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.

Al Jazeera’s Listening Post on Wikileaks Iraq documents

The Wikileaks Iraq files continue to cause robust discussion around the world.

Al-Jazeera’s weekly media show, Listening Post, examined the impact of the latest revelations and how some journalists preferred to focus on the personal life of Julian Assange rather than the fact that the US had turned a blind eye to Iraqi torture and murder.

The show asked me to briefly comment on the Wikileaks story and it starts below at 8.03. (My previous Al-Jazeera appearance, regarding the Wikileaks documents on Afghanistan, is here):

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Is the Times too worried about upsetting its mates in Washington?

New York Times‘ Public Editor looks at the ethical decisions made by the paper in accepting the Wikileaks documents over Afghanistan.

In the end, he argues that the paper made the right choice but there is one thing missing; the focus the paper took towards the US government. Was it too servile?

Mr. Bill Keller [Times editor] said no conditions were placed on the news organizations’ use of the material, except that they were obligated to synchronize publication with WikiLeaks’s publication online. The Times mapped out its own coverage.

“We chose the documents that struck us as most interesting,” Mr. Keller said in an e-mail message. “We did our own analysis of the material. We decided what to write. We did not discuss any of those matters with WikiLeaks, or give them an advance look at our stories.”

He emphasized, in other words, The Times’s independence from WikiLeaks. The issue emerged as a definitive one in my conversations with veteran journalists, a legal expert and a retired general.

Some say that what’s important is the material itself. Whether or not Julian Assange is a rogue with a political agenda, what matters most is that The Times authenticates the information.

“They did exactly the right thing to establish an arms-length distance,” said Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of the news organization ProPublica. “WikiLeaks is not the A.P.”

David Rudenstine, a Cardozo Law School professor and author of “The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case,” said, “If The Times makes the judgment that this is the real thing, I don’t think it matters much” who it is dealing with.

Another view holds that it is impossible to separate the legitimacy of the material from its source. In this situation, the challenge is compounded because The Times’s source, WikiLeaks, obtained the material from its own source — a leaker whose identity remains uncertain.

“Did the source select which documents to turn over?” asked Bill Kovach, of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in an e-mail message to me. “What was the nature of the transaction between WikiLeaks and the source(s)? Did WikiLeaks turn over only some documents and not others?”

Mr. Keller said the documents deserved attention, “whatever you think of WikiLeaks as an organization.” He added that Times staffers scrutinized the material to satisfy themselves that it had not been manipulated.

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Prosecuting a child at Gitmo and calling it justice

Obama’s America:

Everything about the last week’s events at Guantánamo has been deeply disturbing. On Monday, in defiance of international obligations requiring the rehabilitation of child prisoners, the US government — under President Obama — fulfilled the deepest wishes of the Bush administration, and persuaded Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, to plead guilty to charges of murder in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder, spying, conspiracy, and providing material support to terrorism, in a plea deal that apparently involves an eight-year sentence, with Khadr serving one more year at Guantánamo before being returned to Canada.

At the heart of the plea deal is a 50-point “Stipulation of Fact” (PDF), signed by Khadr and stating that he “does not have any legal defense to any of the offenses to which he is pleading guilty,” in which, despite his previous protestations to the contrary, he accepted that he threw a grenade that killed Delta Force Sgt. Christopher Speer on the day of his capture, and, moreover, that he was, at the time, an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” who did not have “any legal basis to commit any war-like acts” at all.

As part of the Bush administration’s apparently successful rewriting of international law — facilitated by President Obama and lawmakers in Congress — Khadr was therefore obliged not only to forego further complaints about his age at the time of his capture, and the responsibility of others for indoctrinating him, but also to accept that he had been captured in circumstances in which it was impossible for him to be a legitimate combatant.

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Pulling the troops out of Afghanistan

Who says hip-hop isn’t political?

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How Stewart/Colbert mock Fox News America

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David Cameron’s paradise is allowing privatisation to run wild

What a damn shame. One private firm that engages in thuggery is shunned by the British government:

The private security firm G4S said tonight that it was “extremely disappointed” to lose a multimillion-pound government contract to forcibly deport foreign nationals.

A decision to award the lucrative contract to a rival firm was announced today, two weeks after G4S guards were arrested by police investigating the death of an Angolan deportee at Heathrow.

