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.

Money buys lots of lollies

Who said that being a multimillionaire defence contractor doesn’t make good business sense? David H. Brooks’ daughter had her bat-mitzvah last weekend in the US, so naturally enough daddy wanted to show how much he cared – while ignoring the misery his job actually creates – and hired a plethora of A-list musicians to entertain the audience/kid’s party.

A worthwhile lesson in how dirty money can be used for good…instead of evil.

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Time to say goodnight?

Steve Wasserman, Truthdig.org, November 28:

“Why continue to read newspapers? After all, newspapers are losing circulation at precipitous rates, giving rise to fears that they may not survive long enough to write their own obituaries. Cutbacks, buyouts and layoffs are widespread, affecting many of America’s most prestigious newspapers, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, where it was recently announced that the paper faced an 8% reduction in its editorial staff. Morale plummets, anxiety mounts.

“The growing maturity of the Internet and the explosion of the blogosphere suggest that newspapers’ demise is inexorable. A perfect storm of technological advances appears to make newspapers fit for the study less of schools of journalism than departments of anthropology. The virtual world is incontestably more nimble and democratic. It permits a chorus of diverse voices that newspapers can’t hope to replicate, if only for reasons of space. Why remain loyal to a medium that every day seems increasingly anachronistic?”

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Piers: no elitism here

Piers Akerman, Murdoch’s dutiful columnist, fails to understand the outcry over convicted Australian drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van, due to be hanged in Singapore this Friday. Indeed, he seems to believe that the death penalty is a sign of a country’s maturity. Akerman, always portraying himself as a man of the people, is actually little more than a useful stirrer of bigotry and malice:

“Nguyen, according to friends, seems to have come to terms with his crime and his punishment in a far more graceful manner than those shrilly hectoring the Singapore Government over its well-publicised drug laws.

“Despite facing the ultimate penalty, he has not succumbed to the madness that seems to have affected many in the media and political worlds, indeed, there seems in his writings to be a sense of relief that he will soon be spared their incessant irrelevant chattering.

“Though he has no choice in the matter, it does seem unfortunate in the extreme that death will provide Nguyen with his only release from their nonsensical posturing.

“We now wait for the same vacuous fools to mount another meaningless assault against capital punishment – and call for the cancellation of sporting events – when the smiling [Bali] assassin Amrozi is given the date for his execution.

Let’s hope that more than sports fixtures are scheduled for the same day, the event of his death should be marked with parties.”

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No play-lunch for you

Islamophobic Daniel Pipes thinks Muhammad Ali is a fundamentalist traitor to the American cause:

“Awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Muhammad Ali gratuitously celebrated a man profoundly opposed to Mr. Bush’s own, his party’s, and the country’s principles. It represents, I submit, the nadir of his presidency.”

Pipes wants to create an America where militant patriotism is taught in kindergarten.

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Finding the sticks

Underwater hockey is the hottest sport in the world right now. Well, perhaps in Slovenia.
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Saluting the shrub

“…The president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Associated Press, November 28

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Warm and comfortable

Ever wondered if you are one of John Howard’s bitches? Take the test.

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What balance?

Israeli historian and dissenter Ilan Pappe explains the inherent pro-Israel bias at the BBC:

“The decision to maintain the disciplinary procedures against [BBC journalist] Barbara Platt and even to go as far as to establish a commission of inquiry into the way the BBC covers the Palestine question (BBC bias complaint upheld, November 26) is one of many manifestations of the grotesque phase we have all reached in this troublesome part of the world.

“Had it not been for Ms Platt’s balanced and informative reports, it would have been difficult to distinguish between the BBC coverage of the occupied territories and that of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority. Ms Platt admirably tried for many months to “balance” a simple imbalanced reality: of Israeli occupation and Palestinian victimisation. The atrocities on the ground – the killing of children and women and the blowing up of houses – warranted an emotional response as it is, and it was only natural that once, and only once, this would show in her reports (as many BBC reporters allowed themselves a show of emotion when reporting the deaths of George Best or Princess Diana). Only outside pressure could have produced such an ill-thought procedure and action.

“As for the inquiry commission, one can save taxpayers’ money. The cable companies in Israel come now and then under official pressure for allowing free access to international TV news stations. They would like to remove CNN and al-Jazeera. There are no complaints in Israel about Fox news (representing the US neoconservative point of view) and the BBC. The BBC is indeed a pro-Israeli news agency and is going to remain so if its directors silence the professional reporting of Barbara Platt.”

Ilan Pappe
Tivon, Israel

Indeed, every major news organisation in the Western world shares a similar bias.

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Lock ’em up

Australia will soon enter the dark ages with draconian legislation to fight “terror.” The political imperative will allow Australia’s tradition of (relative) legal fairness to be superseded and forgotten. Caution is being urged but the Howard government knows the power of being seen to be doing something against the terror threat. As ever, foreign affairs are totally absent from the political and media debate.

How these new laws will actually assist law enforcement agencies remains a mystery. Furthermore, Liberal backbenchers – the ones not totally in awe of Howard – are seriously challenging the government’s intentions.

Stay tuned.

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Another vote for democracy

Washington’s “war on terror” is a violent fantasy wrapped in a veneer of respectability. Ethiopia has some experience receiving US support for its fight on “terror.”

Ethiopundit tells us that the West is knowingly aiding a tyrannical regime in the name of “stability”:

“This year the Ethiopian regime put on an election show for the benefit of Western donors who were to give their applause in the form of extra billions of dollars in aid. The ruling party’s show failed with bad reviews when all voting districts with observers present voted for the opposition.

“Subsequently a massive effort to rig the results was only matched by mass repression of which we only know a fraction of the resulting suffering and bloodshed in urban areas. All the illusory human rights have ended and tens of thousands are subject to disappearance, imprisonment, torture and further destitution for their refusal to accept the eternal rule of the politburo.

“The opposition has resorted to only peaceful means of defiance. Western nations seeing a general interest in the status quo have pressured the opposition to ‘obey the constitution’ and to pray for better next time when all will likely be far worse.

“While the opposition would have been killed in its entirety years before without Western interest, the response of the West this time has been one of espousing an infamous moral equivalence between a bloody dictatorship and a victorious democratic opposition.”

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The hand in the till

The Independent reports on yet more grim news for the Palestinians:

“Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.”

Resistance is one thing but outright deception is another.

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Lessons ignored

America’s finest reporter, Seymour Hersh, examines the future of the Iraq conflict and further Bush administration delusions. Hersh paints George Bush as a man led by religious conviction, removed from reality and ignoring the wishes of his military commanders:

“A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by U.S. warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units. The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what.”

Once again, America has learnt nothing from Vietnam. The insurgency will grow and the US will, in time, exit in defeat.

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