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.

Payback time

Another day, another Israeli massacre in Palestine.

Of course, this information isn’t even “news” anymore, such is the regularity of these events. But in a show of solidarity, Israeli behaviour will start coming at a price. Boycotts are just the beginning.

In more encouraging news, the forthcoming book by Mearsheimer/Walt on the Israel lobby (out September) has received an early PR boost. Interestingly, the US-based Jewish Book Council was behind the talk.

In the months to come, an even harsher light will shine on the duplicitous role of the Zionist lobby. And, more importantly, their contribution to a ever-weakened Jewish state.

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The plight of the Kurds

Is the security of the Kurds really better now than under Saddam?

While the American military is trying to tamp down the vicious fighting between rival Arab sects in Baghdad, conflict between Arabs and Kurds is intensifying here, adding another dimension to Iraq’s civil war. Sunni Arab militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the new security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials said.

And how will the US appease the demands of Turkey?

Turkey’s prime minister has said the US and Iraq should destroy bases of separatist Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq.

and …

Ankara has repeatedly expressed its disappointment with Washington for what it says is a failure to crack down on Kurdish rebels who take refuge in northern Iraq and frequently attack soldiers and government targets in Turkey.

With each month of US occupation, the toll of unintended consequences continues to rise.

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Common values

Much is made of the common values shared between the US and Israel.  One of them just happens to be a fondness for torture

According to the report, the High Court of Justice’s ruling on the interrogation of suspects defined as “time bombs” allows for “almost any Palestinian prisoner to be tortured,” Israel Radio reported.

And here’s little food for thought…

“Enhanced Interogation” is a fairly close translation of the German Verschärfte Vernehmung …which was coined by the Gestapo.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Pathological dreams

It would make for fascinating reading to study a psychological evaluation of a man like Norman Podhoretz who hopes and prays for the bombing of Iran.  For Podhoretz, studying IAEA and intelligence reports that deny the existence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran is a waste of time.  His neocon spidy senses is all he needs to launch a preemptive bombing of Iran.

Podhoretz believes that “the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force–any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938.”

How do such deranged individuals rise to such prominent positions of influence?  After all Norman, it’s not like Iran didn’t offer to suspend its nuclear program, enter into peace talks with Israel, and wash its hands of Hamas and Hezbollah in 2003.  Don’t you just wish you had exercised common sense and agreed to talk with them, rather than brush them off?

Norman is a simple man.  When it comes to bombing counties that threaten no one, he doesn’t ask for much.

“As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he will.”

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Remembering the Liberty

There is still a great deal of controversy surrounding the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. While the accepted narrative states that this was a tragic accident, there are many who refuse to accept it, particularly the surviving victims.

Former captain of the Liberty, Ward Boston, signed an affidavit stating unequivocally:

“The evidence was clear. Both Admiral [Isaac C.] Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack … was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received firsthand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate.”

Tim Fischer put it this way:

“If Israel did deliberately attack the most powerful nation on Earth, it knows it can do so and get away with murder. Worse still, U.S. military personnel now know that if the truth is politically inconvenient, they and their legacy are expendable.”

Justin Raimondo suggests that the Lobby had a role to play, but this theory is flawed. At the time, Israel’s lobby did not wield anywhere near the same influence that we are witnessing today. Nonetheless he does raise a valid argument:

Critics may aver that this is all ancient history, that there is no reason to bring up the attack on the Liberty, and even if it wasn’t an accident, it’s time to let bygones be bygones. The Lobby constantly asserts that anyone who even mentions this “incident” is nothing but an anti-Semite, because, after all, why talk about it now?

If indeed the attack was deliberate, then it begs the question as to what Lyndon Johnson’s reasons were for covering it up?

There are two theories that may explain this.

The Israelis attacked the Liberty, according to several books and a BBC documentary on the subject, in order to prevent the U.S. government from learning of Israeli plans to occupy the Golan Heights belongs to Syria, and which is still causing a great many problems for U.S. interests in the region.

