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.

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.

Challenging spin over PNG LNG vital in age of resource curse

A key theme of my disaster capitalism book (out 2013) is the role of Western multinationals in exploiting resources and people in poor nations. A focus is Papua New Guinea. A report released today by NGO Jubilee Australia called Pipe Dreams challenges the many myths about the supposed benefits of the soon to begin LNG operation. I’m honoured to have many of my own PNG photographs featured in the report and provided some advice on various sections.

Here’s the Fairfax story:

The  economic benefit of Papua New Guinea’s biggest natural resources project has been questioned, with a report warning that ordinary citizens risk missing out because of corruption and contracts that favour the lead proponent, ExxonMobil.

A report by anti-poverty group Jubilee Australia, to be released Wednesday, examines the predicted economic benefit of PNG’s liquefied natural gas project and the Australian government’s provision of $500 million towards it.

The report highlights endemic corruption in PNG and warns that a government sovereign wealth fund and other official bodies established to handle billions of dollars in revenues could be defrauded.

”The governance and public life of PNG are to this day beset by political intrigue, self-interest of politicians and gross misuse of public funds,” the report warns.

Scheduled to begin production in 2014, the LNG project is valued at $22 billion and predicted to double PNG’s gross domestic product.

Australian companies Santos and Oil Search are prominent players in the joint venture project led by US giant ExxonMobil.

The report by Jubilee Australia – whose supporters include World Vision and the National Coalition of Churches – includes allegations that the PNG government was ”pressured into the signing” of agreements by the joint-venture companies.

Former PNG attorney-general Allan Marat is quoted in the report as saying he and his office had less than 24 hours to analyse a 200-page agreement before determining whether it was in the best interests of his country. ”This gas agreement was drawn up overseas. It was taken away from our government negotiating team and structured overseas. And, we are now forced to dance to the music of foreigners,” he said.

In response to questions from Jubilee Australia, ExxonMobil disputed the claims and argued that the fast negotiations could be explained by the fact the PNG government relied on many of the same fiscal terms as previously agreed to in a defunct 2006 proposal.

The report found mixed economic benefits for PNG people as a result of the massive investments already being made for the project.

It stated that although PNG citizens fortunate enough to have been directly employed by the project had reported that their livelihoods had improved, there was a strong view that ”an educated and well-connected elite” had captured most of the benefits.

The West Australian report:

A Papua New Guinean oil and gas venture supported by $333 million of Australian taxpayer money has been linked to violent deaths and tensions that could lead to widespread fighting.

Research-based advocacy organisation Jubilee Australia, which today releases its Pipe Dreams report on the ExxonMobil PNG Southern Highlands LNG project, found the $18.24 billion venture would not deliver all the predicted economic gains to Papua New Guineans.

It also warned that tribal disputes over land use and royalties could escalate tensions.

Jubilee research director Luke Fletcher said yesterday conditions were ripe for greater local violence over project-related disputes in the vein of an incident when a rival tribe allegedly gunned down 11 villagers in January.

The report prompted WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam to vent new concerns about the Federal Government’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, which was a key backer of the project.

He said EFIC, which in the past two years has come under fire over alleged corruption in an Iraqi oil venture and an African environmental dispute, needed reforms.

“EFIC’s job should be to address market failure and deliver fair and equitable economic opportunities, not to provide a trough of poorly regulated corporate welfare,” Senator Ludlam said.

In June, an Australian Productivity Commission report recommended measures “to enhance the transparency of EFIC’s activities to the Trade Minister, the Australian Government and the public”.

A spokeswoman for Trade Minister Craig Emerson said the Government’s response to the commission’s findings was “imminent”.

Mr Fletcher said Jubilee’s report found the nation’s GDP would not double, as predicted, and that inflation could hurt vulnerable segments of the PNG community.

An EFIC spokeswoman said the “project’s impact on the wider PNG economy” and “the distribution of royalties and levies” was a matter for the PNG Government.

ExxonMobil said the January deaths were linked to a long tribal dispute and not the project.

What matters here is how Western nations and multinationals pressure impoverished states to progress with resource projects when the evidence for locals to benefit is questionable at best. Just this week Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced this:

Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced on Human Rights Day that Australia will join a global initiative to promote human rights while ensuring the security of mining projects.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights provide practical guidance to mining, oil and gas companies on managing security while respecting human rights and preventing conflict.

Senator Carr said Australia is proud to join the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Colombia and Switzerland in this initiative.

“Australian mining companies are expanding overseas, often into unstable environments,” Senator Carr said.

“This initiative can help these companies lower risks and manage mine security in a way that respects the human rights and freedoms of local communities.

“As a country with renowned expertise in responsible mining, Australia has a lot to offer.

“Many Australian companies, such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, already use the Voluntary Principles and the number is expected to grow as more companies realise the benefits.

“Joining this initiative will help Australian companies maintain the highest international standards in managing their operations abroad.”

This sounds great in theory but Canberra sees its role as promoting Australian businesses first and other concerns as far less important. Besides, the record of countless Australian energy companies in places like PNG are deeply troubling.

The Jubilee Australia report should warn us that the spin offered by resource corporations, Canberra and the PNG government itself is just that. The people of PNG deserve far better.

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