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.

New frontiers of “free speech”: pressuring Twitter to ban Hamas

Disturbing post by the ACLU about the growing pressure in the US to try and silence ideas or groups that certain interest groups don’t like (but who live and operate in the real world):

With one major exception, the Roberts Court has been quite protective of unpopular (and even revolting) speech under the First Amendment. That exception, however, is a doozy. It involves a statute criminalizing “material support” for terrorism, and the danger of the law was on stark display this week with reports of a petition to hold Twitter responsible for allowing Hamas to use the service.

First, some background. In 1996, Congress enacted a law that made it a crime to provide “material support” for terrorism. As defined, “material support” included tangible and intangible property, and “services,” including financial assistance, training, lodging, harboring, providing false documents, etc., and excepting medicine and religious material. In 2001, the Patriot Act expanded the law to include “expert advice or assistance,” which prompted many to argue that the already overly broad law had been expanded to indisputably cover core, constitutionally protected speech.

In 2009, the Supreme Court considered a challenge to the statute by several human rights groups hoping to support the humanitarian and political activities of Tamil and Kurdish militant groups, which had been designated by the State Department as terrorist organizations.

The decision made a little history—and not in a good way. You see, there are two ways the government can constitutionally restrict speech. On the one hand, the speech can fall into one of a small number of “exceptions” to the First Amendment like obscenity, defamation or fraud. On the other, Congress can restrict speech when, to oversimplify, the government has a really good reason (when the restriction is “narrowly tailored” to meet a “compelling government interest”). The material support case is one of only two where the Supreme Court upheld a blatant, “content-based” speech restriction under the latter analysis, referred to as “strict scrutiny.” The other, campaign finance restrictions, has since been overturned (and involved the complicating factor of corporate speech), and there is a third case, involving speech at polling places, but the strict scrutiny analysis there was only applied by four justices.

Now back to Twitter. An evangelical group called “Christians United for Israel” has launched a petition asking that the “U.S. Attorney’s Office . . . ban” Hamas from Twitter under the theory that Twitter is providing a “service” to Hamas—a designated terrorist group—under the material support statute (namely “communications equipment”). “Communications equipment” is not defined in the statute (nor in federal law generally, as far as I can tell), and it’s not insane to argue that it encompasses remote infrastructure that permits an individual or group to micro-blog on the internet (though it’s also arguably true that they’re not providing physical “equipment” per se, merely data and storage).

It’s a little unclear what Christians United is asking—do they want the Justice Department to demand that Twitter ban Hamas, or do they want a prosecution? But the fact that the plain language of the statute could even conceivably reach Twitter in this context shows why the law is arguably the most dangerous speech restriction on the books today, and why the Supreme Court’s decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project was such an unfortunate departure from the Court’s relatively positive track record on controversial speech. Say what you will about Hamas, but I don’t think it benefits American public discourse to censor their Twitter feed, nor do I think merely providing Hamas with an outlet furthers their organizational goals (and, indeed, may do the opposite for many who find their views repellent).

One other aspect of this story raises hairs on the back of the neck. Professor David Cole at Georgetown, who litigated Humanitarian Law Project, noted that Twitter is “for all practical purposes” a common carrier, meaning it would not be responsible for illegal conduct by its users. That is absolutely right, but the scary caveat there is “for all practical purposes.” Practically doesn’t mean legally, and Twitter is not legallyclassified as a common carrier under telecommunications law. Further, the various laws governing intermediary liability on the internet wouldn’t trump criminal material support for terrorism. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (the part that survived Reno v. ACLU) only insulates online intermediaries from liability for illegal content (and this content isn’t illegal), and, in any event, doesn’t apply to crimes. In sum, there is an argument that Twitter is providing material support to Hamas by simply hosting its feed . . . and that should frighten the daylights out of all of us.

Fortunately, there may be two counterarguments based on limiting language inHumanitarian Law Project. First, the Supreme Court there made it clear thatindependent advocacy, even if in support of the ends of a terrorist group, would not be material support. The Court reasoned that the definition of “service” in the statute requires something done at the command of another. So, in the context of providing “communications equipment,” one could argue that the “service” has to be something like renting a satellite phone (not passively providing data and hosting services). For de facto common carriers like Twitter, open to all, the provision of service is not “coordinated” in the way the Court seems to argue is necessary, and it certainly does not suggest “support” in the sense of concerted activity in furtherance of the goals of the designated terrorist organization.

Second, the decision limits itself narrowly to the facts of the case (namely, direct political and humanitarian guidance), and notes that not every application of the material support statute will survive First Amendment scrutiny. Though I think this would be a case of first impression, providing a Twitter feed (or a Facebook page or a Google link) should be totally immunized from criminal liability.

In any event, if we truly believe in the marketplace of ideas, we cannot block the public distribution of potentially offensive ideas (different story for incitement to violence or speech integral to criminal activity, which nobody has shown me are at issue here). The fact this is even an arguable case, as I’ve outlined above, should be of great concern to us all.

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