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.

Off to Canberra

I’ll be in Canberra for the weekend so postings will cease until early next week. In my absence, feel free to offer thoughts in comments about the “TAFKATWOT” (The Artist Formerly Known as the War on Terror) or any other musings.

Check out this fascinating read by one of Israel’s top journalists, Gideon Levy. It’s an interview with the Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Mohammed Dahlan.

And yes, political shenanigans are bound to happen in the nation’s capital. I expect to be offered the leadership of one political party, just not sure which one yet.

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One’s man terrorist…

Prime Minister John Howard calls the IRA “terrorists” who “murdered people.” “The reason that the British security forces and police are so effective in responding to terrorist attacks”, he says, “is the bitter 30 years’ experience of dealing with the IRA. There was nothing heroic about the IRA campaign, although it is still shrouded in romanticism in the eyes of some.”

Let me get this straight. Howard is comfortable comparing the IRA struggle – brutal, criminal and uncompromising as it once was – to the recent London attacks, carried out by men with absolutely no comparative ideology, motives or ideals. It’s so politically convenient labelling every act of violence as a terrorist act, therefore negating any distinguishing reason or background. The London suicide bombers are completely irrelevant to the IRA campaign of the 1970s and 1980s. Once again, “we” are the unwitting victims of “them.”

Of course, Howard presented former “terrorist” Nelson Mandela with an Order of Australia in 1999.


Nearly there

It’s coming…

The only book likely to compete with Finkelstein’s explosive tome is Robert Fisk’s upcoming, “The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East“, out November 8.

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While the Sydney Morning Herald mentions their monthly dose of disaster yarns on page one (today it’s the record breaking rainfall in Mumbai) Indian blogger Sixo paints a much clearer picture of the devastation. He’s clearly a rich man (or at least comfortable) as he talks about “my poor servant Neeta.”

UPDATE: Speaking of India, a number of Indian bloggers are expressing concern about the city of Gurgaon, centre of Western multinationals and “development.” But what about worker rights and police powers?

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Our friends

“The U.S. Government is now openly supporting the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian resistance movement designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department…This kind of hypocrisy reveals much about what the global “war on terror” is really about. It’s not a war against terror as such, but rather a war of terror to subdue resistance to the US designs in the region.”

William Van Wagenen, July 28, Electronic Iraq

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Yasser Salihee was an Iraqi journalist. Joe was an American sniper. On June 24, 2005, fate brought them together on a Baghdad street. A fascinating Salon feature on modern day Iraq under occupation. Trigger happy US troops are causing such anguish and mayhem that any residual feelings of affection are dissipating by the day.
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Jordan calling

Jordan has become the bridge between North America and Europe and the Middle East and bloggers are at the forefront of this debate. A recent bloggers meet-up proved the diversity of opinions and attitudes.

In response to those arguing that blogging is simply for the wealthy and well-connected, Jordanian bloggers have an idea: “A number of Jordanian bloggers are interested in organising outreach efforts through community internet access centres in rural areas, encouraging people to blog about community events, possibly using audio and photo blogging to make the process more accessible to less literate participants.”

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The rules

“Senior media figures on the mainstream ‘left’ are where they are because they know how to play this game. The idea is to talk a good fight, to elicit applause from the ‘left’, but also quiet nods of acceptance from the media gatekeepers, the people they are supposed to be challenging. A key talent is to appear passionately radical while subtly indicating that one is not ’extreme’, that the rules of the media club are accepted. The first rule of media club is: Don’t talk about the inherent contradiction of a corporate ‘free press’. The second rule: Rule one does not exist. The third rule: Do not discuss the existence or non-existence of rules one and two.”

Medialens, July 27, The New Statesman Editor And Blair’s ‘Mistake’


Paying the price of peace

Peaceful protest of Israel’s “security” fence is deemed dangerous by Israeli forces, according to a stunning Haaretz report. Most disturbingly, numerous IDF soldiers have been caught lying about the circumstances in which Palestinians are arrested and making up false testimony about stone throwing and other violence.

Israel’s descent continues.


Bush To London bombers: "Bring It On"

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush officially responded to the latest round of London transit bombings Monday, challenging terrorists to “do their worst.” Said Bush, in a televised statement from the Oval Office: “The proud and resilient people of London can take anything the forces of evil and cowardice can throw at them. They will never live in fear of you. Bring it on.” Prime Minister Tony Blair thanked Bush for his comments, inviting him to visit London and ride the Underground in a show of solidarity.
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Bob Carr – friend of a war criminal

The “shock” resignation of NSW Premier Bob Carr has caused much of the press pack to compete for superlatives. I won’t even bother trying to compete with those hacks.

I met Carr a few years ago while researching Not Happy, John! about the Hanan Ashrawi affair. He had bravely resisted pressure from Zionists to withdraw his support from the Sydney Peace Prize. I found him engaging, interesting and knowledgeable. Our interview lasted around one hour in his stunning office overlooking the city. He struck me as more of a talker than listener.

My view of him has changed greatly in the years since. Since learning of his affection for “my good friend” Henry Kissinger, I’ve become even more aware of his love of being close to power. Kissinger represents the worst of the American establishment, a war criminal still feted by politicians the world over. What did Carr see in him? Hard to say, but I suspect it had something to do with the former Premier feeling close to the heart of his beloved America.

International relations expert Scott Burchill put it best in June 2004:

“I am sure what it is with the Right of the NSW ALP and their infatuation with US history. Perhaps they like to dress up as Minutemen and recreate battle scenes from the revolutionary war on their days off? They certainly don’t like talking about the extirpation of the native population or the overthrow of democratic governments in Iran and Guatemala by people they admire in Washington. Whatever the true nature of their infantile disorder, let’s not forget that Bob Carr regards unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger as a mate – and invited him as a VIP to the Sydney Olympics. Carr still wants to be chief brown-noser inside the beltway next time his party gets to sit on the Treasury benches in Canberra. Until then, the pompous and insufferable bore is apparently going to lecture all and sundry about how America truly feels after 9/11 and how to manage the alliance accordingly. What a guy!”

Watch the Australian media completely ignore any of these facts. Too messy, too difficult, too unkind to his “legacy”.


Jordan’s first podcaster?

Ahmad Humeid is a Jordanian graphic designer, newspaper columnist and entrepreneur. Listen to his views about the opportunities for podcasting and blogging in the Arab world.
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