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.

Australian media finally starts to examine Serco

Well, it’s only taken a few years to seriously wonder how a British multinational, paid hundreds of millions annually, is so incompetently mismanaging immigration detention centres around Australia and Canberra is now paying them to build more facilities in remote locations.

The glories of privatisation. Can we now have a discussion about placing these semi-prisons of mental trauma back into public hands? Fat chance:

Today’s front-page Australian story:

The former manager of the Christmas Island detention centre wrote to his boss at Serco five months before last week’s riots, urging the company to hire more staff to tackle security and safety failures at the overcrowded facility.

The staffing proposal document written last October by then centre manager, Ray Wiley, urged Serco, which operates all the detention centres, to hire more personnel and “provide proactive intervention rather than reactive damage control”.

The document, obtained by The Australian, details chronic overcrowding at Christmas Island’s main detention centre, including 144 detainees housed in classrooms, 92 in storerooms, 30 in a visiting area and 240 in tents.

In his letter, Mr Wiley, who has since left Serco, claims the detention centre was “typically 15 staff short per day” and says “even if all posts were filled, we would struggle”.

“This in itself does not enable confidence in being able to manage the centre in a controlled and ordered manner, affording a safe environment for staff, clients and visitors to the centre,” he says.

After violent rioting last Thursday night in which parts of the centre were burned to the ground, the Immigration Department asked the Australian Federal Police to take over control of the facility from Serco, which has a $370 million a year contract to run Australia’s detention centres.

Julia Gillard warned yesterday that the asylum-seekers involved in the riots would not go unpunished, saying they should face criminal charges.

After taking charge of security at the problem-plagued centre, the AFP has switched on the electric fences and yesterday patrolled the compound with a tactical police dog to move detainees to their assigned areas.

Some detainees have been refusing to move to the main compounds from the burnt-out remains of the Aqua and Lilac compounds at the edge of the centre.

There are fears up to 20 escaped detainees are camping out in the jungle, eating robber crabs, and yesterday AFP operational commander Chris Lines acknowledged that an official head-count had not been completed. “What I can report is that it was another calm night at the centre, the third calm night in succession,” Deputy Superintendent Lines said.

Serco was reportedly fined more than $4m for contract breaches earlier this year. Rosters obtained by The Australian this month show that on some night shifts since November, there have been fewer than 10 guards in compounds holding about 1600 men.

The Immigration Department has acknowledged to this paper that it has, at different times, asked Serco to increase staff for the safe and secure running of the detention centre. Understaffing is partly a result of the accommodation shortage on Christmas Island: even if Serco could recruit large numbers of extra workers, there is nowhere for them to live. To address this, Serco has tried to recruit residents on the tiny territory. About 100 out of a population of about 1500 work for Serco.

Mr Wiley sent the staffing proposal document to Serco’s then Christmas Island cluster manager on behalf of the detention centre operations team. His employment ended in January after several incidents termed “abatements” that began in November the month after the staffing proposal document was written. “Abatements” are breaches of Serco’s contract with Immigration that attract a fine. They include breaches such as escapes or bureaucratic breaches such as failing to complete client management plans or promptly report incidents.

2 comments ↪
  • Marilyn

    Putting  them in store rooms and tents and calling it accommodation – what a bloody gall.

  • Tom Mayne

    When did Serco take over from GSL/G4S?