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.

If they renounce violence, when will you?

Interesting analysis from the MEC Analytical Group about Britain, Hamas and Hizbollah:

There are indications of some flexibility in British policy towards Hamas and Hizbullah. On 21 May the Foreign Secretary David Miliband made a speech at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (text here) in which he called for “a coalition of consent” between the West and the Muslim world. “When it comes to Hamas,” he said “no one disputes that they won the most seats. We are not claiming that their election was ‘illegitimate’. We are saying the failure to embrace a political process towards a two-state solution makes normal political relations impossible.”

On 24 May he went a bit further in an interview with the Saudi owned newspaper al-Hayat. This interview has received widespread comment in the region and elsewhere. No English text appears to be available, e.g. on the FCO website or the al-Hayat English-language website. Perhaps as a result it has been misrepresented. For example, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, visiting Damascus on 24 May, was asked to comment on what the questioner described as Miliband’s declaration that “it is time to end Hamas’s isolation and to resume dialogue.” Lavrov replied “I can say that it is better late than never. This should have been done much earlier, back in 2006, when Hamas won in the elections that were recognized as democratic, free and fair. But for reasons of political bias the leadership of western countries did not recognize the Hamas government. It was then that the causes of the crisis arose that we continue to watch around the Gaza Strip. I am convinced that in any conflict it is necessary to involve, rather than isolate all influential parties. This holds for Hamas and for Hezbollah and for Syria.”

We circulate below our own translation of Miliband’s interview (the Arabic text is available here).

Miliband to al-Hayat: Hamas is not Al Qa’ida: we urge armed groups to repudiate violence

Saturday 24 May 2009, Kamil al-Tawil

The British Foreign Secretary David Miliband set out in an interview with al-Hayat the objectives of his new plan for cooperation with the Islamic world which he launched last Thursday at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. He said that he wanted really to address the groups which use violence, to call on them to repudiate it and enter the political process.

Miliband expressed regrets for the errors which had been committed following the attacks of the Al Qaeda organisation in the United States on 11 September 2001. He said that measures taken to combat terrorism had been judged on the basis that they were against Islam. He said that he had been wrong when he spoke about the Islamic world on the basis that it consisted of moderates and extremists, adding that the Islamic world was too large to be encompassed by this division.

He said that another mistake made by the West was to place the Islamic groups which had national objectives within the same framework as Al Qaeda with its world Islamic programme. He explained that the Taliban movement for example was considered as like Al Qaeda, although it was really a number of groups of Pashtun tribes on the Afghan/Pakistan border with purely local aims, whereas Al Qaeda had its world Islamic programme. He said that the Hamas movement in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon could both also be placed within the framework of groups which had a national aim, as he had stated in his speech at Oxford University. He explained, “although there are things in the Hamas constitution which raise question marks about the limits within which its aspirations are contained, it is clear that Hamas is not the same thing as Al Qaeda.”

On Hizbullah he said “our position was always and up to 2005, the date of the assassination of (former prime minister Rafiq) al-Hariri, that we engage in dialogue with Members of Parliament of Hizbullah, and that ceased after the assassination of al-Hariri. The military wing of Hizbullah remains described as a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom.but we agreed to resume talking to Hizbullah Members of Parliament, partly because Hizbullah has a minister in the Lebanese government which is committed to the Arab peace operation. The result was a single meeting which took place between us and Hizbullah attended by our ambassador at one meeting at which a Hizbullah Member of Parliament was present. The outcome now is that Hizbullah is insisting that at any meeting which takes place with us they should photograph our ambassador, and we refuse to allow the photograph to become part of the election campaign in Lebanon. Therefore meetings will not take place. The Lebanese are the ones to decide on their elections and we will not allow ourselves to intervene in them.

He adds “I want to say to those groups which have militias: stop armed action and commit to political activity. We want people to be respected because of their opinions in the framework of political activity. You can not be half in the framework of political activity and the ballot box, and half outside it with a gun in your hand.”

Miliband acknowledges that the question of Iraq was one of the points of misunderstanding between the Arab world and the Western world but he declares without hesitation “We have said that the peace building operation in Iraq did not proceed as it was supposed to. But I don’t want to look backwards, rather to look to the future. In order to look to the future I must be aware of history. That is what I tried to reflect in my speech. But if we allow ourselves to remain stuck in the past we will achieve nothing.”

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Negating their history

Ahmad Samih Khalidi writes in the Guardian that the Palestinian leadership should be very wary to accept Israeli terms:

The fact is that the demand to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state is meant less to block the prospects of being swamped by Arabs – as Israeli propagandists claim – and more as a ­covert attempt to wrest Palestinian absolution for Israel’s “original sin” in taking over their homeland.

