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 seriously deadly threat of non-violent Jews

Israel using excessive force and abusing civilians? Just another day on the job:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers used excessive force while taking over a Gaza-bound aid ship organized by Jewish and Israeli activists, the boat’s passengers said Tuesday, countering the military’s official version claiming that the takeover had been uneventful.

Earlier Tuesday the IDF reported that Israeli naval commandos peacefully boarded the Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, saying “IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht ‘Irene’, and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers.”

However, testimonies by passengers who were released from police questioning later in the day seemed to counter the IDF’s claims, with Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira saying that there were “no words to describe what we went through during the takeover.”

Shapira said the activists, who he said displayed no violence, were met with extreme IDF brutality, adding that the soldiers “just jumped us, and hit us. I was hit with a taser gun.”

“Some of the soldiers treated us atrociously,” Shapira said, adding that he felt there was a “huge gap between what the IDF spokesman is saying happened and what really happened.”

The former IAF pilot said he and his fellow activists were “proud of the mission,” saying it was organized “for the sake of a statement – that the siege on Gaza is a crime, that it’s immoral, un-Jewish, and we have a moral obligation to speak out. Anyone who stays silent as this crime is being committed is an accessory to a crime.”

Eli Usharov, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 affirmed Shapira’s version of the events, telling Haaretz that the takeover was executed with unnecessary brutality.

“They used a taser gun against Yonatan. He screamed and was dragged to the military boat,” Usharov said, adding that both Yonatan and his brother Itamar were handcuffed.

The Channel 10 reporter also said that the activists managed to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with the troops once they were all placed on board the military vessel, and that “overall the atmosphere was good.”

Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the mission, expressed his disbelief that “Israeli soldiers would treat nine Jews this way. They just hit people.”

“I as a Holocaust survivor cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences,” Moscowitz said, adding that “it’s just immoral.”

“What happened to me in the Holocaust wakes me up every night and I hope we don’t do the same thing to our neighbors,” Moscowitz said, adding that he was comparing “what I went through during the Holocaust to what the besieged Palestinian children are going through.”

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Hoder sees the darkest side of Ahmadinejad’s brutality

The outrage of imprisoning Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan for 19.5 years, the longest sentence ever given for anybody in his position.

A profoundly insecure and undemocratic regime has shamed itself before the world.

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Private armies are out and looking for business

Private mercenaries have never have it so good. Business is booming as governments increasingly rely on them to do the dirty work they no longer want to do:

Insurers have drawn up plans for the world’s first private navy to try to turn the tide against Somali pirates who continue to plague the global shipping industry by hijacking vessels for ransoms of more than £100m a year, The Independent has learnt.

The new navy, which has the agreement in principle of several shipping groups and is being considered by the British Government, is the latest attempt to counter the increasingly sophisticated and aggressive piracy gangs who operate up to 1,200 miles from their bases in the Horn of Africa and are about to launch a new wave of seaborne attacks following the monsoon season.

A multi-national naval force, including an EU fleet currently commanded by a British officer, has dramatically reduced the number of assaults in the Gulf of Aden in recent months. But seizures continue with 16 ships and 354 sailors currently being held hostage. The Independent has seen Nato documents which show both ransom payments and the period that pirates are holding vessels have doubled in the last 12 months to an average $4m and 117 days respectively.

In response, a leading London insurer is pushing ahead with radical proposals to create a private fleet of about 20 patrol boats crewed by armed guards to bolster the international military presence off the Somali coast. They would act as escorts and fast-response vessels for shipping passing through the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (JLT), which insures 14 per cent of the world’s commercial shipping fleet, said the unprecedented “private navy” would work under the direct control of the military with clear rules of engagement valid under international law. Early discussions have also been held with the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Transport and the Foreign Office.

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How to be gay in the Islamic Republic

The curious, crazy, sad, desperate and oppressive society in Tehran.

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Shell and Iran kissing in a tree

The sheer futility of trying to boycott Iran is revealed once again:

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, paid the state-owned Iranian oil company at least $1.5bn (£0.94bn) for crude oil this summer, increasing its business with Tehran as the international community implemented some of the toughest sanctions yet aimed at constricting the Islamic republic’s economy and its lifeline oil business.

Sensitive trading documents seen by the Guardian show the UK-registered company stepped up its orders of Iranian oil at a time when other major buyers, including BP and Reliance Industries, India’s largest conglomerate, halted orders amid impending trade sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s perceived desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

Shell is not accused of acting illegally because the sanctions – enforced by the US, UN and EU – stopped short of banning the import of Iranian oil. But its trades with the state-owned oil company, a major contributor to the finances of a government which has made its nuclear programme a priority, are likely to expose Shell to growing political pressure.

