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.

My Israel Question Arabic edition released

kadeyati el israeleya - antony loewenshtein

 

My first book, My Israel Question, was released in 2006. Nearly seven years after becoming a best-seller, I’m proud to announce that one of the Middle East’s leading publishers, All Prints, has just released an updated Arabic edition. The message of the book has only become more relevant, the importance of challenging the Zionist perspective on Israeli criminality in Palestine and a strong dissenting, Jewish voice. Another translated edition of the book will be released this year in Indonesia.

I’m told the title is now available in book stores and online across the Muslim world.

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Perhaps the handiest guide to real anti-Semitism you’ll ever read

Yes.

(Brilliance from the amazing US cartoonist, Eli Valley, who recent work, The Diary of Dr Loewenstein, inspires me still).

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Why Kafka lives in Palestine

Amira Hass in Haaretz:

The Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli police in the West Bank will continue trying to convince the High Court of Justice on Monday that the routine of fear in which two elderly farmers live due to attacks by settlers is reasonable and proportionate.

In the name of the IDF and the Israel Police, the State Prosecutor’s Office will try to convince justices Asher Grunis, Esther Hayut and Neal Hendel not to be overly shocked by the descriptions by Rabbis for Human Rights attorneys Quamar Mishirqi-Assad and Avital Sharon. At issue are the attacks on brothers Hammad and Mohammed al-Sleibi, age 78 and 70, from the village of Safa southwest of Bethlehem.

The state will ask that the petition on behalf of the two brothers be rejected, as well as the request that the West Bank law-enforcement authorities protect the welfare, property and work of the brothers and their descendants. For about 50 years, the brothers have been making a living from a 45-dunam plot in Wadi Abu Rish west of the village of Beit Omar. The settlement of Bat Ayin sits on top of a hill about 200 meters from the plot, which is abundant with trees and vines: olives, grapes, dates, apricots, plums, quince, peaches, pomegranates, loquats and almonds.

In September 2005, about 300 goats and their shepherds heading from the settlement entered the plot. In a complaint to the police, the brothers reported damage to their crops, both by the goats and the shepherds’ sticks. They expected protection. Instead, in the following eight months, their trees were damaged at least five times, and the two men were attacked with stones and injured. In 2007, young men heading from the settlement beat Hammad al-Sleibi with an iron rod and stones.

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Oscar-nominated Israeli film, The Gatekeepers, compares occupation to Nazi Germany

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Still dissecting the US-led torture regime post 9/11

We are still discovering the depth and extent of the crimes committed by the Americans in Iraq post 2003. I’m proud to call journalist Mike Otterman, mentioned below, a good friend. This report by Jeff Kaye on FireDogLake:

Journalist Michael Otterman, author of the excellent book, American Torture: From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and Beyond, was kind enough to forward to me some months ago a document he obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. The document consists of the after-action reports made by Colonel Steven Kleinman and Terrence Russell, two of the three team members sent by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) to a top-secret special operations facility in Iraq in September 2003.

The reports, written shortly after both JPRA officials finished their assignment, present two starkly different accounts of what took place that late summer in the depths of a JSOC torture chamber. Even more remarkable, Col. Kleinman, who famously intervened to stop torture interrogations at the facility, had his own report submitted to Russell for comment. Indeed, Kleinman’s report as released contains interpolations by Russell, such that the documents become a kind of ersatz debate over torture by the JPRA team members, and at a distance, some of the Task Force members.

This extraordinary document is being posted here in full for the first time. Click here to download.

Kleinman told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), which in 2008 was investigating detainee abuse in the military (large PDF), that he thought as Team Leader (and Intelligence Director at JPRA’s Personnel Recovery Academy) he was being sent to the Special Mission Unit Task Force interrogation facility to identify problems with their interrogation program.

Much to his surprise, he and his JPRA team were being asked to provide training in the kind of techniques originally used only for demonstration and “classroom” experience purposes in the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, or SERE program. (JPRA has organizational supervisory control over SERE, though the constituent arms of the military services retain some independence in how they run their programs.)

But not far into his mission, JPRA’s Commander, Colonel Randy Moulton, told Kleinman and his team they were “‘cleared hot’ to employ the full range of JPRA methods to include specifically the following: Walling – Sleep Deprivation – Isolation – Physical Pressures (to include stress positions, facial and stomach slaps, and finger pokes to chest) – Space/Time Disorientation – White Noise”.

The story of the JPRA team visit and how it went bad, how Kleinman intervened when he saw a kneeling prisoner being repeatedly slapped, how he refused to write up a torture interrogation protocol for use at the TF facility — widely believed to be Task Force 20 (as reported by Jane Mayer in her bookThe Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals) — has been told at this point a number of times.