Another more recent theory has surfaced

It has long been assumed that Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS Liberty was just another of her made-to-order false flag operations done simply for the purpose of dragging an unwilling America into a Middle East war on the side of the Jewish state. However, new information uncovered by former BBC investigative journalist Peter Hounam reveals that America–and more specifically the administration of Lyndon Johnson–was not as much the unsuspecting victim in all of this that she has claimed these last 40 years. Based on relatively new evidence, the attack on the Liberty was actually part of a much larger plan and that the Liberty incident was just one domino in a series of them that had as the ultimate goal a real-live shooting war between the US and the USSR. Had the Liberty been sunk with no witnesses as planned, the world would be a much different place now as a result, and certainly not for the better.

In short, what was planned for that awful day in American history was that the a defenseless, unarmed American ship sailing in international waters off the coast of Egypt be sunk to the bottom of the Mediterranean and that the Soviets and their Arab allies (in particular Egypt) would be blamed for the event.

Without a comprehensive investigation, these theories will remain pure speculation, however, they will continue to linger so long as the veil of secrecy surrounding this event is maintained.

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Plame has last laugh

The right wing detractors who have insisted that Valerie Plame was not undercover have some humble pie to feast on.

“In new court filings, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has finally resolved one of the most disputed issues at the core of the long-running CIA leak controversy: Valerie Plame Wilson, he asserts, was a ‘covert’ CIA officer who repeatedly traveled overseas using a ‘cover identity’ in order to disguise her relationship with the agency,” Newsweek reports.

Wilson’s covert status, which is substantiated in an employment report filed by Fitzgerlad, was cited as part of a recommendation to sentence former Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to up to three years in prison.

CIA man, Larry Johnson, who has been adament that Plame was undercover since day 1, is lapping it up.

[Update: David Corn posted the first piece on this Friday night. He needs to do more self-promotion.] Man, the rightwing stooges are getting their collective asses handed to them on all fronts (e.g., a bird shits on Bush, Wolfowitz gets bounced from the World Bank, and rightwing bloggers, Flopping Aces and Charles Johnson in particular, were exposed making fraudulent claims). As Jackie Gleason used to say, “how sweet it is!”

[Note: Fitzgerald says that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) applied to Valerie at the time of her outing. Suck on that you rightwing hypocrites.]

How long do you think we’ll be waiting for the right wing blogosphere’s to issue a retraction and an apology to Plame?

(more…)

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Killing more Arabs soon, please get in line

The latest book on Hilary Clinton proves yet again, why she is about as predictable as pro-war pundits and Republican voters are switching off (not, mind you, because the war is immoral or pointless, but because the US isn’t “winning”). It’s difficult to get inspired by the US presidential race, but then, just look at the Labor Party contest in Israel:

The proximity of the Winograd crisis and the Labor Party primaries helps explain the hysteria surrounding the wave of Qassams on the Western Negev, which started especially early this time. It could explain why the convoys of politicians visiting Sderot have been longer, and why the polishing of swords has been noisier than ever. The huge uproar already began in the first week, when the number of Qassams that fell in the area had not yet reached 100, about half the number that were identified last November and about 50 rockets less than the number that fell last June.

The government’s reactions and the military’s reprisal actions were also far more aggressive this time. Both were aided by the media uproar surrounding the scandal involving the lack of fortified secure rooms and the expectation of seeing a Gaza-version of Operation Defensive Shield. The restraint the government and the army are supposedly evincing in the Gaza Strip is serving as a smokescreen for the renewed fire in the West Bank.

This “restraint” is distracting attention from the mass arrests in the West Bank and from Olmert’s refusal even to discuss the proposal put forth by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to enforce the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, on condition that Israel agree to extend it to the West Bank. The “restraint” leaves no room for reports of new decrees affecting the inhabitants of the West Bank, such as the prohibition on bathing in the Dead Sea.

