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.

Family jewels on display

The only real surprise about the release of the declassified CIA documents was the suggestion by Robert Gates that these events belonged to a chapter of the CIA that has been consigned to history. The sad fact is that by today’s standards, these scandalous revelations are not even regarded as extreme.

What’s different today is merely a question of scale: yet the general outlines of the neocon program of warmongering, waterboarding, and the waylaying of innocents took shape long ago. The Bush administration has merely refined and perfected the details. And that’s the main difference: yesterday our rulers had the decency to keep their immoral means and methods a secret, which meant they knew they had not only broken the law, but had done something profoundly wrong. Today, they invent elaborate legal and political theories designed to justify and even valorize their police-state methods.

While we are forever reminded that 9/11 changed everything, the fact is that it merely brought the extremists into the mainstream. What was regarded as unthinkable a decade ago is old news by today’s standards.

Much of what was “revealed” in the “family jewels” was already known, and in detail not recounted in the released documents. Furthermore, the history of the FBI and other U.S. government agencies is replete with precedents for the activities detailed in this particular document dump. In particular, it is well known that the “liberal” heroes FDR and Harry Truman utilized police-state methods to go after their political opponents, the former going so far as to order a “sedition” trial of war opponents and the latter instituting “loyalty oaths” and greatly expanding the domestic spying apparatus he inherited from That Man in the White House.

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Right wing obsession with masculinity

You have to wonder if the right wing’s obsession with icons of masculinity is compensating for something we don’t know about.

Anne Coulter, who at least pretends to be a woman, holds up Pat Tillman as the epitome of American masculinity (at least until she found out he was a fan of Chomsky) while deriding John Edwards and Al Gore as being gay. She is either very brave or very tragic, depending on your point of view, had this androgynous and anemic harpy ever been seen in public with male company.

Jonah Golberg, could hardly contain his admiration for Dick Cheney, confusing Cheney’s general contempt for humanity, with masculine resolve.

In just two minutes of chatty, giggly Cheney worship, the following tough-guy cliches flew from their mouths:

* Cheney “doesn’t bother talking the talk, he just walks the walk”;

* he’s “a politician who doesn’t look at the polls. . . another Harry Truman”;

* “love to have a beer with the guy”;

* “a smart, serious man in American life”;

* “Have you ever seen Dick Cheney give a speech? I mean, the contempt for the audience is palpable” — “I know, I — see, I love that. He looks like he should be eating a sandwich while he’s doing it, eating lunch over the sink . . I love that”;

* “I can just see him yelling, hey you kids, get off my lawn. I love it.”

As always, the pulsating need among the strain of individual represented by Tucker Carlson and Johan Goldberg to search endlessly for strong, powerful, masculine figures so that they can feel those attributes and pose as one who exudes them (Jonah Goldberg: “love to have a beer with the guy”) is its own stomach-turning though vitally important topic. The same is true of the fact that the movement of which they are a part virtually always venerates as Icons of Courageous Sandwich-Eating Masculinity precisely those figures who so transparently play-act at the role but whose lives never exhibit any such attributes in reality. That, too, is its own rich and abundant topic.

Once again the irony is unavoidable. The man that Golberg idolizes for his “strength” has a history that reads like the antithesis of masculinity. Cheney not only skipped the Vietnam draft through five draft deferments, but these days has taken paranoia to macabre extremes, and spends most of his time hiding away in some bunker.

As the interview continued, Golberg gave us an all too familiar insight into mentality that has infected the far right.

GOLDBERG: And you know, but I do think that what Cheney has learned after a lifetime in Washington as a power player, is that the person who holds the secrets has power. And he is using that for what I would say, or probably what he believes to be certainly good ends. A lot of people disagree on that, but he’s trying to do best as he can and he sees holding onto power as a tool to do that.

That, of course, is the defining mentality of the Authoritarian Mind, captured in its purest essence by Jonah. Our Leaders are Good and want to protect us. Therefore, we must accept — and even be grateful — when they prevent us from knowing what they are doing. The less we know, the more powerful our Leaders are. And that is something we accept and celebrate, for our Leaders are Good and we trust that the more powerful they are, the better we all shall be.

John Dean wrote a book about this very phenomenon. His interview with Keith Olbermann last year is quite an eye opener.

