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.

Neighbourhood watch

East Timor’s Prime Minster, Mari Alkatiri, has resigned, but the story behind the country’s recent turmoil remains highly suspicious. One of Australia’s finest journalists, John Martinkus, has discovered the situation is far more complex than we have been led to believe:

In a wide-ranging interview last week, East Timor’s embattled Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri accused opposition groups and their foreign supporters of repeatedly trying to convince prominent commanders in the East Timorese armed forces to overthrow his government in an armed coup. “They were always trying to get the command of Falintil, F-FDTL. They tried to convince the command to order and participate in a coup. They failed.” It was then he said his opponents embarked on a program to weaken the influence of the military. “When they failed to bring the command to join their forces in a coup then what they did is they tried to break Falintil F-FDTL and they did it by bringing out of the barracks almost 600 which they called the petitioners.”

For the first time Prime Minister Alkatiri has given his version of what exactly led to the chaos in the capital Dili in late May and the breakdown of law and order that led to 130,000 internal refugees and the deployment of 2,200 troops from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia to quell the violence. He says his political opponents exploited ethnic divisions within the police force to create unrest. “Then they try to influence the PNTL [East Timor National police force]. How did they do it? Through this kind of propaganda, Loromunu, Loro Sae [West vs. East]. They succeeded in dividing the people within the PNTL. This is the whole strategy. Then they put groups of PNTL against groups of F-FDTL in confrontation. And they succeeded again. This is why I requested assistance from outside,” he said.

Senior sources within the command of the East Timorese armed forces; the F-FDTL confirmed that not one but three separate attempts had been made to the leadership of the F-FDTL to lead a coup against Prime Minister Alkatiri in the last 18 months.

At best, Australia’s intentions are questionable.

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We want war

The LA Times may claim that at least 50,000 Iraqis have been killed since the 2003 “liberation” – a grossly conservative figure, it seems – the Washington Post provides space for Richard Perle to demand US action on Iran:

I know it is not too late for us, not too late to give substance to Bush’s words, not too late to redeem our honour.

Perle and honour aren’t two words that automatically spring to mind.  The fact that the Post still publishes people like Perle proves that the establishment respects individuals who express hyperbole and advocate war, yet refuse to take responsibility for their past, criminal actions.

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Failed

The Western “mission” to bring democracy and freedom to Afghanistan has failed (the actual plan was to deliver compliant warlordism to the long-suffering population).

Jason Burke explains why.

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The other revolution

Bolivia has good reason to distrust the US:

President Evo Morales drew a sharp denial from the U.S. Embassy when he claimed in a speech that the United States is sending soldiers disguised as students and tourists to Bolivia.

Morales said in a speech Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador David Greenlee had sought a meeting with him.

“But I also have the right to complain because U.S. soldiers disguised as students and tourists are entering the country,” said Morales, a leftist who has pledged revolutionary changes for the poor, including his recent move to nationalize Bolivia‘s natural gas industry.

The U.S. Embassy called Morales‘ charge “unfounded,” saying in a statement: “We reiterate once more that we are supporting Bolivian democracy in a consistent way.” 

Meanwhile, Chilean people-power takes to the streets:

It was every adolescent revolutionary’s dream: schools throughout the country were occupied and the gates were barricaded.

Tens of thousands of uniformed pupils on the streets defied police brutality, support came in from across adult society and, to top it all, the education minister prevaricated hopelessly in the face of coherent, well articulated demands.

“Chile’s secondary school pupils have scored the highest marks in history,” wrote the University of Chile historian, Sofia Correa, in a recent newspaper column. “Their organization, media management, awareness of civic duty and timing, have all been outstanding.”

But this was about more than student proficiency. What started in April, as a gripe against school bus fares and university entrance exam fees, rapidly grew into a nationwide movement demanding quality education for all Chileans, irrespective of class, ability or spending power. Since Pinochet stood down sixteen years ago, no other mass movement has so successfully challenged the legitimacy of the neo-liberal state the General left behind him.

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The people are speaking

Is there a relatively unseen revolution occurring in China?

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The real agenda

The following letter appears in today’s Australian newspaper:

Elisabeth Wynhausen’s piece (“Careful, they might hear you“, Inquirer, 10-11/6) is rife with inaccuracies, contradictions and non sequiturs.

For example, she provides evidence that the policy positions of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council reflect the views of the majority of Australian Jewry. But then she expends most of the space in a transparent attempt to portray AIJAC’s advocacy as non-mainstream, wrong-headed, and somehow stifling of debate.

Further, Wynhausen implies that Jewish activists in Australia inappropriately brand critics of Israel as anti-Semitic but she provides not a single example.

As for claims we “bully” editors, AIJAC’s conversations with the media are not to prevent them publishing criticism of Israel but to encourage them to provide a balance by also running pieces explaining and giving sorely needed context to Israel’s actions.

