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.

What happens when you hire Serco to run detention centres; profit before care

As the Australian government is criticised for its detention centre system facing ongoing violence and chaos – the likely response is to be “tougher” on asylum seekers, a wonderfully humane outcome – Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young focuses on the culpability of Serco, the company that’s allowed to escape scrutiny:

TONY JONES: Alright. We’ll come to that in more detail in a moment. First we’ve just heard claims from a former guard that Serco, the private corporation running the detention centres, has been throwing raw recruits in at the deep end at Villawood Detention Centre without proper training. How serious a breach would that be?

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: Look, I think that’s very serious. And unfortunately, it’s those types of reports that we’ve been hearing on the ground for some time now, not just in Villawood, but in other facilities. Questions over the adequate training of those who have to work with children, adequate training for those on the ground every day having to work with asylum seekers who are clearly suffering severe mental health concerns, suffering torture and trauma from the persecution and torture they’ve suffered.

Now, it’s – I really feel for the Serco security officers on this one. They are at the cold face in a very, very difficult situation. And the Serco officers that I talk to when I visit detention centres, I’ve never been anywhere where I haven’t had an officer come up to me and say, “Hang on, Senator, let me tell you the real story.” And that is a concern. It’s about time the Government reviewed the contract, had an urgent audit of the types of operations that are going on and realise that the promise that they broke in 2007 to bring back into public hands the running of detention centres, when they broke that promise, they made a mistake.

TONY JONES: So, the Greens strongly believe, do they, that the detention centres should be re-nationalised in effect?

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: Well, at the last – at the 2007 election, the Labor Party said because of the situation that we’d seen happen for the decade or half before them, the situation of rioting across the different detention centres, including on Nauru under the Howard Government, the Labor Party said, “Yes, I think it’s about time we started to have more transparency in the process.” Of course Labor got into power, they won government and we’ve never seen that promise acted upon. I do think it’s time …

TONY JONES: But can I just interrupt you there? Why would – why do you believe public servants would do any better than Serco?

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: I think it’s about the transparency. Since the contract was signed with Serco, some two and a half years ago, people, as myself in Senate Estimates, advocates have been asking to see the contract. Let’s see what the service provision requirements are. When the Government talks about possible breaches, let’s have a look at what those possible breaches are. There’s no set auditing, there’s no regular auditing and because no-one knows what the service contract is because it’s in-confidence, commercial-in-confidence, there’s nothing to judge that on. And I think that really does raise questions about how these facilities are being run at taxpayers’ money and then when tensions rise like this, who is to blame? Well, at the moment only the Government can take the blame. But we really need to get down to the issues of seeing what is going on on the ground.

TONY JONES: Okay. Chris Bowen says he’s got virtually now two inquiries underway, with the same team doing the inquiry of course, the Christmas Island riots, now this one looking into the circumstances of the riots and the preparedness of Serco to actually deal with these things. I mean, should he wait before acting, wait for the results of these inquiries?

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: Well, look, first and foremost, I think we really need to make it very clear that we all condemn the violence, we all condemn the property damage of the riots and I don’t think anyone can argue that the writing has made the situation any better in either of the facilities and for anybody there, particularly those directly involved. I don’t think it’s made their cases any better. But why this has occurred is what should be being investigated. The complex reasons behind the rise of the tensions and really trying to move forward to a solution. If the Government only wants to look at individual case by individual case, they will fail to address it. There is a systematic problem in the immigration detention network. It all needs to be reviewed.

A report on last night’s ABC Lateline highlighted the flaws in a privatised detention system:

KAREN BARLOW: But a former guard at Villawood has come forward, describing a privatised detention system in crisis. He says problems at the centre have been building for some time.

FORMER VILLAWOOD DETENTION CENTRE GUARD: It’s pretty unprecedented, really. Yeah, never seen anything like it before in Villawood’s entire history. I don’t think there’s been that much destruction at all.

KAREN BARLOW: He says his former employer Serco does not train staff properly.

FORMER VILLAWOOD DETENTION CENTRE GUARD: Basically, from what I’ve seen, the new recruits were just basically put on the floor, no training whatsoever, they were being told that they would be trained as they were, and that also has never happened before. Basically what is supposed to happen is that they’re meant to go through a – at least a minimum six-week course and then have a year of on-the-job training. Serco just basically got rid of the six-week course using staffing levels as an excuse, and then basically just threw the staff straight onto the floor and expected that the experienced staff to train as well as do their normal jobs.

KAREN BARLOW: The former guard says the Federal Government should review Serco’s contract.

FORMER VILLAWOOD DETENTION CENTRE GUARD: They’ve had pretty poor performance and basically the spate of incidences, major incidences under Serco’s control, have been – there’s just been too many. Um, so, yeah, I think that the contract should really be reassessed.

KAREN BARLOW: The Government’s review of last month’s riots at Christmas Island will now also investigate the Villawood protests. That will include the response of Serco and the Immigration Department.

CHRIS BOWEN: Well there’s no evidence before me to indicate that any actions by Serco or Department of Immigration staff on the ground at the centres led to these incidents or that the response wasn’t adequate. But I am not going to pre-empt the results of the Hawke-Williams review. I’m looking forward to receiving that review, and if there are lessons to be learnt, they’ll be learnt out of that review.

2 comments ↪
  • As a ex correctional officer of 17 years experience, who worked for a private company doing external security perimeter at villawood detention centre was totally shocked by serco incompatence at all levels when at times working within the centre.The guards who i would not call guards, were terrible no idea how to operate at a security level, i was shocked to see how this british company operates, the guards most of them were overweigt had medical problems have never seen any thing like it before, the clients ran the centre they had control, THE Management was a joke, they all walked around with shaved heads and were totallly incompetant, and it filtered througout the ranks.And the question every body kept saying on the outside why do they let them get on the roof.Get rid of them they are a joke,

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