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.

Villawood: asbestos still present despite government claims

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

Sydney’s Villawood detention centre contains asbestos years after the federal government claims it was managed, according to a whistle-blower working at the site.

A guard hired by MSS Security, the firm contracted by British multinational Serco to manage security at Villawood, told Crikey about the lack of information given to staff and refugees about the problem.

Greg (not his real name) was alarmed to see signs around Villawood, which read “Danger: Asbestos” — he told Crikey that none of the MSS staff were informed about the situation.

His fears were increased when he discovered that in 2001 and 2006 the Immigration Department had confirmed the presence of asbestos and both times claimed the problem was resolved.

“It doesn’t make one feel good that it was cleared once, then cleared again,” Greg said. “Then you discover that ‘declared safe’ means it hasn’t been removed but covered up by a chemical. When you start digging it up, they’re microscopic fibres that will be released into the air. Infected areas could have infected guards and refugees. We can’t seem to find a definitive authority. One of the posts where I work, I only have to walk around 10 metres and there’s a sign that says ‘Danger: Asbestos’. It goes nearly all the way up to the road level and around the minimum security section.”

Greg said that he has photos of authorities coming into Villawood to test the site twice for asbestos in the past eight months. “Serco and MSS must know about it. A company came to investigate the areas they’ll be digging up for renovations. Maximum security is moving 100 metres closer to minimum security.”

The Immigration Department responded with two separate statements over different days.

“The Villawood redevelopment project is being delivered jointly by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and The Immigration Department. The department has engaged an accredited and independent environmental company, JBS Environmental, to supervise remediation of the soil on the site. JBS was contracted to assess the levels of contamination at Villawood site and to recommend the most effective remediation. Staff, visitors and clients were given information about the testing process before it commenced.”

Three MSS Security staff at Villawood told Crikey that no warnings about asbestos were given. Several regular visitors reiterated those claims.  Asylum seekers housed on the site also told Crikey they have not been told of the potential risks.

The second statement from the Immigration Department added more details to the original comment:

“In 2002 asbestos particles in the soil were found after demolition work in areas adjacent to the operational path of Villawood detention centre. At the time, in accordance with standards, these areas were capped with soil and sent to prevent access to the area. In 2006 a test of the area revealed some low-level surface contamination. Further detail investigations were undertaken by an accredited asbestos testing company. Compliant with safety standards, all contaminated areas were capped with compacted gravel.”

Greg at MSS Security told Crikey that the  re-assurances rang hollow given that the signs warning of the dangers of asbestos remained around the site. The immigration department reiterated:

“Extensive monitoring over a number of years has consistently found contaminants are well below the accepted levels for asbestos set out under the NSW occupational health and safety act 2000. The redevelopment of Villawood detention facility requires further remediation to ensure the redeveloped site is suitable for a combination of residential, commercial and open space for recreational uses.”

This statement from the Immigration Department in April 2006 claimed the risk was “low” from asbestos at Villawood and, “we are very pleased with the swift progress made in mitigating the site, and we are continuing to monitor the situation carefully.”

Another statement from August 2006 states that the government was “aware of the presence of asbestos in the remnant footings from previous buildings since their discovery in May 2002 and an agreed mitigation strategy was implemented in full compliance with all relevant environmental and occupational health and safety regulations.”

Serco told Crikey that the “DIAC [Department of Immigration and Citizenship] continues to conduct asbestos remediation at the site”.

*Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist who is currently working on a book about disaster capitalism and privatisation.

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