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.

Starving the “liberated”

Yet another scoop from Wikileaks:

The U.S. military says it is taking steps to alleviate conditions at the Iraqi-run city jail in Fallujah after recent visitors found a filthy, overcrowded facility where prisoners had to provide their own food. The episode demonstrates how far Iraq’s judicial and penal institutions still have to go under U.S. tutelage before they meet minimally acceptable standards.

Lt. Col. Michael Callanan told United Press International that shortly after an inspection of the jail by the new commander of coalition forces in western Iraq, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, U.S. forces had stepped in to “advise and assist” the Iraqis with the management of the jail.

Callanan, the point man for the U.S. military on rule-of-law issues in Anbar province, which includes Fallujah, told UPI in a phone interview Monday that cash from a special commander’s contingency fund known as CERP was being used to provide food in the jails in Fallujah and in the provincial capital Ramadi.

“They are being fed now,” said Callanan of the prisoners, who until recently had to provide their own food or starve.

Iraqi contractors had been hired to feed “the majority of the prisoners” in both city jails.

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Hating Islam (and being proud of it)

The controversy over Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ film on Islam, Fitna, is not hard to understand. It’s a crude, embarrassingly racist compilation of the most extreme Islamic statements and anti-Semitic rants. The clear attempt is to argue that all Muslims share the al-Qaeda view of the world and want to kill all non-Muslims. Please. It’s about as sophisticated as a weekly rant by a Murdoch columnist who’s just returned from an all-expenses paid trip to Israel.

The short film is worth watching, however (hence my posting of it below.) Wilders has the right to make his film and the right to compare Islam to Nazism. It’s defamatory, false and offensive – and conveniently ignores the many racist outbursts by Jews and Christians – and will only inflame racial tensions. But it’s vital to understand that this virulent strain of Islam-hatred is alive and well in the West:

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A back rub will win this war

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

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The benefits of arse-kissing

Some journalists, in the words of John Pilger, “pretend to be objective while ensuring his or her words remain within the undeclared limits set by authority”.

Two American journalists were central figures in pushing the Bush administration’s case for war against Iraq, erroneously linking al-Qaeda to Saddam.

Of course, their careers have blossomed since 2003.

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How to ditch Washington, part 356

Iraq is falling apart and turning against the American occupation…

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Killing Communists/Islamists, whoever

American tax-dollars at work, finding new ways to kill the enemy, any enemy:

A recently declassified US Army report on the biological effects of non-lethal weapons reveals outlandish plans for “ray gun” devices, which would cause artificial fevers or beam voices into people’s heads.

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A Jewish problem in the Jewish state

The Israeli Left cannot claim to hold much political sway – despite the occasional move such as protesting the influence of the IDF in schools – but the Jewish state is facing a far greater problem these days. Many global Jews simply don’t want to move there anymore. In only a matter of years, Palestinians will outnumber Jews in the entire land:

Founded with the express purpose of “ingathering of the exiles” — but with no more large groups of Jews to save — Israel is facing the end of the era of mass aliyah.

Recent reports that the Jewish Agency for Israel was considering shutting down its flagship aliyah department have prompted discussion about the future of immigration to Israel even as agency officials quickly denied the department was closing.

“Israel cannot throw away the idea of aliyah because it is one of basics of the ideology of having a Jewish state,” said David Raz, a former Jewish Agency emissary abroad. “You have to create a situation that people will want to come, from the element of being together with Jews. But it’s not simple. There is a trickle, but basically from the free world the majority does not want to come.”

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The United States of torture

Since Abu Ghraib first came to the world’s attention in 2004, nearly 300 photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse have been shown to the public. But soon an enormous archive of new material – including more than 1,500 other photos, unredacted court papers and interview transcripts – will be posted online by filmmaker Errol Morris, whose latest documentary “S.O.P.: Standard Operating Procedure” examines the scandal in horrific detail.

Morris says few, if any, members of the public are aware, for example, that children were kept at the prison as hostages, ostensibly in order to make family members talk.

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How to end the war

Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill, Huffington Post, March 26:

“So?”

So said Dick Cheney when asked last week about public opinion being overwhelming against the war in Iraq. “You can’t be blown off course by polls.”

His attitude about the the fact that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq has reached 4,000 displayed similar levels of sympathy. They “voluntarily put on the uniform,” the Vice-President told ABC news.

This brick wall of indifference helps explain the paradox in which we in the anti-war camp find ourselves five years into the occupation of Iraq: anti-war sentiment is as strong as ever, but our movement seems to be dwindling.

Sixty-four per cent of Americans tell pollsters they oppose the war, but you’d never know it from the thin turnout at recent anniversary rallies and vigils.

When asked why they aren’t expressing their anti-war opinions through the anti-war movement, many say they have simply lost faith in the power of protest. They marched against the war before it began, marched on the first, second and third anniversaries. And yet five years on, U.S. leaders are still shrugging: “So?”

