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.

A strange mix

Efraim Zuroff is one of the world’s leading Nazi hunters. He spends his life searching for war criminals involved in the slaughter of Jews during World War II. During a recent interview with the Melbourne Age, he discussed the motivations behind his work:

“I’ve devoted my life to it. It’s the one way that someone can really actively work against the evil of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, you can’t bring (back) to life a single one of the victims, but what we can do is make sure that those who turned them into victims – these merciless killers who murdered innocent men, women and children – will be held accountable.”

A noble pursuit. But the article reveals Zuroff has lived “in the West Bank settlement of Efrat for more than 20 years.” Efrat is one of the West Bank’s largest settlements, an ever-growing colony on occupied Palestinian land.

The contradiction is intriguing. Zuroff is determined to hunt down perpetrators of the Nazi Holocaust, but is willing to live and prosper on occupied land and deprive Palestinians of their ability to form a homeland. He may see no irony in this, but only a radical Zionist could miss it.


Delusional existence

The Zionist mindset is a curious beast. We’re told that lawsuits against Israeli officers could be a PR coup for the Jewish state. Then the US praises the EU for granting urgent aid to the Palestinians. “We are all working together to prevent a collapse of the interim PA government and to support the Palestinian people”, offered a US State Department spokesman. Yossi Alpher, former senior advisor to Ehud Barak, demands the US do something about “democracy”:

“…We must persuade Washington to cease sponsoring democratic elections in which armed Islamist militias are allowed to participate. This is the principal root of the current evil, not only in Palestine but in Iraq and Lebanon as well.”

Those Arabs really don’t deserve free choice, after all.

It is no wonder that the Arab world treats US overtures about democracy with utter contempt. Rami Khouri, columnist for Lebanon’s Daily Star, explains:

Not surprisingly, the trend of public opinion and political sentiments on the ground throughout the Middle East has been in favour of mainstream Islamists who simultaneously accept democratic pluralism, defy the U.S., resist Israeli occupation and colonization, and demand less corruption and more efficient governance at home. So Hamas, Hizbullah, the Muslim Brotherhood and movements like Sadr’s are winning elections, even when America-friendly governments such as Egypt’s restrict their freedom of movement. 

Meanwhile, Israel’s position towards Hamas is essentially ignored in the Arab world while the Jewish state boasts of maintaining illegal settlements in any final settlement. And the world wonders why the Palestinians resist?

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Arguments, not laws

Peter Singer, Daily Star, February 28:

The timing of Austria’s conviction and imprisonment of David Irving for denying the Holocaust could not have been worse. Coming after the deaths of at least 30 people during protests in Arab and Muslim countries against the Danish cartoons ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, the Irving verdict made a mockery of the claim that in democratic countries freedom of expression is a basic right.

We cannot consistently hold that cartoonists have a right to mock religious figures, but that it should be a criminal offense to deny the existence of the Holocaust. I believe that we should stand behind freedom of speech. And that means that David Irving should be freed.

Before you accuse me of failing to understand the sensitivities of victims of the Holocaust, or the nature of Austrian anti-Semitism, I should say that I am the son of Austrian Jews. My parents escaped Austria in time, but my grandparents did not. All my grandparents were deported to ghettos in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Two of them were sent to Lodz, in Poland, and then probably murdered with carbon monoxide at the extermination camp at Chelmno. One fell ill and died in the overcrowded and underfed ghetto at Theresienstadt. My maternal grandmother was the only survivor. 


Holding the line

The International News Safety Institute issue a statement for reporters in Iraq:

The International News Safety Institute on Friday pleaded with journalists to resist calls to carry guns in Iraq following the horrific murders of three more news staff.

The Iraq correspondent for Al Arabiya News Channel, Atwar Bahjat, cameraman Khaled Mahmoud Al Falahi and technician Adnan Khairallah were shot by unidentified gunmen near Samarra yesterday as they covered the attack on the holy sites in the city.

The triple slaying was one of the worst single incidents of a war that has now claimed the lives of 104 journalists and support staff in 23 months, making it the bloodiest conflict for the news media in modern times.

At a news conference after the killings, a reporter asked President Jalal Talabani to allow journalists to carry weapons to defend themselves.

“Send me an official request and I will approve it and inform concerned agencies to give you the right to carry arms,” he replied.

