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 blogging revolution, part 5432

Citizen media – or networked journalism, a much better term – has revolutionised the media environment. Numerous citizens from the world can now better engage with their environment thanks to the internet. Rising Voices is a project to help this along. The latest recipients are fascinating. Take one:

Shaghayegh Azimi and fellow veteran Iranian videobloggers will partner with the Tehran-based Young Cinema Society to identify aspiring young filmmakers and teach them the skills to both produce compelling short videos and publish them online. In her proposal Shaghayegh writes, “the two most important goals we hope to accomplish are 1) to introduce and inspire Iranian youth of underrepresented communities to engage in interaction with the global online community and especially the videoblogging community and 2) to educate and inspire tolerance of Iran through human stories.” You can see examples of Shaghayegh’s previous work on PBS’s Frontline/World website.

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Kill Arabs, work for the Times

Want to be a New York Times columnist?

Embrace endless war, hate Arabs, fellate Israel, never apologise for issuing countless bogus accounts about Iraq, the terror “threat’ and WMDs.

William Kristol, welcome to your new gig.

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Iraq, from outside the Green Zone

At the end of another year, the mainstream narrative around Iraq is that the American mission is nearing success. If one simply relies on military press releases, this would be the truth. But the reality, of course, is far different. Dahr Jamail explains:

Despite all the claims of improvements, 2007 has been the worst year yet in Iraq.

One of the first big moves this year was the launch of a troop “surge” by the U.S. government in mid-February. The goal was to improve security in Baghdad and the western al-Anbar province, the two most violent areas. By June, an additional 28,000 troops had been deployed to Iraq, bringing the total number up to more than 160,000.

By autumn, there were over 175,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. This is the highest number of U.S. troops deployed yet, and while the U.S. government continues to talk of withdrawing some, the numbers on the ground appear to contradict these promises.

The Bush administration said the “surge” was also aimed at curbing sectarian killings, and to gain time for political reform for the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.

Iraq has a population around 25 million.

The non-governmental organisation Refugees International describes Iraq’s refugee problem as “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.”

And The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn:

The Americans suffer from a similar problem in central Iraq. Outside Kurdistan, it is difficult to find an Iraqi who supports the US occupation for more than tactical reasons. Seldom mentioned, for obvious reasons, is the one recent anti-guerrilla war which has many similarities to that being fought by America in Iraq. This is Russia’s successful re-conquest of Chechnya between 1999 and the present.

In a similar way to al-Qa’ida in Iraq, the Islamic fundamentalists in Chechnya, invariably called Wahabi, played an increasingly central role in the armed resistance to the Russian occupation. But the savagery of their fighters alienated many anti-Russian Chechens and eventually split the insurgency. I remember being astonished that Chechen human rights workers, who usually denounced Russian atrocities to me, were prepared to co-operate with the Russian army to attack the Wahabi. Often their motive was a blood feud against a Wahabi commander who had killed their relatives.

The parallels between Iraq and Chechnya should not be carried too far. The US has effectively raised a Sunni militia force which may soon total 100,000 men, many of them former insurgents. They are armed and paid for by the US, but regard the Shia-Kurdish government with deep suspicion. Many Sunni commanders speak of taking on the Shia militia, the Mehdi army, which has been stood down by its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.

It is a bizarre situation. One experienced Iraqi politician told me that al-Qa’ida in Iraq, which never had much connection with Osama bin Laden’s organisation, had effectively split last year. A sign of this was when somebody betrayed the location of its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to the US military, which bombed his hideout and killed him. Some of the so-called “Concerned Citizens” militiamen now on the US payroll are former al-Qa’ida fighters, though the US is still holding hundreds of men in Guantanamo, accusing them of being associates of al-Qa’ida.

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The real Bhutto

Robert Fisk, The Independent, December 29:

Weird, isn’t it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were “extremists” and “terrorists”. Well, you can’t dispute that.

But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa’ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy – and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr – it’s not surprising that the “good-versus-evil” donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.

Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight – which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.

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Permission not required

I’ve called Israel many things over the years – rogue state, racist outpost etc – but this may take the prize:

Israelis are known for being direct and blunt. But comments made by David Landau, editor of the Israeli daily, Haaretz, to Condoleezza Rice about Israel needing to be “raped” by the U.S. to achieve a Mideast settlement caused quite a stir among the 20 or so attendees at a confidential briefing with the secretary of state on a recent visit to Israel.
The incident, which took place Sept. 10 at the private residence of America’s ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, has not been fully reported until now. What is contested is not the raw language Landau used but the context of his impassioned comments.

Following Rice’s briefing to the gathered military, academic and media elites at the dinner, the guests offered their views and comments about the Mideast impasse. Landau, who was seated next to Rice, was said to have referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, one in need of a U.S.-imposed settlement. He was said to have implored Rice to intervene, asserting that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would be like a “wet dream” for him to see this happen.
When contacted this week, Landau said the description was “inaccurate” and “a perversion of what I said.” He said his views had been delivered with “much more sophistication.”

But he added: “I did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped — I did use that word — by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.”

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Trampling on Saudi rights

During my recent trip to Saudi Arabia – to research information for my upcoming book on the internet in repressive regimes – I spent time with blogger and activist Fouad Al Farhan, a generous, critical and warm man. He’s now allegedly been arrested for daring to challenge the Washington-backed dictatorship:

Saudi blogger, Fouad Al-Farhan was arrested on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 following a raid on his office by Saudi authorities who did not give any reason for his arrest.

Fuad is considered one of the first Saudi bloggers to use their real name when posting. He dedicated his blog to a frank discussion of the various social and national issues, in a true embodiment of the slogan of his blog: “in search of freedom, dignity, justice, equality, consultation, and the rest of lost Islamic values… for Raghad and Khattab.”

