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.

News bytes

– Riverbend explains the brain-drain in Iraq, due to assassinations, random violence and kidnappings:

“Whoever is behind the assassinations, Iraq is quickly losing its educated people. More and more doctors and professors are moving to leave the country.

“The problem with this situation is not just major brain drain – it’s the fact that this diminishing educated class is also Iraq’s secular class.”

– Forbes magazine features yet more disturbing allegations about US activities in Europe:

“The US military ran a Guantanamo Bay-type detention centre in Kosovo, a top Council of Europe official said.

“The Council of Europe’s Human rights commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles said he had been ‘shocked’ by conditions at the barbed wire-rimmed centre inside a US military base, which he witnessed in 2002.”

– John Pilger explains how the mainstream media has become little more than a mouthpiece for the corporate agenda.

– Palestinian public opinion is shifting and years of occupation are causing unsurprising results. Israel and her allies should be concerned.

– Labor leader Kim Beazley thinks that personal abuse maketh a leader.

– Afghanistan is a supposed success in the “war on terror.” Mainstream media propaganda pushes this misconception. So what of this news, published in Asia Times Online?

“Reports emerged in the Pakistani media at the weekend that the US had contacted the Taliban leadership with the aim of establishing a truce in Afghanistan.”

– How does a Chinese blogger answer questions from a Western journalist about issues of censorship?


Caution noted

Peter Rodgers is a former Australian ambassador to Israel and author of the incisive book, Herzl’s Nightmare. Unlike much of the international media, keen to salivate over Ariel Sharon and his “peace process”, Rodgers rightly issues caution:

“And what of Sharon’s political makeover? Has he really accepted that Israel’s best chance for future security lies in the creation of a viable Palestinian state? He won international praise for his mid-2005 withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza. Not surprisingly, this move was portrayed as a painful concession by Israel to the Palestinians.

“In reality the winner was Israel itself, which continues to exercise a veto over everyday Gazan life without having to risk too many Israeli lives.”

The Palestinians have their own problems, too. Internal division, Hamas as a political force and the ongoing occupation.


Justice in the face of injustice

It takes a certain kind of lawyer to be attracted to terror suspects. Sydney attorney Adam Houda is that kind of man.

“I didn’t go looking for this work”, he says. “I don’t choose my clients, but I believe every person is entitled to proper legal defence. It is an honour that people think I could provide that quality defence when the consequences of the cases for them are so enormous.”

Houda provides interesting insights into the ways in which the Howard government and the corporate media constantly shift the goalposts, making fair trials all but impossible.

When such conditions are threatened, our democracy dies a little death.


A revolution is brewing

A fascinating list – courtesy of Committee to Protect Bloggers – of bloggers who have run foul of state power. Democratic and autocratic states are increasingly aware, and fearful of, unfiltered and non-corporate information. We should be proud and vigilant.

Liberation isn’t painless

Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s first Prime Minster after Saddam, has a shady past. He allegedly assassinated prisoners in cold blood and worked for the CIA. His latest comments, however, are startling:

“Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country’s first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam’s regime.

“‘People are doing the same as [in] Saddam’s time and worse,’ Ayad Allawi told The Observer. ‘It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'”

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An enemy of the Jews?

Israel claims the British are anti-Israel and “unrelentingly pro-Palestinian”, after this report leaked late last week. I’m surprised the Jewish state didn’t claim the Blair government was anti-Semitic. Seems to be a familiar – yet increasingly futile – tactic.

Dropping freedom from above


Ladies, Rupert wants you!

Rupert Murdoch is concerned that people don’t give him the respect he deserves and the “establishment” is out to get him.

It’s hard to feel sorry for a multi-billionaire who represents the very worst excesses of the establishment.

As for his contributions to the media industry, we get insights into Rupert’s character by hearing recent comments by John Malone, a large shareholder in News Ltd:

“Rupert’s got the creativity and the drive. He’s got the guts to drive it. It will be more sensational, it [Fox News] will have topless news reporters if it has to. It doesn’t really matter. Rupert is just more aggressive than other people. He’s smart and he puts the pieces together. The bottom line is it’s more important to him than to other people.”

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The real agenda

The Guardian discovers yet more evidence of Israel’s hampering of the peace process:

“A confidential Foreign Office document accuses Israel of rushing to annex the Arab area of Jerusalem, using illegal Jewish settlement construction and the vast West Bank barrier, in a move to prevent it becoming a Palestinian capital.

“In an unusually frank insight into British assessments of Israeli intentions, the document says that Ariel Sharon’s government is jeopardising the prospect of a peace agreement by trying to put the future of Arab East Jerusalem beyond negotiation and risks driving Palestinians living in the city into radical groups. The document, obtained by the Guardian, was presented to an EU council of ministers meeting chaired by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on Monday with recommendations to counter the Israeli policy, including recognition of Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem.”

If evidence was still needed of Ariel Sharon’s determination to prevent a true Palestinian state, today’s revelation is yet another nail in the coffin of the media elite. The Melbourne Age yesterday called Sharon’s recent political move as “boldly invoking the hope of peace.”

When will they ever learn?


Democracy denied

Zimbabwean Pundit explains a country ruled by events bigger than Robert Mugabe:

“…It is not that we don’t care about democracy or having the right politicians in place or any other high sounding question you may want to throw at us. No, our nonchalance is evidence only that we care about other things more than we care about politics and governance. We care more about living to see tomorrow. It is all about survival now. Such is the result of how simple and unsophisticated a society [Mugabe’s] ZANU-PF has made us.”

International pressure on Mugabe must increase, but then, Western moral legitimacy has never been lower.


Taking a stand

A cause of shame in our supposedly enlightened age:

“Domestic violence against women has shot up about 40 per cent in Sydney and more than 50 per cent in the rest of NSW over the past seven years, new research shows.”

Today is White Ribbon Day, international day for the elimination of violence against women.

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News bytes

– Human Rights Watch writes to Hilary Clinton and explains a few facts about the Israeli occupation and Israel’s “security” fence. Anybody who thinks Clinton will be a dynamic and bold American President should really set their sights much higher.

– Noted Israeli economist Avishai Braverman: “I believe that the state of Israel is at a crossroads today. If Israel continues on its present path, it will degenerate into a Third World country.”

– The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher wonders if the West is winning the “War on Terror.” The inanity of such a column astounds. Like most corporate journalists, he quotes US government statistics, Donald Rumsfeld and other reliable sources. No mention, of course, of the innocent civilians murdered during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or the hornet’s nest created by America’s clueless and damaging militarism.

– Ariel Sharon’s adviser ensures the world understands what the “peace-maker” thinks about the Israel/Palestine conflict. The occupation is not regarded as the main source of terror, according to Eyal Arad. Everybody clear about that?