The company that will now deport detainees from next year, Reliance Security Task Management Limited, already manages several contracts for the Prison Service.

Three G4S guards were released on bail this month after being questioned over the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan who collapsed and died on BA flight 77 as it was preparing to depart for Luanda. G4S said it had received assurances that the failure to renew its contract was related to the price of its bid “and not to recent events”.

But not to worry. According to a recent piece in the Financial Times, business is booming for private companies looking to make a fortune on the misery of others. Disaster capitalism running riot:

To private providers seeking to maximise their advantage from Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review, criminal justice represents an opportunity – despite the axe poised over a £4bn prison-building programme inherited by the government from Labour.

Serco and G4S believe there are still rich pickings to be found in the “offender management” budget of Ken Clarke, justice secretary, not least as he tries to modernise the most Dickensian parts of the prison estate by opening them up to market competition.

Mr Clarke’s need for private investment will be crucial as he struggles to bring about a “rehabilitation revolution” at the same time as taking a hatchet to costs. However, the historic evidence on whether companies have been any better at running prisons than the public sector is hardly compelling.

Ben Crewe and Alison Liebling of Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology have published one of the few in-depth studies to compare the performance of private and public prisons. Their findings highlight some real concerns about privatisation – particularly when spending is being brutally curtailed.

Mr Crewe says that the performance of company-run prisons is extremely variable. At one end of the scale there is Altcourse, the G4S prison that is recognised by some as one of the best in England and Wales. At the other end there is Wolds, another G4S jail that received a damning assessment this year from the chief inspector of prisons for its “considerable weaknesses”, including a rampant drugs culture and lack of confidence by staff to confront bad behaviour.

“The best private prisons are – relatively speaking – very good, particularly in terms of staff-prisoner relationships and prisoner development and well-being,” says Mr Crewe. “However, as the prisons inspector has also noted, the worse-performing ones are poor in most areas: relationships; security; professionalism; use of authority; and prisoner development and well-being.”

The Cambridge research team – given lengthy access to several private and public jails – found that generous contract terms had a clear and positive impact on company-run prisons, with Altcourse a good example of a well-funded jail. But it also found that money was not the only reason that some private prisons performed better than others. Lowdham Grange, a training prison run by Serco, was “very good”, it said, but it had a relatively modest contract.

Mr Crewe warned the fact that private jails tended to use fewer prison guards, often far less experienced than their public sector counterparts, meant there was a real risk of “things going badly wrong”, particularly when companies would be trying to squeeze a profit from cheaper contracts.

Take this as an example:

A private security company plans to start renting out custody cells to police forces across the country in a move it says could save forces more than £400 million a year and help return officers to the streets.

G4S Police Support Services said it hoped to sign its first contract with a police force in November and to start operating the cells by July next year.

The new suites, which will be overseen by police custody sergeants but staffed by G4S employees, will cut costs by centralising facilities, the firm said.

Managing director John Shaw said it will ‘improve the whole experience of custody for everyone’ and ‘cut red tape for police officers, enabling them to return to the beat faster’.

The custody suites were being launched now ‘primarily because of the financial situation’ and they will help to ensure ‘significant cost savings for the public sector’, bring in efficiencies and ‘standardise the way custody is delivered’, he said.

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Times just hopes and prays Israel will listen to its pleasant request

A New York Times editorial gets tough (for a Zionist publication):

Enough game-playing. Mr. Netanyahu should accept Mr. Obama’s offer and be ready to form a new governing coalition if some current members bolt. Arab states need to do more to nudge Mr. Abbas back to the table and give him the political support he will need to stay there.

Israelis might dismiss the Palestinian threats to go to the United Nations as theatrics. Today they might be. But the Israelis cannot bet on the infinite patience of the Palestinian people — or the international community.

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We are failing in Afghanistan and most reporters don’t see why

Being unembedded in Afghanistan is a rarity, most journalists preferring to be near and dear to the military.

