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.

Joined at the hip

The pack mentality of the White House press corp – largely replicated in the Canberra press gallery – is revealed in all its unoriginality:

Evidence for the prosecution, part one.

Evidence for the prosecution, part two.

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Delusions of grandeur

Der Spiegel interviews Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and discusses Israel, Zionism, the Holocaust, Iraq, nuclear weapons and Western hypocrisy:

Ahmadinejad: We don’t want to confirm or deny the Holocaust. We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not. If it did, then those who bear the responsibility for it have to be punished, and not the Palestinians. Why isn’t research into a deed that occurred 60 years ago permitted? After all, other historical occurrences, some of which lie several thousand years in the past, are open to research, and even the governments support this.

SPIEGEL: Mr. President, with all due respect, the Holocaust occurred, there were concentration camps, there are dossiers on the extermination of the Jews, there has been a great deal of research, and there is neither the slightest doubt about the Holocaust nor about the fact – we greatly regret this – that the Germans are responsible for it. If we may now add one remark: the fate of the Palestinians is an entirely different issue, and this brings us into the present. 

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Good for us

In late April, the world’s foremost intellectual addressed a group of future US soldiers:

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was host last night to one of the world’s foremost critics of American foreign policy.

Noam Chomsky, the Institute Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spoke at the academy as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series.

More than 500 people attended the lecture, most of them cadets who could someday serve in the Iraq war.

Last night, they heard the gray-haired scholar explain that, in his view, that the war in Iraq is unjust.

Chomsky, who spoke on the issue in response to a question from a cadet, said that while the war could be called preventive, it was still an act of aggression by the United States that most people in the world didn’t support.

He added that Iran might legitimately have grounds for its own preventive war.

“If preventative war is legitimate under these circumstances, it’s legitimate for everybody,” he said.

Chomsky raises an important point. Current Western “logic” dictates the notion of pre-emptive war as legitimate and acceptable. What if Iran, North Korea, Syria, and a host of other nations decided similarly? Washington, London and Canberra would never accept this, of course, refusing to see the profound hypocrisy in their position; Western exceptionalism is notorious throughout the developing world.

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Progress made

Despite my ongoing criticisms of the mainstream media and its consistent failure to accurately report the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation, sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. This page-one story from yesterday’s Washington Post is one such example.

Israel’s legitimacy will continue to fall until it realises that it cannot imprison Palestinians within their own land. And one day, the US will agree.

UPDATE: Leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reveals the unaccountability of the IDF:

From January 2004 to the time of this incident, Israeli security forces have killed 157 persons in actions to arrest wanted persons in the West Bank. At least thirty-five of the fatalities were civilians who were not wanted, and at least fifty-four others were listed as wanted but were not armed or did not use their weapons when they were shot and killed.

The killing of innocent civilians and wanted persons who did not endanger soldiers’ lives during the arrest operations is not a matter of “regrettable mistakes” or the “inevitable” product of the circumstances of the particular case. It is a direct result of army policy. Following the outbreak of the second intifada, the IDF changed its open-fire regulations in general, and regarding operations to arrest wanted persons, in particular, in a way that encourages a “quick trigger finger.” Soldiers are instructed to open fire also in situations in which their lives are not at risk. Soldiers are given verbal orders, which are often vague, enabling a wide variety of interpretation and partial, or mistaken, transmission of the orders. In addition, since the second intifada began, the Judge Advocate General’s Office has refrained from opening Military Police investigations in cases in which Palestinian civilians were killed by soldiers’ fire, except in exceptional cases. This fact creates an atmosphere of immunity and non-accountability. 

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Ignoring the blackfellas

A startling new Australian report has shocked the country’s Anglo-Saxon population:

White children should not be taught their culture in schools, a report endorsed by federal Education Minister Julie Bishop says.

The report, by the Menzies Research Centre, suggests removing White culture from the curriculum, because it prevents White children from progressing in their education.

Can you imagine the outcry? In fact, the report dares to suggest that, “Aboriginal children should not be taught their culture in schools.”

If adopted, the Australian government will be trying to kill off one of the world’s oldest societies.

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History is irrelevant

Nobody said Western policy towards Hamas was clever. The Daily Star’s Rami G. Khouri explains:

The core problem is that the prevailing Middle Eastern and global power elite wants to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through compulsory Palestinian concessions and imposed Israeli gains, enforced by the gun and by sanctions if need be. This approach has not worked since the first modern Zionist colonies were built in Palestine over a century ago, and it will not work today. It did not work for the British in India or the French in Algeria, and it will not work for the Israelis and Americans in Palestine today. Ask any student of history, political science and chaos theory. 

The price for such behaviour is international isolation. The British-led academic boycott is gathering steam. The Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel applauds the latest move by British academics to support civil resistance against the Israeli occupation:

The persistence of academic boycott efforts proves that many academics in the UK and beyond do not buy the disingenuous claim that boycott of Israeli academic institutions conflicts with “academic freedom” or inadvertently promotes anti-Semitism in any way. The first claim is at best hypocritical as it is based on the premise that only Israeli academic freedom counts. The fact that Israeli academic institutions themselves collude in various ways in their government’s grave violations of Palestinian human and political rights, which include the right to education, is lost on those making this claim. As to the ubiquitous anti-Semitism charge, it is now clearer than ever that it is mendaciously being used merely to stifle opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation and horrific human rights record and to abort attempts at effectively resisting this decades-old injustice. The Palestinian Call for Boycott is categorically not directed at Jews or even Israelis as Jews; rather, it targets Israel’s oppression and racism with no consideration to ethnicity or religion.

