Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

Shock: US MSM takes swipe at Bush!

The recent Newsweek scandal was a classic case of media manipulation. Thankfully, some journalists in the American mainstream media smelt a case of diversion when they saw it. Take the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson:

That was an awfully neat parlour trick the Bush administration performed last week, focusing attention on the reporting and editing process at Newsweek and away from more inconvenient facts: the copiously well-documented physical and psychological abuse of Muslim prisoners; the way this abuse has poisoned hearts and minds against America over the past three years; and the eruption of deadly riots in Afghanistan, a country we were supposed to have fixed.”

“White House spokesman Scott McClellan ought to be explaining why the administration turned away from still-problematic Afghanistan so quickly to rush pell-mell into Iraq. Flacks at the State Department and the Pentagon ought to be scurrying to assure the world that the disgraceful prisoner abuse has come to an end and that those responsible, including the higher-ups who hid behind “deniability” while making the abuse possible, will be brought to account.”

Let me get this straight: The White House makes a mistake on the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, relying heavily on its own unidentified sources who turn out to have their own political agendas, and what follows is a war in which tens of thousands of Iraqis die. I’m being vague on the number because the administration refuses to count. Thousands of young Americans are maimed and more than 1,600 lose their lives; the flag-draped coffins are flown home, as in previous wars, but this administration doesn’t want you to see them. And we’re supposed to blame Newsweek’s editorial procedures. Watch my right hand, ladies and gents. Nothin’ up my sleeve.”

Game, set and match.

In news from Iraq, independent journalist Dahr Jamail reports on the ongoing insurgency and criminal behaviour of US forces: “I can’t tell you how many Iraqis I’ve interviewed after their homes were raided who complained of money, jewellery and other belongings being looted by American soldiers.”

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), meanwhile, while not trying to save Sydney – a series virtually ignoring the incestuous relationship between NSW’s Bob Carr government, developers and private industry – reminds one of a March report by UK Medialens that revealed the failure of the “liberal press” in the UK to seriously examine the issues in climate change, preferring to view Tony Blair, as the SMH does Bob Carr, like Canadian philosopher John McMurtry explains:

“Tony Blair exemplifies the character structure of the global market order. Packaged in the corporate culture of youthful image, he is constructed as sincere, energetic and moral. Like other ruling-party leaders, he has worked hard to be selected by the financial and media axes of power as ‘the man to do the job’. He is a moral metaphor of the system.”

The reality, of course, is that a person like Blair or Carr are incapable of delivering real leadership on major environmental issues because of their closeness to the fossil fuel industry, as but one example. Greenpeace explained this blatant hypocrisy in April:

“New South Wales premier, Bob Carr, is famously vocal against climate change. The joke is, his government is considering building another coal fired power plant.”

But we digress…

In Iraq, doctors are being threatened to leave their hospitals, causing a massive shortfall in health care:

“The letter came to Baghdad’s main cardiac hospital late last month. It was handwritten and unsigned, but its message was clear: it threatened the hospital’s top doctors and warned them to leave their jobs immediately.

Four of the hospital’s top surgeons stopped going to work. So did six senior cardiologists. Some left the country.

It was far from an isolated incident. The director of another hospital, Dr Abdula Sahab Eunice, was shot dead on May 17 on his way to work, officials said.

In the past year, about 10 per cent of Baghdad’s 32,000 registered doctors – Sunnis, Shiites and Christians – have left or been driven from work, according to the Iraqi Medical Association, which licenses practitioners.

The exodus has accelerated in recent months, said Akif Khalil al-Alousi, a pathologist at Kindi Teaching Hospital and a senior member of the association. The vast majority of those fleeing, he said, are the most senior doctors.”

In other assorted newsbytes today, further information on the scandal – virtually ignored in the compliant Australian media – of Israel’s Washington uber-lobby AIPAC, the Bush administration and intelligence leaks. Anti-war’s Justin Raimondo wonders whether the resignation of Defense Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith is connected to the forthcoming revelations of collusion between the Israeli government, the Bushies, the war in Iraq and potential conflict with Iran.

Read the whole article because it deconstructs the real agenda behind America’s Middle East policy and its corruption from within. This is not conspiracy; this is reality in 2005.