Once again, Israel’s political elite know that a few stray Qassams aren’t capable of doing much damage. Their actions are not about saving Israeli lives nor protecting the motherhood. This is about attempting to destroy the democratically elected government of Hamas, and convincing the world that not doing so threatens the country’s existence. It’s bollocks, of course, and only convinces the yes-men in Washington (and obedient Zionists in the Diaspora.)

If yet another Palestinian authority is ruined, further extremism is guaranteed, something that suits Israel’s military and political elite just fine. It’s also much easier for Zionists in the West to raise funds for more trees in the blooming desert.

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Inside the Haaretz mind

Matt Seaton, Guardian Comment is Free, May 29:

Since the world is not exactly overrun with liberal newspapers and bien-pensant media organisations, I had a natural curiosity, as a Guardian journalist, to hear (for once) how someone else does it. David Landau is the editor of a newspaper that is avowedly secular and progressive, and which has a set of editorial principles that would not disgrace a human rights organisation, and are certainly recognisable to an employee of the media group owned by the Scott Trust.

But there the resemblance begins to diminish, and special circumstances take over. For Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper edited (since 2004) by Mr Landau, is constitutionally Zionist, as well as secular and progressive. You’d think that being secular and progressive in Israel is the main challenge, and that being Zionist at least would be uncontroversial. But, as Mr Landau reminded us, this was Israel – where the demographic reality is that the fastest-growing political-religious group, because of a spectacularly high birthrate, is the ultra-Orthodox, who, inter alia, do not recognise the state of Israel. So, even to be Zionist in Israel, let alone secular and progressive, can be to go looking for trouble.

“Not a day goes by,” said Mr Landau ruefully (and yet also with a sense of it as a badge of courage, almost a sign that he’s doing his job correctly), “that I don’t get a call or an email saying, ‘I cancel my subscription.'” Then he added – and here I could certainly share the ruefulness – “but, of course, then they just go online and read us for free.”

Mr Landau, a solid-framed figure in his fifties, with trim beard, is himself a living link between the Guardian, for which he reported for many years, and Haaretz. But, as he emphasised, he is also a former correspondent for the Economist. His point was that, in his job, you have, somehow, to straddle ideological gulfs. Which he does in a third way, too, by being a practising Orthodox Jew – a fact that, clearly to the credit of both men, Haaretz’s publisher Amos Schocken ruled as irrelevant when appointing Landau to the editor’s post.

And this little bundle of contradictions encapsulated Mr Landau’s main theme: that the only way of negotiating your way through Israel’s impossibly self-divided body politic (let alone begin to think of the Palestinian question, and Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbours) is to invite that warring plurality of point of view in to your editorial pages. And this means, he argued, being willing to contradict yourself.

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Missile Defense or just pork?

You have to wonder what the obsession with Missile Defense is really about, if not just a means to funnel obscene amounts of money to weapon’s manufacturers. When such weapons systems are tested, they are rigged to create the best possible outcome, yet routinely produce miserable results.

In a statement, Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. “Trey” Obering called the event a “no test.”

The target did not reach sufficient altitude to be deemed a threat, and so the Ballistic Missile Defense System did not engage it, as designed…

There is always a risk of this occurrence since we are flying old Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) motors in our targets… and we have initiated a target modernization program, within our existing budget, which should mitigate these risks for the future. A target will be brought forward from a test scheduled for next fall and we will attempt to repeat this test this summer.

The bizarre conclusions drawn from such pathetic results is not only to pour more money into the program, but to place even more faith in their effectiveness.

The failed test underscored the need of the U.S. to install 10 interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar station in the Czech Republic as a defense against potential missile attack from Iran, Lehner said.

It showed that any missiles that Iran launched could similarly go astray and land in Europe even if Europe was not Iran’s target, he added.

