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.

Praying for success (but knowing failure)

Iraq is a success. Democracy is soon to flower. The US strategy is correct. The Australian government’s support of this plan is supportable. General David Petraeus is a master.

No, it’s not a White House press release, it’s a handful of Australian “journalists” who received “exclusive” access to the General in Baghdad. The Murdoch broadsheet:

The US troop surge in Iraq has thrown al-Qa’ida off balance and produced a dramatic reduction in sectarian killings and a drop in roadside bombings.

David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said the build-up of American forces in Baghdad since late January had produced positive outcomes. These included the killing or capture of al-Qa’ida fighters, causing the terrorist group to lose influence with local Sunnis.

The strategic gains against insurgents would lead to a changed and possibly longer-term role for Australian troops, shifting from security operations to a focus on training Iraqi soldiers and police.

General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents’ weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa’ida “kills and captures” and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings.

“We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa’ida is off balance at the very least,” he said.

The Fairfax broadsheets:

David Petraeus, the US military commander in Iraq, has given a preview of his forthcoming report to Congress, citing a dramatic reduction in violence in Baghdad and foreshadowing a “gradual” reduction in the number of troops in Iraq.

The Herald interviewed General Petraeus in Baghdad on Wednesday after he had a 90-minute meeting with the Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, and Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

General Petraeus revealed the thinking behind his report, due on September 10, on President George Bush’s “surge” strategy of increasing the number of US troops in Iraq, and divulged several measures of progress.

“We say we have achieved progress and will do all we can to build on that progress, [and] that al-Qaeda is off balance and we are certainly pressuring them,” General Petraeus said.

The shamelessness of these “reports” are laughable.

Let me paint a picture. The Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson is going to Iraq. He wants a handful of clueless propagandists to come along and shore up flagging support for the war. They spend a few hours in Baghdad’s Green Zone, speak to virtually no Iraqis, hear rosy pictures about Iraq’s future, and describe these breathless exclusives. Bingo. John Howard is a genius, one says, those Bush haters and anti-war activists should get a new line.

The reality? It’s barely worth repeating. Over one million dead Iraqis, millions are displaced in the Middle East and within the country itself, ethnic cleansing pollutes many communities, and in another new report, the US is detaining so many Iraqis since the “surge” was announced that Iraqis are wondering how many other Abu-Ghraibs are waiting to be discovered. And let’s not even mention the fact that al-Qaeda is a tiny fraction of the insurgency (most are native Iraqis.) Likewise that the vast majority of foreign fighters are Saudis, not Iranians. Minor details, I know.

The fact that Australia’s major media companies are willing to print such deluded and dishonest reports suggests that restoring American “prestige” is their only focus. In fact, it proves that the Australian media is little more than a parochial back-water, happy to publish White House slops.

one comment ↪

Sorry about maiming you, little girl

Israeli government humanity:

A Jerusalem rehabilitation center is defying a government order to transfer a Palestinian girl paralyzed in an Israel Defense Forces attack on militants to a hospital in the West Bank.

Maria Amin, who turns six on Thursday, cannot get the care she needs in the Palestinian facility “so she won’t be going anywhere” until her well-being is assured, said Shirley Meyer of the Alyn Hospital Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem.

Maria was paralyzed from the neck down when the car she was traveling in was caught in a missile attack on a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza in May last year. Her mother, grandmother and older brother were killed.

She was taken for treatment to Israel where the Defense Ministry covered her medical expenses and sponsored her father and younger brother to live with her at the hospital. She has now completed a rehabilitation program.

It’s not as if Israelis are killing children in Gaza.

no comments – be the first ↪

Smearing the other

A few days ago I spoke in Sydney alongside the Mayor of Bethlehem. He is a dignified man who talked about the effects of the Israeli occupation on his town. Simply put, Israel is killing the holy city.

In today’s Murdoch’s Australian national broadcast, a little propagandist outlines the faux outrage that has greeted the proposed sister-city relationship between the West Bank town of Hebron and Leichhart Council in Sydney’s inner-west. Yet again, the Jewish community is concerned that Australians may actually find out more information about true apartheid in the occupied territories. If anybody visits the town, and sees graffiti written by fundamentalist settlers such as “Arabs to the gas chambers”, using the term apartheid is actually an understatement.

Then the article features this:

At a pro-Palestinian meeting at the University of Sydney on Tuesday evening, Dr Batarseh repeated his claim that the Israeli security barrier, which runs through Bethlehem, is intended to steal Palestinian land rather then keep out suicide attacks.

The 90-strong crowd at the event applauded when a member of the audience called for “the complete destruction of Israel”.

This is a complete lie. I was at the event and I’m fairly confident that the journalist was not. An audience member did indeed call for the destruction of Israel, but the vast majority of the audience remained silent after his statement. The Mayor of Bethlehem specifically responded by arguing that such statements were counter-productive and not very helpful. And wrong. The lengths to which so-called respectable media will go to smear anybody who dares support the Palestinian cause continues unabated.

no comments – be the first ↪

Outpatients lining up behind Giuliani

He might look comparatively moderate next to Norman Podhoretz, but Daniel Pipes is no wall flower when it comes to right wing extremism, promoting Islamophobia and persecuting those he disagrees with, an honour he shares with another lover of humanity, David Horowitz.