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Biting into the Apple

A victory for online journalism:

Applying traditional First Amendment protections to the exploding universe of online journalism, a state appeals court on Friday rejected Apple Computer’s bid to unearth the identities of individuals who leaked inside information on a new company product to bloggers.

In a 69-page ruling, the San Jose-based 6th District Court of Appeal broke new ground by concluding that bloggers and Web masters enjoy the same protections against divulging confidential sources as established media organizations. Civil liberties groups and journalism organizations have argued that online journalists need to protect the confidentiality of sources just as much as traditional media, such as the New York Times and CNN.

Journalists covet the ability to protect the identity of sources as a key to gathering news. The appeals court’s firm endorsement of journalistic shields for online media sets up what could be a crucial First Amendment showdown in the California Supreme Court if Apple continues to press its case. 

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The invisible Iraq

Faiza al-Arji, co-author of Iraqi blog A Family in Baghdad, reflects on a recent trip to America:

I started asking people in my interviews: In the past three years, do you remember seeing one Iraqi opposing the war in the mainstream media? They shook their heads and say no. I would then tell them that the US media is in partnership with the government in this war. You Americans don’t know anything about Iraq, about Islam, about our culture, our civilization, our religion, I said. All that reaches you is through the lens of a distorted, biased and deceitful media that sows disdain and discrimination and justifies wars and hatred between us.

Let us take a small example of a report broadcast by Fox News about the women of the Middle East. They showed a picture of a woman completely veiled, with only her eyes showing. The commentator said, this is the image of the traditional woman in the Middle East, but we are interviewing extraordinary women today. An interview with two Egyptian women working as jewellery designers then followed. I laughed and was shocked. Women in the Middle East are for the most part educated and cultured. 

The Australian media is no better. Iraqi voices and bloggers are rarely heard. But then, embedded, Western journalists surely know far more about Iraq than the citizens of the country.

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The rosy view from Washington

Fiction:

Tony Blair and George W Bush were united again at the White House last night to defend their intervention in Iraq and talk up the prospects of a stable government there.

Fact:

Southern Iraq, long touted as a peaceful region that’s likely to be among the first areas returned to Iraqi control, is now dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen who are laying the groundwork for an Islamic fundamentalist government, say senior British and Iraqi officials in the area. 

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Watch your back

A dangerous escalation in the fight against fascism:

Reporters Without Borders wrote to Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro today to alert him to serious threats being made against Polish journalists by Redwatch, an extreme right-wing group that advocates violence. Redwatch-Poland has posted a list of 15 left-wing and far-left journalists and directly threatened them with reprisals for their anti-fascist views.

Redwatch is an international organisation that has its headquarters in Britain. Its website encourages its members to attack human rights activists, politicians, journalists and students by posting their names, photographs and addresses.

A human rights activist who was No. 2 on the list of “enemies” on the Redwatch-Poland site narrowly escaped a murder attempt on a Warsaw street on 16 May. His assailants hit him, used a pepper spray on him and stabbed him before making off. The knife came within a few centimetres of his heart. The Polish site is an offshoot of the website of another Polish neo-fascist organisation, Blood and Honour. 

More info on the Warsaw attack here. Anti-Semitism also remains a problem in Poland.

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Bullies unite

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, May 28:

Was the prime minister’s address on Capitol Hill interrupted by applause 38 times, as Maariv and Haaretz reported, or 41, as Yedioth Ahronoth said? Was it the “speech of his life” or his “victory lap?” Does it matter? Those who read the flood of praise heaped by a uniform chorus in the Israeli press on Ehud Olmert might think this was a historic visit that managed to significantly advance the achievement of peace in the Middle East. It was nothing of the kind.

In Washington, there was a meeting of the leaders of two countries that share, as the prime minister rightly said in his speech, “common principles and values.” The United States and Israel are two of the most hated countries in the world these days. Both are responsible for brutal occupations and the bloodshed of innocents; both are fighting terrorism without regard for its reasons and true root causes; both endanger world peace and their leaders scatter slogans about peace that are empty of any content; both are surrounding themselves with walls. The only difference between them is that if there are signs in the U.S. of an awakening from the deception of the criminal war in Iraq, three years after it began; in Israel, people are still sticking to all the lies of the past about the connection between the territories and security, even 39 years after the occupation began.

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“Terrorists” everywhere

The Australian releases startling new information:

Indonesian terrorists planned to attack Western targets by spreading hydrogen cyanide, a deadly gas used during the Holocaust, through the air-conditioning systems of large buildings.

Details of the method of the proposed attack, designed to maximise the number of victims, were revealed in a 26-page training manual produced by members of Jemaah Islamiah, the terrorist group blamed for the Bali bombings.

Hand-written in the Indonesian language Bahasa, the document expresses optimism that victims exposed to the poison gas will die within 30 seconds.

The source of this is Rohan Gunaratna, terrorism “expert” and regular commentator in the Australian media.

But who is Gunaratna? His record is less than impressive and his past statements suggest a man prone to hyperbole. Further investigations, published in August 2004, outlined numerous issues with Gunaratna’s “sources”:

Martin Bright, the home affairs editor of the Observer and long-time writer on Islamic terrorist groups has described Gunaratna as “the least reliable of the experts on bin Laden”.

Gunaratna’s current project to establish a data base of Asian terrorist groups has been said to blur the line between freedom of academic research and intelligence-gathering for governments.

Gunaratna tends to rely on what he claims are inside contacts within intelligence networks. By their very nature, however, no claims based of these sorts of sources can be independently tested.

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