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.

War me, please

The drum of war approaches:

The five U.N. Security Council powers moved closer to an agreement on Wednesday on a statement that would call on Iran to suspend parts of its suspect nuclear program that could be used to build weapons.

Not unlike Iraq, let’s be under no illusion that the US is only using the UN as a cover for future military or aggressive manoeuvres against Iran. Maybe the Islamic state should threaten to invade Washington DC. Besides:

The George W Bush administration failed to enter into negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program in May 2003 because neo-conservatives who advocated destabilization and regime change were able to block any serious diplomatic engagement with Tehran, according to former administration officials.

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We know who to blame

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Pull the other one

The Australian government may be pronouncing its new media rules will increase “diversity“, but that’s not how the US media sees it:

Australia’s plans to overhaul its 20-year-old media laws may provide further opportunities for global media magnates looking to spread their influence.

Multinational media moguls clearly deserve to acquire more assets in their ongoing quest for opening-up minds and disseminating useful information.

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The honeymoon period

Witness the beginnings of a sweet, new relationship in US politics:

Hillary Clinton hasn’t had her Hayman Island moment. Yet.

Hayman is a resort off Queensland, Australia, to which Rupert Murdoch flew Tony Blair in 1995 for the annual conference of his right-of-center media megalith, News Corp.

It was a crucial step in the complex and surprising negotiation between the two men that would boost Labour’s Mr. Blair up the little stoop and through the door at 10 Downing Street two years later.

Now, the spectre of an alliance between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Murdoch—two of the most powerful and guarded figures in the world—is beginning to whet the appetites of the chattering classes.

At the moment, the two speak of each other (through surrogates) in notably similar terms:

“Senator Clinton respects him and thinks he is smart and effective,” said a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines.

“Rupert has respect for her political skills and for the hard work that she’s done as a Senator,” said an executive vice president at News Corp., Gary Ginsberg.

Other evidence is still a bit lean. Lunch has been taken at News Corp.’s midtown headquarters, friendly noises have emanated from the New York Post’s editorial page, and Mr. Murdoch has retained a key advisor to Mrs. Clinton, Howard Wolfson.

Murdoch has a talent for spotting enthusiasm – witness his seduction of Blair in 1995, or was it the other way around? – and likes to be one step ahead of the political curve. The fact that Hilary aspires to imperial arrogance like George W. Bush doesn’t bother the media mogul. After all, the Murdoch empire is still praising the “leadership” and “vision” of Blair.

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Master and servant

With Kadima looking like the winner in Israel’s elections – and record low turnout suggests a less than healthy democracy – the colonial mentality is still alive and well in the Jewish state:

Three organizations are busy renovating, upgrading and improving roads in the West Bank in response to the transportation problems created by the Israel Defense Forces barriers and the diversion of Palestinian vehicles to secondary roads. The transportation problems, which are having severe economic and social effects, were described extensively Haaretz this past Monday and Friday.

These three groups are the Palestinian Authority, the IDF and Palestinian local councils. They are not coordinating their repairs or construction, although the PA and the local councils need Israeli approval for works outside of Area A.

In recent months the IDF has revised its plan to create a system of roads for contiguous Palestinian traffic. Military sources say this comes from the desire to enable the best possible quality of life for Palestinians. Palestinian sources say the IDF has not officially informed the PA of the new plan.

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Crash and burn

Eric Haney is a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army and a founding member of Delta Force, the military’s elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He tells the LA Daily News that the Iraq war has damaged the US for generations:

Q: What’s your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and…pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That’s why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. … And I say “we,” because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they’re going to have from now on.

He also talks about the US policy of torturing “terror” suspects and the ability of the Bush administration to throw away the US constitution.

These are the “values” supported by Blair and Howard (and encouraged by the Murdoch followers). The Iraq war – “imperial overreach“, in the words of one commentator – has hastened the increasing irrelevance of the US empire. China is rising, and so is India. By so strongly supporting the US, leaders like Blair and Howard show themselves to be the sycophants they really are. The US era is coming to an end.

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Let me throw them out

While Israel’s mainstream is likely to vote for “racism” in today’s election, some Jews prefer to take the more obvious path:

Several parties who maintain anti-Arab platforms are running for seats in the upcoming Israeli general elections, with at least one having previously called for “relentless terror” against Palestinians.

The Jewish Front, headed by Baruch Marzel, is an offshoot of the Kach group, whose principles Israel’s Supreme Court said incited racism.

Kach was outlawed by both the Israeli and US governments in 1994.

The Jewish Front advocates the forced expulsion of Arabs from “the land of Israel”.

According to Beny Elyaho, a co-founder of the party, the expulsion of non-Jews would resolve all of Israel’s political, economic and social problems.

“Our party calls for cleansing the region extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean from the goyim (non-Jews) and thus guaranteeing a Jewish majority of no less than 90% throughout the land of Israel,” he was quoted as saying during a party meeting in West Jerusalem last year.

