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 battle of Najaf

US-sanctioned version.

The alternate (and more likely) version.

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YouTube of the day

Arianna Huffington and Jeff Jarvis at the recent World Economic Forum:

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Count the bases

How much do the Americans (or Australians, for that matter) know about their military presence worldwide? Let Chalmers Johnson tell you a few facts of life:

As a continuation of my own analytical odyssey, I then began doing research on the network of 737 American military bases we maintained around the world (according to the Pentagon’s own 2005 official inventory). Not including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we now station over half a million U.S. troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and others on military bases located in more than 130 countries, many of them presided over by dictatorial regimes that have given their citizens no say in the decision to let us in. 

Still unsure why imperial America is despised the world over?

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The debate The Oz doesn’t want to have

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Is a debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict too hot for The Australian to handle?

In his recent controversial book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, former US president Jimmy Carter describes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as worse than apartheid South Africa.

I was commissioned in December by The Australian’s opinion editor, Tom Switzer, to write an article about the book and the associated controversy (he had published three Israel/Palestine-related articles of mine in 2006.) The piece was due to run in the days after Christmas when the paper was to be overseen by fill-in editor Nick Cater (replacing holidaying editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell.)

I was soon informed that Cater refused to print the article, although he gave no reason to Switzer’s summer replacement, Sian Powell. When Switzer returned from holidays he told me he hoped to prevail over Cater’s intransigence and publish my article. I’ve now been informed that the paper will not do so. The latest Cater excuse is that my recent Sydney Morning Herald essay on blogging criticised the mainstream media (though not The Australian) and therefore I clearly didn’t respect the Murdoch organ. Really.

Switzer is appalled at the level of censorship displayed in this case (and cannot recall another incident where similar moves have occurred). He had even commissioned an opposing piece by Muslim dissident Irshad Manji to counter my article.

My article simply explained the controversy surrounding Carter’s book, the hysterical response by the Zionist lobby in the US (the latest example is here) and that whenever Israel faces its greatest criticism the usual suspects in the media try and shut down debate.

Carter’s observations are remarkably similar to comments by any number of mainstream Israelis. For anybody who has spent time in the West Bank, as I have, Carter’s analysis is both obvious and long overdue. The Australian media has virtually ignored the firestorm created around the book (except for a shallow article in last weekend’s Australian).

If The Australian is serious about “keeping the nation informed”, this latest example of suppression reeks of desperation, intellectual laziness and arrogance. Its readers deserve better.


Lebanese blowback

Mohamed Bazzi, The Nation, January 30:

It’s remarkable how quickly everyone remembered the patterns set during Lebanon’s long civil war. When violence suddenly erupted in Beirut on the afternoon of January 25, people rushed to stock up at grocery stores, businesses quickly shut their doors and traffic was snarled throughout the city as everyone hurried home.

While most people prepared for a siege, others were intent on causing trouble: Bands of young vigilantes roamed the streets, armed with wooden clubs and metal pipes, eyeing passing cars for any strangers. The fighting started in the cafeteria of Beirut Arab University between Shiite and Sunni students. In less than an hour, it spread to the surrounding neighborhood of Tariq Al-Jadideh, a Sunni stronghold. Snipers took up positions on the roofs of residential buildings, firing at protesters and Lebanese soldiers trying to break up the melee. Bands of Sunnis and Shiites–some wearing blue and red construction helmets–fought running street battles with rocks and clubs. Armed men roamed through the crowds. Rioters set fire to cars and trash dumpsters, sending plumes of black smoke over the neighborhood.

By the time it was over, four people were killed, more than 150 were injured and the Lebanese army had imposed a curfew on Beirut for the first time since 1996. Rumors circulated wildly, evoking memories of the civil war. The most disturbing news was broadcast on Lebanese television stations shortly before the curfew: Armed vigilantes had set up a checkpoint on the highway linking south Lebanon to Beirut. They were asking people for their identity cards.

The image of gunmen stopping civilians at checkpoints to sort–and often murder–them on the basis of religion is perhaps the most enduring symbol of Lebanon’s fifteen-year civil war. One of the war’s earliest massacres took place in December 1975, during the so-called “Black Saturday,” when gunmen from the right-wing Christian Phalange militia set up checkpoints throughout Beirut and killed dozens of Muslims. That a checkpoint was erected within the short hours of violence on January 25 illustrates how close Lebanon might be to the brink of another civil war. 

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YouTube of the day

Norman Finkelstein discusses criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism:


A royal Dick

We’re all about to get some Dick Down Under. US Vice-President Dick Cheney is coming to town. He’s a man of mystery. He’s a “most happy fella.” And perhaps most importantly, he’s liked by the Decider.

Wait a few years, and people like Cheney will have to be very careful where they travel. Warrants for his arrest will be common. For what? Advocating torture, invading countries for no legal reason and lying to Congress.

Perhaps this time we’ll simply have to make-do with a citizen’s arrest. Of course, the Howard government (and Murdoch press) will welcome Dick with open arms. After all, he is the architect of this.


Co-exist or die

While ignored in the West, the Palestinians in Israel are starting to gain a stronger voice and demand equal rights. Zionism has much to fear.

But long-term peace can only be achieved through mutual understanding. An Israeli/Palestinian comedy night in East Jerusalem last week showed what is truly possible.

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No civil war?

Is Robert Fisk over-hyping a civil war in Lebanon and ignoring the nefarious roles of Tel Aviv and Washington in the growing crisis?

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The Western blindness

Danny Rubinstein, Haaretz, January 29:

The evil begins in Gaza. The statistics are familiar: a crowded and besieged strip of land, largely cut off from the world, with an impoverished population lacking any economic future, political horizon and social infrastructure. The Palestinians have not succeeded in creating a government of law and order in Gaza, with an economic foundation.

But Israeli governments are also to blame for what is happening in Gaza. The Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip began about 17 years ago, in the wake of vigilante knifings and the first Gulf War. In the Oslo Accords Israel promised to maintain territorial contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank. There were several attempts to create such contiguity, but they were not implemented. On the Israeli side this was a blatant violation of the accords. Because of security fears, Israel prevented the regular operation of the airport in Gaza, and piled obstacles in the way of the construction of the seaport. The result: Besieged and impoverished Gaza became an economic, social and political pressure cooker.

The partially open border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt does not help Gaza economically; its only chance is forging some kind of connection to Israel. A regular connection between Gaza and the West Bank is, in effect, the only way of restraining the power and influence of Hamas, which is strong in Gaza and weak in the West Bank. The more Gaza has become disconnected from the West Bank, the more the Hamas regime has become entrenched there. 

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They have spoken

What do the dwindling number of Iraq war supporters say when things get tough?

Show desperation. Name-call. Ignore the facts on the ground.

Are the Iraqi people still relevant in all this? They want “us” to withdrawal, and soon.


Death comes to those who bomb

Former UN weapon’s inspector, writer and dissident Scott Ritter talks about the wars in Iraq and (potential) conflict against Iran (which incidentally, even a senior Israeli source believes can be solved through diplomatic, not military, means.)

One reason behind the Bush administration’s plans to change the Middle East? Curbing the growth of Iran and China.

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