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November 2004   

Interview: The Reich Stuff
Robert Reich has led the debate on the future of work � both as an academic and politician. Now he�s on his way to Australia to help NSW unions push the envelope.

Economics: Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Environment: Beyond The Wedge
Whether the great forestry divide can ever be overcome or whether it is best sidestepped for the sake of unity and sustainability in other areas is up for debate, writes Tara de Boehmler.

International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews show us How To Kill A Country

Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Nick Lewocki from the RTBU lifts the lid on the shonky science behind RailCorp testing

Politics: Labo(u)r Day
John Robertson lets fly at this years Labor Day dinner

Human Rights: Arabian Lights
Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

History: Labour's Titan
Percy Brookfield was a big man who was at the heart of the trade union struggles that made Broken Hill a quintessential union town writes Neale Towart.

Review: Foxy Fiasco
To find out who is outfoxing who, read Tara de Boehmler's biased review of a subjective documentary about corrupt journalism.

Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Brother George has saved the White House from an invasion by infidels, writes resident bard David Peetz.


The Locker Room
In Naming Rights Only
Phil Doyle has Gone to Gowings

The Soapbox
Homeland Insecurity
Rowan Cahill tells us how the Howard Government�s appointment of Major-General Duncan Lewis to head up the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has received little critical comment, until now.

The Westie Wing
New proposed legislation in NSW provides a vital window of opportunity for unions to ensure they achieve convictions for workplace deaths, writes Ian West.


What�s In a Name?
McDonalds is doing it, IAG has done it, James Hardie desperately needs to do it � and now the Labor Council of NSW is doing it, re-working its brand to meet the changing demands of their markets.


 Unions Dump Labor

 Shearers Brush Woolly Mammoths

 Girls Should Be Short Changed

 Sydney Turns Down Volume

 Minister Rides Collie

 Staff, Trees Weather the Blame

 Offshore Embassy for Families

 Visy Paper Folds

 Workers Unplug Power Cuts

 Silverwater Offers Porridge

 Environment Wiped Out In Dubbo

 Justice Eludes Kariong Staff

 Nelson Flags Another Raid

 Five Steps to Sanity

 Activists What's On!

 Too Young
 Let's Start A New Party
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Human Rights

Arabian Lights

Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

Sydney Apprentice Sparky Roohullah Nedaee on the job at Kingsford Smith Airport

When Roohullah Nedaee heard the Taliban were coming to his house to kill him, he knew it was time to move. He didn't want his mother to see his body hanging from a lamp post and convinced his father to hand over the $27,000 demanded by a smuggler.

Nedaee was stuffed in the back of a ute and rushed out of Kabul. At every checkpoint bearded fanatics waving AK47's searched the truck's load - getting closer and closer to the discovery that would have ended his life.

"They wouldn't have buried my body, I would have been food for the crows and wild dogs," Nedaee says.

Finally, after getting into the high mountains, he was hidden in a mud hut for two weeks - not allowed to ask where he was or where he was being taken. Eventually, after a treck through the snow at the top of the world, he was handed a ticket and flown from one strange city to another till he was on the other side of the globe.

After landing in an Asian country, he now believes was Indonesia, he was put on a boat that set sail for Australia - and freedom.

Three years later, Nedaee lives in Lidcombe. He has a great job as an apprentice sparkie, good mates and even a bit of spare time to watch TV.

On weekends he takes swimming lessons at Lidcombe pool - unheard of in his land-locked homeland.

He works at Electro Group - an ETU sponsored employment company. And he's happy to be there. Though he had electical qualifications from Afghanistan they meant nothing here.

He couldn't get an apprenticeship because he was ineligible for the $9000 government subsidy employers get for training young workers.

Electro Group CEO Norm Cahill said he was impressed by Nedaee's attitude and abilities from the outset and was prepared to take a chance on him. "We even helped him out a bit with text book costs - he's a battler and we wanted to give him an opportunity," Cahill said.

Electro Group, which places apprentices with 'host employers', has Roohullah working near the airport at Mascot, where his foreman praises his work ethic. Life, now, is pretty good Nedaee tells anyone who will listen.

It's certainly a long way from the nightmarish Taliban with their ideas from the Stone Age. After coming to power in 1996 they banned music, pictures, statues, sport, alcohol, smoking and television. Women were forced to wear full length burqua's and forbidden from going to school, work or even leaving the house without a male relative.

Men were forced to grow beards exactly as long as their fists and to attend mosque five times a day.

They were, he recalled, still encouraged to go to the local sports ground where athletic contests had given way to more one-sided exhibitions of limb serverings and beheadings.

Nedaee remembers how gangs of thugs patrolled the streets in 4WD's bashing people at will, mostly because they were not from the Taliban's ethnic race. He and his father were bashed five times in their own home.

"Five or six of them would arrive at midnight and bash you with cables, and for no reason, they just didn't like us because I had had some education at the university," he says.

"They just wanted to ban science, education and all new ideas so the people knew nothing but what they told them."

The situation became dire when Nedaee was sentenced to death for writing letters to classmates, exhorting them to teach their sisters and daughters to read and write at home. Girls were not allowed to go to school under the Taliban, or leave the house without a female relative.

All that is behind him now. He knows his family is safe, but also that he can never return to Afghanistan because the Taliban still control large parts of the country.

When interviewed by Workers Online Roohullah was overjoyed because after three years in Australia he had been given permanent residency.

His wish now is to give something back to the country that delivered him from desperation.

"The Australian people have given me another life," smiles Roohullah.

"I just want to get my license and start building a beautiful country for the people who helped me when I was in disaster."


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