Few mates for Alan

Norman G. Finkelstein is an American academic always guaranteed to generate debate and controversy. His insights into the Israel/Palestine issue have made him, in the words of Avi Shlaim of St Antony’s College, Oxford University: “…one of the most radical and hard-hitting critics of the official Zionist version of the Arab-Israeli conflict and of the historians who support this version.”

When he accused Harvard celebrity Alan Dershowitz of deception and plagiarism over his best-selling The Case for Israel, Finkelstein moved from notoriety to infamy. By early this year, Dershowitz was harassing Finkelstein’s publisher and threatening legal action. A new publisher was found, University of California Press, and the book, “Beyond Chutzpah”, should be released in August. Dershowitz even sent letters to the office of Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger because UC Press receives state funding as part of the California school system. Publisher’s Weekly (PW) recently revealed: “A response from that office to Dershowitz obtained by PW shows that it reads, in part, that the governor ‘is not inclined to otherwise exert influence in this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents.'”

The past weeks has seen this issue explode. The New York Times covered it and Dershowitz hit back at Finkelstein, claiming that Noam Chomsky, journalist Alexander Cockburn and Finkelstein himself were conducting “literary McCarthyism” in their attempts at discrediting him.

“The mode of attack is consistent,” Dershowitz wrote. “Chomsky selects the target and directs Finkelstein to probe the writings in minute detail and conclude that the writer didn’t actually write the work, that it is plagiarized, that it is a hoax and a fraud. Cockburn publicizes these ‘findings,’ and then a cadre of fellow travellers bombard the Internet with so many attacks on the target that these attacks jump to the top of Google.”

Dershowitz’s suggestion that his voice is being marginalised is ludicrous. He appears regularly on TV and in newspapers around the world. His pro-Zionist agenda dominates the American mainstream media. To feel seriously challenged by three prominent leftist writers suggests a man not comfortable with scrutiny.

“The Case for Israel” is a book for people who like to be told that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy that behaves humanely towards the Palestinians. Let them live with these delusions.

Finkelstein is a brave soul determined to challenge the region’s cliches. Don’t believe me? Read his Holocaust Industry and discover the ways in which the Jewish genocide has been used and abused by Jewish individuals and groups to further their bigoted agenda towards Israel.


Real face of aid

The foreign aid industry has become a powerful force for change in the last 20 years, though not always for good. John Pilger writes about the situation in Cambodia and the ways in which successive Western governments have failed this struggling Asian nation.

“Cambodia was never allowed to recover from the trauma inflicted by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Pol Pot. During the 1980s, with Pol Pot exepelled by the Vietnamese, an American and British-led embargo made reconstruction almost impossible. Instead, a “resistance” was invented by the Americans with the British SAS contracted to train the Khmer Rouge in secret camps in Thailand and Malaysia. In 1990, when the United Nations finally arrived in Cambodia to organise “democracy”, it brought corruption on an unprecedented scale, along with Aids and “aid”. This was misrepresented as a “triumph” for the “international community”. Cambodia today is a victim of this “aid”. As in Africa, the “donors” (the west and Japan) have perpetuated the myths of a “basket case”: that Cambodians cannot do anything for themselves and that genuine development aid and rapacious capitalism are compatible.”

The amount paid to foreign aid workers in Cambodia amounts to a small fortune, doing the work a Cambodian could often easily do for a much smaller amount. Many of the budgets cited by Britain and America, when defending their “generous” aid packages to countries such as Cambodia, conveniently forget to mention the exact amount spent on foreign workers. How much of our tax money is going straight into the pockets of wealthy Western aid workers?

I remember speaking to a friend many years ago who used to work in the foreign aid business. She told me that many of her colleagues would demand to fly business class, only work for excessive daily rates and want to stay in five-star accommodation. The question was routinely asked: who exactly were they trying to help other than themselves?

The less than healthy side of globalisation.

Pilger explains:

“The ActionAid report quotes Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch: “In the 1980s, there was a popular T-shirt satirising US army recruitment commercials with the slogan, ‘Join the army. Travel to exotic, distant lands. Meet exciting, unusual people. And kill them’. In the new millennium, it could be rephrased, ‘Join the aid community. Travel to exotic, distant lands. Meet exciting, unusual people. And make a killing’.”