The Arab world may be filled with vile anti-Semitism, but Jews advocating ethnic cleansing is equally outrageous.

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Speaking from the heart

Arguably Iraq’s best blogger is receiving her due recognition in the West:

An anonymous Iraqi woman has become the first blog author to be in the running for a big literary prize for a book published between hard covers.

Baghdad Burning, by a 26-year-old author who has won an international readership under the pen name Riverbend, is longlisted for the £30,000 Samuel Johnson award.

Riverbend began the blog with the words: “I’m female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know. It’s all that matters these days anyway.”

University-educated Riverbend worked as a computer programmer before the invasion which began on March 20, 2003.

She lost her job, she told her readers, when it became too dangerous for Iraqi women to travel to work alone. 

Her reflections on the three-year anniversary of the invasion displayed the trauma suffered by so many Iraqis since the country was “liberated.”

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War criminals should not pass “go”

Tony Blair may believe that “anti-Americanism” is “madness” and the Iraq war is a noble struggle akin to the fight against the Nazis – who writes such hyperbolic and dishonest nonsense? – but the Iraqi people are struggling to cope with “liberation“:

More than 20% of Iraqis live in abject poverty despite the boost in government’s social security program, a report by the Ministry of Planning reveals.

The poverty level is bound to increase due to inefficiencies in the distribution of food rations which are credited for saving the country from starvation.

Facing tough armed resistance and political inaction, the government has proved much less efficient than the former regime which U.S. troops ousted three years ago in handing out food rations.

Iraqi families now get less food than before and certain essential items have gone missing from the food ration card.

Prices of staples like rice, sugar, flour and vegetable ghee are soaring. Iraqis without income find it extremely hard to make ends meet.

The government has expanded its social security program which now covers hundreds of thousands of families.

But welfare benefits are meagre and fall short of meeting basic needs. Under the new social security arrangements a poor family – one without support or income – gets an average of 80,000 dinars.

The sum is much bigger than what civil servants made under former leader Saddam Hussein. But prices have skyrocketed particularly of fuel, rent and other basic needs.

The Australian media has lost all critical faculties during the Blair visit, and their analysis has been typically fawning. It’s worth considering the words of a real journalist, the Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor, who recently suggested that the US/UK alliance “has become nothing but one-way traffic”:

A senior British military commander in the invasion of Iraq said the other day that Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, should be tried for war crimes. He was speaking in private and, I assume, did not mean to be taken literally. But there was no mistaking the anger in his voice.

Is it in Britain’s national interest to be so closely allied to a US that takes Britain for granted, to an administration that sets up Guantanamo Bay – where the treatment of prisoners led a high-court judge to remark that “America’s idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations”?

This is the path that Australia is following. Once again, the media is content being ciphers for state terror. Blair was told that Iraq would descend into chaos, and yet he talks about “favouring freedom.” He is as contemptible as Milosevic, though his hands are far bloodier.

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News bytes

– “Liberals” used to overlook Israel’s crimes, argues writer Geoffrey Wheatcroft. Not any more.

– The New York Times reveals a British memo detailing pre-Iraq war discussions between Blair and Bush. When Blair told the Australian Parliament today that “we need you“, an appropriate response would have been to deport the British Prime Minister and tell him never to come here again.

– Some Zionists believe that Jews have the right to occupy the Palestinians indefinitely. They won’t be so arrogant when, as is likely in the coming years, sanctions are slapped on Israel. Some Jews in the US, meanwhile, are also opposed to any Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. United Front for the Land of Israel founder Susan Roth explains:

Olmert’s withdrawal would be a victory for worldwide Islamic terror. It would result in the formation of an al-Qaeda/Islamic Jihad/Iranian-satellite state that would serve as a sanctuary for all kinds of terrorists. The withdrawal would be disastrous for America’s war on terror, for Israel and for the Jewish people.

She’s right, of course. Maintaining the occupation will do wonders for the reputations of Israel and the US.

– A fascinating insight into Thailand’s democratic woes.

– The Guardian reports that Sri Lankan Tamils in the UK are being intimidated by rebel groups looking to fund their cause.

– What happened to the Milosevic directed “genocide“?

– US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a perfect representative for the Bush administration. He recently spoke at a university in Switzerland and argued that detainees captured by the US have no rights. Newsweek explains:

“War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts,” he says on a tape of the talk reviewed by NEWSWEEK. “Give me a break.” Challenged by one audience member about whether the Gitmo detainees don’t have protections under the Geneva or human-rights conventions, Scalia shot back: “If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I’m not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it’s crazy.” Scalia was apparently referring to his son Matthew, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Scalia did say, though, that he was concerned “there may be no end to this war.”.

Scalia and Australian Zionists are like two peas in a pod. As US influence starts to wane around the world, we can look forward to a day when the current superpower no longer operates under its own rules. That day may be closer than we think.

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Howard’s Australia

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Camels of mass destruction

Really.

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