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 first of many?

Global leadership emerges from…Central America:

Israel has postponed a planned meeting with Costa Rican officials over the Central American nation’s decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state.

The meeting between President Oscar Arias and an Israeli diplomat, scheduled for Wednesday, ”was postponed, but we are looking to reschedule,” Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said Monday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Israel had summoned the Costa Rican charge d’affaires and instructed its ambassador to convey a message to San Jose.

”We would like to express our disappointment over this regretful decision of the government of Costa Rica to establish full diplomatic relations with the ‘state of Palestine,”’ Mekel said. ”This act of Costa Rica totally contradicts the traditional friendship that characterized its relations with Israel since its establishment.”

Stagno has said Costa Rica hoped to encourage peace talks on Feb. 5 when it recognized a Palestinian state – a key demand on the part of the Palestinians.

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Take cover

After winning an Oscar for his documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, Alex Gibney has a new target in his sights:

The filmmaker who won an Academy Award Sunday night for best documentary is next turning his attention to the Jack Abramoff scandal, including GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s role in investigating the affair.

Alex Gibney, who made last year’s “Taxi to the Dark Side,” about the lethal interrogation of an Afghani taxicab driver by American military forces, told Politico his Abramoff film would be coming out later this year. Its tentative title: “Casino Jack and the United States of Money.”

“The film should give viewers a greater understanding, in a blow-by-blow way, of how the political process works, particularly with regards to lobbying,” Gibney says. “This movie will have it all: wild international intrigue, money changing hands in unexpected places, etc. It will be fun. As someone said about an earlier picture I made: ‘It’s a comedy that turns into farce and ends up in horror.'”

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A small opening

Barack Obama, Cleveland, February:

I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.

Nobody should be under any illusion about Obama’s ability or interest to seriously shift America’s role towards Israel – though Hillary Clinton’s supporters are certainly keen to try – but his position above is an encouraging sign of dissent. The Likudnik position has only caused chaos and will lead to the end of the Jewish state.

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URL Not Available

My latest column for New Matilda is about China’s crackdown on internal dissent and its fear of the internet:

Although China is also battling a seemingly unsurmountable pollution problem, the regime appears determined to ignore Western calls for greater openness. “Why can’t China accept that dissent and argument are part of being a normal country?” asks leading Hong-Kong based academic Rebecca MacKinnon. “Why behave in such an insecure manner that violates international human rights norms, damages China’s international image, and distracts media attention away from the Chinese people’s genuine achievements over the past 30 years?”

But outside pressure may be starting to have an effect. When Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg recently announced his withdrawal as an artistic director for the August games, the Chinese regime responded with indignation. The director claimed that Beijing was doing too little to pressure the Sudanese Government over its behaviour in Darfur. But the New York Times now reports that, in fact, “China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force.” Beijing is clearly listening and remains determined to avoid an embarrassing Games hijacked by human rights agendas.

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News flash!

The New Statesman gets the memo a few years late:

It’s official: Blair’s government set out to deceive us about Iraq.

More here.

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Ships of fools

Iranian blogger Kamangir offers a tantalising piece of news:

“5 in the morning”, a website close to the reformists, claims that since a month ago Iranian tankers have been travelling in the Persian Gulf under foreign flags [Persian]. Reportedly, as the American ships in the Persian Gulf increased their surveillance on Iranian vessels, tankers operated by the state adopted flags from Cyprus and Malta. The website adds that according to international treaties ships owned by sanctioned countries cannot travel freely.

No other source has verified this news.

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The power of the pulpit

Ibrahim El Houdaiby, Conflicts Forum, February 25:

Those who believe that the ongoing crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian regime will cause a major setback for the country’s largest and most powerful civil opposition group are definitely mistaken. Brotherhood members are an integral living part of the Egyptian society who can never be marginalized. In fact, the only possible outcome for such crackdowns is increasing the group’s popularity and radicalizing political Islam.

It has been 15 months now since security forces arrested a large number of Brotherhood members, including Deputy Chairman Khayrat El Shater, a handful of top leaders and 140 university students on the dawn of December 14th, 2006. Arrests were largely portrayed as a response to massive students’ demonstrations, but later charges on money laundry and leading and financing an outlawed organization were added. All charges were dropped three times by civilian courts, which found them to be “fabricated, groundless and politically motivated, with no substantial evidence whatsoever.” The court ordered the immediate release of the detainees; students were released a few weeks later, while senior members and leaders were rearrested from inside the court room, and were sentenced to a military tribunal, the verdict of which is expected on Tuesday.

It is clear the regime is trying to impede the Brotherhood after the group’s manifest success in the 2005 parliamentary elections, when it secured 20% of the parliament’s seats although competing on only one third of them. The crackdown was part of the regime’s attempt to silence its opposition to secure a smooth transfer of power from the 80-year-old President Mubarak to his younger son Gamal.

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This is what we’ve become

The great Guantanamo puppet theatre.

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A deserving winner

The film Taxi to the Dark Side has won Best Documentary at last night’s Oscars.

My friend, Melbourne-born and New York based Eva Orner, was the co-winner.

It’s a wonderful achievement.

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Station your killers elsewhere

African bloggers discuss the possibility of American military bases on the continent.

(For the record, they’re universally opposed to the idea.)

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Some home truths for the unitiated

This is how to be a guest on Fox News:

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Splitting Jerusalem

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, February 24:

One could not believe in the negotiations Israel is conducting with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank; one may also believe that the parties want to succeed, but cannot. One also may think that talks cannot proceed without the elected representation of the Palestinian people, who chose Hamas. There are also no negotiations without Gaza. And now, after we have properly frowned on all these negotiations, we may also decide that for the moment, that’s all there is: Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni on one side and Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat on the other – with all their weaknesses.

The talks they are conducting are not meant to bring peace; even they do not pretend that is the case. After 40 years of occupation and bloodshed, all that is on the agenda – shamefully – is a “shelf agreement” that no one can implement at the moment. It is precisely for this reason that this paper, bearing no expectations, will not shame those who sign it. Precisely because it is only a document with mere declarative and symbolic significance – and in this sense it may be a landmark document – it is important that it touch on the core issues. 

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