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.

Reasons not to buy American

In spite of the astronomical amounts of money being spent on Iraq’s reconstruction (i.e. to rebuild what the Americans blew up in the first place) it seems that when it comes to US government contracts, you don’t always get what you pay for

While in previous cases, the administration admitted that certain projects had been abandoned due to various security and maintenance issues, this marks the first instance in which projects that had formerly been deemed successful were no longer functioning.

And in case you’re wondering if this is due to user error:

In all seven cases, the project had previously been inspected and approved as functioning properly, with some of the inspections occurring as recently as six months ago. “Curiously, most of the problems seemed unrelated to sabotage stemming from Iraq’s parlous security situation,” the Times notes, “but instead were the product of poor initial construction, petty looting, a lack of any maintenance and simple neglect.”

What a great endorsement for no bid contracts and capitalism at its zenith? Is it any wonder that Toyota has just surpassed GM as the world’s top car manufacturer?

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Is Israel testing new weapons on Palestinians?

The strangest paradox of Israel has been the contradiction between its obsession with military superiority while still maintaining a canard of vulnerability and victimhood.

Reports of Israel using unconventional and chemical weapons in the occupied territories are nothing new, but new reports suggest a far more sinister class of weapon being tested by Israel on their favorite targets.

Habas Al-Wahid, head of the emergency centre at the Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza city told the journalists that the legs of the injured were sliced from their bodies “as if a saw was used to cut through the bone.” But there was no evidence of ordinary metal shrapnel in or near the wounds.

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Juma Saka said that on examination of the wounds, the doctors had found a powder on the victim’s bodies and in their internal organs. Afterwards they removed the microscopic particles which turned out to be carbon and tungsten.

“The powder was like microscopic shrapnel, and this is likely what caused the injuries,” Saka said. Complicating the issue was the death of many patients several days afterwards, although they appeared to recover initially. Accusations that Israel is using Gaza and its inhabitants as a laboratory to test new military weapons, have been made from several quarters.

It defies credibility when Israel’s apologists repeatedly justify Israel’s actions on the grounds of preventing café’s and pizza bars being targeted by suicide bombers, yet condone the use of such macabre and insidious weapons.

Yet, after Olmert’s recent suggestions that 1000 well directed Tomahawk cruise missiles might halt Iran’s non existent nuclear weapons program, you can’t help but wonder if Israel’s leadership is most comfortable when discussing war and oppression.

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What the walls really mean

It is no coincidence why large concrete walls are being erected in both the occupied territories and Baghdad.  Both are unmistakable monuments to failed societies.

Whether for protection and security or to contain and imprison, walls are a symbol of failure – a failure to revel in freedom and embrace our common humanity: that is reason enough to bring them down.

In Israel, the wall is justified on the grounds of security, while being exploited to grab even more land for Israel.

Scott Ritter put’s the implications of the walls in Baghdad very eloquently:

Walls, ideological or physical, on the ground or in space, do not, as Reagan noted, facilitate the cause of liberty and freedom.  They restrict it.  By walling in the Iraqi citizens of Baghdad, by walling out the immigrants who seek solace within our borders and by partitioning off Europe from Iran and Russia, the Bush administration has become that which America once renounced.  All freedom-loving Americans who embrace the cause of liberty and justice for all must rally around the ideals put forward by Reagan when standing next to the Berlin Wall, and declare to the usurper currently sitting in the White House: 

The occupations of the US in Iraq and Israel in the occupied territories have failed miserably and are mirrored in societies in their last throes.

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Postponing the inevitable

It’s hard to imagine how things could possibly be worse for the Bush Administration’s ambitions for a successful outcome in Iraq.

On the trail of George Tenet’s revelations that there was no serious consideration of anything other than war in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, Senator Durbin, who sat on the Intelligence Committee, revealed this week that the members of the Committee who had witnessed the intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war, knew that lies were being fed to the public, but were bound by secrecy laws from revealing this to the media.

These testimonies put a death knell into the argument that the Bush Administration made an honest mistake and that the intelligence community failed were derelict in their duty.

 The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn’t believe it,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.“I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn’t do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can’t walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress.”
 

Sen. Durbin (D-IL) said that he and Sen. Rockefeller KNEW that Bush was lying because of briefings to the Intelligence Committee but could not tell because they were “sworn to silence”.  Sen. Rockefeller put a memo for the record in his file to try to cover his ass.  He said that this was an “ethical problem”.  If the president is LYING that’s the ethical problem.  The Senators had a moral responsibility to uncover this falsehood and save us 3,00 lives, the Iraqis 600,000 lives and a trillion dollars.  They are in my mind accomplises to this tragedy.