Evidently, none of these nutters bother Giuliani. On the contrary, he seems to have a fondness for their brand of ideology, which is why he keeps hiring them.

I think it’s fair to say that Pipes is even further out ideologically than Norman Podhoretz, another Giuliani adviser. Readers unfamiliar with Pipes can check out his profile at Wikipedia. For a representative sampling of his work, consider a 2006 article he wrote in the Jerusalem Post (not available online):

Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West. Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition’s responsibility, nor its burden. When Sunni terrorists target Shi’ites and vice versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy, but not a strategic one.

As you can see, the lives of Arabs and Muslims is of little concern for dear Daniel.

no comments – be the first ↪

Fact time

Dissident historian Norman Finkelstein’s last class at De Paul University is cancelled.

Daniel Pipes is now working for Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

The Zionist lobby has no negative effect on the US body politic (if you’re deaf, blind and dumb.)

no comments – be the first ↪

EU officials holding talks with Hamas

One has to wonder what Washington’s reaction will be to any agreement the EU strike with Hamas.

According to the sources, the Hamas leaders urged the EU representatives to work to end the boycott of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, and to pressure Israel to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

“We hope these talks will be the first step toward ending the boycott of Hamas, which came to power in a free and democratic election,” the sources told the Post. “There is growing awareness among the Europeans of the fact that Hamas can’t be ignored as a major player in the Palestinian arena.”

For that matter, what will Israel’s response be?

no comments – be the first ↪

Only in America

Not something you would expect to see. Those red dots correspond to recipients of agricultural farm subsidies – in Manhattan of all places.

The larger red blobs mark people receiving more than a quarter of a million dollars in farm subsidies annually.

The farm bill passed by House Democrats in July would continue giving millionaires farm subsidies (setting the income threshold for payments at $1 million a year, and keeping loopholes in place that allow some making much more to qualify). The Bush administration has proposed sharply reducing the income threshold to $200,000 a year and ending many of those loopholes. That would reduce the number of subsidy recipients by less than 40,000 (of the current million or so recipients)—though I suppose it might put some rooftop gardens on Park Avenue out of commission.

no comments – be the first ↪

The Petraeus Report

A good summation of what to expect from the Petraeus Report (or rather the one written by the White House that Petraeus will be presenting).

The Washington Post reports that Gen. David Petraeus managed to get the recent intelligence assessment of Iraq toned down:

The NIE, requested by the White House Iraq coordinator, Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, in preparation for the testimony, met with resistance from U.S. military officials in Baghdad, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence officer there. Presented with a draft of the conclusions, Petraeus succeeded in having the security judgments softened to reflect improvements in recent months, the official said.

This reminds me of something. I don’t remember if I’ve ever blogged about this before, but until recently my guess was that Petraeus’s September report to Congress would be pretty sober. My thinking was that he’s a smart guy, and realizes that trying to paint too pretty a picture would ruin his credibility. So instead he’d present a basically realistic assessment, but stud it with just enough signs of progress to convince everyone that he deserved more time to make the surge work.

Now I’m not so sure. Petraeus has been very shrewd about providing dog-and-pony shows to as many analysts, pundits, reporters, and members of Congress as he could cram into the military jets criss-crossing the Atlantic to Baghdad on a seemingly daily basis this summer. And those dog-and-pony shows don’t seem to have been subtle: rather, they’ve been hard-sell propositions complete with “classified” PowerPoint presentations (always a winner for people with more ego than common sense); visits to a handpicked selection of the most successful reconstruction teams in the country; a plainly deceptive implication that the surge played a role in the Anbar Awakening; feel-good stories about how local power generation is a good thing; the recent insistence that civilian casualties are down, which increasingly looks like a book-cooking scam that wouldn’t stand the light of day if Petraeus allowed independent agencies access to his data; and, of course, the ongoing campaign to scare everyone by kinda sorta claiming that Iran and al-Qaeda are ramping up their activities and then getting suddenly slippery whenever anyone asks if they have any real evidence for this.

Petraeus is still a smart guy. He won’t go too far overboard. But he’s obviously been treating the September report like a military operation, trying to generate as much good press and congressional change of heart as he possibly can in the weeks leading up to 9/11. I now expect him to provide just the opposite of what I thought before: a consistently upbeat report studded with just enough accomodations to reality to keep him from seeming completely ridiculous.

And the question is: Will everyone swoon? Or will they demand more than just anecdotal evidence and unsupported statistics? I hope for the latter, but I fear for the former.

no comments – be the first ↪

ADL flips position again on Armenian genocide

This is truly pathetic.

A prominent US Jewish advocacy group has retracted its decision to call the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a genocide, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.

