Ash Pemberton

Pro-democracy protests have escalated in Bahrain after the US threw its support behind the monarchy and tanks from Saudi Arabia were seen entering the country. Up to 200,000 people marched in the capital, Manama, on February 25, The New York Times said that day — a staggering size given Bahrain's population is only 1.2 million, and more than half of these are foreign guest workers. The protesters converged on Pearl Roundabout in two huge crowds.
The US government says it wants “stability” in the Arab world. That sounds reasonable, right? However, as US author and political analyst Noam Chomsky explained to Press TV on February 24, for the US government, “stability” means something other than what most people would think. “You have to remember that stability is a cold code word,” Chomsky said. “Stability doesn't mean stability; it means obedience to US domination … [It] doesn't mean that things are calm and straightforward, [it] means they are under control. That of course it is inconsistent with democracy.
Anti-government protest in Yemen.

With revolts taking place in 15 countries across the Arab world, those with stakes in maintaining the status quo — especially the United States — are getting worried. From Morocco all the way to Iran, people are standing up for their long-denied rights.

More than 100,000 protesters packed Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain's capital, Manama, on February 22, demanding an end to the regime of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Protester Muhammad Abdullah told The New York Times: “This is the first time in the history of Bahrain that the majority of people, of Bahraini people, got together with one message: this regime must fall.” If the Khalifa family — which has ruled the tiny island nation for 200 years — falls, it could have major implications for the region and world politics.
Leaked emails have revealed a plot by private internet security firms to bring down WikiLeaks. The plot was allegedly created on behalf of the Bank of America — the largest bank in the US. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has said Bank of America will be the subject of future leaks. Computer-hacker group Anonymous revealed the plot after stealing 50,000 internal emails from internet security company HBGary Federal.
WikiLeaks has released secret US diplomatic cables that show secret Australian government negotiations to sell uranium to India, despite it not being a signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Other cables show the government covered up details about its spy satellite program with the US. A leaked cable shows resources minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 that a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years, SMH.com.au said on February 10.

US investigators have admitted their efforts to find grounds on which to prosecute WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange over the whistleblowing website’s release of hundreds of thousands of classified US documents were in trouble.

Thousands of West Papuans marched in the capital Jayapura on January 26, AFP said that day. Marchers rejected the area’s “special autonomy” status within Indonesia and demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia. Protesters chanted: “Indonesia the coloniser, Indonesia the oppressor, Indonesia the robber.” The action included students from Cenderawasih University, the Indonesian Christian Students Movement and church members, Tempo Interactive said on January 26.
West Papuan refugees in Papua New Guinea have been terrorised and arrested by police, West Papua Media Alerts said on January 28. They were allegedly arrested on behalf of the Indonesian military and local logging interests. Police and soldiers rounded up 79 refugees living in camps around Vanimo, on PNG’s north coast near the border with West Papua, in the early hours of January 23. The soldiers burned down at least 30 refugee houses, destroyed crops and food, and assaulted people, WPMA said. Other refugees have reportedly fled to the jungle.
The national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA), Joe De Bruyn, recently recommitted the SDA to a homophobic policy of opposition to equal marriage rights. A member of the ALP national executive, De Bruyn said in November that were he in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s position he would have “killed the issue off once and for all”, ABC online said. In our society, the heterosexual nuclear family is portrayed as the only legitimate model for relationships.
Forest campaigners have engaged in a series of actions on the New South Wales south coast, protesting against alleged illegal logging of old-growth forests in the area. Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue, told AAP on January 21: "Recent audits have exposed illegal logging of rainforest, land registered on the National Estate, endangered ecological communities, a gazetted Aboriginal Place and rocky outcrops. We have proven systemic re-occurring breaches on the south coast that show a pattern of non-compliance to the law."
Anger has erupted in West Papua at the light sentences handed to three Indonesian soldiers responsible for torturing two West Papuans. The soldiers received between eight and 10 months' jail for “insubordination” rather than the more serious charge of torture, The Australian said on January 24. They will be allowed to continue their military careers.