INSI believes that the safety of journalists would not be improved, and in fact probably would be diminished, were they to carry weapons.

“Journalists increasingly are being targeted in conflict largely because they have lost, in the eyes of certain elements, their status as neutral observers. If they bear arms they reinforce this misguided belief by placing themselves on one side or another,” said INSI Director Rodney Pinder.

The vast majority of Western journalists roam Iraq – around Baghdad hotel rooms, mostly – with contracted security agents. The idea of journalists themselves carrying weapons may be an understandable desire, but surely unwise. Reporters are not combatants and while the media has been targeted in Iraq unlike any conflict before – the US and insurgents carry responsibility for this – journalists must not become simply an extension of the armed forces. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to know the difference. The most dangerous reporting in Iraq is now done almost solely by Iraqi and Arab journalists. Western news organisations have established an almost colonial arrangement with local news groups and reporters. It may well be highly dangerous to discover the true reality of life under US occupation, but Western audiences should be made aware who is truly taking the major risks.

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Saying ‘no’

US internet firms are again in the spotlight:

Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the court verdict against Li Zhi, a former official jailed for eight years in December 2003, confirming that US firm Yahoo! collaborated with the prosecution, as did local competitor, Sina.

“The Li Zhi verdict shows that all Internet sector companies are pulled in to help when the police investigate a political dissident,” the press freedom organisation said.

“It is unacceptable that US firms should turn themselves into auxiliaries of a government that systematically tramples on the rights of Internet-users to freedom of expression,” it said.

When Google recently announced it would censor its search engine in China, the company argued it would inform users when a search had been restricted. It also believed it could bring change by working in the communist state, rather than campaigning from outside. Maybe. But the Yahoo example above suggests Western multinationals are little concerned about human rights when it affects their bottom line.

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Some perspective, please

Leading dissenting, anti-Zionist historian Norman Finkelstein is, according to Edward Alexander, professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington, “the most admired Jew in the whole history of antisemitism.”

Even for a Zionist propagandist like Alexander, that’s a big call. Does he not realise that such meaningless hyperbole renders his positions irrelevant? Furthermore, he seems to believe that Jews have no right to criticise Israel. If they do, they are, ipso facto, anti-Semites. How long must be suffer this desperation?


Wake-up time

The American people are finally accepting reality, and failure, in Iraq:

Many adults in the United States believe the coalition effort should end soon, according to a poll by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute. 47.8 per cent of respondents think the U.S. should pull out of Iraq now, while 44.1 per cent disagree. 

I guess these individuals are just terrorist-loving appeasers.


Stop scaring us!

Shulamit Aloni, Haaretz, February 27:

The State of Israel is the strongest state in the region – militarily, economically, scientifically and culturally. It enjoys broad support from the United States and European countries. It has peaceful relations with Egypt and Jordan. We could even have built a peace arrangement with Lebanon and Syria, if we had wanted to, but certainly no threat is hovering over Israel from that direction.

But Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening us that they will throw us into the sea. Who? The Palestinians? Let’s say they want to – can they? Netanyahu and his supporters on the right and the extreme right need to scare us so that they can continue eating away at the Palestinians’ lands, just as long as everything is ours. This is the right and its doctrine.

But far more worrisome – in words and actions – are our generals, those in active duty and those who once were: Moshe Ya’alon and Shaul Mofaz. They order a strategy of power and more power, from here to eternity. They warn of a threatening future, both in Jordan and in Egypt. They launch provocative acts of aggression on the lands of the West Bank, and continue assassinations while ruining or murdering innocent people (without any ticking time bomb). All of this is to ensure that there will be action and risk, that the army will be given a larger budget, that the arms industry will grow and increase trade and that we will continue to worship our heroes who sacrifice their lives for our security. 


Defending a charlatan

David Klinghoffer is a Zionist writer, neo-conservative radical and defender of Jack Abramoff. His reasons for forgiving the fraudster are intriguing and typical of the arrogance associated with Zionist exceptionalism. Klinghoffer thinks that Abramoff did good things for the Jews – “supporting causes like Toward Tradition, two Orthodox schools, two kosher restaurants, and through private gifts to the needy” – and has apologised for his crimes, so critics should stop condemning him.