This week, the Great White Hope of the Surge, General Patreaus, gave a grim assessment in Washington, admitting that not only was the situation in Iraq more complicated than even he had imagined, but also gave the grim warning that the situation will get worse before it gets easier and that it runs the risk of higher U.S. and Iraqi casualties.

Retired General William Odom added more gloom to the prediction:

“…for  the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq’s grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war

“Thus, he lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money, and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies. The Congress is the only mechanism we have to fill this vacuum in command judgment.

“To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is ‘absent without leave.’ He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games.

It’s little wonder therefore that the Bush administration is not only scaling back it’s expectations for Iraq, but intends to postpone the prognosis of the surge till as late as possible.

“The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited,” an article in Saturday’s New York Times reports.

Stay tuned for the right wing war lovers to blame this FUBAR on the liberal media.

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Those best laid plans (hatched in utopia)

Why did Bush realy invade Iraq? According to former CIA director George Tenet’s new book, it was:

“the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.”

Oops. Well, at least the Americans have rallied support around Iran and caused unprecedented levels of hatred towards the world’s only superpower. I’d say that’s a jolly good effort in only seven years. This is what happens when you have academics and office-bound journalists rallying for war.

It’s a shame the Americans didn’t focus more on reforming the Jewish state, a nation that is beyond politically and morally dysfunctional. Now we learn that Prime Minister Olmert will not resign after the release of the 2006 Lebanon war investigation. Perhaps allegedly committing rape is the only firing offence.

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What will changes bring?

Fidel Castro’s apparent return to a leadership role here in Cuba is the subject of much debate in the international press (usually from individuals who are keen for the old man to die, in the vain hope that a period of disaster-style capitalism would follow.)

In fact, Cubans I’ve met are worried about a post-Castro era, as many have only known his rule. While there are serious issues about freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, economic health is hardly guaranteed by totally opening up one’s country to the international community (think of Argentina in the 1990s, when World Bank “assistance” caused societal melt-down.)

It seems more likely that change will be gradual, and necessarily so. The form of these adjustments should be decided by Cubans and those in the region, not office-bound bureaucrats in Washington or London (or execs in the US who want to place Starbucks on every Havana street-corner.)

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Encouraging war is good for one’s career

The mainstream media did a sterling job of selling the war in Iraq to a frightened public. Very few journalists questioned government lies and military dishonesty. After all, if reporters don’t regard both these institutions as organs of disinformation, then perhaps they should work in North Korea (or the New York Times, the conservative blogosphere or the Republican Party. Oh wait, many of them do.)

A new documentary, Buying the War, looks like essential viewing. As FAIR explains:

In one revealing response, NBC anchor Tim Russert explains his reason for not raising sufficient doubts about what Dick Cheney and others were saying on his program: the skeptics weren’t calling him. “To this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them,” he told Moyers. Do major media figures like Russert really think they’ve done their job if they just wait around for critical sources to come to them? And the idea that NBC‘s Washington bureau chief didn’t have “access” to prominent skeptics like Scott Ritter and Daniel Ellsberg is just laughable.

Those poor little journalists, waiting for the call that never came. Russert’s lame excuse would undoubtedly be repeated across the Western world, including in Australia. And many of these same “commentators” and “experts” are still working, still making a living from discussing world affairs and the war in Iraq. With blood on their hands, at the very least, they deserve little better than a permanent holiday from their offices.

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Making the case for attacking Iran

In spite of the fact that every rationale being drummed up for attacking Iran continues to fall flat on its face, it seems nothing will stop them from continuing to lie.

For many countries, the threat of nuclear annihilation is a theoretical issue. For Israel, the threat of nuclear attack is real, palpable, a true possibility. Of all the countries plotting the demise of the Jewish State, the country that is planning to use nuclear power as the weapon of choice is, of course, Iran. Which leads to an all-important, non-theoretical, set of questions.

Will Israel strike Iran?

Though there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran has any program to develop nuclear weapons, such fanatics will continue to insist otherwise. The CIA, IAEA and even the head of the Mossad have said that Iran is a decade way from developing nuclear weapons. As former UNSCOM weapons inspector, Scott Ritter points out, nuclear weapons programs are typically 5-10 years long. In other words, what the CIA, IAEA and Mossad are saying, is that the Iranians haven’t even started.

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Why is the US trying to break Somalia?

Somalia was actually on a road to peace, when the US decided to  introduce their own brand of chaos to the region.  They backed Ethiopian warlords to attack the country, and presto, 300,000 refugees were produced overnight.

US and Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia has hampered international efforts to bring peace to the war-torn country, an independent British report said Wednesday.

“Genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors — especially Ethiopia and the United States — following their own foreign policy agendas,” the report from the Chatham House foreign affairs think-tank said.

