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.

And Olmert is (nearly) gone

Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, July 31:

But at the top of the indictment that history will submit against Olmert will stand his criminal neglect of the Arab Peace Initiative. To date the Israeli cabinet has not even discussed the framework which for the first time offers Israel “normal ties” with all 22 members of the Arab League.

Abbas said during a meeting with representatives of the Palestinian diaspora this week in Cairo that he presented the initiative to Barack Obama. He says that the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States said in response: “If the Israelis do not accept this initiative, which promises them life in peace and security in an area between Mauritania to Indonesia – they are crazy.”

Obama was wrong. Missing out on a chance for peace between Jewish, democratic Israel and all Arab states is not madness. It is an unforgivable crime.

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How hot are you?

In this American election season, what are the really important issues?

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Kill the pets

Just another religiously fundamentalist decision by a reliable US ally:

Saudi Arabia’s religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.

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To leave or not to leave?

Dr. Steven Kull, Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, gave testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight on July 30:

How is it that on one hand Iraqis think the presence of US troops makes the security situation worse and they should leave within a year, and on the other hand that it would be very nice if they were to train Iraqi forces and help with the security situation vis-a-vis al Qaeda?

Here is my interpretation. There are two frames through which Iraqis view US-led forces in their country. One frame–the weaker frame–is that security in Iraq is still fragile and that the US may be able to offer some aid to Iraq.

The other and more dominant frame is that the United States has effectively occupied Iraq. As early as 2004 Gallup asked Iraqis whether they primarily thought of coalition forces as liberators or occupiers. Seventy-one percent said occupiers.

In a variety of ways Iraqis signal that they do not feel that they have genuine sovereignty. In our September 2006 poll 77 percent said that they assumed that the US plans to have permanent bases in Iraq. More importantly, 78 percent said they thought that if the Iraqi government were to tell the US to withdraw its forces, the US would refuse to do so.

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Real freedom bites

Are you feeling that sweet Olympic spirit yet?

The Chinese authorities confirmed today that the 20,000 foreign journalists covering the Olympic Games will not have unrestricted access to the Internet during their stay. Kevin Gosper, the head of the IOC’s press commission, admitted today: “I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered games related.”

Yesterday Gosper said the IOC’s key concern was to “ensure that the media are able to report on the games as they did in previous games.”

Reporters Without Borders condemns the International Olympic Committee’s acceptance of the fact the Chinese authorities are blocking access to certain websites at the Olympic Games media centre in Beijing. More than 20,000 foreign journalists are affected.

The organization also condemns the cynicism of the Chinese authorities, who have yet again lied, and the IOC’s inability to prevent this situation because of its refusal to speak out for several years.

Anybody who trusted a secretive authoritarianism regime (including the IOC) to keep their promises on this key issue was deluding themselves.

Let the Games begin.

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The time to read quality

Chris Hedges, Democracy Now!, July 29:

The average reader of the paper copy of the New York Times spends forty-five minutes reading the paper. The average viewer of the New York Times website spends about seven minutes. The internet is not designed for a literate society. We are moving into a post-literate society, a society where information and of course a very limited quality is portrayed primarily through images. The internet can make that fusion between print and images. But the medium itself will determine the content. And to somehow look at the internet as simply another delivery system is a mistake.

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Beauty in destruction

Outdoor artwork done the right way.

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Filming violations

Israeli crimes in the occupied territories are starting to receive mainstream, American TV coverage. A sign that Israel’s shocking behaviour is becoming worthy of international condemnation. Not before time:

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Zionists (mainly) to blame

US Jewish blogger Phil Weiss hears leading Palestinian speaker Rami Khouri talk about the (welcome) shifts in the Middle East since 9/11:

I wondered how long it would take him to get to the Arab-Israeli issue. It was about 30 minutes. From then on it was all that anyone could talk about. He did not disappoint. The U.S. was disliked across the region because it has taken one side in the battle between Israelis and Arabs. Why it does so is a mystery. Well actually it is not a mystery, he corrected himself. But this political dynamic–he obviously meant the Israel lobby–will not change soon.

