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.

The price of reporting

Elite media concerns:

Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, tonight issued a stark warning that the supply of reliable news reporting is dwindling despite the internet-driven worldwide information explosion.

Delivering this year’s Hugo Young memorial lecture to an audience at Chatham House in London, Keller said that the gravest danger to the future of newspapers was not political pressure, nor the “acid rain” of criticism from the blogosphere or new technology upending the business model.

“It is a loss of faith, a failure of resolve on the part of the people who make newspapers.”

Keller said bloggers, internet search engines and satirical talk shows had blossomed across the world but could never replace reporting.

The price of real reporting:

At least 171 journalists and other news media staff have died as a result of their work around the world so far this year, making 2007 the bloodiest year on record for the industry.

With more than a month still to go before the end of the year, the all-time high of 168 deaths recorded in 2006 was exceeded on Tuesday when at least three editorial staff were killed in Sri Lanka during a military air strike on a radio station.

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Getting comfortable with occupation

Juan Cole offers some advice to Republican presidential nominee John McCain:

McCain also repeated his standard lie that Iraqis would attack the United States if US troops were withdrawn from that country. He contrasted the Vietnamese Communists, who, he said, just wanted to build their workers’ utopia in Vietnam once the US left, with Iraqis, who he continues to confuse with Usamah Bin Laden (a Saudi living far from Iraq who never had anything to do with Iraq).

Of course, back in the early 1970s, if you had asked McCain, he would have said we have to fight the Vietnamese because of the Domino effect, and if we lost there then International Communism would be in our living rooms. Now, he says the Vietnamese Communists weren’t expansionist at all, and just wanted socialism in one country.

So then, John, if that was true and there was never any danger of a domino effect, why did we sacrifice 58,000 US lives and kill a million to two million Vietnamese peasants? You just admitted we weren’t in any danger from them, even if they defeated us.

It’s now tragically clear that the Americans will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future (as was the plan all along.)

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We like to remain blind

The US State Department releases a weekly report on “progress” in Iraq.

Their primary sources of information?

The mainstream media.

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A little too late

Guess who allegedly said this?

“I know what its like to hear that you can’t use a certain road, or pass through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I know what it is like to feel discriminated against and powerless.”

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Real solutions (avoided)

Naomi Klein, The Nation, December 17:

Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. “I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant,” he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, “I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy.”

Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons.

This observation–coming from an executive trusted by such clients as Goldman Sachs and Marsh & McLennan–deserves particular attention in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali at the beginning of December. There, world environment ministers are supposed to come up with the global pact that will replace Kyoto.

The Bush Administration, still roadblocking firm caps on emissions, wants to let the market solve the crisis. “We’re on the threshold of dramatic technological breakthroughs,” Bush assured the world last January, adding, “We’ll leave it to the market to decide the mix of fuels that most effectively and efficiently meet this goal.”

The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.

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Jews wanting to only talk to other Jews

Zionist organisations aren’t too fond of open debate. Indeed, dissent is shunned, especially on issues related to Israel/Palestine. So this latest, local news is both tragic (and utterly predictable):

Making the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) the pre-eminent voice of the Jewish community is Robert Goot’s main aim, the new president told delegates at the governing body’s annual conference.

Addressing the Melbourne conference, ahead of the ECAJ’s rotation to Sydney, Goot said measures, such as a chief executive officer and a permanent office in Canberra, would also place the Jewish umbrella organisation on a more professional footing.

Goot proposed “a four-way accommodation” between the ECAJ, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) and the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) over responsibilities in communication and advocacy to the wider Australian community.

He said AIJAC, the ADC and ZFA “without reference to the ECAJ have made representations to government, the media and organisations outside the Jewish community on matters of policy that concern the whole of Australian Jewry … mixed messages are being conveyed … there is confusion inside and outside the Jewish community”.

Goot said he was not trying to exclude organisations from making statements, but called for cooperation between the four bodies.

This is really just code for telling Jews who may disagree, even other Zionist organisations, that there should only be one major Jewish voice heard in the wider community. Doesn’t that show a great confidence in democracy?

Then this:

Goot wants the ECAJ to be on guard against rising antisemitism and “the ascendancy of anti-Israel views”, such as those seen in Europe, Canada and New Zealand.

It also needs to be concerned about “a small, but growing number of Australian Jews working in the media and academic institutions [who] have succumbed to intense peer group pressure and become mouthpieces for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments”. Goot nominated Independent Australian Jewish Voices as an example.

As a co-founder of IAJV, a few words are required. If Goot or any other Zionist leader thinks that Jews who disagree with the fundamentalist, non-questioning line towards Israel are only doing so because of “intense peer group pressure”, then they need to get out more and away from their local synagogue. A growing number of Jews won’t be silenced or intimidated by calls for solidarity with the Jewish community. Some Jewish groups seem to also think that with better PR, Israel’s problems in the public domain will be solved. Maybe it’s worth looking at the Jewish state’s immoral actions?

In fact, many in IAJV have specifically told us that the organised Jewish community, with its complete obedience to the racist, Zionist agenda, is turning them away. They want debate. And they want to know why Israel has become an apartheid state, ruling over an occupied people for decades (even the Israeli Prime Minister realises that time is running out on the so-called two-state solution. In fact, the facts on the ground already make it an impossibility.)

IAJV has big plans for 2008. And keeping the Zionist hierarchy happy is at the bottom of our list.