But never has the degree of acrimony and conflict that went on between Kleinman and his other JPRA team members, and the back and forth with superiors and TF personnel been so carefully detailed.

Russell, who was a civilian manager for JPRA’s Research and Development division, was in particular open about why the team had been sent, and who they were helping. Kleinman, on the other hand, explained in his report at the outset that a nondisclosure agreement put “significant limitations on the details of our actions that can be reported herein.”

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Supporting Palestine is protected by the US constitution

At a time when Palestine activism in the US is becoming more effective (and more threatening to the Zionist lobby), this initiative is welcome:

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the Student Speech Working Group and other organizations, today announced the launch of the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support Initiative, which will help ensure that Palestinian rights activists have the legal support they need to exercise their First Amendment rights and continue speaking and organizing. 

“This legal support initiative comes at a crucial time and responds to growing efforts to obstruct advocacy in support of Palestinian rights and brand it as anti-Semitic,” said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy. “We are pleased to be working with cooperating attorneys Dima Khalidi and Liz Jackson and colleagues at the National Lawyers Guild to help protect activists’ First Amendment rights.”
 
The initiative will track incidents of repression and provide legal support to advocates facing legal and other challenges to their activism. Attorneys familiar with the issues that activists face will respond to questions related to Palestine solidarity organizing and to requests for advice and legal assistance. The initiative also provides advocacy support, as well as trainings and other resource materials.
 
CCR and NLG stand with advocates for Palestinian rights as part of their mission to fight for human rights accountability more broadly. Both organizations are dedicated to supporting activists and movements engaged in efforts to achieve social justice. The Student Speech Working Group is a coalition dedicated to supporting the free speech of students advocating for Palestinian rights, and other Muslim and Arab student activists.  The coalition includes the Asian Law Caucus, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the Council on American-Islamic Relations – San Francisco Bay Area, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other individual lawyers and students.
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Memo to public broadcasters; drone program funded by drone providers ain’t kosher

The conflict of interest is so damn obvious it’s impossible to think nobody at PBS in America realised it. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting explains:

The PBS Nova broadcast “Rise of the Drones” was sponsored by drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin–a clear violation of PBS‘s underwriting guidelines.

As Kevin Gosztola reported (FireDogLake1/24/13), the January 23 broadcast was a mostly upbeat look at surveillance and weaponized drones. “Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history,” PBS urged, promising to reveal “the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful.”

Some of that technology, unbeknownst to viewers, was created by the company described as giving Nova “additional funding” at the beginning of the broadcast. Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor with $46 billion in 2011 sales, is a manufacturer of drones used in warfare and intelligence, including the Desert Hawk, the Falcon, the Stalker and the Tracer. In December 2012, Lockheed bought AME Unmanned Air Systems, maker of the Fury drone (New Times12/19/12).

Nova‘s history of unmanned flight technology included comments from Abe Karem, dubbed the “father of the Predator” drone. His current company,FireDogLake‘s Gosztola noted, has a business relationship with Lockheed Martin.

The show did not entirely skirt the controversies over drones. A section of the broadcast dealt with drone pilots firing on targets in countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan. Viewers, though, are told that drone pilots have distinct advantage over conventional pilots. One drone operator talks about how, after a strike, a drone can “stick around for another few hours to watch what happens afterwards.” A more critical look at drone wars might have mentioned these are the same circumstances under which U.S. drones have attacked rescue workers and funeral processions (Bureau of Investigative Journalism6/4/12).

The show does not ignore the question of civilian deaths–though it says “the facts are hard to come by” and that “there are not fully reliable counts of civilian deaths.” Nova does mention that some estimates are that 30 percent of those killed are civilians, and talks about one attack that killed 23 civilians in Pakistan.

But, in keeping with the generally upbeat tone, Nova tells viewers that technology will help turn things around. “Drones can strike with pinpoint precision,” the programs explains, “but their visual sensors are limited in ways that can lead pilots to make mistakes.” Not to worry, though; “engineers are working to create new sensors that can see more in greater detail than ever before.”

The program’s sponsorship tie to the drone industry were never mentioned–though there were opportunities to disclose that relationship. In addition to Lockheed Martin’s connection to one of the interview subjects, the show discussed a U.S. drone that was captured by Iran–without mentioning that it was manufactured by Nova‘s underwriter. And when Nova discusses the drones of the future, it’s talking about the kind of miniature drones Lockheed Martin is developing to provide “constant surveillance capabilities” (TPM IdeaLab7/4/12).

