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 threat of internal critics over war and conflict

Now we know the Bush administration wanted personal information on leading Iraq war critic Juan Cole (who knew that writing a popular blog was such a threat to the US government?)

The former CIA agent who revealed this information, Glenn Carle, tells Democracy Now! why he was deeply concerned by the White House request and the obvious question remains; how many other dissidents of the “war on terror” have been followed, harassed or violated (in the US and also here in Australia)?

AMY GOODMAN: Why Professor Juan Cole? There were so many and are so many critics of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why were they singling out him? Or, should I say, were they singling out him? Were you requested to do this on a regular basis?

GLENN CARLE: Yeah, well, that’s—it’s a question that comes to mind, of course, and people have asked me before. I only know what I know. And I don’t mean to quote Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, or paraphrase him. I know the facts concerning Professor Cole, and the instances that have been reported, they are accurate. That’s what I experienced. I don’t know of any other specific person.

I do know the context of tension and hostility between the Bush administration and the intelligence community, and more broadly, any critic of their policies. And the context at the time was intensely—well, it was extremely tense and quite partisan. The politics, we try to stay out of; in the intelligence community, of course, we cannot. And this was happening at a time when there was the whole Valerie Plame incident, Joe Wilson. One of my colleagues on the National Intelligence Council totally, without any intention or desire on his part, became embroiled in the presidential reelection campaign, when an offhand—not offhand, an off-the-record innocuous remark he made was seized by the administration as proof that the intelligence community was trying to undermine its policies. Nothing was further from the truth. He had been asked simply, “Didn’t the intelligence community know that there would be or assess there would be ethnic sectarian strife in Iraq in the event of an invasion?” And essentially, his answer was, “Well, yes.” But that was viewed as treasonous. So that was the larger context.

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Of course the war against Libya is about securing oil

And yet most in the corporate press prattle about human rights and “humanitarian intervention”.

Yes, Gaddafi is a brute but that’s nothing new. “Saving civilians” is the catch-cry of those backing NATO action.

But a close examination of Wikileaks documents and more honest reporting shows that Libyan oil nationalism was deeply worrying Western governments and multinational oil companies.

Hence, a bombing was justified on spurious grounds. Medialens examines the evidence.

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Israel struggling with that narrative thing

Joseph Dana in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian:

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Israel is starting to lose its edge in convincing the international community that the conflict is simply about peace and not rights. Palestinian demonstrations on Israel’s borders and checkpoints have highlighted the sea change taking place.

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US official; we love the internet (as long as views approved by State Dept)

Let me get this straight. A web evangelist, working for the US government, admires the ability of the internet to assist Arab revolutions and compares its power to Che Guevera, a man the establishment regards as a terrorist.

I guess backing real freedom in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is a bridge too far for this real lover of democracy:

Hillary Clinton‘s senior adviser for innovation at the US state department has lauded the way the internet has become “the Che Guevara of the 21st century” in the Arab Spring uprisings.

Speaking at the Guardian’s Activate summit in London on Wednesday, Alec Ross said “dictatorships are now more vulnerable than ever” as disaffected citizens organise influential protest movements on Facebook and Twitter.

The US has pledged to back the pro-democracy movements that have swept the Middle East and north Africa since January. Ross welcomed the “redistribution of power” from autocratic regimes to individuals, describing the internet as “wildly disruptive” during the protests in Egypt and Tunisia.

“Dictatorships are now more vulnerable than they have ever been before, in part – but not entirely – because of the devolution of power from the nation state to the individual,” he said.

“One thesis statement I want to emphasise is how networks disrupt the exercise of power. They devolve power from the nation state – from governments and large institutions – to individuals and small institutions. The overarching pattern is the redistribution of power from governments and large institutions to people and small institutions.”

Ross said that the internet had “acted as an accelerant” in the Arab spring uprisings, pointing to the dislodging of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in little over a month. The internet had facilitated leaderless movements, Ross added, describing it as the “Che Guevara of the 21st century”.

However, he said it was a “bridge too far” to describe the Egyptian uprising as a “Facebook revolution”.

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Should society be promoting privatised education?

In my view, no damn way. Making a huge profit from rich students who buy their way into a system where learning comes second to scoring that corporate job after completion is troubling. Of course, many publicly run universities are sadly moving in a similar direction these days:

A private, run-for-profit university has launched an aggressive expansion plan to jointly run at least 10 of its publicly funded counterparts, the Guardian can reveal.