“Although independent scholars may have reached a consensus about the genocide, in an effort to help accomplish the reconciliation (between Turkey and Armenia) there is room for further dispassionate scholarly examination of the details of those dark and terrible days,” the second statement read.

Just imagine the outrage that would erupt if someone were to suggested there was room for further dispassionate scholarly examination of the details of the Holocaust. Perhaps there will also be some declaration that recognising the Armenian genocide is anti-Semitic.

one comment ↪

Marrickville meets Bethlehem, controversy erupts

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Back in 2003, Palestinian Christian politician Hanan Ashrawi was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. The Zionist establishment reacted with predictable apoplexy and accused her of supporting terrorism and not recognising the Jewish state.

After months of fruitless lobbying, then NSW Premier Bob Carr resisted Jewish pressure and presented Ashrawi her award. He later told me that the Zionist lobby “should be much more relaxed about the fact that, in a pluralist media, there will be criticisms of Israel appearing.”

Four years later, it seems that the Jewish community has learned nothing. When Sydney’s Marrickville Council announced in June it was achieving sister city status with the occupied Palestinian town of Bethlehem, the Zionist lobby went into overdrive.

They distorted the facts, argued the town was controlled by Hamas “terrorists” and said the Mayor of Bethlehem, Christian Dr Victor Batarseh, supported a militant group and should not be allowed into the country.

CEO of the Jewish Board of Deputies in New South Wales, Vic Alhadeff, peddled the usual tripe about Australian funds potentially “supporting terrorism”. The real agenda of Alhadeff and other Jewish leaders was to smear a Palestinian moderate who dares to challenge a brutal Israeli military occupation that is strangulating the holy city.

A five-person delegation arrived from Bethlehem this week after Australian officials in Israel delayed issuing visas until the last minute.

Crikey has been told that Jewish leaders had actively lobbied Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to not provide the visas and even Minister for the Environment Malcolm Turnbull pressured Andrews to delay making any decision (Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, according to the 2006 Census, now contains the greatest number of Jews in the country).

One of the organisers of the visit told me he’d written to Andrews politely but firmly asking if only “Muslim-bashers like Wafa Sultan” were allowed into the country.

Despite the fear that the delegation would “adversely affect” the local Jewish community – who knew that hearing inconvenient truths could so upset the delicate Jewish sensibility? – Australia appears to have survived the onslaught (though the Mayor had to face a hostile ABC PM interview a few nights ago, host Mark Colvin demanding that he condemn “terrorism”.)

Last night at Sydney University, the Mayor spoke to a large crowd alongside Palestinian writer Randa Abdul-Fattah and myself.

Dr Batarseh said he accepted the concept of a two-state solution, but wondered why the international community demanded the Palestinians recognise Israel when successive Israeli governments had never accepted the right of the Palestinians to live in an unoccupied land, as settlement expansion continued daily.

He told of the “apartheid” wall and its envelopment of Bethlehem, the devastation of Palestinian olive groves, the 60-65% unemployment rate, the fall in essential tourism and his desire to see peace between both peoples.

A dignified man with grey hair, the Mayor reiterated the necessary refrain that criticism of Israeli policies is not anti-Semitism.

If the Zionist establishment truly believes in peace, they should be welcoming the Bethlehem delegation as a necessary bridge between the warring sides.

one comment ↪

Who exactly is the destabilising force in the Middle East?

George Bush gave one of his less coherent, but nonetheless more disturbing speeches this week, and virtually declared war on Iran.

President Bush gave warning last night that Iran’s pursuit of the atomic bomb could lead to a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East, and promised to confront Tehran “before it is too late”.

What would a Bush speech be without baseless accusation, misleading talking points or outright lies?

“Iran’s pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust. “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, and the United States is rallying friends and allies to isolate Iran’s regime to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.”

So in typical fashion, Bush’s recipe for a region already known for instability and violence is to create more of it. The last time I checked, it was the US that invaded Iraq, not Iran, yet according to Bush, it is Iran that is meddling in Iraq.

And he goes on:

“I will take all actions necessary to protect our troops,” he said. “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

Translation: We are looking for any reason to escalate the hostility with Iran into a reason to bomb their country back to the stone age.

As for a taste of what Washington is planning for Iran, see for yourself what the disturbed minds in Bush’s administration are dreaming up.

no comments – be the first ↪

Our masterstroke

Isn’t liberation a beautiful thing?

More than four million Iraqis have fled their homes because of sectarian violence, the largest population movement in the Middle East since Palestinians left the new state of Israel, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

“An estimated 4.2 million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes, with the monthly rate of displacement climbing to over 60,000 people compared to 50,000 previously,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists.

More than two million Iraqis are displaced within their own country, with around half being uprooted following the February 2006 Samarra bombings, seen as the catalyst for the latest wave of sectarian conflict, the UNHCR said.

Yes, Iran certainly needs the Iraq treatment.

no comments – be the first ↪