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August 2004   

Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Donít get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this monthís Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europeís big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours Ė without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardieís has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movementís quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.


Tarnished Rings
As our athletes approach the starting line in Athens, it is interesting to reflect on how the world has changed since Sydney was the centre of a global group hug just four years ago.


 Stink Rises from Hamberger

 ALP Embraces Collectivism

 Bully Drives Deckhand into Drink

 Fighter in Cancer Link

 Tunnellers Dig in for Safety

 Seconds Out in Newcastle

 Vale Josh Heuchan

 "Betrayal" Sparks Election Rethink

 Councils Wedge James Hardie

 Great Southern Death Rattler

 Libs Desert "War Criminal"

 Casuals Take Over

 ALP Star Hits The Waterfront

 Activists Whatís On!

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Fahrenheit 9/11

There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

An audible gasp escapes an audience member's lips, followed by the odd sob and, most notably, a peppering of mock exclamations tinged with good-natured sarcasm.

It seems Moore's culture jamming style has become such a common model that it sometimes falls short of its own shock inspiring intention.

With so many good people of the world suffering Chronic Propaganda Fatigue Syndrome (CPFS) it is little wonder that some are demanding that Mike Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 should have been stronger on hard evidence and a bit less reliant on the conspiracy theories.

There's a good chance that if Moore says it, his theory will have some truth. Plus it makes sense that some proof of dishonest dealings and the like will have been purposely obscured. But in an age of mistrust and CPFS a stunt here and a conspiracy theory there - no matter how convincing - is not always enough. But then again, some times even the truth falls short...

This is well illustrated during a scene taking place outside the Whitehouse in which a pro war citizen accuses two women grieving for sons killed in the war of being planted there to manipulate public sympathies.

"This is staged", she insists. Yet one wonder's what she thought when it was revealed the Thanks Giving turkey Bush presented to his troops last year was a plastic model ... while Georgie got past as the real deal. And don't get us started on the war.

Mike Moore's documentary does manage to blow the lid off many a carefully manufactured illusion and a good portion of the material is new. Some of it involves so many complex interconnections of corruption that a flow chart is needed to keep track.

But where this documentary really shines is when the cameras focus on Moore's home-base Michigan, where wages are low, unemployment is high, poverty is everywhere, and so are the army recruiters.

So you wanna be a musician? Why not join the army and play in the military band? You wanna travel? Join the army and see more places than you've ever dreamed of. Into electronics? Join the army and build us some missiles.

It seems these canny recruiters have an answer to everyone's woes. Cornering kids in a car park, there is nothing a concerned youth can say that won't be answered with a recommendation to join the army. And with poverty so rife many parents tend to agree - until they lose one or two of their own.

Meanwhile the cameras span to a group of young men huddled in a gym. Some of the work doesn't sound so bad, they explain. It's just that it would be nice not to get killed.

See Fahrenheit 9/11 to hear what soldiers like to listen to while wreaking collateral damage, to hear what US political leaders say when asked to send their own children to war, and to witness Bush, his friends and business buddies backslapping over projected profits from setting up shop in Iraq.

But be warned: there may be the odd moment when a mock gasp threatens to escape your own lips or you wrestle with the frustrating feeling that you are witnessing yet another master manipulator at work - albeit one trying to use the propaganda machine for a greater good as opposed to Bush's self proclaimed 'war on evil'.

One of the greatest achievements of Moore's latest offering is that it is not just preaching to the converted. Whether with or against it, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a film that people on all sides of the war debate have decided it's their duty to see and it won't disappoint any of them.

Those determined to accuse Moore of being a biased propagandist will find plenty of ammunition as will those who seek the 'other side' of the war footage that so seldom finds its way into mainstream media.

But it would be hard for any to deny this is a war based on lies and perpetuated through fear tactics while those at the reins are doing rather well in the profit stakes.

It must be true - Mike Moore's got the footage.


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