It is a deluded perspective. Because Jews assist other Jews – including funding Zionist extremists in the occupied territories – it doesn’t mean they are above the law, nor better human being. Jews exist with other people, non-Jews, and must abide by the laws of the land. Abramoff did not and should be punished. His deeds were not good simply because he was a Jew. Society should not treat somebody different because they are a Jew and have issued “regret.”

Klinghoffer seemingly believes that individuals like Abramoff are essentially good people – and wholesome Jews – and the law should take this into account. Perhaps they should move to a religious state like Israel, where such behaviour is both celebrated and encouraged.


Teaching the good guys

Back in mid February, Murdoch’s Australian engaged in some modern-day McCarthyism by “outing” an academic who allegedly supported terrorism. The paper’s ongoing struggle continued last Saturday:

A Radical Muslim thinker who inspired al-Qa’ida is being served up as subject matter for high school students in NSW.

Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian militant hanged in 1966 but still a powerful influence on violent Islamists, and the Pakistani fundamentalist Sayyid Maududi are the only two modern Muslim thinkers on a revised syllabus for studies of religion.

Experts this week condemned the prominence of political Islam in the new syllabus, and especially the inclusion of Qutb.

“I am surprised and dismayed that the NSW religion syllabus narrows modern Islamic thinkers to its totalitarians,” said Daniel Pipes, whose US-based Middle East Forum agitates against Islamic extremism.

“Islam has a rich intellectual tradition. To pick these two writers is like representing modern German culture with Marx and Hitler.”

Is the paper seriously suggesting that only so-called moderate Muslims should be studied? Is the paper seriously suggesting that Western war criminals such as Henry Kissinger shouldn’t be taught in school because they were involved in the deaths of millions? Clearly there is one rule for Muslims and one rule for benign Westerners. Why is the paper asking Daniel Pipes, of all people, for his opinion? This “expert” would criticise the teaching of the Koran. The tendency to condemn any educational program that doesn’t subscribe to a “moderate” interpretation of world history – and conviently ignoring Western crimes against any number of nations – is both laughable and racist. But then, the Australian is a serious paper, we’re told, dedicated to “serious, sober and intelligent assessment.” No polemics there.


Denial not necessary

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, February 26:

Words do not kill. So there is no statement for which it is permissible to send a person to prison. Freedom of speech is absolute, even when that which is spoken is as despicable and ridiculous as Holocaust denial. Those who start to doubt that principle will not know where to stop. Is denial of the Jewish Holocaust deserving of punishment while denial of the Armenian Holocaust, perpetrated by the Turks, is not? And why not? Because “only” a million and a half people were destroyed there?

And what about the world’s racist indifference to the destruction of a million Tutsi in Rwanda or the mass murder of 4 million people in the Congo? After all, the world ignores those holocausts even if it does not deny their existence explicitly, and nobody thinks about punishing someone for that outrageous apathy and indifference. The Danish cartoons, which also hurt millions of people, are not deserving of punishment and neither is the denial of the criminal activities of Israel in the territories, even if they are incomparable, of course, to any holocaust. The Jews had a Holocaust, it was the most horrifying crime in the history of mankind, there is nothing similar to it in its evil, and those who dare deny this deserve to be made pariahs, excommunicated and boycotted, even expelled, but not and never jailed. 


News bytes

– John Howard claims that refugees have only themselves to blame during the 2001 children overboard scandal.

– Workers at the Sydney Opera House are already affected by the Howard government’s draconian industrial relation laws. Fourth Estate Radio reports exclusively on the fight for worker’s rights.

–  A Kenyan blogger living in the UK demands male bloggers give female bloggers greater respect.

–  Robert Fisk looks at the Bush administration and its inability to understand the Middle East.

– Amnesty release a report on Blair’s UK – “A Broken Promise” – and documents the human rights abuses under the current regime. The erosion of human rights in the last decade is a damning indictment on a supposed Western democracy.

– A commander of the IDF has been forced to cancel a planned trip to the UK after fears of being arrested on charges of war crimes.

– The Australian government believes in a healthy democracy. That is why, clearly, proposed changes to the media laws could halve media ownership.

– AIPAC, America’s leading Zionist lobby, will sing the Israeli national anthem at its forthcoming annual conference after an absence last year. Their keynote speaker? Dick Cheney.