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May 2004   

Interview: Machine Man
It�s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar � once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world�s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie�s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I�d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.


The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the �Rethinking Social Democracy� conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.


The Mouse That Roars
A number of campaigns this week show how web campaigning is reaching a level of sophistication that is transforming it from a gee-whiz fad to a potent industrial tool.


 Casual Affair Costs Family

 Dob a Driver Strikes Out

 Crash LAME�s Smoking Gun

 Axe To Fall On Skippy

 Internet Replaces Crayons

 Young Lives Crushed

 Feds Move Goal Posts

 Telstra Baulks at Two Percent

 Crane Death Brings Fine

 Worker Breaks Unwritten Law

 Private Nurses Short Changed

 RailCorp Wrecks Weekend

 Thunderbirds Are Stop

 Activists What�s On!

 Justice For Victims Denied
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Death And The Barbarians

This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Denys Arcand's Barbarian Invasions looks back on the life of dying cancer patient R�my with a lot of help from his family, friends, ex-wife, mistresses, a union rep, a dedicated nurse, a local police officer, a junkie and her drug dealer.

Reluctantly relying on the abundant goodwill and amble fortunes of his least favourite child S�bastien, R�my passionately clings to his socialist beliefs and prejudices even as his son displays many attributes not typically associated with right wing professionals.

How can R�my communicate with this boy who has "never read a book" and what would they talk about anyway? While R�my ponders this question S�bastien is on an adventure of his own, seeing how much comfort money can buy for a dying man among millions in a public health system he can only describe as inhumane.

But R�my is adamant his principles will not be compromised in life or in death. He has spent a lifetime supporting the public health system and he will rely upon it now if it kills him - even sooner.

Yet money does travel far and R�my soon finds himself in first class accommodation in an unused floor of the hospital. Encouraged by this success, S�bastien then gets about scoring some smack with the help of a family friend's junkie daughter.

That he first approaches the police to meet this end beautifully illustrates the way S�bastien innocently and trustingly wraps himself in the protective shield of monetary wealth in a similar way that his father blinkers himself behind his political ideologies.

These are passionately expressed. The time is nigh for looking back and lending perspective to R�my's life and the historical context in which he lived.

This is not so much a film of firsts but a film of lasts - yes, it is the last time R�my will see the water, the sunset and the mortal faces of those he loves but it is also his last chance to decide what prejudices and grudges are worth holding onto and which keep him from truly being with those in his life.

It is also time for R�my to ask what is worth laying aside to give him and S�bastien their last chance to connect.

What belief systems we wrap ourselves in, how they can be used to keep the world out, the contexts we use to compartmentalise the infinite, and most importantly - who we fail to know as a result are the among subplots of this film. And that it handles these with ample references to sex, drugs, politics, and death without the violence, sets it ahead in the entertainment stakes.

The plentiful script which must be read via subtitles for the non French speaking means concentration is needed throughout the length film, even where it does at times plod along. This makes it not a good choice for late evening viewing - with the possible exception of insomniacs.

But for other times this flick is a fine offering from the Jesus of Montr�al director who has again managed to produce something of lasting historical worth.


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