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After the Supreme Court on May 16 banned the Basque party Abertzale Sozialisten Batasuna (ASB) from contesting the May 27 local and regional elections, more than 82,000 Basques signed petitions for the creation of new electoral lists. However hundreds of pro-independence and left candidates in the Basque Country have also been banned on the basis of suspected links to Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA — Basque Homeland and Freedom). Some 133 candidate lists of the legal party Accion Nacionalista Vasca (ANV — Basque Nationalist Action), which formed in 1931, have also been banned. A statement on May 23 signed by 17 members of the European Parliament described the bans as “a serious attack against the most basic civil and political rights in Europe” and called for a political, peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country.

On May 21, Cuban President Fidel Castro condemned the British Navy’s purchase of a new nuclear attack submarine, saying it illustrates “the sophisticated weaponry being used to maintain the unsustainable order developed by the imperial system of the United States”. According to British military officials, the HMS Astute — which will be launched on June 8 — and two further submarines to be purchased, will each cost US$7.2 billion. “The most surprising thing is that with that sum, 75,000 doctors could be trained to attend to 150 million people”, Castro noted.

A new weekly left newspaper, antidot, has been launched in the German speaking part of Switzerland. The first issue appeared on May 1. The paper is published by a collective, the “antidot Verein”, comprising a broad spectrum of individuals and organisations, including a branch of the Greens, a branch of the Workers’ Party (PdA), the Socialist Alternative (SolidariteS), ATTAC Switzerland, anarchist organisations and others. The newspaper aims to provide an antidote to mainstream media and a forum for discussion among the social, environmental and political movements and groups on the left in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Visit <http://antidot.ch>.

“There are two big issues in this dispute: the right of academics to free speech and the question of QUT [Queensland University of Technology] conducting unethical research”, left-wing academic Dr Gary MacLennan told Green Left Weekly on May 24.

LISMORE — Officials and local activists from the National Tertiary Education Union and Community and Public Sector Union urged the 60 participants in a May 23 speak-out at Southern Cross University to step up the campaign against the federal government's Work Choices legislation and other anti-union legislation aimed at higher education workers. Pictured second and third from front right are NTEU national president Carolyn Allport and CPSU secretary David Carey.

Australia has long been known as one of the most wasteful countries in the world: per head of population we are second only to the US in the amount of waste we pile into landfills.

BRISBANE — “Australia is the only Western democracy without human rights legislation”, James Whelan from Amnesty International told a public forum attended by 50 people on May 23.

NEWCASTLE — More than 30 people attended a speak-out to express solidarity with the Pine Gap Four at the Hamilton’s Clocktower on May 25. One of the Pine Gap Four, Donna Mulhearn, is a well-known peace activist in the Hunter region. She was among those arrested after successfully carrying out a “citizens’ inspection” of Pine Gap on December 9, 2005. Their trial goes to court shortly.

On May 23, a group of traditional landowners of the Yuin people served an eviction notice on Forests NSW, demanding the immediate cessation of logging in the Bodalla State Forest.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has expressed concern after the Northern Land Council nominated a site at Muckaty, near Tennant Creek, for a proposed nuclear waste dump.

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