The authorities are believed to be dismayed with Fouad for his support of the “Ten,” the ten Saudi academics who were arrested earlier this year for their alleged involvement in funding terrorism, albeit the charges have yet to verified.

Fouad has been previously harassed by unknown official parties and was forced to shut down his blog between February and June 2007.

More information here.

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Bombing without concern

War crimes aren’t war crimes when carried out by principled Zionists (according to Israeli law):

The Israel Defense Forces will not take legal action against senior officers who were involved in the firing of cluster bombs into populated areas in southern Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War, the Military Advocate General said Monday.

Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit acknowledged that cluster bombs were fired into populated areas, but said that this did not constitute a criminal violation.

Mandelblit also decided against taking any disciplinary action, in part because those involved, including Major General Udi Adam, GOC Northern Command during the war, have retired from the IDF. Mandelblit also said that the IDF shooting was conducted in an effort to stop the continued launch of Katyusha rockets against Israel’s civilian population.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to collectively punish the Gazan population for daring to elect the “wrong” party, Hamas.

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War by committee

Arguably the most essential new site of the year, Wikileaks, reveals yet more secrets from the “war on terror” and Iraq:

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld launched the failed April 2004 assault on the Iraqi town of Fallujah before marines were ready because it had become “a symbol of resistance that dominated international headlines” and similar considerations eventually destroyed the operation — both according to a highly classified U.S. intelligence report into the defeat.

“During the first week of April, insurgents invited a reporter from Al Jazeera, Ahmed Mansour, and his film crew into Fallujah where they filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital, presumably killed by Coalition air strikes. Comparisons were made to the Palestinian Intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning day after day.”

Coalition air strikes were conducted during the three week cease-fire, which was a “bit of a misnomer” and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal contributed to the politically driven final peace settlement. The settlement left Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer “furious”.

By the end of April, 600-700 Iraqis and 18 marines had been killed inside the town with 62 marines killed in the broader operational area and 565 wounded in action.

Fallujah’s defenders were diverse but united to oppose the U.S. offensive. They included former regime soldiers, “nationalists, local Islamic extremists, foreign fighters and criminals” together comprising not so much a military organization, but “an evil Rotary club”.

The revelations come from a highly classified report on the attack released today by the open government group Wikileaks, which has in the past month released a number of sensitive U.S. documents including manuals for Guantanamo Bay, Camp Bucca prison and Department of Defense detainee operations.

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The fall will be slow and sweet

Tony Karon, Rootless Cosmopolitan, December 24:

A year from now, the Bush Administration will be emptying its desks into cardboard boxes and preparing to hand over to its successor. And, it’s a relatively safe bet that the menu of foreign policy crises and challenges it will leave in the in-trays of its successors will be largely unchanged from that facing the Bush Administration today. A combination of the traditional lame-duck effect of the final year of a presidency, and the decline in relative U.S. influence on the global stage — a product both of the calamitous strategic and tactical mistakes by the Bush Administration and of structural shifts in the global political economy that will limit the options available to his successor — suggest that even as he goes scurrying about the Middle East in search of a “legacy,” very little is going to change in the coming year. Indeed, the recurring theme in many of the crises Washington professes to be managing is the extent to which it is being ignored by both friend and foe.

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Sane Jews slapping crazy Jews

William Kristol is a leading neo-conservative, Jewish commentator who advocated the invasion of Iraq and whose ideal Middle East is multiple wars against Islamic “fascists”. He must be disappointed with George W. Bush’s hesitations.

Tragically, the Jewish community has allowed people like Kristol to speak for them on matters of national security, despite the majority of them disagreeing with his war-mongering. It is the job of liberal Jews to stand up and be counted and publicly dismiss the rantings of a man who talks endlessly about war, occupation and liberation, yet has been spectacularly wrong about every aspect of American foreign policy in the Middle East for decades. But liberal Jews first have to accept their own responsibilities for empowering a radical fringe of Jews to positions of influence. This is one of the great challenges facing Judaism over the next years.

So, what would Kristol’s diary look like, as he saluted the bravery of fighting men and women…from his plush mansion?

June 18, 2004
The President included me in a small group of trusted writers for an off-the-record conversation in the Roosevelt Room. I was struck again by his marvellous calm and serenity. It is as if the world’s shrieks of rage die at his feet. He was, as always, certain of victory in Iraq. I told him that the military situation looks far better than the papers are reporting (I heard this at last week’s American Enterprise Institute conference) and the troops are inspired by his strength. Afterward, Rove invited me into his office for a short chat. He wants better co-ordination between the Swift Boats, the campaign, and the Standard. There is something vaguely disturbing about Karl’s chin. Still, I am glad that he’s on our side.

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Violence? What violence?

Bush administration delusions over Iraq, part 6432.

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Stealing dollars through censorship

The debate over Chinese internet censorship is only beginning. The role of Western multinationals operating in a country that forces filtering is both a human rights issue and, according to this group, something more economic:

A California free speech group whose board of directors includes Google and Yahoo said on Monday it had asked U.S. trade officials to challenge China’s Internet restrictions as a violation of global trade rules.

The issue threatens to further strain U.S.-China trade relations if the U.S. Trade Representative’s office decides to take on the case. With China already the world’s second-largest Internet market with over 162 million Web users, the commercial stakes are huge.

“China’s censorship of the Internet, while fundamentally an issue of free speech and individual liberty, is also a significant barrier to U.S.-China commerce, and therefore, very much a trade issue,” Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said in a statement that came as top U.S. officials were in Beijing for economic talks.

“In infringing the rights of its 1.2 billion citizens, China is also infringing the rights of American companies to sell goods and services to consumers in China, via the Internet,” he said.

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