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.

Adolf redux

So many mini-Hitler’s in the world, so little time.


Rising up

The Iranian revolution continues:

Iranian women’s rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign, “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws,” which aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women, is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign will be officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled: “The Impact of Laws on Women’s Lives.”

But the authorities do not let them to hold their seminar & claimed that they should get permission from the ministry. According to the current law of Iran, holding seminars & peaceful demonstrations do not need any legal permission. 

More here.

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Something must save us

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claims critics of the Bush administration are appeasing fascism.

Add Hitler, Nazism, Churchill and Bush and stir.

Fear politics is a useful tool in the hands of fools.


Disaster central

Naomi Klein, Common Dreams, August 28:

The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box.

This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government’s calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.

“It’s all going to be private enterprise before it’s over,” Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for Tropical Storm Ernesto, said in April. “They’ve got the expertise. They’ve got the resources.”

But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it’s time to take a look at where the privatization of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.

The first step was the government’s abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).

We saw the results in New Orleans one year ago: Washington was frighteningly weak and inept, in part because its emergency management experts had fled to the private sector and its technology and infrastructure had become positively retro. At least by comparison, the private sector looked modern and competent (a New York Times columnist even suggested handing FEMA over to Wal-Mart).

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The old canard recycled. Again.

The Jewish establishment is clearly unprepared or unwilling to engage honestly with the Zionist cause and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. After last Sunday’s sold-out debate at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival – and the Australian Jewish News’ blatantly dishonest interpretation of the same event – today’s Melbourne Age features a letter from one of the usual suspects:

Robert Richter, Antony Loewenstein and Julian Burnside advise the Jewish community to promote freedom of thought and speech, find its collective voice, and be prepared to criticise Israel if it disagreed with its policies ( The Age, 28/8). However, their advice is gratuitous, unfounded and based on a nonsensical premise.

The Jewish community is about as democratic as it’s possible for a religious-ethnic community to be. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria consists of representatives of more than 50 organisations, encompassing a wide range of religious outlooks and political opinions.

The principal reason why there are no loud voices against Israel is that the community sympathises with Israel and understands the nature of the threat against it. If Loewenstein, or anyone else in the Jewish community, doesn’t share those sympathies and considers the threat not worth worrying about, they are free to hold and express those opinions.

As for the premise that Israeli policies and actions are responsible for promoting anti-Semitism, this is ludicrous. Actually, anti-Semitism is caused by anti-Semites. Tough Israeli policies — sometimes necessary in Israel’s fight for survival — merely provide an excuse for anti-Semites to feel free to spout their hatred.

Paul Gardner, executive member, Jewish Community Council of Victoria

Let me get this straight. People are anti-Semitic simply for no reason, a sickness borne out of a malignant hatred of Jews. Israeli actions are totally unrelated. To believe this is as deluded as believing that anti-Americanism is unrelated to US foreign policy in the Middle East. Furthermore, the wide variety of viewpoints in the Jewish community leadership is remarkably well hidden. When it comes to Israel, the default setting is switched on 100% of the time. Such intellectual laziness is dangerous for both Israel and the Jews.

As for Israel’s “tough policies”, I suppose the illegal occupation of Palestine and deliberate targeting of civilians is something the world just has to get used to. Thankfully, Gardner knows the global community is slowing turning against a nation that somehow believes Jewish history insulates it from criticism or censure.


It exists

And still some supposed Middle East commentators deny the influence of the Zionist lobby in the US.

In this worldview, merely raising the issue implies anti-Semitism. Let them live with their delusions.


Death costs

The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is justly receiving a great deal of media coverage. Corpwatch provides a welcome perspective:

Disaster profiteers make millions while local companies and laborers in New Orleans and the rest of the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast region are systematically getting the short end of the stick, according to a major new report from the nonprofit CorpWatch.

A CorpWatch analysis of FEMA’s records shows that “fully 90 percent of the first wave of (the post-Katrina reconstruction) contracts awarded – including some of the biggest no-bid contracts to date — went to companies from outside the three worst-affected states.  As of July 2006, after months of controversy and Congressional hearings, companies from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had increased their share of the total contracts to a combined 16.6 percent.”  The CorpWatch analysis shows that more federal reconstruction contracts have gone to Virginia and Indiana – usually large, politically connected corporations – than to any of the three Katrina-devastated states.

The CorpWatch report also exposes abusive “contracting charge pyramids” where the companies doing the actual reconstruction work often get only a tiny (and insufficient) fraction of the taxpayer money awarded for projects and widespread non-payment of local companies and laborers, including what has been alleged to be the deliberate and systematic exploitation of immigrant workers, including undocumented individuals.

“One year after disaster struck, the slow-motion rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region looks identical to what has happened to date in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see a pattern of profiteering, waste and failure – due to the same flawed contracting system and even many of the same players” says CorpWatch Director Pratap Chatterjee. “The process of getting Katrina-stricken areas back on their feet is needlessly behind schedule, in part, due to the shunning of local business people in favor of politically connected corporations from elsewhere in the U.S. that have used their clout to win lucrative no-bid contracts with little or no accountability and who have done little or no work while ripping off the taxpayer.”

The US government is very experienced at outsourcing war work.

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Their time is up

Citizen journalism, already changing the face of South Korea, arrives in Japan.

When the mainstream media shamefully exaggerates the “terrorist threat” – thankfully critiqued by the Australian public broadcaster – it’s more than time to realise that corporate journalists should be strongly challenged by the general public.

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New and welcome directions

A Lebanese blogger profiles his friend, a “terrorist” in Western terms.

Meanwhile, the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper reminds the world where responsibility lies for the country’s future (and note the irrelevance of the US.)

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Define this

Daniel Benjamin, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, examines the term “Islamo-fascism“:

“There is no sense in which jihadists embrace fascist ideology as it was developed by Mussolini or anyone else who was associated with the term,” he said.

“This is an epithet, a way of arousing strong emotion and tarnishing one’s opponent, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the content of their beliefs.

“The people who are trying to kill us, Sunni jihadist terrorists, are a very, very different breed.”


A blowing gale

Hurricane Katrina, explained.


Some things never change

A legal legend speaks his mind:

A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferencz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting “aggressive” wars – Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

After the Iraqi war fraud, we are being set up again, this time over Iran.