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America’s freedom of the press? Dream on

Disturbing post from Freedom of the Press Foundation (great new group, support them) on the serious threats from the Obama administration to transparency and democracy in America:

disturbing report in Saturday’s Washington Post describes an FBI investigation of a large number of government officials suspected of leaking classified information to the press, engulfing an unknown group of reporters along the way. The investigation includes data-mining officials’ personal and professional communications to find any contact with journalists. Just to be clear: It seems officials are being targeted for just talking to the press.

While the Obama administration has already shamefully prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined, this investigation—given its unprecedented scope and scale—has the potential to permanently chill both press freedom and the public’s right to know.

Last year, the New York Times reported on the computer virus known as Stuxnet that attacked Iran’s nuclear reactors and the broader Top Secret program cyberattack program code named “Olympic Games.” Around the same time, the Associated Press reported on an al-Qaeda double agent who allegedly foiled a terrorist attack. Both stories are subject to investigation.

Unlike other investigations, the FBI is not targeting one or even a few government employees, but is engaged in a wide-ranging fishing expedition. According to the Post’s anonymous source, the investigation engulfs “everybody—at pretty high levels, too. There are many people who’ve been contacted from different agencies.”

The net now seems to be cast over the entire government, and in return, the entire Washington press corp. The Post is reporting the FBI is using new, “sophisticated software to identify names, key words and phrases embedded in e-mails and other communications, including text messages, which could lead them to suspects.”

The surveillance gets even more invasive than that:

“The FBI also looks at officials’ phone records — who called whom, when, for how long. Once they have evidence of contact between officials and a particular journalist, investigators can seek a warrant to examine private e-mail accounts and phone records, including text messages, former prosecutors said.”

In addition to getting warrants anytime a government official has contact with the unknown number of “particular” journalists, FBI agents have been “confronting” officials when they find this information.

Talking to a reporter is not a crime. Having an association with a national security reporter from the New York Times or the AP should not give the authorities probable cause to spy on officials. To insinuate as such not only inhibits reporters from doing their job and prevents the American people from learning vital information, but is a violation of the government officials’ First Amendment rights.

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Israeli “democracy”: giving Ethiopian women birth control without consent

Words fail (via the Independent):

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.

The government had previously denied the practice but the Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general has now ordered gynaecologists to stop administering the drugs. According a report in Haaretz, suspicions were first raised by an investigative journalist, Gal Gabbay, who interviewed more than 30 women from Ethiopia in an attempt to discover why birth rates in the community had fallen dramatically.

One of the Ethiopian women who was interviewed is quoted as saying: “They [medical staff] told us they are inoculations. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.” It is alleged that some of the women were forced or coerced to take the drug while in transit camps in Ethiopia.

The drug in question is thought to be Depo-Provera, which is injected every three months and is considered to be a highly effective, long-lasting contraceptive.

Nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have moved to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has been questioned by some rabbis. Last year, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the health portfolio, warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state”.

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US military will arm and train any old thugs

Steve Coll in the New Yorker:

The Pentagon has yet to meet a military in a desperately poor or hopelessly corrupt country that it does not believe it can train and equip to a professional standard. Pentagon training has in fact strengthened and stabilized professional militaries in many developing countries. Yet some of the militaries that the United States has mentored in North and West Africa are best understood as criminal organizations that happen to wear pressed uniforms and epaulets. The better that some of these students learn to shoot while at Fort Benning, and the better the equipment they receive as favored clients, the more effective they become at their enduring vocations—drug smuggling, coup-making, and profitable collusion with pirates and terrorists.

Captain Amadou Sanogo, of Mali, was a longtime mentee of American trainers. He led a coup d’état against Mali’s weak democratic government early last year; after he seized power, reporters who interviewed him noticed that he proudly sported a United States Marine Corps pin on his uniform. As it turned out, Sanogo had been dispatched to the U.S. for training several times. Unfortunately, his skill as a mutineer ran “contrary to everything that is taught in U.S. military schools,” as a Pentagon spokeswoman later put it to the Agence France Presse.

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Ongoing Wall Street criminality is key Obama failing

Fascinating documentary by PBS Frontline that outlines the far-too-cosy relationship, along with gutlessness, between Wall Street and the Obama administration. No Wall Street executives have done jail time for the massive fraud uncovered during the global financial crisis. This is as much a scandal as Washington’s drone war in the far-reaches of the world. Unaccountable power, embraced by Barack Obama. The US President is a symbol of many things to many people. In reality, he’s a plutocrat keen to protect his plutocrat mates:

Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Glenn Greenwald outlines the story.

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More on Dirty Wars and covert US wars ignored by corporate press

Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley speak to Huffington Post Live:

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