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.

Paper trail of Serco’s detention centre millions raises accountability questions

My following article, with journalist Paul Farrell, appears in today’s Crikey:

The recent suicide at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney again confirmed that the situation in Australia’s immigration detention centres has become critical. But what has remained largely unquestioned is the role of Serco, the British multinational that holds the $367 million contract to run detention facilities across the country (alongside a few prisons and a just won contract for a hospital in Western Australia).

The company said it was “preparing a report” on the suicide for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship just after the event and most journalists left it at that. But Crikey has taken a closer look at the extent that Serco outsources to other companies.

The paper trail shows how the tender process allows private companies to further outsource, limiting the abilities of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to scrutinise the fulfilment of their contracts.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship says Serco employs two major subcontractors: MSS Security and Resolve FM.

Resolve FM is owned by the Norfolk Group and is a “facilities management” organisation that provides services across a wide range of areas.

The Norfolk Group was established in 2004, when it was bought from Tyco International by Hauraki Private Equity No.2, managed by the private equity firm JBWere (NZ). JBWere has given almost $1 million in donations to both the Liberal and Labor parties since 2000.

JBWere is also a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, which according to ASIX is the majority shareholder of the Norfolk group.

MSS Security provides security services in several detention centres and their guards have been involved in several notable incidents, including an officer allegedly caught in bed with an asylum seeker. Furthermore, foreign workers are working for MSS to guard asylum seekers and illegal fisherman at the Darwin detention centre. The Northern Territory News reported in early October that “the asylum seekers and illegal fishermen under detention in Darwin are being guarded by foreign students and “guest” workers”:

“A company payslip obtained by the NT News reveals MSS security pays its foreign staff $16 an hour plus penalties. One employee worked 66 hours during a 14-day period and took home $1554.00 after tax.”

MSS Security is actually owned by an Indian multinational security company, Security Intelligence Services (SIS) India Ltd, which also owns Chubb Security Personnel. It is one of the biggest security providers in India.

The paper trail doesn’t stop there. In January 2008 the global private equity fund DE Shaw bought a 14% stake in SIS. While this name may mean very little, the company that bought a 20% stake in DE Shaw in 2007 is more infamous; they trade by the name Lehmann Brothers.

This is the very same Lehmann Brothers that filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Mainstream media coverage, if it happens, rarely questions the ideological underpinnings of privatising asylum seekers, merely the effectiveness or otherwise of the services for them. At least some in Britain are questioning the morality and effectiveness of outsourcing the management of vulnerable people to unaccountable multinationals.

When Crikey requested the names of the subcontractors that Serco employs, a DIAC spokesperson said that not all the names of subcontractors were available. Serco employs more subcontractors, but they’re not reported to DIAC due to the size or duration of the contracts.

When asked about the specific guidelines for when a contractor had to be reported to the immigration department, a spokesperson said:

“The detention services provider has met its obligations to the department regarding the reporting of subcontractors. It would be inappropriate for the department to discuss in further detail the names of each individual contractor engaged, as it is a matter for that company … if it is a major subcontract (that being, total value greater than $1 million), IHMS (Serco) must seek prior written approval from the department … if it is a minor subcontract, IHMS (Serco) does not need to seek prior written approval from the department.  IHMS (Serco) must provide a copy of the subcontract to the department within 10 business days from the department’s request.”

*Paul Farrell is a Sydney-based freelance journalist. Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author.

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