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Issue No. 280 09 September 2005  

The Perfect Storm
The mayhem and misery engulfing New Orleans and its surrounds is more than a human tragedy of mammoth proportions, it is the product of a convergence of events that could shift our worldview every bit as much as the attacks on September 11, 2001.


Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws won’t be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timor’s young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Telstra Cuts Off Sick Mum

 CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job

 Life Imitates Ad

 Equal Pay Unlawful

 AWA Threatens Kids

 Howard’s Porky Exposed

 STOP PRESS: Bank Pinged

 Thongs Flap Into IR War

 Dad Sacked Over Safety Fears

 News Leader in Advertising Stink

 PM’s Spin Hit for Six

 Daffy Ducks Dud Deal

 Canada Shamed

 Combet Stars At Rooty Hill

 Vanstone Backs Ciggie Salaries for Detainees

 Flicking the Super Switch

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.

 Telstra Trauma
 Telstra’s Calling
 What Poor People?
 The Day
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Tool Shed

When The Levee Breaks

Continuing a tradition started by the comparatively sane Roman emporer, Nero, George Bush goes on holidays in the Tool Shed.


When George W Bush stands up and says he is proud to be a merkin, we can believe him.

With a Category 5 Republican Administration bearing down on the working poor in the US, it was left to George W. Bush to ensure that no one was left playing the blame game following the pathos and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

There was no game to play. The blame was there for all to see.

It may not be fashionable in neo-liberal circles, but the founding basis of the state, any state, has been the ability of the leader(s) to protect the people from harm.

Any leader who wantonly, or by malfeasance, leads a people into harm, or exposes them to tribulation, is seldom considered to have executed this most basic of responsibilities.

While George W's idea of executing his responsibilities has something to do with the electric chair, he and his administration's pathological ineptitude was writ large in a tragedy that eclipsed the cowboy paranoia of the war on terror.

For a week George was home on the range at Crawford while what was patently the biggest storm in a long, long time built up in the Mexican Gulf.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Marie Antoinette told Les Miserables of Paris to "eat cake" if they had no bread; George W. played guitar while the levee broke.

What preparations were made? Officials sent out the George W. doctrine; neo-liberal mantra -"everyone for themselves". This 'run for the hills' solution may have been calming for those prepared to be gouged by market forces at play in the motel sector and at the gasoline pump, but it didn't help those who relied on public transport, the urban poor.

If people couldn't get out then, hey, that was the free market in action.

For those left behind George W Bush had no plan.

As N'Orleans mayor Ray Nagin pointed out, this was a class issue. People, the working poor, were literally left behind to die.

Luckily the war on terror had George W Bush's ever-vigilant Department of Homeland Security off looking in dark rooms for black cats that weren't there.

The resources that should have protected the all important levee, not to mention the business end of the Louisiana National Guard, were off fighting George W's war against the ayrabs getting' their hands on oil owed to the US through Manifest Destiny.

Then, when the stink rose from the place where Daddy Bush was inaugurated as the Republican Party candidate in 1988, the Superdome, Bush emerged to lecture about property rights and to suggest that prevention of insurance fraud was more important than human life.

When this just inflamed tensions, George W responded with a photo opportunity.

In the meantime mothers wept, children screamed, bodies floated through streets and others, inspired by their political masters, took the law into their own hands at the decisive end of a gun.

Over a million bewildered Americans wondered why their country had abandoned them.

The end of the neo-conservative project that started under Reagan occurred on the night of August 28 when Katrina showed that the weather is still a far more important conversation than abstract theories about individual liberty.

George W Bush's criminal maladministration may defend its ideology of all power to the individual, but there are a hell of a lot of individuals who are dead, sick or who will never be the same again through this pursuit of a crass, material liberty for a few, at the expense of any form of life except for a Hobbesian nightmare of all against all; a life that is nasty, brutish and short.

Forget oil prices, geopolitics, clever word games or even the ham buffoonery of a failed Texan Oil Tycoon.

Our Tool Of The Week has murdered his own people.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

View our Gallery of Tools

Nominate a Tool!

Your Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Country: Your State:
The Tool you wish to nominate:
Type why you think this person should be Tool of the Week here:


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