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.

No entry, says Israel, because you’re Arab

Gideon Levy reminds us in Haaretz that only Israel gets away with discrimination on the basis of being Palestinian:

In no other city is access to holy places restricted according to the believer’s age, as Muslims who seek to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque are restricted.

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The impossibility of truly defining Judaism

Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People:

There were times in Europe when anyone who argued that all Jews belong to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today’s Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jewish hater.

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What if capitalism isn’t the only way, asks Zizek

Electric and fascinating philosopher Slavoj Zizek (seen here deconstructing The Sound of Music) appears on BBC Hard Talk to explain the failures of capitalism:

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America can barely feed its own people

The world’s richest nation starts to collapse from within:

With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.

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America loves you by killing you, argues Thomas Friedman

The New York Times bubble has helped Thomas Friedman for a very long time (like here).

But his latest pronouncement from the mount maybe takes the cake:

Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

Tell the countless Muslims murdered by “liberating” America bombs and missiles that Washington is really out to care for them.


Nothing to see here, just crazy Jews harassing Palestinians

Would the Australian government like to discuss the reality of fundamentalist, Jewish settlers in the West Bank? Of course not:

A West Bank settlement has filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding the demolition of a nearly-complete stadium in the Palestinian city of El Bireh, near Ramallah.

The Psagot settlement and the Regavim advocacy group petitioned the court on November 2 to order the defense minister, GOC Central Command, the IDF’s Civil Administration and police to tear down the El Bireh stadium and three apartment buildings being constructed near the settlement. The court ordered the respondents to answer within 30 days.

The petitioners warned of the possibility that “10,000 inflamed Palestinians would rise up after a soccer game and vent their anger and/or frustration and/or frenzy on nearby Psagot. Suffice it for each one to throw 10 stones at the settlement for Psagot to be under an attack of 100,000 ballista balls.”

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Australia loves Zionist crimes, don’t you know?

Words fail me, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Israel can commit war crimes and Australia will welcome its leaders with welcome arms:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will host a delegation of senior Israeli politicians in Australia this week, including Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.

Mr Rudd will launch the Australia Israel Leadership Forum at a lunch in Sydney on Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard will address the forum in Melbourne next weekend.

The Israeli delegation, comprising 35 prominent political, academic and media figures, will also meet with Australia’s Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens.

Event chairman Albert Dadon – a Melbourne businessman – says the forum aims to foster closer relations between the two countries on matters such as regional security and the environment.


The horrors of Auschwitz by choice

A remarkable British solider in the Second World War, Denis Avey, smuggled himself into Auschwitz so he could tell the world the truth:

Now 91 and living in Derbyshire, he says he wanted to witness what was going on inside and find out the truth about the gas chambers, so he could tell others. He knows he took “a hell of a chance”.

“When you think about it in today’s environment it is ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous,” he says.

“There were nearly three million human beings worked to death in different factories,” says Mr Avey. “They knew at that rate they’d last about five months.

“They very seldom talk about their civil life. They only talked about the situation, the punishments they were getting, the work they were made to do.”

He says he would ask where people he’d met previously had gone and he would be told they’d “gone up the chimney”.

“It was so impersonal. Auschwitz was evil, everything about it was wrong.”

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Jewish settlers are the problem and remain so

BBC journalist Alan Johnston, kidnapped in Gaza in 2007, returns to the Palestinian territories for the first time since his release.

It’s not a pretty picture:

But in the West Bank signs of tension are never far away, if you know where to look.

High on the crest of a hill you could make out what seemed to be a caravan.

It was a tiny Israeli outpost. This is how so many settlements began.

First one, and then before long there might be three or four makeshift buildings up there. This is how – metre-by-metre – the settlers have consolidated their hold on the land Israel occupies.

Earlier in the day, up in one of the settlements, I had sat down in the autumn sunshine with David Ha’ivri.

He was a large man with a thick, dark beard, but at times he was almost softly spoken.

There was no mistaking though the depth of his conviction as he explained the connection he felt with the land around us.

“The hills,” he said, “were the heartland of ancient, biblical Israel.”

Here he walked in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, founding figures in the faith that filled his life.

David saw his presence there as part of his people’s near-miraculous redemption of the land that they lost 2,000 years ago.

And to be part of that destiny, he and his eight children had had to risk the threat of attack by armed Palestinians who have targeted settlers.

“The Arabs,” he said, “simply needed to accept the reality of Israel’s control.”

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Why can’t we build more colonies on Palestinian land, Mummy?

Likud activist:

The Obama regime is anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic; it’s the worst.

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How Middle East partition still kills any chance of peace

The organisation Zochrot are a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe.

They were asked by Israeli news service Ynet last week to write something on the partition plan from 1947. Below is the translated piece of Ariella Azoulay:

The United Nations partition decision of 29 November 1947 was adopted in complete opposition to the desires of the country’s Arab inhabitants who were at least 70% of the population. A not-insignificant number of Jews also opposed the decision. From the moment that the UN decided, the Zionist leadership counted the country’s inhabitants along to the line dividing Jews from Arabs. The position of the Zionist leadership in support of partition and its unconditional justification of using violence to establish the Jewish regime were presented as the Jewish position. Ultra-orthodox Jews, communists, pacifists and those who supported the creation of civil society had no place in the public discourse, and almost no information is available about their struggle. This erasure is also the outcome of the action of the state apparatus as it took over public discourse, the discourse of female and male citizens, and organized the totality of relationships among the country’s inhabitants according the destructive ethnic division between Jews and Arabs.

The Arabs who lived in Palestine for hundreds of years, occupying more than 90 percent of the territory, opposed from the outset the plan to partition their land, and refused to cooperate with the UN bodies that prepared it. The partition plan, therefore, was designed by the UN and the Zionist leadership, which thereby gained recognition as the leadership of the state-in-formation. The country’s Arab inhabitants had little influence, given the line-up of forces: A-(Jewish)-state-in-formation and an organization of states (the UN) supporting it. The new diplomatic, military and political map that was created transformed them into “stateless persons.” The UN decision was a crucial moment in transforming the Arabs from inhabitants of their country into “stateless persons,” even before they became refugees. The state that came into being in their land did not want them, nor was there any other state which did. The reason and rationale behind the opposition of the majority of the country’s inhabitants to the partition plan received almost no attention. In a situation where there was room for only two competing stories, which were presented as if they both sprang from the same initial conditions, their logic  was understood as an example of “irrational policy” or as “their story.” The Palestinians were presented as having missed the opportunity that had been “given to them,” as having made a continuous series of errors – mass flight, hostile action, cooperating with the attack by Arab states. The Jews, on the other hand, were presented as seizing the opportunity presented and knowing how to make the most of it.

Today, 62 years after the Partition Plan divided the residents of the country – Jews and Arabs – from each other, restructuring them into two hostile national entities, the time has come to critically re-examine the calamity to which it led and consider how it might be possible for all the country’s inhabitants – those who immigrated throughout the years and those who were expelled in order to create a state only for some – to create a regime in their own image, the image of a heterogeneous society which will be know how to celebrate its religious and national holidays in private and free the state from the burden of nationality so it can prosper as a civil society.

Ariella Azoulay teaches political philosophy and visual culture at The Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies, Bar Ilan University, the author of Constituent Violence 1947-1950 (Resling, 2009, in hebrew) and The Civil Contract of Photography, Zone Books, 2008.

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The bloated amount required to maintain the US empire

To anybody who clings to the delusion that the US President is a man of peace and group hugs:

“President (Obama) is on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II,” reports National Journal’s Government Executive magazine.

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