Rabbi speaks

“For only the sixth time in 127 years, the Great Synagogue, the mother church of Sydney’s Jewish community, has formally welcomed a new leader.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today on London-born and Oxford-educated Jeremy Lawrence being welcomed into the Sydney Jewish community. Lawrence has already “pioneered Sabbath greetings via SMS and set up adult education classes using his amateur magicians skills to bring Judaism to life for those who have had no prior religious instruction.”

He cautions any expectation of a more progressive attitude towards women, making it likely that only men will continue to be able to study the Torah. No mention of the Israel/Palestine conflict, either. With the Jewish state being a central platform around which many Jews congregate, we can probably presume that his position is reactionary and therefore predictable. But, I hope to be surprised. We can only hope in Australia for a mainstream Jewish figure taking a firm stand against oppression in the mould of US-based Rabbi Michael Lerner.


Still in denial

Many in the mainstream press still deny the legitimacy of blogging. Sad, really. As John Naughton writes in today’s UK Observer:

“Large swathes of the journalistic profession…are still in denial about blogging. In that sense, they resemble music industry executives circa 1999, denying the significance of online file- sharing. But the claim that blogging is a threat to journalism – that inside every blogger is a ‘journalist-wannabe’ trying to escape – is just daft.”

We’re here to stay.


The Corby Case and Australia-Indonesia relations

The Schapelle Corby case continues to dominate headlines. Once again, the obsessive focus on this one case appears to be excessive and completely disproportionate. Scott Burchill, lecturer in international relations at Deakin University, has a few words to add:

“Jolted by public outrage at Indonesian state terrorism in East Timor following the September 1999 independence ballot, the Howard Government reluctantly intervened to liberate the territory, aware of the consequent damage to the bilateral relationship but unwilling to defy community sentiment ventilated in response to shocking TV images.

For a while relations deteriorated. The exploitation of events for domestic electoral advantage (Tampa and the ‘boat people’), bravado (failing to correct a journalist’s “deputy sheriff” phrase) and clumsy diplomacy (the policy of pre-emption), coupled with an incompetent and disinterested Indonesian president ensured that suspicion and paranoia would prevent a normalisation of government to government links.

In Australia this state of affairs was deeply troubling to those in and outside government who place a premium on stability and good relations with Jakarta at all costs. The Indonesian military (TNI) has always been seen by the Jakarta Lobby as the best guarantor of social and political control of the Indonesian population. The Lobby has therefore sought to present the best possible image of the Indonesian military to the Australian public, playing down both its domestic repression and regular massacres during its brutal 24 year occupation of neighbouring East Timor. Australia’s de jure recognition of Indonesia’s incorporation of East Timor in 1985, the Timor Gap Treaty in 1989, and the 1995 agreement on security signed by the Keating Government and the Suharto regime, were the high watermarks of the Lobby’s influence.

The challenge of rehabilitating the reputation of a military force guilty of crimes against humanity – particularly during a so called ‘war against terror’ – has not been easy for those who want to restore formal ties between TNI (including the notoriously brutal Kopassus) and the ADF. The gap between popular perceptions of the Indonesian Government and its military, and the view of the policy elite, has long been a yawning chasm. Until recently the Lobby has been furious with the Howard Government for its neglect of the bilateral relationship with Jakarta.

However, in the last three years the tide has turned again. Opportunity (co-operation between the AFP and Indonesian police investigating the Bali bombings), happenstance (replacement of Megawati with the more technocratic SBY), expressions of goodwill (Tsunami aid) and sacrifice (deaths of ADF humanitarian personnel on Nias) have repaired much of the damage caused in 1999 and following months.

The Indonesian President has visited Australia and agreed to sponsor Australia’s participation at a regional summit to be held in Malaysia later in the year. And in regular ritualised pledges, the Howard Government has expressed greater support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity than is evident amongst those who actually live in the Republic’s Western (Aceh) and Eastern (West Papua) provinces.

