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.

Christmas Island ‘pressure cooker’ could explode after UN review

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

Christmas Island is a “pressure cooker”, according to one recently-returned refugee advocate. And the situation will blow up completely if the federal government is allowed to deport asylum seekers back to strife-torn Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

As more boats arrive at the offshore immigration processing centre — and more accommodation is hastily built for the more than 2000 residents — the federal government will come under more pressure to deny visas after a review of international protection guidelines by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The agency has hinted at revising its rulings on Sri Lanka. Regional representative Richard Towle told the ABC the humanitarian situation in the country is “moving in the right direction and we think any review of the guidelines needs to reflect these positive changes”.

That could be devastating to those languishing on Christmas Island, according to Sonia Caton. The former director and principal solicitor at the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service is concerned by the possibility of  “refugee politics” within donor countries influencing the guidelines anticipated by the UNHCR, potentially putting asylum seeker’s lives at risk.

“The government is doing the job we signed up to do under the Refugee Convention and it is doing it well. But people need to be brought on-shore –- the place is a pressure cooker,” Caton told Crikey last week after returning from the island.

“It is currently only working because the largely Hazara asylum seeker population see people receive visas, so they sit and wait in crowded conditions because they have hope. Take that hope away and the management of the detention centre will change overnight.”

Caton says she knows of no illegitimate refugee claimants — “maybe there are a few opportunists, but I didn’t come across any” — and hopes the UNHCR will take into account current information from NGOs in Afghanistan to arrive at an accurate assessment of a very volatile and dangerous situation.

“Most of the 2000 asylum seekers in detention are Hazaras,” Caton said. “Those I represented were mostly farmers from the Ghazni Province. The Taliban are increasingly active there and have co-opted the Kuchi and Pashtuns to target ‘infidel’ Hazaras. Hazaras are starving and cannot access medical help because travelling on Taliban controlled roads is a dice with death or serious harm — hence the outflow of asylum seekers fleeing Refugee Convention persecution.”

Caton praised Immigration Minister Chris Evans for greatly improving the conditions of refugees in mandatory detention since 2008 though she still despairs at the increasingly long periods in detention offshore and presence of children in detention, despite departmental denials.

UNHCR does constantly update its country assessments. The last thorough examination of Sri Lanka was nearly one year ago, before the end of the 26-year-long civil war. But a number of other refugee experts have told Crikey it is highly unlikely the UNHCR will recommend the cessation of all refugee claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, allowing neither the Rudd government nor Liberal opposition to make credible claims of vastly improved security situations in both countries.

Caton said that the relatively few refugees reaching our shores is insignificant compared to the Iraqi and Afghan refugees sitting in countries like Jordan, Syria, Iran and Lebanon: “The [Australian] migration program has literally exploded over the past six to eight years, yet the humanitarian intake remains static year in and year out at a pathetic 14,000 a year, give or take 500…”

In 2002 Australia contributed more than $19 million to UNHCR and was its 12th largest donor. In 2008 this increased to $28 million but the ranking dropped to 13th. The Immigration Department says about 660 asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have been given refugee status so far this year — more than half of the total 1,130 offered visas in 2009.

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

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