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If only they cared about the Arabs

The recently deceased Israeli writer Amos Elon wrote the following passage in 1967, a fascinating insight into where his country was already headed:

Had they [Palestine’s Arabs] agreed in 1919, not to turn Palestine into “the” Jewish homeland, but to incorporate “a” national home for the Jews, as stipulated by the Balfour Declaration, a Jewish minority, moderate in size, probably would in time have been absorbed into an Arab-Palestinian state. Had the Arabs not rejected British proposals for a Palestine Legislative Council a few years later, the Jews would have at best emerged a minority within the general Arab framework, similar perhaps to the Maronites in Lebanon….If, if, if. On the other hand, had Israel after 1949 been more sensitive to the fate of the Palestinian refugees—had it permitted more to come back or compensated the rest for their abandoned property rather than allow the neighboring states to exploit the problem for political ends—perhaps some of the intense hatred of Israel that prevails among the Arab masses and ties the hands of more moderate leaders would slowly have abated…

More than 40 years later, the idea of Greater Israel has become its deathknell.

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What’s a few illegal wars here and there?

Zionist stenographer Jeffrey Goldberg tries to reassure a worried world:

If Israel does strike Iran, it would bomb military targets while trying to minimize civilian casualties.

Goldberg backed the US-led invasion of Iraq. His predictions then were almost criminally inaccurate.

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Forgetting that Israel is an occupier

Jewish anti-Zionist writer Shraga Elam emails just the latest example of mainstream Israeli racism:

On 26.5.2009 “Channel 2” cameras photographed Betar players among them the star Amit Ben Shoshan singing very happily after they won the Israeli cup a song popular among their fans. A song that goes like this:

What’s Salim doing here?

Don’t you know?

What’s going on here I ask?

Everywhere I hear that this is the land of Israel

Toama, this is the land of Israel

This Is The Land Of Israel, Toama

This Is The Jewish State

I hate you Salim Toama!

I hate all Arabs!

Salim Toama is an Arab soccer player with a Israeli citizenship who plays in the Israeli national team and is now making his living in Belgium by Standard Liège.

The International Football Federation (FIFA), in accordance with its anti-racism campaign should ban Betar and the involved players from participating in any international activities. This is not the first report on Betar racism. This club and especially its fans are considered to be the most racist in Israel.

If that wasn’t convincing enough, how about this?

The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa shut down the concentration in accounting within its Department of Business Administration because a majority of the students applying were Palestinian citizens of Israel. This was revealed in a news item reported on Israeli news Channel 10 on 24 May (in Hebrew only).

Instead, we have to suffer New York Times editorials telling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas how to run his affairs in the West Bank, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is loathed by many Palestinians. When was the last time a Western news outlet demanded Israel end incitement against Arabs?

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Keeping the world focused on Sri Lanka

In early March a Sri Lankan Crisis Statement was circulated and signed by a host of Australians to highlight the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

An updated statement has now been released:

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka now affecting more than 300,000 people, according to United Nations (UN) estimates.

We call on the Government of Australia to demand the Government of Sri Lanka immediately:

a) give the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross, non-governmental organisations and all local and international media unrestricted access to the Tamil civilians trapped in the former war zone and those indefinitely confined in detention camps for internally displaced people;

b) treat all members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), former members, suspected combatants, non-combatant cadres and their families according to international law, including the Geneva Conventions, which have been ratified by the Government of Sri Lanka and allow independent international monitors to be part of the Government of Sri Lanka’s screening process;

c) release the over 300,000 Tamils from government controlled concentration camps and allow them to return to their homes;

d) release the three doctors – Dr. T. Varatharajah, Dr. T. Sathyamurthi and Dr. V. Shanmugarajah – who treated hundreds of severely wounded civilians in understaffed makeshift hospitals in the country’s war zones;

e) release journalist Mr. J.S. Tissainayagam detained without charges by the Sri Lankan government since March 7th 2008.

We strongly urge the Government of Australia to support the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s calls for an international independent investigation into alleged war crimes by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE.

Furthermore, we recognise the Tamils in Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

We acknowledge that all people, including the Tamils, have the right to self-determination and must freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

We urge the international community to support and facilitate a political solution that addresses the self-determination aspirations of Tamils and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.

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We have rules and you should not break them

Don’t believe, writes The Nation’s Roane Carey, that Israel’s press is fair and dissent in society is truly accepted:

And as for being an open, fully democratic state, most people I talk to speak of a chilling of dissent in recent years, running in parallel with the election of increasingly right-wing governments. The nadir came during the recent Gaza “war.” I’ve seen a microcosm of this myself here in Beer-Sheva, at Ben-Gurion University. A few days ago, Noah Slor, who is in the graduate program in BGU’s department of Middle Eastern studies, was arrested by police at the request of campus security and detained for several hours for quietly handing out leaflets opposing a bill now before the Knesset that would make it a criminal offense to commemorate Nakba Day (the day in May when Palestinians mourn the catastrophe of their dispossession and expulsion, which for Jews is a celebration of independence). She was doing this in a spot right outside the main campus gate, where students traditionally hand out everything from party announcements to information about political rallies, with never a bother from security.

Student activists and professors attest to a pattern of politically motivated harassment by campus security. Indeed, Slor, an activist with Darom le Shalom (the South for Peace), a recently formed group of Arabs and Jews in the Beer-Sheva area who “struggle against racism and for equality and coexistence between Arabs and Jews,” told me that at the time of her arrest, a security officer told her, “Listen, don’t pretend you’re so naïve–I’ve seen you in past demonstrations. Everything is recorded and written, everything is documented.” She can’t prove it, but she’s convinced security went after her because she was protesting the Nakba Day legislation; “that was the subtext,” she told me.