Try as they might to pretend that the systems being installed in Eastern Europe are intended to thwart any missile launch from Iran, no one is fooled. The intended target is Russia, and Putin has not been afraid to express his displeasure at such aggression.

Meanwhile, Russia, who leads the world in missile and rocket technology, is proceeding to further develop the world’s most advanced missiles and rockets. It recently tested the new RS-24 missile, which is capable of carrying up to 10 warheads.  Like the Topol-M missile tested a few years ago, can change course after being launched, making it virtually unstoppable.

Welcome to the new arms race, one that the US is not guaranteed to win.

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Peak Oil – real or manufactured?

Good news. The problem of US energy dependency on foreign sources is solved

Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates combined. Trapped in limestone up to 200 feet thick in the two Rocky Mountain states is enough so-called shale oil to rival OPEC and supply the United States for a century.

Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two biggest U.S. energy companies, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are spending $100 million a year testing methods to separate the oil from the stone for as little as $30 a barrel. A growing number of industry executives and analysts say new technology and persistently high prices make the idea feasible.

“The breakthrough is that now the oil companies have a way of getting this oil out of the ground without the massive energy and manpower costs that killed these projects in the 1970s,” said Pete Stark, analyst at IHS Inc., an Englewood, Colo., research firm. “All the shale rocks in the world are going to be revisited now to see how much oil they contain.”

One would assume that the implications of this are enormous. Apart from freeing the US from its reliance on Middle Eastern oil supplies, it could potentially deliver a financial boom for the country.

Due to the fact is that this is not a new discovery, one has to quesrion whether Peak Oil is real or a creation of big oil to manufacture scarcity. When we hear about oil scarcity, we must remember that scarcity is variable upon the current price of oil.

Given the modest annual investment made by the oil giants in perfecting these extraction techniques, one has to wonder if controlling the world’s oil (and therefore controlling potential rivals to US power) is more important to the ruling elite than establishing America’s energy independence.

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AIPAC’s fingerprints

It was widely reported that the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) was behind the sudden decision by Congressional House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to drop a provision requiring President Bush for Congressional approval prior to attacking Iran.

As reported in the May 16, 2007 issue of The Hill:

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential group that advocates strong U.S. ties with Israel, lobbied heavily to remove the Iran provision in the supplemental, arguing that the measure would weaken President Bush’s attempts to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

If there ever was an irrefutable demonstration of Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis, this must surely be it.

In other words, a Democratic Congress elected to end the Iraq war has willingly given up its right (and responsibility) to engage in public debate prior to a new act of war against Iran, a sovereign nation. By voting to look the other way, Congress has left this war decision to the discretion of an unpopular president, who has already failed once.

Why on earth would the Democrats, empowered to change the administration’s current foreign policy regime, ignore popular will? One reason, of course, is AIPAC.

If a conflict with Iran does eventuate, it’s predictable that Israel’s amen corner will attack any suggestion of Israel’s involvement as anti-Semitism.  Along with the the impending espionage trial of former AIPAC members, this time around the evidence will be much more difficult to dismiss.

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Commander guy’s reality

No wonder that Bush thinks that Iraq was harboring Al Qaeda, had WMD and was responsible for 9/11. He wasn’t lying, he just resides in a parallel universe.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the right wing mind.

The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn’t want the troops pulled out — they want to give the military more support in its mission.

“Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq,” he said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats over their desire to legislation a troop withdrawal timeline. “I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course.”

At least we know how the brains of right wing pundits…umm…..work. This comes as no surprise really.  After all, in the Bizzaro Bush World, war is peace, death is liberation, and torture is freedom.

Commander guy was on a roll.

Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public’s dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public’s solution matches his.

“A lot of Americans want to know, you know, when?” he said at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. “When are you going to win?”

Also in that session, Bush said: “I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it’s just not worth it. Let’s just leave.’ I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well.”

No doubt, these polls all have it wrong too.

Of course, if Bush was even close to reality, maybe his approval numbers would not continue to head south, either.

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