That’s why Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley are in a class of their own. They’re just back from the war-torn country and reveal the utter failure of the American-led counter-insurgency. Here’s Scahill:

Well, first of all, what’s abundantly clear from traveling around the Pashtun heartland—the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan are where the Taliban have their strongholds, and also Rick and I traveled in areas that are really heavily populated by members of the Haqqani network, which is the insurgent group that the United States government most closely identifies with al-Qaeda, with strong links to Pakistan’s ISI spy agency, and so we traveled around these areas talking to tribal leadership, to civilians. We even interviewed some current Taliban commanders, as well as former senior members of the Taliban government, including Mullah Zaeef, who was the former Taliban spokesperson to Pakistan, the man who after 9/11 really emerged as the public face of the Taliban. He then was taken for four years to Guantánamo prison. So, much of what Rick and I focused on was trying to get a sense of the nature of the insurgency. And what’s abundantly clear is that the US counterinsurgency strategy, the so-called COIN doctrine, has utterly failed.

The Taliban are gaining in popularity, gaining in strength. The leadership of the Taliban acknowledged that the so-called targeted killing campaign of senior Taliban leadership has been successful, but they say that it’s only producing new generations of leaders within the Taliban that are actually more radical than the previous generation. In fact, when we talked to Mullah Zaeef, who’s under house arrest in Kabul, he has Hamid Karzai’s military forces in front of his house, and when we entered there, they went nuts about Rick’s camera, and they tried to sort of grab his camera from him. And then we entered Mullah Zaeef’s house, and we interviewed him. And what he was saying is, look, if you kill all of the old-school Taliban leaders, people who actually were part of a government that had diplomatic relations with Muslim countries, that knew how to negotiate, you’re not going to like what you create in that, because this new generation—and he said to us, “I know this new generation. They’re more radical.” And evidence of this can be found in the fact that when Mullah Mohammed Omar, who—all the Taliban people we talked to—is still running the show, still issuing orders through the shadow governors that the Taliban has—all over the country they have a shadow government, and in many cases, local people go to that shadow government instead of the Karzai government, because they feel that they’re going to get results there. But what they were saying is that within this structure, when they try to give orders to new commanders, sometimes it’s met with hostility from the new generation of Taliban. A few months ago in Paktia province, which is a Taliban area just outside of Kabul, Mullah Omar sent an emissary to a new Taliban commander to try to say that “you’re violating some of the rules of Taliban combat,” and they literally murdered his emissary.

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Balance isn’t what we’re seeking here

Following my article on Israel/Palestine in the Sydney Morning Herald this week and the response the day after, today’s paper has the following comment by the letter’s editor:

Arguments about Israel and Palestine often seem to go on in parallel tunnels with no connecting passages, and that was neatly illustrated by the response to Thursday’s pieces by Antony Loewenstein and Colin Rubenstein. Many argued strenuously and coherently against one or the other, but almost no one tried to draw conclusions from a synthesis or overview of the two.

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Rejecting Arabs from “Jewish” towns

David Rotem, Yisrael Beiteinu:

In my opinion, every Jewish town needs at least one Arab. What would happen if my refrigerator stopped working on a Saturday?

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New York Times editors get a nice tour of the West Bank by colonists

Because the New York Times really needs more riding instructions from the Zionist establishment:

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and the influential daily’s executive editor Bill Keller visited the West Bank city of Ariel on Wednesday.

According to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the American executives were given a tour of a number of settlements as part of a PR campaign launched by the [settler] Yesha Council. During their 24-hour stay in Israel, Sulzberger, Keller, the editor of the New York Times’ editorial page and the paper’s foreign desk editor met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart Salam Fayyad.

As part of their tour of the West Bank, Sulzberger and the editors visited the Barkan Industrial Park, which is an important source of employment for both Israelis and Palestinians. Following a meeting with Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan, the New York Times executives continued to the Ariel University Center of Samaria, where Chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad spoke to them about the Arab students who are enrolled in the institution. Some 160 opinion leaders from all over the world have visited the West Bank over the past six months.

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Abe Foxman doesn’t want to talk about BDS, Arab rights, real democracy etc etc

The meltdown of an American Zionist leader, Abe Foxman, is an astounding thing to see:

Abraham Foxman from Blue Pilgrimage on Vimeo.


Max Blumenthal comments
and I totally agree:

Personally, I would prefer to see Foxman stay at the helm of the ADL for a long time, and not only because I enjoy witnessing the slow motion collapse of the sclerotic, reactionary Jewish-American establishment that he represents.

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