BPP, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate business and law degrees at 14 UK study centres, said it was in talks about managing the business side of the universities’ campuses. Talks with three are at a “serious stage”, but commercial negotiations are yet to begin.

Under the model, universities would control all academic decisions, while BPP would be responsible for managing the campus estate, IT support, the buying of goods and services and other “back office” roles. BPP would not hold equity in the universities.

Chief executive Carl Lygo said his firm stood to make tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds from working with each institution, but that it would be “too radical at the moment” to bid to take over a university. “The partnership model is more palatable in the UK … we have a long tradition of higher education being publicly funded, rather than run for profit.”

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Ethnic cleansing by another name


There has been a sharp rise in the number of Palestinian structures razed by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank this year, with over 700 people left homeless, rights groups said on Wednesday.

So far, Israeli forces have demolished “103 residential structures … most of them tents, huts, and tin shacks, in which 706 persons lived,” Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement.

This was up from 86 structures in 2010 and 28 in 2009, B’Tselem said.

The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank could not immediately be reached, but in the past Israel has said that it only demolishes structures built without permits.

B’Tselem said the Palestinians had no choice but to build illegally because Israel, which controls the occupied West Bank, rarely gives Palestinians permits to build.

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America’s drone wars are wonderful earner for conflict addicts

Disturbing New York Times feature which barely touches on the ethical question of killing “terrorists” (and more often innocent civilians) from a great height thousands of miles away. Murder is still murder:

Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.

The base’s indoor flight lab is called the “microaviary,” and for good reason. The drones in development here are designed to replicate the flight mechanics of moths, hawks and other inhabitants of the natural world. “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight,” said Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, as he held up a prototype of a mechanical hawk that in the future might carry out espionage or kill.

Half a world away in Afghanistan, Marines marvel at one of the new blimplike spy balloons that float from a tether 15,000 feet above one of the bloodiest outposts of the war, Sangin in Helmand Province. The balloon, called an aerostat, can transmit live video — from as far as 20 miles away — of insurgents planting homemade bombs. “It’s been a game-changer for me,” Capt. Nickoli Johnson said in Sangin this spring. “I want a bunch more put in.”

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.

The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.

“It’s a growth market,” said Ashton B. Carter, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.

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What Murdoch offers; Afghans don’t care about living poor lives


Of course politics and sports mix over Colombo’s crimes

Good piece in the Guardian on why the sporting community need to take a strong stand against a regime, Sri Lanka, that murders civilians with impunity. It’s just not cricket, sports fans:

Disgrace. What a tediously familiar word; stripped of significance by its overuse, shorn of force by its frequent repetition. Read it again. Roll it around your tongue. Feel its heat and taste its weight, because I am about to use it and I do not want to do so lightly. In the next seven days England are due to play two games against Sri Lanka which will be used as valedictory matches for Sanath Jayasuriya, who has been recalled to the squad at the age of 41. Jayasuriya’s selection is a disgrace and the idea of playing cricket against a team that includes him is a disgrace.

The Test series between Sri Lanka and England was played out to the sound of protests from London’s expatriate Tamil community. During the Saturday of the Lord’s Test they picketed the ground. Nothing epitomised the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil attitude of the cricket community so well as the fact that the protestors were hemmed in behind metal barricades on the far side of the main road, shouting their slogans at a 10-foot tall red brick wall. On the other side business at Lord’s went on as usual, with the brass bands blaring away in Harris Garden all but drowning out the distant catcalls.

Only a fool thinks that sport and politics do not mix. But I can understand the desire to try and keep the two things separate, to stick your fingers in your ears and insist that the worries of the real world should not intrude of the field of play. Sport is supposed to be escapism, after all. But Jayasuriya is not a sportsman any more, he is a politician. His selection is an intrusion of a politics into sport, and means that isolation of the two is not an option.

In April 2010 Jayasuriya was elected as the MP for Matara in southern Sri Lanka. He represents the United People’s Freedom Alliance, the party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Jayasuriya’s recall was ordered by Rajapaksa’s government. It is an overtly political decision. Kumar Sangakkara’s recent comments on the unique difficulties of captaining Sri Lanka – “it is a job that ages you very quickly” – were a thinly veiled reference to this kind of political interference in team selection. It was a sentiment echoed by stand-in coach Stuart Law in the wake of the last Test, when he said he was learning that the job was about “more than just cricket matters”.

