We started celebrating 2009 with the Sydney Festival and All Tomorrow’s Parties, listening to Nick Cave on Cockatoo Island.

But later, that January, there were deaths in South Australia because of the extreme heat, and bushfires made things worse, 173 people died in Victoria, and then there were floods too. There were shark attacks, as usual; a young British publicist got “the best job in the world” in Hamilton Island and the King and Queen of Spain visited Sydney for the opening of the new Instituto Cervantes in Chippendale.

There were two serious oil spills, one of them polluting the Timor Sea.

There was the Swine Flu. The number of deaths associated with pandemic (H1N1) in Australia in 2009 kept rising, causing about 200.

A serious confrontation with China started with The Melbourne Film Festival screening of “Ten Conditions of Love”, a documentary about exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, accused of plotting Urumqi riots. Then, Stern Hu, a Rio Tinto executive was accused of bribery in China and later formally charged.

Controversial cinema also hit Sydney. The film “Stolen” by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw alleged that slavery is present in the Polisario camps in South West Algeria and writing about that was certainly challenging. According to the Australia Western Sahara Association, the documentary is seriously misleading. The Polisario Front brought Fetim Sellami, the main character in the film, to Australia, after she had withdrawn her consent to appear in the film. I tried to interview her, as Kamal Fadel, representative of Polisario in Australia “requested” so, but her husband translated her words into Spanish, so I still don’t trust I was told what she said.

An Australian dollar almost got to buy an American one (I was getting poorer and poorer). The whales kept beaching themselves all over the place and media140 came to Sydney and opened my eyes.

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