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Media hyperventilate over London “car bomb”

Judging by the headlines, you’d think that London police averted the detonation of a nuke.

BRITISH police have defused a car bomb in the heart of London, a week before the second anniversary of the city’s deadly July 7 bombings.

A police spokesman confirmed the device was a bomb, and that it was found after a member of the public reported a suspicious vehicle shortly before 2am (11am Melbourne time).

Explosives officers defused the device, found in a car parked in The Haymarket, a central London street, London police said. “They discovered what appeared to be a potentially viable explosive device. This was made safe.

So what was this mysterious device?

Larry Johnson was hardly impressed:

So I turn on the telly this morning and find breathless CNN anchors hyperventilating over the nuclear suicide car weapon of mass destruction discovered smoldering outside of a London nightclub. One report from the scene notes that:

London police were contacted when witnesses saw a Mercedes being driven erratically near London West End night club Tiger Tiger, and the driver jumped out of the automobile and ran away. The car was reported to have two gasoline canisters and be full of nails.

CNN adds:

Explosives officers discovered the fuel and nails attached to a “potential means of detonation,” inside the vehicle. Officers “courageously” disabled the trigger by hand, he said. Security sources told CNN that the “relatively crude device” in the first car contained at least 200 liters, or about 50 gallons, of fuel in canisters.

You know what you call a vehicle with 50 gallons of gas? A Cadillac Escalade. The media meltdown over this incident is simply shameful.

For starters, gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incendiary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapenal.

The fact that “officers courageously disabled the trigger by hand” coupled with the report of the smoke in the car leads me to believe that the mad London “bomber” tried to construct a Molotov cocktail of sorts and lit a cloth fuze. Fortunately he left the windows in the car up and there was not enough oxygen to really get the fire going. Looks like the brave British police reached in and snuffed the flame.

Judging from the overreaction to this non-incident I think we can safely conclude that Osama Bin Laden will remain holed up in Pakistan and let the fear mongers at CNN, MSNBC, and FOX do the dirty business of scaring the shit out of people.

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Killers beware!

Whatever you do, don’t break the law in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi authorities on Thursday beheaded a Saudi man convicted of killing a fellow national, the Interior Ministry said.

Al-Humaidi Al-Ghamdi shot Aeydh Al-Ghamdi to death after a dispute, the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said. It did not explain the nature of the dispute.

Both the initial killing and the subsequent execution took place in the southern region of Aseer, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which those convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery are executed in public with a sword.

Wednesday’s executions brought to 95 the number of people beheaded in the kingdom this year. Saudi Arabia beheaded 38 people last year and 83 people in 2005.

I’m keeping my hands to myself at all times.

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What is to come?

Alastair Crooke, London Review of Books, June 28:

There was no peace process. And, in the view of most Palestinians, there is little prospect of one. On the contrary, the leadership of Hamas – like their colleagues in Hizbullah – are preparing for the long hot summer of regional conflict that inevitably lies ahead. The real cost of Hamas’s military putsch against the Dahlan militia is the weakening of that significant faction within Fatah which, for some time, has been uncomfortable with Dahlan’s and Fatah’s co-option by US and Israeli interests, and has – until now – advocated real co-operation between Fatah and Hamas. But now that Fatah has been humiliated the grass-roots are unlikely to be in a mood to support anyone who argues for a working partnership with Hamas. It is one thing to be perceived by fellow Palestinians as a Western proxy: to be regarded as a failed Western proxy is far worse.

It is too early to judge, but it is possible that the Hamas putsch will come to be seen by Muslims beyond Palestine as an event as significant as the outcome of the Israeli-Hizbullah war last July. The next few weeks may see the beginnings of efforts at mediation on the part of other Arab states, in an attempt to form a fresh unity government in Palestine. If this happens, the issue of security has already been decided: Hamas has settled the facts on the ground. The Americans and Europeans, however, can be expected to continue to resist any transformation of the political dispensation. What they want, and remain wedded to, is a reversion to the status quo ante of Oslo, however discredited its processes now are. But in attempting to ensure Fatah’s continued hold on power, they risk schism, renewed violence, and a fracturing of the Palestinian body politic for years to come.

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Joined at the hip

A gem from Istaputz.