There is no convincing case to be made for recalling Jayasuriya. It has been two-and-a-half years since he scored a century in any kind of cricket, and the fact that he has said he will play only in the first of the five ODIs against England is testament in itself that he is not coming back because he has the interests of the team at heart.

But even if there was any cricketing logic to his inclusion, his selection would still be unacceptable. Jayasuriya is an elected representative of a government who, according to a United Nations report published this April, could be responsible for the deaths of 40,000 Tamil citizens during the final campaign of the civil war in late 2008 and early 2009.

“The number [7,721] calculated by the United Nations Country Team provides a starting point, but is likely to be too low,” the report states. “A number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths.”

Last Tuesday Channel 4 broadcast the documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, a film which detailed the crimes committed against the civilian Tamil population by the Sri Lankan army in excruciating detail. It used nauseating mobile phone footage shot on the ground to substantiate allegations of the systematic rape and murder of Tamils and the direct targeting of civilian hospitals and medical facilities in no-fire zones. Gordon Weiss, a former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, reported that by May 2009 there had been “roughly 65 attacks on medical facilities that were treating civilians” and that “the no fire zone was taking significant amounts of shelling from the government and it was killing civilians.”

This is an extremely emotive issue. When I wrote about the Tamil protest at Lord’s, I was emailed by one reader demanding to know whether I had “asked the protestors for their opinion of the use of child soldiers, suicide bombings and human shields by the Tamil Tigers?” The UN report confirms that atrocities were committed by both sides on the civilian population, who were ushered into supposedly-safe ‘no fire zones’ by the army and then held there at gunpoint by the Tigers. In the words of Weiss, the army “systematically denied humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies”.

In a recent interview with the BBC’s Sinhalese service, Jayasuriya explained that “the world should realise that the Sri Lankan government has stopped one of the worst terrorist organisations in the world. I am 41 years old. Thirty years of my life, we went through a terrible time in Sri Lanka. Anybody can come into my country now and walk anywhere without fear,” Jayasuriya continued. He added that the world should be “happy” at what the government had achieved.

David Cameron has called for an independent investigation into what happened in Sri Lanka, something Rajapaksa’s government, Jayasuriya’s government, has refused to allow. According to the UN report, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible”.

The English players once blanched at being made to shake hands with Robert Mugabe. This Saturday they will be expected to play against a man who is a direct representative of a government accused of war crimes on a horrific scale by the United Nations. The politics of the matter is not outside the ground or behind a metal fence any more. It is right there in the middle of the pitch and it cannot be ignored.

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Flashmob in Paris to remember oppression in Iran

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Censorship is fine for anybody who dares challenge Zionist apartheid

Index on Censorship highlights an apparent case of free speech being only acceptable to some (and as for criticising saintly Israel…):

The US State Department has withdrawn an invitation to Palestinian Majed Badra to attend a government-sponsored international exchange program for political cartoonists after deciding that some of his work was “anti-Semitic.”

The program, part of the International Visitor Leadership programme, brings to the United States for several weeks at a time emerging foreign leaders in business, government, media, education and the arts. Badra was originally invited last year to participate in a program specifically for political cartoonists from North Africa and the Middle East.

Programme literature says the exchange is designed to “explore constitutionally guaranteed press freedoms in the United States, and the accompanying principles of editorial expression” and to “illustrate the diversity of viewpoints held by Americans and how this diversity–reflected in political cartoons–contributes to a dynamic and pluralistic political system.”

Badra told the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press that his editorial cartoons are meant as a commentary against the Israeli occupation, not the Jewish people themselves. He said:

“I just wanted to express that I’m against the Israeli occupation, settlements, killing, siege and injustice, and how much we want democracy, human rights, freedom and two states solution. I’m open-minded, and I carry all the respect to people in the world regardless of their gender, religion, race or color.”

Badra said he was told his visa had been canceled on June 10, just days after it was first granted and more than a year after he had been nominated and accepted into the programme. He told RCFP that he took down his web site after US officials encouraged him to delete controversial cartoons to ensure consideration for future programmes.

The irony of the situation — exercising his freedom of speech cost Badra the chance to participate in a program championing freedom of speech — was not lost on the cartoonist.

“I just draw what surrounded me,” he told RCFP. “I draw the truth. We live in a difficult situation.”


Rapper Lupe Fiasco tells Fox that Obama is a terrorist

Surely all rather uncontroversial:

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