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What next, banning Palestinians from breathing?

Jewish American blogger Richard Silverstein says it right:

The Israeli Supreme Court, that toothless wonder when it comes to confronting the national security state, has permitted the state intelligence apparatus to throw up an entirely new set of non-security criteria in order to prevent Palestinians from studying at Israeli universities.

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How to be a whore for your country

On the long flight from Sydney to New York, I read this fascinating 1977 article by Carl Bernstein, published in Rolling Stone, about the relationship during the Cold War between the CIA and the media. The New York Times, Time Inc, CBS and ABC are all implicated. He writes:

The CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress. The general outlines of what happened are indisputable; the specifics are harder to come by. CIA sources hint that a particular journalist was trafficking all over Eastern Europe for the Agency; the journalist says no, he just had lunch with the station chief. CIA sources say flatly that a well‑known ABC correspondent worked for the Agency through 1973; they refuse to identify him. A high‑level CIA official with a prodigious memory says that the New York Times provided cover for about ten CIA operatives between 1950 and 1966; he does not know who they were, or who in the newspaper’s management made the arrangements.

The Agency’s special relationships with the so‑called “majors” in publishing and broadcasting enabled the CIA to post some of its most valuable operatives abroad without exposure for more than two decades. In most instances, Agency files show, officials at the highest levels of the CIA usually director or deputy director) dealt personally with a single designated individual in the top management of the cooperating news organization. The aid furnished often took two forms: providing jobs and credentials “journalistic cover” in Agency parlance) for CIA operatives about to be posted in foreign capitals; and lending the Agency the undercover services of reporters already on staff, including some of the best‑known correspondents in the business.

In the field, journalists were used to help recruit and handle foreigners as agents; to acquire and evaluate information, and to plant false information with officials of foreign governments. Many signed secrecy agreements, pledging never to divulge anything about their dealings with the Agency; some signed employment contracts., some were assigned case officers and treated with. unusual deference. Others had less structured relationships with the Agency, even though they performed similar tasks: they were briefed by CIA personnel before trips abroad, debriefed afterward, and used as intermediaries with foreign agents. Appropriately, the CIA uses the term “reporting” to describe much of what cooperating journalists did for the Agency. “We would ask them, ‘Will you do us a favor?’”.said a senior CIA official. “‘We understand you’re going to be in Yugoslavia. Have they paved all the streets? Where did you see planes? Were there any signs of military presence? How many Soviets did you see? If you happen to meet a Soviet, get his name and spell it right …. Can you set up a meeting for is? Or relay a message?’” Many CIA officials regarded these helpful journalists as operatives; the journalists tended to see themselves as trusted friends of the Agency who performed occasional favors—usually without pay—in the national interest.

There is no reason to believe that such shameful relationships ceased in the 1970s. There are countless journalists and commentators in the US, Australia and other Western nations who clearly remain close to the intelligence services, and some are probably colluding with them.

The public has a right to know. Some naming and shaming could be in order.

Something to be investigated.

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Will Zionism be truly able to stop itself?

The Obama administration is allegedly giving the Israeli government a headache over its insistence that all settlement building in the West Bank must stop. No ifs, no buts and no exceptions.

Strong words, to be sure, but the Israeli political elite doesn’t seem to be listening:

The most surprising speaker at the conference [in Israel last week] was Netanyahu’s former bureau chief, Uri Elitzur, who said that the best possible option was the annexation of the entire West Bank, making all the Palestinians living there Israeli citizens. He said he recognized the danger of Israel’s eventually becoming a binational state, but it was preferable to withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, or continuing the current situation.

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The conflict the world forgot

A report from inside one of the most troubled nations on earth, Somalia.

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Repeating bad actions time and time again

This story – Israeli commandos killed a senior Hamas militant in the West Bank on Thursday – led an American colleague to make the following observations:

It is a classic Israeli technique to respond to uncomfortable political situations (such as the current moment of too much talk of a “peace process” and of “two states”) to foment some violence on the part of the Palestinians, who usually (unfortunately) are happy to accommodate.
Here’s how it works. When the Israels want to change the subject and move into “there’s no partner” mode, they do an incursion of one sort or another in the West Bank or Gaza, as Ehud Barak did in Gaza in early November to begin to undermine the cease-fire with Hamas. They count (correctly) on little notice being taken of their aggression in the West, so that when the Palestinians respond (say, by violating the cease-fire by shooting Qassam rockets from Gaza, as happened last November/December), it is the Palestinians who are deemed the bad guys.
If you’re initially perplexed at why the Israelis absolutely had to do this assassination at precisely this moment and you conclude that their goal is not really to kill another Palestinian “terrorist” but rather is to change the subject and also make the point to Obama that the Palestinians are bad, then you’ve become a true student of the conflict. Go to the head of the class.
Now, do I think that Hamas would do itself and the Palestinian people a big favor by not responding violently? Yes, I do. But let’s keep our eyes on the ball and watch how this plays out.
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