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Learning the rules of the game

A discussion of the role of an economic hit-man, from the source himself, author and activist John Perkins:

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Vandals seek help

Hands up who wants to pimp out their “independent” blog?

Executives at large oil companies often say that the U.S. public — unnerved by high gasoline prices — does not understand or appreciate how expensive it is to keep the nation’s engines running.

And now in a first, two big energy companies and the American Petroleum Institute (API), the U.S. oil industry’s main lobbying group, have reached out to a conservative band of bloggers to tell their story.

“We recognize here that there are many different channels of communications that exist today,” Jane Van Ryan, new media advisor at API, said. “We’ve been looking into the blogosphere for the last several months, and there were a few people who seemed to be a little more knowledgeable about oil and gas.”

Van Ryan noted that the bloggers chosen “have not been particularly critical of the industry.”

On two separate trips this month, API has paid for seven bloggers to travel to Houston, Corpus Christi and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico to learn about the industry and tour facilities operated by Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

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No occupation here

Jeff Halper, Counterpunch, November 28:

One may well think that the struggle inside the Jewish community of Israel is between those of the political right, who want to maintain the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank so as to “redeem” the Greater Land of Israel as a Jewish country, and those of the left who seek a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are thus willing to relinquish enough of the “territories”, if not all, in order that a viable Palestinian state may emerge.

This is not really the case. Polls and the make-up of the Israeli government suggest that perhaps a quarter of Israeli Jews fall into the first group, the die-hards, while not more than 10 per cent support a full withdrawal from the occupied territories. (Virtually no Israeli Jews use the term “occupation,” which Israel denies it has.) The vast majority of Israeli Jews, stretching from the liberal Meretz party through Labour, Kadima and into the “liberal” wing of the Likud, excepting only the religious parties and the extreme right-wing led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current minister of strategic affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel’s “facts on the ground”, the Arabs (as we [Israelis] call the Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini-state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

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Banning “bad” thoughts

The land of the free?

With overwhelming bipartisan support, Rep. Jane Harman’s “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” passed the House 404-6 late last month and now rests in Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee. Swift Senate passage appears certain.

Not since the “Patriot Act” of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Ms. Harman, a California Democrat, thinks it likely that the United States will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence.

But her plan is a greater danger to us than the threats she fears. Her bill tramples constitutional rights by creating a commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission labels “homegrown terrorism.”

Ms. Harman’s proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with “access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda,” and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. The misnamed “Center of Excellence,” which would function after the commission is disbanded in 18 months, gives the semblance of intellectual research to what is otherwise the suppression of dissent.

Such an affront to democracy should be thoroughly debated in the public domain. Instead, most mainstream journalists are little better than stenographers.

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Google avoids torture

Google’s YouTube has become an essential tool around the world in displaying unheralded truths.

But the group has now removed many videos featuring Egyptian policemen torturing victims.

The Egyptian blogsosphere has reacted with outrage.

“This is by far the biggest blow to the anti-torture movement in Egypt,” one said.

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Neo-con Ledeen praises Howard as “arguably the greatest Western leader of the past decade”

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

Michael Ledeen is a key figure in the neo-con firmament, a man whose ideas about the Arab world have been thoroughly proven false time and time again. It therefore makes sense that Australia’s leading Zionist lobby, AIJAC, has invited him here on a speaking tour to discuss his latest book, The Iranian Time Bomb (about a country he admits to never having visited).

AIJAC wholeheartedly backed the Iraq invasion and occupation and now advocates a military option against the Islamic Republic, both in the name of protecting the Jewish state.

In 2002, Ledeen argued in National Review Online of the “desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters”. To support the invasion, Ledeen wrote “that Saddam is actively supporting al Qaeda, and Abu Nidal, and Hezbollah.” His wish? “One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today.”

Ledeen now regularly claims he never supported the invasion, an outright falsehood as easy to prove as using Google.

Ledeen – praising John Howard last weekend as the “arguably the greatest Western leader of the past decade” – spoke last night at the Sydney Institute and outlined, in his deceptively calm manner, why Iran is the “centre of world terrorism” and has backed al-Qaeda since the mid 1990s, supports Hizbollah which, he claims, has killed more people in its history than al-Qaeda and how internal dissent is always brutally punished (he must have conveniently missed the thriving online culture, including attacks against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the vibrant Islamist blogs.)

Iran is undoubtedly a repressive regime – something I discovered myself earlier in the year while researching a forthcoming book about the internet in non-democratic countries – but Ledeen’s suggestion that the “Iranian people want a revolution” to overthrow the Mullahs contradicts the vast evidence that American funding of pro-democracy groups actually hinders the cause of freedom.

Of course, Ledeen probably doesn’t hear these realities when speaking to American Enterprise Institute-funded, Iranian dissidents who want America or Israel to “liberate” the country. Every Iranian I met consistently said they didn’t want another revolution, especially one imported from Washington, but rather gradual reform.

For a man who was personally involved in Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair and allegedly played a role in spreading bogus intelligence before the Iraq war, Ledeen’s credentials as an authority on what Iranians want is negligible. (He even dared to suggest that “in Iraq, living is approaching normal in most of the country.”)

This deluded worldview argues that the Iranians are crazy and utterly incapable of compromise with the West, determined to destroy our way of life with nuclear weapons. In fact, the Mullahs generally act rationally and advocate their self-interest.

The Ledeen doctrine is expressed thus: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”