Many groups in Australian society engage politicians, the media and others of influence. It is part of what makes us a democracy, and constitutes participation in debate, not its suppression. It is unfortunate that some see it as somehow sinister or inappropriate when Jews, and only when Jews, exercise this right.
Colin Rubenstein
Executive director, AIJAC

Rubenstein is being disingenuous. Nobody is suggesting Jews don’t have the right to lobby, agitate and promote their agenda. The issue is the ways in which it is done. As we’ve seen recently, Zionist lobbying regularly involves threats and vitriol, causing the opposite of the desired effect. Furthermore, more and more Jews are simply disengaging from the Zionist project. Rubenstein doesn’t have any answers to this dilemma, except stronger promotion of Israel’s exclusionary ideology.

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Suck job

Charles Krauthammer loves Australia and explains why our “geographic and historical isolation has bred a wisdom about the structure of peace.” This “peace” has been ensured, he laughably argues, by joining every imperial adventure over the last century. An independent foreign policy is scorned, but servitude is praised.

The friends we keep…

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WSJ scores again

The Wall Street Journal opinion editor says gay marriage could lead to marrying snakes.

Really.

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Please don’t report that

Afghanistan is a failed state, a nation run by warlords, drug runners and terrorists. Australian troops are supporting a regime that is just full of good ideas:

The war against the Taliban has gone badly these last months, but Afghanistan’s national intelligence agency has devised a secret plan to reverse the tide of bad news.

In a coordinated action this week, the intelligence operatives drove up to TV stations and newspapers in muscular SUVs and dropped off an unsigned letter ordering journalists to report more favourable news about the government.

In particular, the letter said, they should avoid “materials which deteriorate people’s morale and cause disappointment to them.”

The security directorate’s letter also demands special protection for the feelings of the mujahedeen – veterans of the 1980s guerrilla groups that fought Soviet occupation. Many mujahedeen leaders are reviled in Afghanistan for destroying the country in civil war after the Soviet withdrawal – but they regained positions of power by providing the ground forces that helped the U.S.-led military coalition topple the Taliban in 2001.

They are not to be criticized or called “warlords” – a common term in Afghanistan for the more powerful among them, it specified. And Afghans called back by Karzai from exile abroad to take posts in the government are not to be called “westernized.”

And who is really behind such moves?

Whatever the incident may mean about the maturing skills of Afghanistan’s CIA-mentored intelligence community, it is just more bad news for the 4-year-old independent press.

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Missing a coup

John Pilger, June 22:

These days Australia likes to present itself as a helpful, generous neighbour of East Timor, after public opinion forced the government of John Howard to lead a UN peacekeeping force six years ago. East Timor is now an independent state, thanks to the courage of its people and a tenacious resistance led by the liberation movement Fretilin, which in 2001 swept to political power in the first democratic elections. In regional elections last year, 80 percent of votes went to Fretilin, led by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, a convinced “economic nationalist,” who opposes privatization and interference by the World Bank. A secular Muslim in a largely Roman Catholic country, he is, above all, an anti-imperialist who has stood up to the bullying demands of the Howard government for an undue share of the oil and gas spoils of the Timor Gap.

On April 28 last, a section of the East Timorese army mutinied, ostensibly over pay. An eyewitness, Australian radio reporter Maryann Keady, disclosed that American and Australian officials were involved. On May 7, Alkatiri described the riots as an attempted coup and said that “foreigners and outsiders” were trying to divide the nation. A leaked Australian Defense Force document has since revealed that Australia’s “first objective” in East Timor is to “seek access” for the Australian military so that it can exercise “influence over East Timor’s decision-making.” A Bushite “neocon” could not have put it better. 

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They murder civilians, don’t they?

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem releases a statement:

IDF Killed 23 Civilians in Gaza in the Past Month “By Mistake”

In the last four weeks, according to B’Tselem’s statistics, Israel ‘s security forces in the Occupied Territories killed 23 Palestinian bystanders, who the military indicated they did not intend to kill. Among them were 7 children. All were killed by helicopter missile fire, excluding one killed by artillery fire.

In this same period, no Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

The killing of innocent civilians with missiles fired during the day in the heart of crowded neighbourhoods, as occurred in most of the cases cited, is not an “unfortunate mistake” but a near certain result. Whoever authorized the firing of missiles knew inescapably, or should have known, that this would be the expected result. International humanitarian law prohibits conducting an attack, even against a legitimate military target, if it is known that the attack will cause harm to civilians that is excessive compared to the anticipated military advantage. Violation of this prohibition is defined as a war crime, and therefore carries individual criminal liability for those responsible.

B’Tselem wrote to the IDF Judge Advocate General demanding that a Military Police Investigation be opened immediately regarding all those responsible, including the Chief of Staff and the Commander of the Air Force, for the killing of 23 civilians.

The statistics relate to the period of 20/05/2006 – 21/06/2006, and do not include the members of the Ghaliah family, in regard to whom B’Tselem cannot currently confirm with certainty who is responsible for their deaths. 

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Don’t blame the victim

Mick Dodson, The Age, June 22:

It’s not easy to separate some reasonable messages Tony Abbott was trying to deliver yesterday without getting caught up in the “put-down” language adopted in his speech to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Nobody disputes that addressing the 17-year gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous children is a national priority. And if Abbott is suggesting that governments should assume full responsibility for delivering essential services to Aboriginal Australians, just like other Australians, I fully agree with that too.

But why does he wrap that up in language about paternalism rather than describing it as a basic responsibility of government to the citizens of Maningrida, just as it is to the citizens of Manly? 

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