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.

Peace is possible

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy reveals something extraordinary from 1997:

A few days before the failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Jordan in 1997, King Hussein conveyed an offer from the Hamas leadership to reach an understanding on a cease-fire for 30 years. That offer, intended for then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed by a Mossad representative, reached Netanyahu only after the botched hit.

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Suspect woman

US journalist Jill Carroll may have been released from captivity in Iraq, but one US conservative is suspicious:

MCGUIRK: She strikes me as the kind of woman who would wear one of those suicide vests. You know, walk into the, try and sneak into the Green Zone.

IMUS: Oh, no. No, no, no, no.

MCCORD: Just because she always appears in traditional Arab garb and wearing a burka.

MCGUIRK: Yeah, what’s with the head gear? Take it off. Let’s see.

IMUS: No, no. This is not –

MCCORD: That’s why the Arab world called for her to be released, because, you know, she defended Iraqis. She was against the war in Iraq and, I wouldn’t be surprised if —

IMUS: Well, so are we. So am I!

MCCORD: Exactly. She cooked with them, lived with them.

IMUS: This is not helping.

MCGUIRK: She may be carrying Habib’s baby at this point.

After all, you really can’t trust a woman wearing the hijab. She might just be a terrorist.

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Leak me, please

The exposure of the short-lived Washington Post “conservative” blogger reveals a greater malaise within US corporate media:

The entire event seems a misguided attempt to placate the Bush administration, which the Washington Post is tasked with covering objectively. The notion that valid criticism and investigative journalism must be balanced with partisan puff pieces played out to its inevitable conclusion in the Ben Domenech affair. Have lessons been learned? Perhaps. It is doubtful that anyone with Domenech’s lack of experience will follow him, or that a blogger hired to present a conservative viewpoint will be plucked from a pool of established Bush administration cronies. 

If we’ve reached the stages that corporate news organisations feel they must “placate” state power in order to ensure access and “sanctioned leaks”, the industry is in serious trouble.

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The extremist

Bradley Burston, Haaretz, March 31:

Daniel Pipes is a new kind of Israel-basher. He is an equal-opportunity hater of Israelis. None of us is good enough for him. We lack the will to fight like the man he quotes as a role model for us, Douglas MacArthur. From unilateralism to transfer, nothing we come up with is good enough for him. Try as we might, we just can’t seem to win his war for him. I guess he’ll just have to do it by himself.

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An alliance of violence

Dahr Jamail, Truthout, March 29:

A disturbing trend noticeable in Iraq for quite some time now is that each aggressive Israeli military operation in the occupied territories results in a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on US forces in Iraq. One of the first instances of this was the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004 and the reaction it set off across Shia and Sunni, ultimately spiralling into the siege and devastation of Fallujah. Fallujah is but one example one may use to demonstrate how the ongoing use of heavy handed tactics by the US-Israel alliance is proving to be as suicidal as it is homicidal. US troops in Iraq and Israeli civilians in their homes can bear testimony to this, as they are the ones who bear the brunt. Not to mention the collateral damage in Iraq.

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Roots

As Ehud Olmert assumes the position of Israeli Prime Minister, a trip down memory lane:

Support for Israel was the major theme of the 2002 Road to Victory conference held by the Christian Coalition in Washington, D.C. October 11-12. Long known as a major source of troops for the right-wing of the Republican Party, the CC has undergone a lot of changes in the last few years. It has always advocated Christian support for the Israeli state, but never so thoroughly and vociferously as this year. At the conference and in the exhibit area there were more Israeli flags than American flags and Stars of David vastly outnumbered Crucifixes. At a solidarity rally scheduled for the Ellipse in front of the White House, but moved to the convention centre due to rain, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert thanked the “lovers of Zion” for their help and support. His Christian audience gave him a standing ovation while waving a sea of Israeli flags. In the meantime, about 300 Jews who had not learned that the rally had relocated, heard their own speakers on the Ellipse.

Israel may be desperate for international support, but relying on, and courting, the Christian fundamentalist vote will undoubtedly end in a messy divorce. Furthermore, the Republican Party has turned into a religious sect.

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Replacement time

Saddam’s Iraq was a truly twisted place:

The year was 2001. Iraqi security services identified a growing threat: Pokemon. The animated Japanese figure – and an entire industry of video games, films and toys – was, in fact, a Zionist plot to undermine Saddam Hussein’s regime by inflaming the fervor of Iraqi children with the help of a pocket-sized monster whose name meant in Hebrew, according to the Iraqi secret service, “I am a Jew.” 

The Pokemon “threat”, of course, doesn’t justify unseating a leader and then demanding the people elect Western-friendly figure-heads.

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The cost of inaction

A report is released today that highlights the forgotten war in Africa:

The rate of violent deaths in war-ravaged northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq and the 20-year insurgency has cost $1.7bn (£980m), according to a report by 50 international and local agencies released today.

The violent death rate for northern Uganda is 146 deaths a week or 0.17 violent deaths per 10,000 people per day. This is three times higher than in Iraq, where the incidence of violent death was 0.052 per 10,000 people per day, says the report.

Such shocking figures should also challenge journalists and the mainstream media to remember that African lives are equally important as our own.

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Please acknowledge

Joshua Marshall @ Talking Points Memo explains how the mainstream media – in the US, at least – is increasingly stealing story ideas from the blogosphere. He makes a compelling case:

Conventional news outlets frequently chide blogs for not doing any original reporting but rather feeding off the original reporting of the mainstream media. In many cases, the criticism is true. But if that is the criticism it behooves every mainstream media outlet to enforce their own standing policies and not allow reporters to rip off blog writers who are doing original reporting.

The situation is unlikely to be the same in Australia – the blogging community is far less influential here – but the relationship between the two often-warring mediums is starting to heat-up and this can only be a good thing for information dissemination and journalistic transparency.

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Stay afraid

A classic piece of mainstream media distortion on Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez. Witness the agendas served by distorting the revolutionary shifts occurring in Latin America. Perhaps the US state department is writing the script.

Let’s hope the West remains afraid.

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Reasons matter

Nick Kaldas, the Arabic-speaking head of the NSW police gangs squad, has been appointed head of the counterterrorism command. He worked in Iraq in 2004 and helped rebuild the Iraqi police force. He clearly did a sterling job.

This Kaldas comment is interesting:

“Australia is very much part of the international community and if something happens in Palestine or Iraq, we have to accept that it has an impact over here.”

Tell that to the Howard government, Islamophobes and war pimps.

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The road to nowhere

International reaction to the Israeli election has been decidedly mixed. The UK Times hails the outcome as “extraordinary” – since when did unilateralism require anything other than contempt for the other side? – while Fairfax’s Michael Gawenda is more circumspect:

In the foreseeable future, there will be no real steps taken towards unilateral withdrawal, there will be no substantive negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the United States, which has still to recover from the shock of the Hamas triumph in the Palestinian elections, will be in no position to influence the course of events in the months ahead. 

The paper’s editorial rightly states that peace with justice is impossible, while Murdoch’s Australian applauds Israel for simply ignoring the Palestinians. The occupied will, and should, respond appropriately.

Ehud Olmert has said that, “All Zionist parties are potential coalition partners.” He clearly doesn’t realise, or care, about the growing international opposition to an ideology that openly and proudly subjugates another people in the name of self-determination.

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