. It is everything that question time was envisaged to be, but with an ability to comment upon broader issues within Australian society.

There is a reason that being on the show gives a panellist a certain level of gravity in the political dimension; to be picked means that you represent a voice in Australia that deserves to be heard. There is a reason that both major political parties send their best performers every week, they are always the MPs who are most calmly able to articulate their parties' positions and policies. There is a reason that I think that it is significant that Tony Abbott has not been on QandA for several years.

Whereas the prime minister goes on the program roughly once a year, Abbott has not been on the program since 2010 despite the fact that there has been a standing invitation ever since. This reluctance to engage in the epicentre of Australian political discourse is unfortunate and it should be scrutinised. Every press conference should include a question asking when he will appear. The Labor party should be making hay of this, every time a member of the government goes on there should be an acknowledgement that Tony Abbott is not there. Anthony Albanese should have a pithy little line that gets on the news about it. There should be hashtags. There should be memes.

Tony Abbott should not be able to go to an election without having made at least one appearance on the show that embodies political debate in this country. If there's one thing that I want out of QandA this year it is the sight of Tony Abbott answering directly the questions of the Australian people.

As for what else is discussed, we'll have to wait and see. I believe that is all I have time for, see you next week (or whenever I next feel like writing something).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Wil Anderson 8/1/12

Wil Anderson walked into the Friend in Hand along with a burst of heat that came with anyone opening the side door. Even in the forty degree heat he wore skinny jeans and a jacket, an impossible decision on a day like today. He surveyed the pub, a famed Sydney comedy venue of which he has performed countless times, nodded at his manager who was ordering at the bar and walked upstairs to the the small theatre on the second floor. The majority of the patrons were dedicated fans who heard about the gig from Twitter, followed him upstairs and took their seats.

Despite the best efforts of the theatre's air conditioning you could still feel the abnormally hot breeze slipping in through the windows. Anderson placed three recording devices around the room, took the mic and offered a final warning: that this was a free performance for a reason, that he could not promise even a single well formed joke, that everything he would say for the next hour would be completely off the top of his head.

Stand-up comedy is a combination of two refined skills, writing jokes and controlling a crowd. Good writing is essential to good comedy, but it is the ability to understand and manipulate the audience that makes stand-up comedy so hypnotic as an art form. It is this skill, learned only through experience and through years of hard work on unfriendly stages, that defines the difference between professional comedians and their amateur counterparts.

Wil Anderson's improvised set at the Friend in Hand was an exercise in understanding an audience. It has become a ritual of his to perform these free sets at the Hand in January as part of the way he writes his touring shows, a period that he referred to in the show as 'agonising'. He uses these sessions to return to the simplicity of stand-up and away from the abstraction of writing.

Viewing this raw comedic effort was a strange experience, particularly as someone accustomed to his polished stage shows with their well formed anecdotes and coherent strands of thought. You could see the essence of  Anderson's comedic stylings, particularly the effortless blending of personal stories with broader themes and ideas. There was even stretches of deep contemplation in between punchlines, which has become an increasingly prominent part of his style over the years. However, there was a very different feel to this set, indeed being a free gig at a venue he clearly loves with a crowd filled with people who were clearly devoted fans he was in some ways more relaxed than his normal onstage persona. You could see the concentration on his face with every joke he made as he felt the room's response to try and understand what would work.

The material was tangental and clearly unpolished; he often had to ask the audience where he had left off stories, and indeed this became almost a joke in itself. The set was often formless, and properly structured jokes were rare, as is to be expected at an improvised and experimental gig. There was, however, a lot of very promising material throughout, particularly in regards to his experience of going back to his home town in country Victoria where his family still lives. Another early quip about Anh Do, who had opened for Anderson years earlier, was by far the most popular joke of the night and one that will easily find a place in his upcoming show.

But by far the most interesting section of the set was a joke concerning the former host of another ABC show who has been convicted of owning child pornography. The joke itself was funny, I had heard a variation in his show from last year, but what was compelling that Anderson immediately retracted the joke, saying "I knew the guy. I liked the guy.  It's hard to learn that people you like don't always do good things." It was a powerful moment reflective of Anderson's maturity as a comic, one that is unlikely to make it into his festival routine in any way.

After an hour or so, Anderson, who was by this stage sweating through his clothes, stepped offstage and thanked everyone for coming. It was eight o'clock and still over thirty degrees outside, the audience was pretty keen to leave the humid theatre. After everyone left you could see Anderson talking to his manager at the top of the stairs and collecting up the recording devices he had left, he had barely walked offstage but he was already clearly analysing the set for material to keep. He has two more months to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ICAC Inquiry Drinking Game

Are you a member of the NSW Labor party? Have you been following the current ICAC inquiry into Obeid, MacDonald and their cohort? Well now you have an excuse to drink heavily whilst doing so, which seems to be the only rational way to respond to it.

You Will Need

1 x bottle of spirits (preferably hard and miserable)
1 x shot glass per player
1 x ALP membership ticket to sadly reflect upon as you play the game (optional)

The Rules

One shot for every laboured attempt to use the -gate suffix.

One shot for every mention of the term 'slush fund'.

One shot for prostitutes.

Two shots for rent-boys*.

One shot for any comment that connects the number of QC's representing the Obeid family to the $800 million that Obeid allegedly** made out of this.

One shot for every MP suspended from the party.

Two shots for every expulsion from the party.

One shot for every pissweak party reform idea that Sam Dastyari proposes.

One shot for every attempt by the Liberal Party to blame the unions for this.

Two shots for every time the Liberal Party mentions Peter Debnam.

Three shots for every time the Liberal Party mentions Nick Greiner.

One shot for every picture of Obeid's mansion on the evening news.

One shot if any defendant cites 'human weakness' as their justification.

Two shots if any defendant cites 'YOLO' as their justification.

One shot if anybody thinks that 'The Terrigals' were a band that was played a couple of times on Triple J in the 90's.

Special Rules

The Thommo- At the first mention of Craig Thompson in the actual inquiry itself (because he has to be in there somewhere) all participants must shout 'A Wild Craig Thompson Appears' and take a shot. The last participant to do so has to go and purchase another bottle of spirits, preferably on a union credit card.

The Plot Twist- At the beginning of the game, all participants must decide what the crazy 'Homeland'-style plot twist in all of this is going to be and write them on a slip of paper that is then collected in a hat. Some suggestions include:
-It was all a dream
-Eddie Obeid clicked one of those 'You Have Won $800 Million' spam emails and that's how it all occurred. 
-Eric Roozendaal is carrying Joe Tripodi's baby.
-Ian MacDonald was an accomplice to that bomb collar guy.
-The Terrigals WERE a band that got some rotation on Triple J in the 90's
The entries are read out, and if that person's plot twist comes true then that person gets immediately elected head of the NSW parliamentary Labor Party.

*Not trying to be hetero-normative here, just passing comment that considering that almost all of the figures involved in this are professedly straight men with wives and children the addition of male prostitutes to this scandal would be a rather salacious twist.

**Please do not sue me. I used the word allegedly, surely that has placated you and your very expensive legal team, Mr Obeid.