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.

Questioning the Serco allure

We read staff of British multinational Serco are suing for excessive suffering in Australia:

The federal government is facing a new multi-million-dollar litigation threat from dozens of ex-detention centre officers, citing psychiatric harm suffered at the centres.

University of NSW psychiatry expert Dr Zachary Steel said several such cases were pending in courts around the country.

The cases, many worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are being pursued against both the federal government and past and present private sector detention centre operators, including G4S and Serco.

Dr Steel said the cases arose from workers’ compensation claims and “the psychological damage that happened to them as a result of their experience in detention centres”.

The news comes a day after The Daily Telegraph revealed multi-million-dollar legal action by ex-asylum seekers against the government and detention centre operators.

Department of Immigration and G4S spokespeople said they would not comment on cases that may come before the courts, while a spokeswoman for Serco was unaware of cases: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees and those in their care.”Former Woomera detention centre GP Dr Simon Lockwood said he knew of several cases of former guards suing the government.

The blight of privatisation is that individuals are often expendable; the profit motive is paramount. And Serco’s record across the world is a troubled one.

This past weekend we read the following:

Serco Australia has signed a multi-billion dollar 20-year contract with the State Government which will see non-clinical services at the new Fiona Stanley Hospital come under the control of the private company.

Better known in Australia for running detention centres as well as operating services in WA in transport, defence, justice and immigration, Serco will run 28 services at Fiona Stanley – from fleet management to waste disposal, reception, pest control, linen, grounds maintenance and cleaning.

The State Government argues it will make significant savings by privatising services at Fiona Stanley.

But the contract will anger trade unions and the State Opposition which have argued for months that the plan will spell bad news for workers and patients.

Serco provides support services for five major hospitals in the United Kingdom, with the State Government arguing that many of these facilities were visited by WA health experts as part of them procurement process.

But United Voice state secretary Dave Kelly is claiming Serco’s record of running hospitals in the UK was cause for concern.

In May this year, Mr Kelly released a statement saying a recent independent UK investigation into Serco’s Wishaw General Hospital revealed six out of eight wards failed to meet hygiene standards.

He also argues that the privatisation deal breaches the current wages agreement, which includes a no privatisation clause.

The $2 billion Fiona Stanley is due to open mid 2014.

Many Royal Perth Hospital workers went on strike when the news was announced:

Union Secretary Dave Kelly told the meeting the government had negotiated the Serco deal without transparency and behind closed doors.

“Serco are a big company who are expert at one thing and that’s how to make a profit out of taxpayers’ money.”
He said the company had “made a hash of” Australian immigration detention centres that it managed and “made a fortune” in the process.

Even the West Australian’s Sunday Times ran a story questioning the unhealthy amount of assets now owned by Serco in Australia and beyond:

But the scale of the company is what worries most. Serco Australia is owned by one of London’s biggest companies, Serco Group, which has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since May 1988 and is a member of the FTSE 100.

Serco Group is now estimated to be worth about $4 billion. The company unashamedly flaunts its operations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America. True to its global scale, Serco recently bought Intelenet, a business process outsourcing services company in India, which delivers services to seven countries and has more than 32,000 employees, for about $593 million.

And if you’ve ever taken the Indian Pacific, The Ghan or The Overland trains you’ve travelled Serco Asia Pacific-style.

According to its latest report to shareholders, the company expects revenue to reach $7.4 billion by the end of 2012.

Its latest contracts are a $50 million two-year contract with the Australian Defence Force and a $100 million five-year contract to manage a Queensland correctional centre.

Australian citizens have a right to ask why so many governments, of both political stripes, love Serco so much. It has little to do with the ability of the company to deliver services. Privatisation as a state religion allows ministers and officials to delegate responsibility to others, ideally those in the private sector with far less public accountability. But it’s our tax dollars paying for the privilege.

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