Like its reluctant intervention in East Timor six years ago, the Howard Government’s response to the Corby case is driven by popular pressure. On the one hand the Government instructs the population that intervention in the judicial affairs of another country is inappropriate while on the other it goes to extraordinary lengths to do precisely that.

A letter to the court about an investigation into QANTAS baggage handlers, the facilitation of a remand prisoner as a witness for the defence, suggestions of a one-off prisoner exchange agreement with Jakarta, the visit of the Australian Justice Minister to lobby against the death penalty, and the offer of QCs for the appeal process are extraordinary interventions by themselves. In contrast to the Government’s responses to more than 40 similar drugs trials across Southeast Asia involving Australians, they are even more remarkable.

The Government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must be as bemused by Canberra’s attention to this case as many Australians are. Contrasting attitudes to sentences for the Bali bombers Amrozi, Muhklas and Imam Samudra, as well as the case of radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, must look hypocritical at best and at worst – racist.

And how must the people of East Timor feel? An Australian gets 20 years for importing marijuana while those who orchestrated and committed mass murder in East Timor – including Wiranto, Zacky Anwar, Hendropriyono, Sjafrie Sjamsuddin and Mahidin Simbolon – are either not even prosecuted or receive no punishment for their crimes because as defence minister Juwono Sudarsono conceded, “we can’t go up into the high ranks as they were just carrying out state policy.”

Foreign Minister Downer promised that these “rogue elements,” as he described them in 1999, would be prosecuted by an independent UN tribunal if they didn’t receive justice from the Indonesian legal system we are now told to respect for its independence. Judgement about the Corby case and the state of the Indonesian judicial system should therefore be reserved until those who have been waiting many years for justice see that the leopard has changed its spots.”

All I would add to Burchill’s incisive commentary is this: believing in Corby’s innocence is one thing (though the evidence presented in the Indonesian court by the defense was far from conclusive) but what is this kind of behaviour really going to achieve? Are people seriously suggesting that Corby should simply be released because we “think” she’s innocent? That they’re shouldn’t be an appeal? That she should be treated differently to every other drug case in Indonesia, or Asia or even the world? Dangerous precedents are on the cards. Let calmer heads prevail.


Hold that thought

I’ll be at the Sydney’s Writer’s Festival all weekend, so posting will be minimal, at best. Read a book and ignore the web. It’ll be hard for us all.

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Crime and Punishment

Clinton Fernandes is a Melbourne writer, historian and military man. His 2004 book, Reluctant Saviour, revealed Australian involvement in the 1999 East Timor massacres.

In the wake of the Schapelle Corby guilty verdict today, Fernandes has a few thoughts about Indonesian justice:

“Commit mass murder in East Timor = no punishment.
Import marijuana = 20 years.

Foreign Minister Downer has praised the new Indonesia with “an independent judiciary and a democratic political system and a free press”. Fair enough. But remember that in this new Indonesia, its first civilian defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, rejected calls to investigate high-ranking war criminals within its military: “We can’t go up into the high ranks as they were just carrying out state policy”*.

Accordingly, no action has been taken against the architects of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in the final days of the occupation of East Timor**:

a. Feisal Tanjung remained active in party politics after he lost ministerial office in October 1999.
b. Mahidin Simbolon, the deputy commander of the military region that included East Timor, was promoted to his own command in West Papua, where pro-democracy activists began to experience another reign of state-sponsored terrorism.
c. Former information minister Yunus Yosfiah remained free of meaningful legal sanction.
d. Zacky Anwar Makarim remains in the Indonesian army, attached to the headquarters without specific assignment.
e. Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, who presided over atrocities against students in 1998 when he was chief of the Jakarta garrison, was appointed official spokesman for the military.
f. Hendropriyono, the former transmigration minister who helped organise the mass deportations, was appointed head of the new National Intelligence Body.”

* “Reluctant Saviour”, p 75.
**”Reluctant Saviour”, p 117.


Dumbing down

Does the ABC have a problem? The Age’s Gay Alcorn thinks so:

“If worthy can be dull, and frivolous can be entertaining, how hard is it to be dull and frivolous at the same time? It is a challenge (Melbourne) 774 ABC radio appears to have set itself and, for this longtime listener, it is getting there.”

