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 Zionist lobby sure doesn’t have much appeal anymore with the yoof

The American Jewish student community is increasingly vocal against Israeli crimes and BDS is their justified weapon:

“We are not willing to have our money spent on manufacturing cluster bombs or any ingredients that violate the rights of the people of Palestine. Or any people,” explained Matan Cohen, an Israeli student at Hampshire College and a member of Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), a grassroots BDS organization active at several colleges.

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The modern slave trade for our culinary enjoyment

Do you know where your meal comes from?

Shocking evidence of conditions akin to slavery on trawlers that provide fish for European dinner tables has been found in an investigation off the coast of west Africa.

Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group.

The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.

The EJF found hi-tech vessels operating without appropriate licences in fishing exclusion zones off the coast of Sierra Leone and Guinea over the last four years. The ships involved all carried EU numbers, indicating that they were licensed to import to Europe having theoretically passed strict hygiene standards.

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How to receive a White House pat on the head

Here’s a lesson for progressive and Leftist writers and bloggers. If you want White House approval (God knows why you would, if independence is valued) then don’t be too critical, praise the wonders of Barack Obama and bask in the glow:

The vice president told Democrats to “stop whining.” The president told them to “buck up.” And neither seemed to leave any doubt in separate interviews this week that press secretary Robert Gibbs’s exasperation over the summer with the “professional left” was the official view of the White House.

But who, exactly, makes up this “professional left” that is so bothering President Barack Obama and his advisers? On Tuesday, Gibbs’s deputy, Bill Burton, made it clear that the occasionally critical cable personalities originally associated with this comment have the administration’s blessing.

“If you’re on the left, if you’re somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive values, then [the president] thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service,” Burton told reporters.

Noticeably absent from Burton’s embrace was anyone from the blogosphere once courted so avidly by the White House. Peter Daou thinks he knows why:

“With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher.”

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Help APHEDA pick a worthy winner

One of Australia’s finest NGOs, APHEDA – Union Aid Abroad, last night hosted its annual fund-raising dinner and launched the following advertisement to 400 intrigued people. Give now, give generously:

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Which companies would benefit from a nuclear waste dump?

The idea of establishing nuclear waste dumps should be dismissed immediately and yet both major sides of Australian politics rather like the idea.

Start opposing:

The Australian Greens have called on the minority Labor Government to use the current political environment to forge a new consensus approach to the management of radioactive nuclear waste in Australia.

With a new parliament requiring negotiation and scrutiny of proposals in both houses, this is a great opportunity for a new way forward in dealing with the vexed issue of nuclear waste.

The Greens today tabled in the Senate an open letter from Muckaty Traditional Owners to all new members of parliament urging them to stop plans to build a waste dump on their land near Tennant Creek.

We know there was never prior or informed consent, nor any proper scientific examination. It’s time for Labor to go back to the drawing board and scrap the proposal to coercively dump this material on an unwilling community.

The Greens will work constructively with all parties in this new parliament and look for better ways to resolve difficult issues like this, rather than simply trample on the interests of local communities.

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Pentagon watches books go up in flames

Land of the free?

The Pentagon burned 9,500 copies of a book it deemed a threat to national security. The US government paid the publisher nearly $50,000 dollars in printing costs, had the books pulled and destroyed.

A government approved censored version of US Army Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer’s “Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan” was then released.

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South Africa joins the ever-growing club of activists on Palestine

Ronnie Kasrils writes in the Guardian that South Africa is leading the way against Zionist racial discrimination; they know apartheid when they see it:

When Chief Albert Luthuli made a call for the international community to support a boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1958, the response was a widespread and dedicated movement that played a significant role in ending apartheid. Amid the sporting boycotts, the pledges of playwrights and artists, the actions by workers to stop South African goods from entering local markets and the constant pressure on states to withdraw their support for the apartheid regime, the role of academics also came to the fore.

One significant move was the resolution taken by 150 Irish academics not to accept academic posts or appointments in apartheid South Africa. In 1971, the council of Trinity College Dublin took a decision not to own shares in any company that traded or had a subsidiary that traded in the Republic. The council later resolved that the university would not retain any formal or institutional links with any academic or state institution in South Africa.

Almost four decades later, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions is gaining ground again in South Africa, this time against Israeli apartheid.

The principled position of academics in South Africa to distance themselves from institutions that support the occupation is a reflection of the advances already made in exposing that the Israeli regime is guilty of an illegal and immoral colonial project. South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, in a response to an investigation commissioned by the South African government in 2009, issued a report confirming that the everyday structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped our lives in South Africa.

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Why on earth would America want to help the people they’ve invaded?

While reading this story about a new British documentary explaining the decision of the Iraqi insurgency to stop fighting the Americans and battle al-Qaeda instead in the years after the 2003 invasion, this quote is astounding:

As General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the US Army, admitted in an interview at his office in downtown Washington DC: “[Until that point] we had made a conscious decision not to protect the [Iraqi] population. The security situation in Iraq by late 2006 was the worst it had ever been and it was getting worse by the day – that was the reality.”