The Islamic Courts that had assumed control of the country enjoyed overwhelming support from the population, but when US interests are concerned, the wishes of the people are of no consequence.

Indeed, while warlords and secular governments have come and gone, the Islamic Courts have enjoyed relatively consistent support for over a decade.

Indeed, while warlords and secular governments have come and gone, the Islamic Courts have enjoyed relatively consistent support for over a decade.

What else could this be but another attack on an Islamic country that was not threat to the US or its neighbors?

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Kafkaesque case of Jose Padilla continues

The past five years of Jose Padilla’s life have epitomized a living hell. To say that his life has been ruined is an understatement.

The Bush administration has leapt from one absurd accusation to the next completely undisturbed by the glaring inconsistencies of their case. The prosecution’s objective is the same now as it was 5 years ago when the Chicago gang-banger was first arrested at O’ Hare Airport as an alleged “dirty bomber”, that is, keep Padilla behind bars for the rest of his life.

As with the detainment of David Hicks, the government has no case to present, but for some absurd reason, refuses to allow this man to go free. Perhaps because he has become to mentally ill that unlike Hicks, he cannot even manage to negotiate a plea bargain.

One has to ask themselves, what kind of sick mind and sick system does this to someone?

Padilla has been in solitary confinement for the last 5 years. During that time he was drugged, humiliated, and tortured—all of the practices which have become commonplace under Bush. For the first 4 years he was deprived of habeas corpus and legal counsel. During that period, he was never charged with a crime. He was simply declared an “enemy combatant” and stripped of his rights. His arrest has been used to establish the precedent that Bush can arbitrarily imprison American citizens without filing charges. It is the very definition of tyranny.

The government has no case against Padilla and they know it. He’s merely a lab-rat in their experiment to expand presidential powers. The Washington Post even admitted this in an article earlier this week, “Few Specifics Evident as Padilla Trial Nears” 4-23-07. Padilla had no nuclear material, no plan to attack apartment buildings, and no part in any terrorist conspiracy. It’s all baloney. In 5 years, the government hasn’t produced a shred of evidence that Padilla is guilty of anything.

Padilla has become the sacrificial lamb for the Bush Administration propaganda machine. To let him go would mean to admit they have made a mistake, and given the attention this man has received, they can ill afford such an admission.

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Occupation keeping 2 sets of books

Not only is the surge going badly, it’s worse than we thought. So called reports of reduced deaths as a result of the “surge” are actually a result of sleazy accounting on the part of the occupation force:

U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren’t counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn’t include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Meanwhile Iraq continues to gather apace towards becoming a hell hole, which makes the warnings about the consequences of withdrawing from Iraq seem laughable.

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Difference matters

Following this week’s announcement of My Israel Question being short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the judge’s comments are as follows:

Antony Loewenstein quotes a commentator on contemporary Jewry who says that a diasporic Jew is, by definition, a neurotic. My Israel Question appraises that diagnosis by critically examining the media’s representation, in Australia , the United States and Britain , of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The ‘neurotic Jew’ is not so much an individual as an institutionalised cultural syndrome.

Starting with the 2003 debate about whether Hanan Ashrawi should be given the Sydney Peace Prize, Lowenstein takes aim, in particular, at Australian Jews whose loyalty to Israel disables, in his opinion, an open-minded debate about how to establish peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Portraying Australia ‘s pro-Israel lobby as fiercely dogmatic and bullying, he points out that the lobby’s work is made easier by the highly professional media relations of the Israeli Defense Force, by the political ineptitude of the Palestinian leadership, and by a lack of empathy, widespread in the West, for the Arab point of view. Of particular interest is his account of the Labor tradition of indulgence towards Israel .

My Israel Question is, at times, a personalised work of political journalism. Loewenstein writes that he has had to overcome a collective sense of shame that would equate a critical view of Israel with disrespect towards the victims of the Holocaust. A Jew’s questioning of Israel is not without emotional cost.

The book is not primarily autobiographical, however. It is a researched guide to the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and to the political and cultural processes that have assured the Israeli side of a sympathetic hearing in the Anglophone world. At a time when Australia Jewry is publicly fragmenting in its views on Middle Eastern affairs, My Israel Question is a cogent expression of Jewish dissidence.

It’s encouraging to note that a dissenting Jewish perspective on Zionism and the Israel/Palestine conflict is both appreciated and encouraged in the Australian community, far away from the rampant parochialism of the Jewish world. Until more Jews start to understand that there are multiple Jewish understandings of the Middle East, they’ll continue to convince themselves that Israel is hated simply because it’s Jewish (though a racially discriminatory policy hardly helps.)

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