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.

More than one Holocaust

Benyamin Neuberger, Haaretz, April 28:

In Israel, there is a conviction that the Holocaust is unique, that it cannot be compared to any other case of genocide. This perception is irrational, problematic from the moral perspective and also contrary to its aim – the intensification of Holocaust awareness.

A number of years ago I participated in a conference at Bar-Ilan University that was devoted to a discussion of the trips to Poland undertaken by Israeli teenagers. The woman responsible for the trips at the Ministry of Education spoke about their aim – strengthening the high school students’ Jewish identity and Zionist consciousness. In answer to the question of whether the trips have a humanistic aim as well, an outrageous answer was given: “We don’t have time for that.” 

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Blame someone else, please

When does departmental bungling become criminal? The Australian government must fight the allegation made by Private Jake Kovco’s mother that it covered up her son’s death in Iraq in an attempt to salvage falling recruitment for an unpopular occupation.

The Howard government is, of course, extremely accomplished at deflecting responsibility.

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US loves nukes controlled by Jews

Last week, yet more evidence emerged that proved Israel’s nuclear weapon’s program was supported and defended by the US:

Today the National Security Archive publishes for the first time 30 recently declassified U.S. government documents disclosing the existence of a highly secret policy debate, during the first year of the Nixon administration, over the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Broadly speaking, the debate was over whether it was feasible – either politically or technically – for the Nixon administration to try to prevent Israel from crossing the nuclear threshold, or whether the U.S. should find some “ground rules” which would allow it to live with a nuclear Israel.

The relationship between the two countries was based on secrets and lies:

By 1975, in keeping with the understanding with Israel, the State Department refused to tell Congress that it was certain that Israel had the bomb, even though U.S. intelligence was convinced that it did.

Today’s Israeli government has found a new bogeyman, and that country is Iran. Perhaps Ehud Olmert needs a better dictionary. He seems obsessed with comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. But then, Arafat was also “Hitler, as was Bin Laden.

Not unlike Iraq, a US military strike against Iran would be at partly due to Jewish pressure and would cause incalculable damage.

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Failure announced

The “war on terror” is a failure, according to the US State Department:

The US state department acknowledged yesterday that there is a risk of Iraq becoming a safe haven for terrorists three years after the invasion of the country.

The warning is contained in the state department’s annual country reports on terrorism. The report, which suggests an increase in terrorist attacks worldwide, appears to undermine repeated claims by President George Bush that the US is winning the “war on terrorism”. 

It all depends how we judge failure, of course. Perhaps this proves US resolve in Iraq:

Sectarian violence has forced about 100,000 families across Iraq to flee their homes, a top Iraqi official said. At least 17 people, including an American soldier, were killed Saturday in fighting.

Adil Abdul-Mahdi, one of the country’s two vice presidents, estimated on Friday that 100,000 Iraqi families — 90 percent of them his fellow Shiites — had fled their homes to escape attacks by rival religious sects.

Abdul-Mahdi’s estimate was higher than any offered so far by Iraqi officials, who have placed the figure at about 15,000 families, or about 90,000 people. 

Or maybe this perspective from an individual who has worked directly with US troops:

The U.S. military’s lack of understanding about Iraqi culture helped create the conditions for the insurgency that U.S. forces face there, according to a military adviser who has written a new book about the insurgency.

Between November 2003 and September 2005, professor Ahmed Hashim worked with U.S. troops in Iraq.

Hashim, who teaches at the Naval War College, says he was surprised by how little the U.S. military understands about the culture, or “human terrain,” of Iraq. That includes “societal networks, relations between tribes and within tribes, kinship ties… what is it people are fighting for?” 

Any way you look at it, the “Coalition” has failed in Iraq.

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Undermining the “enemy”

Two Danish journalists face jail for printing politically inconvenient, but truthful, material:

Two Danish reporters who cited a secret government report casting doubt on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the US-led invasion have been indicted for violating national security, the state prosecutor said on Thursday.

It is the first time in the history of modern Denmark that journalists have been charged with divulging state secrets.

Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen, reporters at the conservative Berlingske Tidende daily, face up to two years in jail for a series of articles published in 2004 drawing from internal analyses provided to them by a Danish intelligence operative, Frank Grevil.