There is no question that the Bush administration has proven impervious to public pressure. That’s why it’s time for the anti-war movement to change tactics. We should direct our energy where it can still have an impact: the leading Democratic contenders.

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Burqas, blogs and bombs

My following article appears in today’s ABC Unleashed:

The 1979 Iranian Revolution continues to reverberate around the world.

Iranian-born professor of political science at Reed College, Darius Rejali, recently said that torture was a key “inspiration” for the revolution. “It pulled all the radicals to their side,” he said. “It was a revolution about human rights, not about religion. [Ayatollah] Khomeini rode that bandwagon into power.”

After decades of American meddling, many Iranians remain highly sceptical of Western interference in their internal affairs. It is a message I received constantly during my visit last year.

Even the so-called reformists, hailed in the West as an alternative to fundamentalist rule, believe in shunning contact with Israel, pursuing a nuclear program and maintaining a strictly Islamic nation.

The recent elections delivered a mild rebuke to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the elevation of former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. The unelected Guardian Council disqualified 1700 reformists, but many former Ahmadinejad supporters have also started to publicly criticise his economic plans that have led to skyrocketing inflation.

His inflammatory rhetoric against America and Israel has resulted in economic sanctions that hurt average citizens. His electoral base is starting to rebel. However, a recent poll by an organisation backed by Republican presidential nominee John McCain, found the opposite, with many Iranians still supportive of Ahmadinejad’s policies.

Mohammad Khoshchehreh, a former confidante of Ahmadinejad who now calls himself a “principalist”, says that he worries the President’s failed policies might leave people disappointed with religion. “The failure of the government would make the system pay the price, and society will move towards secularism,” he warned.

Many young voters expressed disillusionment with the election process. “What is the point of voting in an election when the result is known in advance?”, one man said in the south of Tehran. Women have suffered disproportionately under Ahmadinejad’s regime, at once determined to express their independence in public but forced to maintain a modicum of conservatism to appease the predominantly male clerics.

I saw house parties in Iran that revealed the hedonism familiar in the West. A hostess at an underground party told The Guardian her life was a constant juggling act. “The question of public and private is the only real issue of interest in Iran today,” she said. “For me the public space is surrounded by four walls. It is only here – in private – that I’m free.”

Despite risking arrest, hundreds of students protested at Shiraz University in early March against “gender apartheid”. Authorities had insisted on separating men and women in different classrooms.

Bloggers led the coverage after the event, highlighting the bravery of the students who chanted: “The university is not a military base.” International Women’s Day on March 8 was also an opportunity for bloggers to lament the freedoms they have lost since the 1979 Revolution.

The Iranian Culture Ministry continues to demonstrate its determination to transform Iran into a monochrome landscape. It recently shut down a handful of lifestyle magazines covering the life of “corrupt” foreign film stars. The ministry said its actions were against publications that used “photos of artists… as instruments (to arouse desire), publishing details about their decadent private lives, propagating medicines without authorisation, promoting superstitions.”

Ahmadinejad’s rise has mirrored the trajectory of America’s neo-conservatives. In a compelling new book, Iran and the Rise of the Neoconservatives, authors Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Mahjoob Zweiri argue that both groups eschew complexity for a simplistic perspective of “good” and “evil”. The results speak for themselves.

The fear of a military strike against the Islamic Republic, conducted by America or Israel, remains real but less likely in the short term. The unspoken truth about Iran’s consolidation of regional successes since the disastrous Iraq war is its challenge to the Jewish state’s hegemony. Washington refuses to tolerate such an offence.

I found Iran utterly removed from its belligerent image in the West. Extremism undoubtedly lives and breathes in the country, but a robust blogosphere, Western-friendly youth and rebellious art scene refuses easy classification.

A proud people deserve better than living under the threat of a permanent threat of war by the world’s only super-power and its Jewish client state.

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News we’d like to see

Chinese Rockers Hold Benefit For Oppression.

Local Motorist Urged To Free Tibet.

New Hallmark Line Addresses Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

U.S. Finishes A ‘Strong Second’ In Iraq War.

New Bomb Capable Of Creating 1,500 New Terrorists In Single Blast.

Chinese Factory Worker Can’t Believe The Shit He Makes For Americans.

Homoerotic Overtones Enliven NRA Meeting.

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Beijing beware

International PEN is a group of global writers dedicated to human rights for other writers less fortunate than us. I am a Sydney member.

Its latest campaign is dedicated to highlighting the issues relating to the upcoming Beijing Olympics:

The poem ‘June’ by imprisoned Chinese poet and journalist Shi Tao is relaying around the world, country to country, language to language, until it reaches Beijing for the Olympics in August.

PEN Centres around the world have translated ‘June’ to over 60 (and counting) of the world’s languages.

When the poem arrives at a new location, you can read and hear a new translation.

The PEN Poem Relay begins in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, the poet Shi Tao’s hometown. On March 30, the poem arrives at Greek PEN Centre (at the same time the Olympic Torch arrives in Panathinaiko Stadium in Greece).

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