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Zionist circus swings back into town and media watches

In case anybody still believes that “peace talks” between Israel, the complicit Palestinian Authority and Washington has achieved anything at all, think again.

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Let our Diggers kill at will beause we say they’re noble

So Australian troops in Afghanistan kill civilians and are now facing charges. It’s called accountability, something sorely lacking in Western societies at war for decades.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, a top quality Murdoch quality that regularly writes about refugees stealing our jobs, women and sand, thinks it’s bloody outrageous in an editorial today:

In the early days of the campaign in Afghanistan, we were introduced to a new phrase: “asymmetrical warfare” – the relative imbalance between the methods and tactics used by the Taliban and other murdering fundamentalists and the tactics used by coalition forces, including Australian troops, who are constrained by various laws and conventions. In short, we conduct war by the rules. The Taliban do not.

The dangers of this imbalance exist not only for the women and children used as shields by Taliban insurgents, or for the Afghan civilians targeted by fundamentalist suicide bombers. Dangers also exist for Australian soldiers who are caught in gun battles with Taliban operatives using civilians as cover.

And the danger extends beyond the immediate threat of death and injury.

Our soldiers also face the danger of legal action arising from the unique and distressing circumstances that arise when fighting an utterly amoral opponent.

Three soldiers have been charged following the deaths of five Afghan children in 2009. Those deaths remain a tragedy.

That charges have been laid by our own military against the soldiers is obscene.

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As two of the soldiers said in a statement: “It should not be forgotten that the casualties were ultimately caused by the callous and reckless act of an insurgent who chose to repeatedly fire upon us at extreme close range from within a room he knew contained women and children.”

That’s the reality of combat in Afghanistan. By charging the three soldiers, the military is giving strength to the vicious and inhuman tactics of our enemy.

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Privatisation for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Are there limits to privatisation or should we just consider asking multinationals to sell babies to the highest bidder?

A private company in Maryland has taken over public libraries in ailing cities in California, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, growing into the country’s fifth-largest library system.

Now the company, Library Systems & Services, has been hired for the first time to run a system in a relatively healthy city, setting off an intense and often acrimonious debate about the role of outsourcing in a ravaged economy.

A $4 million deal to run the three libraries here is a chance for the company to demonstrate that a dose of private management can be good for communities, whatever their financial situation. But in an era when outsourcing is most often an act of budget desperation — with janitors, police forces and even entire city halls farmed out in one town or another — the contract in Santa Clarita has touched a deep nerve and begun a round of second-guessing.

Can a municipal service like a library hold so central a place that it should be entrusted to a profit-driven contractor only as a last resort — and maybe not even then?

After all, in the US countless politicians are bankrolled by the arms industry, proving that privatisation of death and the myriad of ways to achieve it is no block to assuming public office and then spreading the glorious ideology to other areas of life.

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New Yorker embraces pure surrealism

The New Yorker on the iPad. Sheer joy:

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Murdoch hearts anybody other than sensible US politicians

Hello, my name is Fox News and I like Christians, no mosques anywhere and far-right Republicans:

With the exception of Mitt Romney, Fox now has deals with every major potential Republican presidential candidate not currently in elected office.
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The real cost of outsourcing asylum seeker care is more pain

How unsurprising. Shocking cases of mistreatment in Britain’s detention system, most of which are run by private companies, such as Serco. But let’s not have a robust debate about whether multinationals should be managing people coming from torture and trauma:

Millions of pounds in compensation is being paid to migrants who have been traumatised after being locked up in detention centres across the UK, the Guardian has learned.

Government figures show £12m in “special payments” – including compensation – for 2009/10 and a further £3m the year before.

The Home Office said it did not record the proportion of special payments made in compensation, but officials accepted that the figure over the past three years ran to millions of pounds.

Lawyers who are acting for detainees said there was an “epidemic of mistreatment” in the asylum system.

Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce, said there was a “systemic failure” to protect torture victims who came to the UK seeking refuge. “It is nothing short of scandalous that we are causing serious harm by detaining people, sometimes for long periods of time, who have done nothing other than seek a place of sanctuary from the horrors they have escaped from, in the mistaken belief that Britain is a just and tolerant society.”

In another case, in June this year, a woman from west Africa, who was locked up for a month in 2006 at [Serco’s] Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Bedfordshire, was awarded a £57,000 payout. In his ruling the judge said there had been a “grave failure” on the part of the Home Office. “A true punishment of the Home Office to reflect the gravity of the situation would run into sums far in excess of those which the court is legally authorised to award,” he said.

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Islam is the true enemy, says Republican candidate

Welcome to mainstream America:

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