The change will come from the region. Israel is now more realistic than the Americans. It understands that it can defeat state actors forever but nonstate actors, like Hezbollah, will fight it to a draw. Hamas too. Israel understands that it cannot win. So do the Arabs. That is why there are now five peacemaking initiatives in Israel/Palestine all by regional actors, from the Turks to the Saudis to the Egyptians. The Arab world wants to move on, they accept Israel’s presence. Only one issue is still up in the air: the right of return. It must be dealt with and most of all the great Palestinian “wound” of 1948 must be dealt with. They were forced off that land. He concluded his remarks by saying that the U.S. should “be itself–be more relaxed and engage people as ordinary Americans engage people.” Fairly, good-naturedly. Then everything would change. It felt optimistic.

Welcome to the new post-Bush neighbourhood. A chastised Jewish state, emboldened Arab players and a less relevant Washington.

Amen to that (but now onto ending the crazy Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, a running sore that only increases anti-Semitism.)

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Confusion through the Beijing smog

My following article appears in the Amnesty International Australia’s Uncensor campaign about human rights in China:

Western critics of Beijing should be careful what they wish for during the Games, writes Antony Loewenstein

Amnesty International’s latest report on China’s human rights record makes for depressing reading.

“We’ve seen a deterioration in human rights because of the Olympics,” said Roseann Rife, a deputy programme director for Amnesty International. “Specifically we’ve seen crackdowns on domestic human rights activists, media censorship and increased use of re-education through labour as a means to clean up Beijing and surrounding areas.”

The New York Times demanded that US President George W. Bush express his concern on the declining situation. Fat chance.

Beijing’s pollution remains shocking (photo evidence here) and authorities are rightly fretting about the international reaction (though surely this is something that could have been predicted months ago.)

Leading American journalist James Fallows has issued a plea to anybody in the West wishing that the Games be a disaster for China and a PR debacle for the Communist regime. “Outsiders who think that a pollution emergency or a spiralling protest would focus domestic blame on the Chinese government are dreaming”, he blogs.

Writer Matt Steinglass disagrees, however, and echoes the feelings of many of us about China’s coming out party. His message? Let good and bad stories emerge from the Games:

“I don’t think such self-censorship would be good, and I don’t think it’s possible. There will be 22,000 journalists in Beijing next week. There is no way to shut up a journalistic mob of that size, each clambering over the next to get the story. China decided to invite the world in, to host the Olympics, in the expectation that it would receive a big boost in global respect and affection. It is about to find out what happens when you invite the world in. If Chinese don’t want foreigners viewing their country with a critical eye, they should kick the foreigners out. But you can’t throw an event to win the world’s respect and affection, screw up the event, and then complain that the world is biased against you.”

Of course, they’ll always be security concerns – one leading Israeli anti-terror expert fears for the safety of the Jewish state’s team – but such issues are paramount at every Olympics.

China has spent an incredible amount of money on the August event. According to Foreign Policy, “at least $40 billion total, including $35 billion for new roads and subway lines, $1.8 billion for venue construction and renovation, and a $2 billion operating budget.” Beijing is even starting to crack down on the country’s rampant nationalism, concerned it may frighten foreign investment and interest. Many citizens of Beijing are now being walled away from public view to keep the city “clean.”

Away from the headlines remains the story of individuals fighting a daunting system. Take Woeser, a prominent Tibetan blogger in Beijing, currently struggling to obtain a passport. It’s been more than 1150 days since she applied and she’s now planning to sue the authorities.

“For so long now, many Tibetan people have met difficulties applying for a passport”, she told the Independent. “Some people will walk for a long time, climbing snow-capped mountains to arrive in Nepal to get their right as a citizen.”

Let’s hope the Western media doesn’t ignore such stories during the August Games.

The Olympics are a unique opportunity for the global community to listen to China and not berate them. The people are not the regime. Furthermore, a great number of Chinese are undoubtedly excited about the event and want to tell the world about it, including through rap.

Individuals can do a multitude of things to show their solidarity with those suffering human rights abuses in China and Tibet.

What are you doing?

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Women stay home

So much for the Olympic dream:

10,000 athletes from 200 countries are about to gather in Beijing under the banner “One World, One Dream.” But for sportswomen from countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran, that dream remains unfulfilled. While the International Olympic Committee bans any gender discrimination, these Gulf countries invoke “cultural and religious” reasons for forcing talented female athletes to stay home.

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W.

The preview of a film about a delusional war criminal. Should be a bag of laughs:

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