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.

Private eyes are watching all of us

The idea that repression only happens “over there” is a myth that needs to be constantly challenged (my recent PEN lecture tackled this).

Take this (via Pro Publica):

Cellphone companies hold onto your location information for years and routinely provide it to police and, in anonymized form, to outside companies.

As they note in their privacy policies, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile all analyze your information to send you targeted ads for their own services or from outside companies. At least tens ofthousands of times a year, they also hand cellphone location information to the FBI or police officers who have a court order.

But ProPublica discovered that there’s one person cell phone companies will not share your location information with: You.

We asked three ProPublica staffers and one friend to request their own geo-location data from the four largest cellphone providers. All four companies refused to provide it.

The latest Wikileaks “Syria Files” reveal Western firms are more than happy to assist a repressive state to make a dollar. And they’re largely protected legally in the West as the state is happy to utilise the same technology to monitor its own citizens. Here’s some details via Ars Technica:

As the US and Europe leveled increasingly severe sanctions on Syria, Western tech companies were still working eagerly with the Assad regime and Syrian government-owned entities. This is according to e-mails obtained by Wikileaks, dating from 2006 up until March of 2012. The e-mails are now being published in waves by Wikileaks, both through its own website and through a collection of news organizations.

The first wave of released documents—25 out of more than two million e-mails obtained by Wikileaks—focuses on Italian networking and systems integration vendor SELEX (a subsidiary of Finmeccanica—which, coincidentally, also owns Agusta, the helicopter manufacturer tied to the development of the Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter) and Greek network integrator Intracom. E-mails between representatives of the two companies published by Wikileaks show how they worked around the ever-tightening political noose of trade sanctions to bring a joint project in Syria to completion. That project? A secure software-defined radio network for the Syrian government based on SELEX’s TETRA trunked radio network hardware.

The VS-3000 and AS-3000 mobile TETRA transceivers, delivered under the contract—for what was advertised as a “public safety” network for emergency and disaster response—provide mobile voice and data for ground vehicles, coastal patrol craft, and aircraft. They link to a nationwide grid of ground stations connected by a fiber-optic network. But starting in May of last year, the project was expanded from its original 40 million euro price tag by more than 25 percent. A February invoice for the project totaled over 66 million euros. Those expansions came as the Syrian government requested TEA3 encryption for the radio system and started rolling it out to police.

Work by the two companies continued throughout the violent suppression of dissidents in Syria through February of this year. This included a trip to Damascus by SELEX engineers to assist in the installation of radios and accessories (some of which were delivered personally by the engineers). And throughout the project, SELEX continued to come up with alternative ways to source the components for the project as successive sanctions began to create problems with the company’s supply chain.

SELEX’s gear fell into the grey area of the September 2011 restrictions set by the EU—the sanctions allowed for telecommunications services, but banned the export of hardware and software that had specific military applications. But the contract, officially issued by the Syrian Wireless Organization, was signed by Imad Abdul-Ghani Sabbouni (Syria’s Minister of Communications). Sabbouni was individually named in EU sanctions in February 2012 for being involved in the censorship and monitoring of Syrian citizens’ Internet access. While not technically in violation of EU sanctions (at least up until February), there were some problems getting the gear exported.

The company also had to work around US bans on technology shipments to Syria, since many of the connectors for the fiber-optic gear Syria ordered from SELEX were manufactured in the US. In an e-mail thread from October 2011, SELEX Program Manager Simone Bonechi and Intracom Syria TETRA Project Manager Mohammad Shoorbajee discussed a delay in delivery of fiber-optic backbone gear because of those prohibitions—specifically, coupling cables for optical “choppers” used to modulate light being transmitted over a fiber-optic backbone. Shoorbajee wrote, “The customer is becoming very suspicious of us for not sending the cable. Do you recommend I say anything to them?”

Bonechi responded that there had been a delay because “we have to manage an unexpected problem with some connectors, part of the goods under shipment, which are manufactured in USA.” SELEX scrambled to find an alternative supplier for the connectors, as Shoorbajee reported that SWO’s representatives were “getting worried each day” that embargoes would block completion of the project.

 

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