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Countless Iranian names whose lives are changed forever

A moving tribute to “Iran’s interrupted lives”, the countless young Iranians imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed in the name of a perverse Islam.

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Iceland looks to actually find transparency in its politicians

Such a move is virtually impossible to imagine in most Western nations where those who caused the financial crisis are now advising governments how to manage the crisis:

Iceland’s former Prime Minister Geir Haarde has been referred to a special court in a move that could make him the first world leader to be charged in connection with the global financial crisis.

After a heated debate Tuesday, lawmakers voted 33-30 to refer charges to the court against Haarde for allegedly failing to prevent Iceland’s 2008 financial crash – a crisis that sparked protests, toppled the government and brought the economy to a standstill by collapsing its currency.

Haarde faces up to two years in jail if found guilty. The court, which could dismiss the charges, has never before convened in Iceland’s history. A hearing date has not yet been set.

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ABC Radio Overnights on Middle East realities

As the sham Middle East “peace process” continues, I was invited last week for a long interview and listener questions on ABC Overnights. We covered settlements, the BDS movement, the one-state solution, Barack Obama’s blind spots and the Holocaust:

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Opposition to Serco isn’t solely by refugees

An ongoing theme at this site is the privatisation of detention centres in Australia.

Eminent Australians are increasingly vocal against the practice but it’s so much easier for neo-liberal governments to pay a foreign company to do their dirty work, isn’t it?

Privatisation of detention centres and particularly the health services associated with the current model may have deepened the already alarming mental health plight of asylum seekers, psychiatrist and 2010 Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry has warned.

“ I believe the situation was much better managed when the Department of Immigration and Citizenship itself exercised direct control over detention centres in the 1990’s and also allowed mainstream mental health services to provide mental health care to the detainees including release into the community when necessary so that this became more feasible. In fact trying to provide humane mental health care to seriously mentally ill detainees within detention centres is like trying to treat malaria in a mosquito ridden swamp. Despite the best efforts of the DIAC and detention centre staff, the context is fundamentally hostile to effective care.“ Prof. McGorry told the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria yesterday.

“ Before the late 1990s detention centres were not surrounded by razor wire, run buy private prison operators for profit, or isolated in the desert or thousands of kilometers offshore. In the late 1990s, these obviously punitive elements were introduced as a deterrent. No other country has taken this step, which greatly increases the burden of mental ill health and limits the capacity to provide effective mental health care. The present government has made some attempts to humanize this policy, however punitive elements persist with serious consequences for the mental health of detainees.
The contracted international companies who now provide the detention centre services are private prison operators and naturally enough cannot in all fairness be expected to treat immigration detainees, who are innocent of any crime, in a qualitatively different to convicted prisoners.”

Detainees, he said, were usually people fleeing war zones or areas of crisis and may have been victims of torture. They may have experienced primary injury, their first psychological trauma, before deciding to seek refuge in Australia.

A second trauma, even if apparently minor, could trigger a relapse of mental illness and worsen it. This was the risk of secondary injury that asylum seekers faced when they were detained for long periods in poor conditions.

People were then at risk of developing persistent and severe mental disorders, from which they might never fully recover. This is the key driver of self-harm and suicide especially when combined with the perceived and actual helplessness and hopelessness of their predicament.

“Adolescents are known to be very sensitive to these extreme traumas, especially the young men who constitute the bulk of the detainees. ”

Prof. McGorry stressed that people who interact with detainees, such as healthcare workers, guards, immigration officials, lawyers and interpreters, could themselves be affected by the helplessness and frustration they witnessed and absorbed through their work.

During Prof. McGorry’s presentation for Access Youth Network at Dyason House, the Hon. Michael MacKellar, former Minister of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in the Fraser government, stated that it was a very difficult task to check the identities and backgrounds of asylum seekers, and that all stories cannot be trusted.

He went on to say that Australia has had a good record over many years of accepting refugees in accordance with our international obligations.

Professor McGorry acknowledged Australia’s positive history up until the 1990’s, but questioned the notion that many asylum seekers fabricated their stories, referring to his own personal experience with many hundreds over the past 20 years or so.

Prof. McGorry asked, “ Why are we taking such extreme political and administrative measures when we only get a few thousand people each year compared to other countries who attract many more and who manage the situation more humanely? ”

“Assessments of a highly contestable nature are made by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that it is ok for refugees to go back to countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka because they are now deemed safe. These assessments are able to impact at the individual case level in a quite inappropriate manner. A second yet related issue is that having been on the losing side in a bitter war (for many Sri Lankan Tamils) and hence at obvious risk on return is allowed to block the granting of a protection visa. This is the very reason they have fled. This raises again the spectre of political and diplomatic interference in decisions which must be made on an individual basis in relation to the UN convention”

“In good faith I would be very pleased to assist the government in reviewing the mental health needs of detainees in cooperation with the existing advisory processes.”

The event at which Prof. McGorry spoke was organised by Access, the youth network of the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria. Professor McGorry shared his thoughts with Access Youth Network after his speech at Dyason House.

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