What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed… forever. — John Doe

Yes, I may be at 30 percent in the polls, but in 20 or 30 years, they’ll appreciate what I’ve done. — President Bush

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Blair given the keys to the liquor cabinet

Blair has landed the job he’s least suited for. This appointment is about as appropriate as giving John Wayne Gacey the responsibility of looking after a day care center. This sends an unambiguous signal to the Middle East. That the US has no intention of establishing peace in the region.

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Putin extends Russia’s borders

There’s no stopping Vladimir Putin. The controversial Russian leader is seizing on a finding by Russian geologists that Russian’s northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf, and decided that this piece of land should belong to Russia.

This is not an insignificant piece of land either. Putin has his sights set on 460,000 square miles of territory. That’s equal to the land mass of Italy, Germany and France, combined.

Needless to say, the prize is a bounty of natural resources, with twice as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

Even the most conservative estimates of untapped oil and mineral wealth in the currently frozen Arctic are in the range of many trillions of dollars. Unofficial estimates, the kind that oil and mining companies don’t make public, because they are usually guesstimates, think there could be tens of trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas, coal and various minerals up there.

Predictably the US has expressed outrage over the move, but given the fact that they are occupying Iraq and killing Iraqis by the thousand, no one’s really turning to them for moral leadership about stealing land and resources these days.

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Palestinians probing IDF’s weaknesses

And Israeli Merkava 4 tank was destroyed this week by an anti-tank rocket.

This is significant, because it reveals that these weapons are available to the Palestinian resistance. As we saw last year in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s arsenal of anti-tank weaponry had a major influence over the outcome of that conflict.

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The way it is

The Western media generally reports the non-Western world in a woefully inadequate way?

A CIA prison in Tunisia? Barely registers.

Vanity Fair’s latest edition on Africa…that hardly mentions the Africans?

Or the US role in the recent Gaza explosion?

Most corporate journalists prefer not to to ask the key questions because the answers are utterly predictable and uncomfortable for the Western powers-that-be. Besides, many reporters have no problem with the major powers conducting business as they do.

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He makes us so proud

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, reveals his brilliant analytical skills during a recent interview with Haaretz:

“In another 20 years, the historians will ask how another president would have reacted to September 11 and if he had alternatives. Bush did not have to go into Iraq, but what would have happened if Saddam Hussein had emerged from the battle against the U.S. and the whole world with the upper hand? Where would we be today if in addition to the Iranian threat, we would have had to deal with Saddam? Do you believe that Iraq would have become a factor advocating quiet? Would the Middle East have been a safer place when a dictator like Saddam controls vast oil resources and strives to obtain weapons of mass destruction?”

So, always remember. Iraq may not have been a real threat before 9/11 but is a real threat now, and that’s why the US needed to create a threat to be able to control it today.

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Kafka would be proud

The prosecutors trying Jose Padilla want to present “evidence” that is completely unrelated to anything Padilla is charged with. What’s worse is that the judge has approved it.

Judge Cooke agreed to a prosecution request to play for the jury a 1997 CNN taped interview with Osama bin Laden. Judge Cooke excised what she said were the most inflammatory 13 minutes from the 20 minute tape, so the jury will hear only 7 minutes of this manipulative terrorist spouting his self-serving narrative. The reason for the jury to review the 7 minutes of Osama is the prosecution has taped phone conversations between two of the defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, celebrating the contents of the interview, even, according to prosecutor John Shipley, rejoicing over bin Laden’s incendiary words.

This is what is driving Padiila’s attorney, Andrew Natale a tad crazy. There is no evidence, repeat, no evidence that Padilla ever heard or saw the bin Laden interview. “How the heck can we defend against something he’s never seen, never discussed, never had anything to do with?” Natale asked. Good question.

Padilla is being tried along with two other defendants, but neither of them ever met Bin Laden.

How relevant is the bin Laden tape to the trial in Miami? It’s a 1997 CNN interview with bin Laden in eastern Afghanistan in late March of 1997. Obviously Padilla is not involved in the conversation. He wasn’t even involved in discussing it with Hassoun and Jayyousi years later. Padilla never saw the interview.

The case against Padilla must be incredibly weak if this stunt is the best the prosecution can come up with.

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