The secret assessment, written before the United States toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in March 2003 – an invasion which Denmark joined – concluded that ‘there (exists) no certain information on operational weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq.

Washington Post journalist and Pulitzer prize winner Dana Priest explains the importance of reporting government lies in a time of war, especially in the face of threats and excessive secrecy.

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Little Georgie, watch this

The US President that never was, Al Gore, has produced a film about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. Watch the trailer here.

The film’s aim is to “scare folks into action.”

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My master calls

John Howard tells the world that he’s an independently minded leader:

When you are talking about fighting terrorism or extremism, I’m not doing that for the US or Britain. I’m doing it for Australia. It’s not a question of being a poodle. I’m nobody’s poodle. I have enough strength of my own to lead.

He is asked about military strikes against “terrorists”:

We take extreme care to be 100% sure of the target from all sources of intelligence…There is minimum collateral damage. If someone happens to be very close to [the target], that somebody is an abetter and they suffer the loss. Sometimes, indeed, women and children have been killed but they have been right next to the place. It’s not that the strike was inaccurate but they happen to be there, so therefore they are all supporters and abetters of terrorism – and therefore they have to suffer. It’s bad luck.

Actually, these comments are by Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, but who can tell the difference?

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Honesty pays

Major publishing house buys book by hot, young author. Film-rights are secured. Questions are asked. Plagiarism emerges. Disgrace follows. Public rehabilitation is possible.

Will publishers never learn to properly fact-check?

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Treat others with the respect they deserve

Finally, a principled nation treats Israel with the respect it deserves:

Sweden is boycotting an international air force exercise in Italy next month due to the fact that Israel’s Air Force will take part. It has also decided to grant entry visas to Hamas members.

Though not mentioning the Jewish State by name, Sweden’s Defense Minister Leni Bjorklund said that her country was withdrawing its participating due to the fact that “the Swedish Armed Forces were notified at a late stage that a state not belonging to the Partnership for Peace, and with which Sweden did not previously have bilateral military cooperation and which does not take part in international peacekeeping missions, was to take part in the air exercise.”

A Swedish official told Israel Radio that Israel was not currently advancing peace and was therefore not fit to take part in the exercise.

Israel is naturally outraged.

Meanwhile, the difficulty of articulating a humane Jewish state continues (this Philip Weiss article in The Nation best tackles the Israel lobby question in this context). Israel should not simply be respected because it constantly talks about “fighting terror”.

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Real articulate, like

Dutiful, Murdoch mouthpiece, Andrew Bolt, explains to his Herald Sun readers why cars are so wonderful:

We use them for shopping, or bringing stuff we made to people who want to buy it. 

Perhaps alternative transport would be more effective in “bringing stuff” to, like, you know, people, who, like, want to buy it.

Just a thought.

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The United States of Israel

Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 27:

Stephen Walt towers over me as we walk in the Harvard sunshine past Eliot Street, a big man who needs to be big right now (he’s one of two authors of an academic paper on the influence of America’s Jewish lobby) but whose fame, or notoriety, depending on your point of view, is of no interest to him. “John and I have deliberately avoided the television shows because we don’t think we can discuss these important issues in 10 minutes. It would become ‘J’ and ‘S’, the personalities who wrote about the lobby – and we want to open the way to serious discussion about this, to encourage a broader discussion of the forces shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East.”

“John” is John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Walt is a 50-year-old tenured professor at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The two men have caused one of the most extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a liability in the “war on terror”, that the biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress – so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there – and that the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel. 

It should be added that Fisk responds to the Australian Jewish News who recently claimed that Fisk believed in conspiracy theories over 9/11:

In Australia to launch my new book on the Middle East, for instance, I repeatedly stated that Israel – contrary to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists – was not responsible for the crimes of 11 September 2001. Yet the Australian Jewish News claimed that I “stopped just millimetres short of suggesting that Israel was the cause of the 9/11 attacks. The audience reportedly (and predictably) showered him in accolades.”

This was untrue. There was no applause and no accolades and I never stopped “millimetres” short of accusing Israel of these crimes against humanity. The story in the Australian Jewish News is a lie.

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Baby got book

Dating advice for Christians via hip-hop. Jews, Muslims, atheists and satanists take note.

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

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