Refugee lawyer David Manne and a pro bono legal team will take the federal government and ASIO to the High Court to challenge the indefinite detention of refugees found to be “security threats”.

The case will argue that refugees should be told the full reasons for ASIO's decision, so they are able to appeal adverse findings.

Manne said the situation now is “like being sentenced to life imprisonment without even having been charged, tried and convicted. It's a secret trial”.

The Great Barrier Reef off Queensland's northern coast came within a few metres of disaster on May 19 when a broken-down bulk sugar carrier drifted just over Shark Reef, north-east of Cooktown.

The 26,000-tonne ID Integrity was blown off course after its engines broke down. Crew dumped ballast to allow the vessel to pass over the reef, until tugs could reach the ship.

Cairns Politics in the Pub has restarted after a year's break. These semi-monthly discussion forums at the Green Ant Cantina feature guest speakers, panels and discussion on topical issues proposed by various community groups and individual activists.

On May 23, 35 people took part in a lively debate of the question “Where to now after a Labor thrashing?” The speakers included Jonathan Strauss for the Socialist Alliance, ALP activist Elida Faith and Steve Brech from the Greens.

Election pundit Peter "Mumble" Brent has accurately summed up Paul Howes as “not so much a person as an ever-evolving script”. He became chief of the right-wing run Australian Workers Union five years ago but clearly has much higher political ambitions.

The trial of 16 activists arrested at a Palestine solidarity protest outside a Max Brenner chocolate store in Melbourne's QV shopping centre in July last year finished on May 25.

Throughout the trial a megaphone has been sitting beside the magistrate as evidence. Freedom of political expression and the right to protest have been on trial in this court case.

The court case began on May 1 and lasted almost a month. The defence counsel and the prosecution finalised their submissions on May 24 and 25.

The Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference was held at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 19, attended by more than 40 members and supporters. Themed "Towards a Socialist Australia", the conference discussed rebuilding the socialist movement in Australia and in Queensland, in the framework of a rise in international struggles for radical change.

Peter Boyle, SA national co-convenor, set the scene by challenging the movement to re-imagine socialism in the new period of international crisis, beginning with the polarisation in a Greece faced with economic disaster.

Anyone who knows me will tell you straight up: I wholeheartedly believe in the United States' mission to spread democracy throughout the world.

So when the Arab Spring broke out last year, how the hearts of the rulers of the land of the free must have soared at the sight of long-oppressed peoples demanding freedom!

Except it soon became hard to ignore that, in case after case, the people were standing up to tyrants who were actually propped up by the United States.

A large public forum was held in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley on May 16 to officially launch a community cooperative that local people hope will become an example for the rest of the country.

The launch came almost a year since Heinz announced it would shut down its tomato processing plant in the nearby town of Girgarre. The closure left 146 workers without a job and affected about 600 people whose livelihoods depended on the factory.

About 4000 unionists at six coal mines in Central Queensland have struck for a week from May 24 after enterprise bargaining talks with employers BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi again broke down. The 18-month-long dispute between the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and mineowners the BHP-Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) centres on a push by the company to replace union-appointed mine safety officers with management officials.

Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) sent a message of solidarity to the thousands of people who protested against the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20. SYRIZA came second in Greece's May 6 poll on an anti-austerity platform. It is polling first, with a vote as high as 30%, for the new elections scheduled for June 17


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