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.

Killing Ayrabs is part of the mission, yes?

Jeremy Scahill, Huffington Post, October 30:

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words, “Anything you say can’t and won’t be used against you in a court of law.”

The latest Blackwater news is here (including the encouraging sign that the Iraqis want to remove the immunity granted to mercenaries.)

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Forgive us our sins

The irreplaceable Max Blumenthal – film-maker and all around trouble-maker against the American Right – is back with a new short about a recent conference of the Christian fundies.

And remember, abortion/homosexuals/Arabs/Muslims are a threat.

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But, why, how dare you challenge Israel?

Zionist anger is a wonderful thing to watch.

After I recently wrote an article for Crikey that dared to suggest that Israel’s behaviour in Palestine was outrageous, Douglas Kirsner, chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, chimed in and defended his wonderful homeland and said it was wrong that anybody would criticise the Jewish state. After all, being a dedicated Zionist means never admitting anything in public. Israel is a noble state, remember?

Now, after last week’s piece in Crikey, that argued the Jewish candidates in the forthcoming federal election seem incapable of expressing independent thought on Israel, a response in Crikey from Dougy K has arrived:

Douglas Kirsner, chair of the Public Affairs Committee of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, writes: Re. “Courting the Jewish vote” (25 October, item 19). I write in relation to Antony Loewenstein’s especially vitriolic attack on Jewish Labor candidates in Crikey. He made some quite baseless and outrageous accusations, alleging with no evidence at all, that Mark Dreyfus, George Newhouse and Michael Danby wanted to be in Canberra just to push Jerusalem buttons. I would have to wonder whether Loewenstein himself is more than Antony “one note” on focussing so much on the Zionist conspiracy as the root cause of so many problems. Danby, Dreyfus and Newhouse are all across a wide range of issues, only one of which is Israel. He also alleges that the ALP supports Israel only because they don’t want to offend the Jews– the Zionists, Loewenstein gratuitously alleges, “would eat him or her, with crackling, for dinner”. Isn’t it at least possible that the ALP have independent minds of their own and determine their own policies. Loewenstein should investigate why Doc Evatt and Bob Hawke were such supporters of Israel. Or for that matter Robert McLelland whom Loewenstein also sneers at. If you were running a serious correspondent explaining why Australia’s significant Jewish Community (about 120 000), they would be looking at why in two marginal seats Melbourne Ports (3.6%) and Wentworth (2%) there are apparently very different voting intentions. They would explain why the majority of Jews in Wentworth vote for Turnbull of the Liberal Party while the majority in Melbourne Ports vote for Danby of the ALP. Constituents appreciate a good local MP when they see one! I wrote a serious article in response to Loewenstein’s last effort. I think it is important for you to publish some kind of serious journalism on such issues, not just insults that impugn the integrity of these people and also of those many Jews and non-Jews inside and outside the Labor Party, who have a serious point of view different from a sneering ideological extremist like Lowenstein.

I’m an “extremist”. Yes, I thought so. Thanks for clarifying that. And, so it seems, according to Zionist logic, Jewish candidates that publicly display their love for Israel are simply expressing their deepest feelings. Perhaps. So why, pray tell, is even raising these issues in the public domain guaranteed to generate deluded vitriol by the likes of Kirsner? The answer is clear. The agenda is shifting, and anti-Zionist voices are starting to be heard. Zionists aren’t too fond of this, and will inevitably respond in their usual, bullying way. It no longer works, of course, but that won’t stop them doing it.

Kirsner are relics of a past Zionist age, where their voices were the only Jewish ones in the arena. But Zionist panic is setting in. In many ways, Kirsner is the perfect Zionist spokesman, utterly incapable of understanding nuance about the Jewish state and reliable enough to defend everything it ever does.

That’s not love; that’s incest. And many young Jews are turning away from Israel. Keep it coming.

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Please love your victimisers

Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly, 25-31 October:

If you want to understand the magnitude of the Palestinian tragedy and the depths of their dilemma take a look at the recent decree issued by the Israeli Ministry of Education which in essence asks Jewish and Arab schoolchildren to sign the Israeli declaration of independence as part of the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel.

In a statement distributed to the schools the ministry’s Society and Youth Administration set the following objectives for the jubilee: “To commemorate the passage of 60 years since the establishing of the state of Israel in the Arab and Jewish educational system; to strengthen the sense of belonging to, pride in and love for the 60-year-old state among all who attend educational institutes; to help all Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and other youth to form a clear vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; to inspire a sense of responsibility and social commitment among the young and to encourage them to become active participants in the affairs of society.”

A quick glance at this text is sufficient to realise that there are no Palestinian Arabs in Israel; they are to be Israelis first, and “Muslims, Christians, Druze and others” second. The Arab student, according to this inspirational educational aim, is to love Israel, be Israeli and feel proud — no more, no less. How commendable such a memorandum would be if distributed (with the appropriate nationality change) to fledgling citizens in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere. In Israel, though, it would be hard to come up with a more grotesque document.

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Principle before profit?

Many Western multinationals, like Google, have embraced China and chosen to comply with onerous restrictions and censorship. WordPress, a popular blogging tool, has not. Matt Mullenweg, the 23-year-old founder, explains why:

We had a bigger problem in China. It set the moral compass for the company. About a quarter of our traffic was coming from China. Overnight it disappeared. For a young company, that’s a big deal – it was a million pages a day. We found out if we were willing to forbid certain words, track people and give up their information if asked, we could be turned back on. It was tough. We decided that being there under those circumstances isn’t worth it – we’d rather not be there. Does that mean WordPress is still blocked in China? Yes, still blocked two years later.

It’s an admirable stance.

