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.

Blame to go around

Gisha, the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, releases a new report on the Rafah Crossing:

A new report on Rafah Crossing and the parties involved in its closure was published today by Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel). The report “Rafah Crossing: Who Holds the Keys?” dispels the fog concerning responsibility for Rafah Crossing, answering the question, who is really responsible for the closure of Rafah Crossing – and therefore for the violation of the rights of Gaza residents.

After almost two years of a nearly hermetic closure and following a military operation which left behind thousands of victims and caused immense destruction, all parties involved continue to deny responsibility and claim that the opening of Rafah Crossing will be resolved through political negotiations. In light of the current political deadlock, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel demand that all the parties controlling Rafah Crossing –  Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Egypt – end this futile political game and take immediate and concrete action to open the crossing. All the parties concerned bear an obligation to rise above their narrow interests and to respect the rights of 1.5 million people being used as pawns in political negotiations.

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Don’t think Obama doesn’t approve pounding Gaza

The latest Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker focuses on the possible warming relationship between Syria and the West. But this paragraph stands out:

The Obama transition team also helped persuade Israel to end the bombing of Gaza and to withdraw its ground troops before the Inauguration. According to the former senior intelligence official, who has access to sensitive information, “Cheney began getting messages from the Israelis about pressure from Obama” when he was President-elect. Cheney, who worked closely with the Israeli leadership in the lead-up to the Gaza war, portrayed Obama to the Israelis as a “pro-Palestinian,” who would not support their efforts (and, in private, disparaged Obama, referring to him at one point as someone who would “never make it in the major leagues”). But the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of “smart bombs” and other high-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel. “It was Jones”—retired Marine General James Jones, at the time designated to be the President’s national-security adviser—“who came up with the solution and told Obama, ‘You just can’t tell the Israelis to get out.’ ” (General Jones said that he could not verify this account; Cheney’s office declined to comment.)

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Everyone is vulnerable

Welcome to the face of 21st century terrorism:

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

More information about the program can be found on one of the researcher’s websites, Nart Villeneuve.

Nart is a wonderful man who helped with research for my book, The Blogging Revolution, especially the role of Western multinationals in China. We met in Budapest during last year’s Global Voices Citizen Media Summit.

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When will the reporters refuse to be bought?

The role of the Australian Zionist lobby starts to get the treatment it deserves in the mainstream media, namely exposure.

But there is a long way to go.

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How to approach the death camps

Are there limits to humour, especially when discussing “Jewish-related themes”? Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of Borat and Bruno, bravely skewers the Holocaust in this clip that mentions Auschwitz. Would a non-Jew even be able to get away with this without being accused of “insensitivity” and “anti-Semitism”?

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Jewish blindness continues

Jawad Harb is a Palestinian living in Rafah, Gaza, with his wife and six children. Harb has worked with CARE since 2002, managing a program supporting women’s centres in Gaza.

It is three months since the first bombs began to fall on Gaza, and I see that this war left much more damaged than just houses. For the past two months, I have been meeting with communities, hearing their experiences, their fears. I realized that it left very deep injuries for these women and families. It changed their life styles, the way they think and live together, where they sleep, how they cope. Everything is changed.

At the meetings, the women started to tell stories. You would be amazed by what the women say how their children behave after the war, their attitudes and behaviour change at home and school. Most women say their children refuse to move alone. They refuse to sleep alone in their own rooms. Children do not go to play outside like they used to do, play football or traditional games, because somebody told them that other children were killed out in an airstrike. So now the children are afraid.

For many Zionists in the US, however, Palestinian suffering doesn’t exist.

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The company Israel keeps

With nationalist demagogues rising to power in both India and Israel, Pankaj Mishra examines the parallel histories of violent partition, ethnic cleansing and militant patriotism that have led both countries into a moral wilderness.

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They’re only soldiers, after all

The echoes with Germany history are disturbing:

Israeli defence officials have been accused of “grave ethical failures'” in testing an experimental anthrax vaccine on hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Several of 716 soldiers who took part in the experiment in the late 1990s have reportedly developed tumours and suffered infections while others have complained of headaches, dizziness, skin, respiratory and digestive problems that they say are related to the vaccine.

The panel of medical and legal experts said in a report obtained by the Associated Press news agency that the soldiers were not properly informed of the possible risks.

