Overnight on August 30, an Afghan army sergeant shot dead three Australian soldiers at an Afghan National Army patrol base in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan. A helicopter crash that killed two more soldiers made the day the deadliest for Australia's forces since the Vietnam War. On four separate occasions, a total of seven Australian soldiers have been killed by “rogue” members of the NATO-trained Afghan army, supposedly tasked with taking over security when NATO forces withdraw in 2014.
The decision by WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to seek asylum in Ecuador’s London Embassy triggered an international media campaign that highlighted the “hypocrisy” of his decision to choose a country condemned for supposed attacks on press freedom. The campaign reached a fever pitch following Ecuador’s decision to grant the dissident journalist asylum on August 16. Commentators used the opportunity to stick the boot into both Ecuador and Assange. See also: Why journalists could use a Correa change
Another week, another round of killings in Afghanistan. Three Australian soldiers were killed on August 29 by an Afghan solider, just days after two US soldiers were also killed by a member of the Afghan army the occupiers are supposed to be helping. That takes the death toll from the so-called green-on-blue killings this year to 45.
The Adelaide protest, part of a nationwide action around Australia organised by socialist youth group Resistance. Hungry Jacks, called Burger King in New Zealand, has been on a vicious anti-union worker rampage in New Zealand, paying pathetic wages then threatening young workers who dare to join the Unite union and organise for better pay and conditions.
Although parliamentary elections are often billed as “historic”, and results hailed as “landslides” and “political earthquakes”, events usually turn out not to have been so dramatic once the dust settles. But the September 12 national election in the Netherlands really does seem to be living up to the rhetoric.
Almost a year since Tunisia's Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Islamist party Ennahda, leader of the coalition government, continues to lose the confidence of those who rose up against dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in late 2010. Anger was prompted by Constitutional Article 27, which was passed by the Committee on Rights and Freedoms on August 1, defining women's rights as "complementary" to those of men, placing women "at the heart of the family and as man's associate".
The Australian subsidiaries of tobacco giants Philip Morris and British Tobacco lost their final court challenge on August 16 against the Australian government’s proposed legislation that mandates all tobacco products be packaged in plain packaging. The only distinguishing features on packs will be the brand names, which will be in a standard font and size.
The Australian government has come under pressure over its role in funding Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88, after ABC’s 7.30 highlighted the unit’s role in repressing independence activists in occupied West Papua. Detachment 88 has been implicated in several killings and the torture of Papuan activists. A prominent recent case was its alleged involvement in the assassination of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) leader Mako Tabuni in June.
The seventh Sydney Latin American Film Festival opens on September 6 and runs over 10 days and across four Sydney venues in Circular Quay, Marrickville, Annandale and Bankstown. Launching the festival will be the internationally acclaimed Argentine film MIA, a deeply moving drama that follows the story of a transvestite living in a Buenos Aires slum and explores the issues of discrimination and the right to happiness.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) may soon have a win against the mining corporation they allege has used dirty tactics and manipulation to force them into a mining deal they don’t want. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), owned by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, said it had secured the permission of traditional owners to start production on its $5 billion Solomon Hub iron ore project on Aboriginal land near Roebourne, WA.
Newly arrived asylum seekers are staging a desperate resistance to Australia's plans to ship them to remote Pacific island detention camps, as the government's efforts to begin the moves were slammed as “chaotic”. Children, women and men joined a hunger strike that began in Christmas Island detention on August 25 after they were told their asylum claim would not be processed in Australia. A small group of men continued for three days before beginning to eat again.
An in-confidence report to the department of immigration in January said detention camps on Nauru would need three to five months work before they could be functional. It also said the sites could house a maximum of 400 at the island's two previous detention sites, and any more would lead to crowding and “tension and behavioural issues” very quickly.
Activists in Melbourne commemorated International Day of the Disappeared with an August 30 vigil that called on the Sri Lankan government to end to its practice of “disappearing” political dissidents. Long-term Sri Lankan human rights activist Lionel Bopage said: “From 1988 onwards, there was a marked increase in disappearances and killings. This has been part of repression of people critical of the regime.”
More than 80,000 NSW public sector workers will lose basic entitlements such as annual leave loading, penalty rates and remote living allowances under new plans from Barry O'Farrell's Coalition government. Some sick leave and parental leave also face the axe. The latest attack comes after 15,000 jobs were cut, public-sector pay rises were capped below the inflation rate, and workers' compensation rights for sick and injured workers were stripped.
The remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community of Amoonguna said on August 23 that it wants its power back and refused to renew a five-year government lease, which expired on August 17. Amoonguna, 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, has also started legal action to remove all government workers from its land.
A lack of communication regarding the fate of Sydney University’s Koori Centre has left students fearing a repeat of the dangerous rhetoric that made way for 340 proposed job cuts last semester. The “Wingara Mura — Bunga Barrabugu” strategy will scatter the Koori Centre’s functions and staff across campus in 16 faculties.