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Heal me, Moses

Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to have found a modern-day Moses. Who, you may ask?

AKA Nashville-based blogger Webutante – barely knew Jewish Republicans existed until last week, when she met former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, whom she now views as “a modern day Moses leading his people out of slavery, into freedom. But rather than leading them out of the land of Egypt, he’s taking them out of the bondage of the Democratic party.”

Tragically, many Jews who support endless war in the Middle East are regarded as heroes by other Jews and non-Jews alike who rather like the idea of endless war in the Middle East.

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Finding fault with Iran

With all the talk of an imminent strike against Iran, it’s sometimes easy to forget the true nature of the Ahmadinejad regime. Some people are clearly appreciative of its stance:

Armenian Americans slammed the decision by a university in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to honor Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad during a state visit to Armenia last week was presented with a gold medal and an honorary doctorate Monday from Yerevan State University.

An editorial in the Armenian weekly, the house organ of the Armenian National Committee of America, condemned the university, noting that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has disregarded historical research.

“The university’s decision to bestow an honorary doctorate is simply unacceptable,” the editorial said. “We are surprised that as the officials in charge of the alma mater of a nation that rose from the ashes of another genocide, they did not take this fact into consideration before deciding to award the honorary degree.”

The brutality continues:

Child offender Makwan Moloudzadeh, an Iranian Kurd, is believed to be at risk of imminent execution. He has reportedly been convicted of lavat-e iqabi (anal sex) for the alleged rape of a 13-year-old boy. Makwan Moloudzadeh was aged 13 at the time of the alleged offence. His death sentence has been passed to the Office for the Implementation of Sentences and he is due to be executed in public, near his home.

None of this justifies a military strike, of course, though this appears to be where the debate is moving.

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Honouring a tyrant

The Guardian, October 30:

Diplomacy often calls for pretence and evasion to further the needs of nations but rarely in such public fashion as this week. The state visit to Britain by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is an expression of base politics and supposed mutual advantage, lacking the honour and glory that ought to characterise such events. It was exposed as such even before the Saudi monarch and the many princes and aides who accompanied him landed at Heathrow. If their visit was intended to celebrate relations between the two countries and extend commercial ties, then it went wrong at the start, when David Miliband decided to cancel a meeting with Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, because of his newly adopted second son. Nor did King Abdullah’s remarks on Sunday in a BBC interview suggest an visit based on mutual respect. He claimed to have provided information that could have stopped terrorist attacks in 2005. Downing Street immediately and correctly disagreed.

Without even a show of harmony, Britain is treating its Saudi visitors to gilded carriages and a royal banquet not because of any real respect, but because of their oil wealth and strategic position. There is nothing new about such special treatment, of course, and the government would argue that however distasteful it is also essential. Saudi Arabia is Britain’s principal ally in the Middle East, fundamentally involved not just in a trading relationship and the supply of oil, but in Iraq, counter-terrorism and the containment of Iran. It has a critical role to play in the forthcoming Middle East talks in Annapolis, Maryland. Successive British governments have exempted Saudi Arabia from laws and moral judgments that are applied to other nations because of this importance.

More on the nauseating Saudi visit here and here.

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The Rudd delusion

My latest New Matilda column is about the likely foreign policy of a Kevin Rudd government (namely, pretty damn similar to the current mob):

The coming Federal election will be a contest between a social and economic conservative (John Howard) and a marginally less social and economic conservative (Kevin Rudd).

Those so-called progressives, such as Robert Manne, hoping that a Rudd victory would usher in a period of more reflective foreign policy and the ability to say ‘no’ to Washington, are kidding themselves. On this point alone, a recent Australian editorial is spot-on.

The Labor Party is not the utopia imagined by people like Manne, but rather a business that may tinker around the edges of domestic policy, but maintain an essentially US-focused outlook. The key question facing a newly elected Rudd Government (or a re-elected Howard one) is a possible US or Israeli-led strike on Iran.

Prominent Leftists like Manne remain silent on such matters, preferring to comfort themselves with a Labor Party that exists solely in their minds. Memo to Manne: today’s ALP is utterly removed from the Hawke/Keating years. This is something to be applauded.

My New Matilda archive is here.

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Yes, this is apartheid South Africa

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

“We hope the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel will end. There is a cry of anguish from the depth of my heart, to my spiritual relatives. Please, please hear the call, the noble call of our scripture. Because of what I experienced in South Africa, I harbour hope for Israel and the Palestinian territories. I experienced a déjà vu when I encountered a security checkpoint that Palestinians must negotiate every day and be demeaned, all their lives. When I hear, ‘that used to be my home,’ it is painfully similar to the treatment in South Africa when coloureds had no rights.”

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Blocking the fly-over

Internet censorship exists in Morocco, including the blocking of Google Earth. Once again, we find Western multinationals, in this case Vivendi, involved in the process:

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Failure has its benefits

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, October 29:

Do not belittle the Annapolis summit. Despite all the prophecies of failure, justified as they are, this summit could still make an important contribution to the history of Israeli-Arab negotiations: For the first time, it will become crystal-clear who aspires toward peace and, more important, who flees from it as if from fire.

Israel is going to Annapolis as if by force. The prime minister’s hands are tied. If he were to dare to raise the core issues, which are the only thing to be discussed there, then his political fate would be sealed. Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu have already announced that in such an event, they will bring down his government. One can assume that Ehud Olmert, the survivor, is aware of this danger. Despite the lofty agreements that he will achieve – or not, it will seem as if his biweekly talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas never took place. Eli Yishai won’t permit it, Avigdor Lieberman is making threats and even Ehud Barak is making sour faces. An Israel that refuses to discuss the core issues is an Israel that does not want peace. There’s no other way to put it.  

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