On August 18, as I woke up to the news of an attack that took place in Israel's southernmost city of Eilat in which seven Israelis died, the first thing that came to my mind was: “Who the hell did it?” As my brother excitedly narrated to me the details of the oddly mysterious incident, I was foolish enough to wish the assailants weren’t from Gaza. I naively said to my brother: “Let’s hope they don’t turn out to be Gazans.”
In a move that will provide important savings for low-income families, the Venezuelan government unveiled a plan on August 15 to distribute 12 million new textbooks to primary school students around the country in the coming scholastic year. Education minister Maryann Hanson said: “The objective of this program is to ensure that those with less economic resources can count on having textbooks in order to guarantee education as an inalienable human right.” The new textbooks represent an investment of more than US$45 million.
United States officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, secret US State Department cables show. Aristide, who won the 2000 presidential elections, was rendered a virtual prisoner for the past seven years. Aristide was overthrown in a bloody February 2004 coup supported by Washington and fomented by right-wing paramilitary forces and the Haitian elite.
Curator Vikki Riley opened Footprints of my Heart ― an exhibition of artwork by 20 refugees in the Darwin region ― on August 11. The exhibition ran at the Darwin Supreme Court from August 11 to 19. Many of the artists were still in detention, at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre, the Airport Lodge or the Asti Hotel under guard. Some of the artists were regarded as “high risk” by immigration authorities and were accompanied to the opening by three security guards each.
Quarantine staff at Australia's international airports walked off the job for four hours on August 19. The action was part of a campaign by Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members working in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to win a better enterprise agreement. The strike caused some delays at the airports, and affected cargo inspections, the release of imported goods and the x-ray screening of international mail.
You’ll never guess which political party sat and watched while the Aboriginal incarceration rate sky-rocketed. We heard it on the radio. And we saw it on the television. Report after report, and promises delivered by talking politicians. But while this was occurring, Aboriginal people wallowed inside this nation’s jails and detention centres, their futures cast by a system that jails them at staggeringly disproportionate rates. It’s a problem that cripples our families, and our communities, and is as complex as it is troubling.
Most of us protesters were across the road from the Sofitel Wentworth luxury hotel in the heart of Sydney’s business district where the $900-a-head NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment Conference was underway on August 18. But a handful got into the conference hall and were able to hold up signs protesting coal seam gas mining. Two protesters also abseiled down the front of the hotel and, to a roaring cheer from the demonstrators, unfurled a giant banner that read: “Enough is enough/stop coal & gas expansion”.
After a screening of Gasland on August 10 attracted 60 people to Armidale’s Progressive Cinema, more than 30 people stayed after the film to discuss what to do locally. Carmel Flint, from the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, alerted those present to plans for coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga forest south of Narrabri and new coalmines endangering native forests. The meeting decided to form a local action group to stop coal and coal seam gas mining on agricultural land, as well as in native forests.
Close to 1000 people turned out on August 14 for a rally to “Save the Kimberley”. Musicians entertained the crowd in between speakers from environment groups and Indigenous communities. The protest was called by local group Country Calling in support of the campaign to prevent a natural gas processing facility being built at James Price Point, called Walmadan by the Indigenous people of the area. The point is on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, Western Australia, in the famous Kimberley wilderness region.