The ABC needs reform. New energy, ideas and bravery would be a good start. Programs on Radio National are often fascinating though do tend to appeal to an older, more conservative audience. I used the word conservative advisably. Perhaps audiences “set in their ways” is more appropriate. What about the yoof? And the next generation of ABC listeners?

Friends of the national broadcaster fail miserably when they claim that more funding would alleviate all the ABC’s problems. There is a culture of fear inside the ABC. I’ve discovered this during research for my book. Many journalists and editors are self-censoring themselves, especially when discussing domestic or international politics. Watch the ABC TV’s 7pm news bulletin and try not to be struck down with its parochialism.

Tim Blair may call the ABC “selective, self-serving [and] devious” but he’s a believer in privatisation. A better way to describe people like him is, “those who can’t stand journalists questioning the status quo because it shows them to be little more than propagandists.” A strong, independent national broadcaster is essential, and so is more funding. But we must stop modelling the ABC on the BBC. It failed the independence test during the Iraq war. Numerous studies have proven, despite rhetoric suggesting otherwise, that the BBC was in fact thoroughly pro-war before the Iraq invasion and afraid to question the dubious claims emerging from Downing Street.


Taking responsibility

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is an issue I’ve written about previously and one that causes me great pain. Both Labor and Liberal have failed miserably on this issue. Today Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone defended the policy of locking up children. How enlightened.

The introduction of a private member’s bill by a brave Victorian Liberal backbencher, Petro Georgiou, is a welcome sign that maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning on this issue. The ending of mandatory detention is but one of the prerequisites for a humane refugee policy.

The blunders of the Immigration Department, including the locking up of innocent people and forced deportation of Australian citizens, was canvassed during last night’s ABC Lateline. Interviewer Tony Jones grilled Vanstone in a way rarely seen in the genteel world of Australian journalism:

Tony Jones: “…There was a time in Australian politics when the head of a department which had overseen a failure at this level might have considered resigning.”

Meanwhile, Murdoch minion and potential future Liberal MP, Andrew Bolt, always ready to slam “evil” wherever he finds it (usually on the Left, laughably), appears to have turned into the devil in his latest photo. Check it out. Andrew, squinting towards your proud or inflamed readers is a sure way to channel evil onto the entire Murdoch empire. Perish the thought.


Fight dem back!

Far right activity in Australia and New Zealand usually escapes the attention of the mainstream media. “Fight dem Back” aims to change all that:

“We are brought together by the strong belief that all people, regardless of race, religion or creed, are created equal and by our uniform opposition to all groups who would seek to propagate racial hate and division.

“Our members reflect the intrinsic benefits of multicultural understanding and tolerance. We are Muslim, Jew and Christian; Anglo, Asian, and African; blackfella and whitefella; Maori and Pakeha; Aussie and Kiwi – together.”

Get reading, involved and active. The team has already scored a number of successes but the battle is just beginning.

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Blair’s liars and the lying liars who tell them

Tony Blair’s New Labour lies? A British documentary tells all:

“Britain’s Channel 4 documentary “Undercover in New Labour” includes footage from “a reporter wearing hidden cameras who volunteered to work on the party’s election campaign and ended up being drafted to work at its national PR headquarters.” The documentary shows Labour staff using “party supporters in key professions from medicine and the law to the armed forces and the police, who were prepared to appear on TV and in the papers and lie through their teeth that their support for this or that policy was entirely unsolicited,” writes reporter Mark Borkowski. But “is singling out New Labour for criticism reasonable,” Borkowski asks, when astroturfing “has been going on for decades in business, especially among the oil, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries?” Undercover reporters were placed with Britain’s three main political parties, “but it was decided the strongest story was the way the Labour campaign was run,” an anonymous source told the Guardian.”

This gets me thinking. Why don’t Australian filmmakers, documentary makers or current affairs programs more actively engage in undercover work? Gaining information through deception is ethically problematic, I agree, but sometimes the greater truth is much more important. Take this 2004 BBC documentary expose on Britain’s far right party, the BNP. Perhaps our journalists lack the requisite fortitude?