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The many kinds of Jews

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the Jewish obsession with Israel. There is an unhealthy ability to defend the worst crimes of the Jewish state simply because many Jews deny they could have happened and then they create an Israel in their minds, a pure state that can really do no wrong. Delusion is another term for this. These people are seemingly incapable of getting past their ethnically-based prejudice.

Another side of Judaism, largely flourishing in the US, is how the religion is shifting in the modern age. A good friend now living in New York wrote to me today saying that during the upcoming Passover he would visit The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. What does this mean? Rabbi Peter Schweitzer from the congregation explained in 2003 about his beliefs. New York magazine from 2008:

On a recent chilly Friday night, a few dozen members of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism were gathered downstairs at the Village Community School on West 10th Street for Shabbat. For them, this is a monthly ritual that includes lighting candles and singing Jewish songs that have been carefully excised of a deity. “Where is my light?” asks the song “Ayfo Oree.” “My light is in me.” According to the congregation’s leader, the humanist rabbi Peter Schweitzer, who wrote much of the secular Shabbat service, as well as the lyrics and verse for the congregation’s life-cycle events like weddings, funerals, and bar and bat mitzvahs, Judaism is mostly a culture—religion is just one component. So he simply takes a red pen to the God parts. “We offer a different door in,” says Schweitzer. “One that doesn’t ask you to compromise your lack of beliefs.”

….

Schweitzer sees Humanistic Judaism as an obvious extension of a North American Jewry that is already highly secular—one that for decades has made “the deli a more significant cultural force than the synagogue.” Many secular Jews continue to feel a strong connection to their cultural roots. “Jews need a place to go, especially during high holidays, where they don’t have to check reason at the door,” he says. “This is honest religion. A real gift.”

Interestingly, according to the JTA, “Humanistic Judaism is a minor presence in Jewish life. Though sometimes called the fifth denomination of American Judaism, the main locus of growth is in Israel.”

The questions remain, however. Do these more liberal beliefs affect the moral compass of Jews when considering Israel? Do they remain silent over a war in, say, Gaza?

How compassionate and realistic are they? The only way to judge even the most liberal of Jewish people is how they respond to a situation such as the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Are they pained? Are they silent? How do their ideas about secular Judaism translate into understanding Palestinian suffering, Zionist oppression and war crimes?

It matters.

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Will Jews raise their voices finally?

The recent J Street survey on American Jews shows a fairly conservative but not neo-conservative worldview. Two-states. More US pressure on both sides. Blah blah blah. Talk is cheap.

But Realistic Dove blog has more:

But the new J Street survey shows something new, something different, something that has gotten no attention: there is a solid bloc of Jews in the U.S. who would support their government if it pressured only Israel.

When revealing this little nugget in their analysis, the pollsters, Gerstein Agne, look at the glass as half-full for supporters of Israel:

“We introduced an additional component to this exercise in this latest survey, and provided half the sample with the language cited above [about U.S. engagement] and provided the other half of the sample with language that focused exclusively on publicly disagreeing with or pressuring just Israel instead of both Israelis and Arabs. [emphasis added by DF].

“Not surprisingly, support for America playing an active role drops off considerably if it means disagreeing only with Israel (support drops 88 to 58 percent) or pressuring only Israel (support drops from 88 to 57 percent). These findings underscore how strongly Jews want the U.S. to assert itself to achieve peace, but also how much more effective it is when America is even-handed and addresses both sides instead of just one side.”

True, but the findings also show that large numbers of American Jews, perhaps even a majority, have moved beyond favoring evenhandedness or honest brokerage. These people are simply in no mood to put up with an Israeli government that takes more steps that will preclude the possibility of a 2-state solution, although the pollsters don’t spell out specific examples of Israeli recalcitrance or military adventurism when testing that proposition.

It doesn’t matter if this represents the sentiments of a majority of Jews in the U.S. It obviously reflects the views of a good many of them. While no doubt some of them have always felt this way, it is likely that these numbers offer more evidence of radicalization and growing alienation from Israel, especially among younger Jewish voters. Will Congress and the Obama team hear from them, and from the larger group that is comfortable with pressure on both sides if and when it is necessary? That remains to be seen.

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How the West was lost

Ex-State Department lawyer: Bush panicked After 9/11, used torture.

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The reality of the slaughter

Kent Klich is a Swedish photographer.

He just spent three weeks in Gaza where he has been working with the fact finders from PCHR.

The result is the “Gaza Photoalbum” about the private interiors of the apartments shelled and shot at during the attack on Gaza from 27 of December til 18 of January:

gaza-photoalbum

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