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.

How the West was won

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”

Samuel P. Huntington

I re-discovered this priceless and accurate comment while re-reading Salam Pax’s old blog. Huntington, of course, is the man who brought us the “Clash of Civilisations” theory – the inevitable confrontation between the West and Islam – and more recently, the Hispanic “threat” to the United States.

In other words, a likely favourite of the US establishment.

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Stop blaming Syria for your problems

Syria can be accused of many things, not least of which is an autocratic regime intolerant of dissent. But, according to Iraq’s former interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, Damascus is not assisting militants crossing into Iraq to fight the raging insurgency. Allawi, whose background is suspect at best, made the comments in Cairo this week.

Allawi would have had access to high level intelligence during his time in office. His claims contradict continual accusations by America, Australia and Britain that Syria is behind the rising violence. So whom can our Dear Leaders blame now?

Back on planet Earth, Bush is fighting growing displeasure at home. His answer is to expand Iraqi prisons and arrest more “terrorists”. And what of claims that the US is now talking to “terrorists”? Never negotiate with them, I remember them crowing some time ago. No longer. As I’ve said before, bring back the draft. America is in such dire straights militarily, they may soon have no choice. Support for the war, already plummeting, will decrease even further.

The US lost Iraq militarily months ago. And yet our pro-war commentators and politicians continue to insist Iraq is flowering into a democracy. How much longer will they bury their head in Iraq’s quicksand?

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Moved

The Committee to Protect Bloggers has moved. The team for all the news that’s fit to publish on bloggers and internet freedom.

A branch has just opened in Singapore, that bastion of Asian economic strength. As for the government’s belief in true democracy, well…

On related matters, a Napalese blog has launched in an attempt to bypass that country’s draconian press restrictions.

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The inside story

How did the Downing Street memo see the light of day? The London Times’ Michael Smith explains.
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You want fries with that?

Ever wanted to know what culinary delicacies are served to inmates at Guantanamo Bay? Worry no more, The Gitmo Cookbook will answer all your questions. American conservative activists reckon this is a way to convince the world that “Gitmo” is a holiday camp under a different name. US Vice President can’t understand the outcry: “There isn’t any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we’re treating these people”. Prisoners are “living in the tropics”, he says.

How many more reports need to be released to prove the American facility is a travesty of human rights?

An Amnesty spokesperson perfectly expressed the sentiment: “It is not a matter of climate or what food prisoners get, but a question of justice.”

Perhaps we need to remember the words of senior Pentagon official, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Christino, who claimed in 2004 that intelligence gathered from Guantanamo Bay inmates had failed to stop even one terrorist act and the system of interrogation there was almost guaranteed to produce false confessions.

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Really, Paul?

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul Sheehan today informs us that when it comes to the Middle East, “we remain locked in a malignant cliche, a vision of the region and its peoples as seething and dysfunctional, divided between Islamic fundamentalists and those who fear them. Blood and terror is the dominant news story from the Gulf.”

How insightful and original. As usual with Sheehan, the reasons behind such racism aren’t articulated, so let me help. Our mainstream media is a prime culprit. While we remain convinced of “our liberation” of Iraq, America’s supposed belief in democracy and freedom in the region and label anyone who disputes the Bush agenda as terrorists or appeasers, Sheehan’s words, no matter how well intentioned, will fall on deaf ears.

For the real perspective on the Arab world, don’t rely on the Western press. Check out blogs or regional newspapers. Only then do we realise that many in the Middle East have no desire for Western influence or “liberation”.

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Enough already

Wayne Mansfield is a self-confessed “spam king.” Australian authorities claim he has sent tens of millions of spam emails over the last years. Mansfield says that the response rate to spam “is staggeringly high – people wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work”.

He faces penalties of up to $220,000.

Mansfield said the real king of spam was American Scott Richter who sent more than 56 million spam emails an hour.

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Trouble in Russia

Can you imagine being jailed for defamation after writing an article that was never published? Welcome to Russia, 2005. Eduard Abrosimov is currently serving seven months detention. The current state of Russia’s fledging democracy is worrying.

Reporters Without Borders places Russia under Putin as a “Predator of Press Freedom“. He joins a distinguished group that include Laos, Libya, Nepal and China.

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Looking ahead

Iran has a new President. Ultra-conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to inflame relations between the West and Iran. Vote-rigging has been alleged.

Iranian born Hossein Derakhshan, currently living in Canada, blogs about the likely changes to Iranian society. Suffice to say, he is less than optimistic about the flowering of democracy in his birth country and fears a greater crack-down on the country’s barely functioning freedoms.

Global Voices gathers a round-up of Iranian blog reaction.

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US invaded

“The 14 democratic member nations of the Middle Eastern Union unanimously voted to declare war on the U.S. Monday, calling the North American country a ‘dangerous rogue state that must be contained.'”

Read on.

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Get real

“It’s easy to criticise from my ergonomic chair. Let’s not forget: [Paul] McGeough is in Iraq and I am not”, wrote Murdoch and pro-war lapdog, Andrew Bolt this week. How does anyone take this man seriously, other than propagandists and those suffering delusions? The war in Iraq is not going well, the American people are wavering and democracy is not taking root. Don’t believe me?

Gen. John Abizaid, the top US commander in the Persian Gulf, gave testimony to the US Congress during the week, and contradicted the upbeat assessments offered by the Prince of Darkness, Dick Cheney. The insurgency is as strong as it was six months ago, he said, and shows no signs of weakening. Cheney continues to claim that the “terrorists” are in their “last throes.”

Blind pro-war supporters have become the laughing stock in this debate. Face reality, people. The insurgency isn’t simply about defeating America and its allies, it’s about ending an occupation that continues to provide no security or basic services. How hard is it for ignorant war-lovers to understand that Iraqis don’t want to be occupied?

Paul McGeough, meanwhile, the subject of numerous attacks this week over his reports from Iraq – and an Australian journalist on the ground contradicting Howard government spin – explains that our leaders have little or no understanding of the tribal nature of Iraq and refuse to see the lessons of the Douglas Wood saga. But how would they? They’re too comfortable, like the Bolts of this world, in their ergonomic chairs.

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Shameful

Der Spiegel reports on the crisis in Darfur. It’s a tragic tale of world indifference, Sudanese viciousness and African Union bungling and buck-passing:

“The world knows exactly what’s happening in western Sudan, but hasn’t taken any serious steps to intervene and put a stop to the conflict between the Arab Islamist central government in Khartoum, together with its Janjaweed helpers, and the primarily black African population in the poverty-stricken western portion of Africa’s largest country (by land mass).”

The Sydney Morning Herald should be congratulated for sending their Middle East correspondent, Ed O’Loughlin, to Sudan in 2004. His reports were placed on the front page and gave Australians a small insight into the horrors of the country. Since then, however, much of our media has paid little more than lip service to the unfolding genocide.

For the Bush administration, Sudan can supposedly supply “key” intelligence in the “war on terror.” Good to see their priorities are clear.

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