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.

Exclusive: no audit requirement for Serco in Australia

The following exclusive, written with Paul Farrell, appears today in Australian magazine New Matilda:

Running detention centres is an important job. Why are the audit and reporting requirements for Serco so low? Paul Farrell and Antony Loewenstein report

Under the contract signed between Serco and the Department of Immigration (DIAC), which New Matilda has obtained under FoI, Serco is under no obligation to comply with any form of independent audit.

The financial management section of the contract does give DIAC wide ranging abilities to conduct audits of Serco’s management of detention centres but these can be conducted “by a department or its nominee” and there is no periodic requirement for this to occur.

Serco is required to be part of a “Joint Executive Report” compiled with DIAC regional management on a monthly basis that examines its management and performance. But the contract doesn’t specify how this reporting is conducted and in what capacity DIAC is involved.

Serco is required to submit monthly reports on security exercises, OH&S, emergency breakdown and repairs, illegal items, industry development, damage by people in detention and care-taker services.

Serco is also required to submit an annual report for each facility to DIAC. But the content requirements for this report are not onerous:

“Annual Report
(a) The Service Provider must submit an Annual Report for each Facility that:
(i) summarises key events during the year;
(ii) sets out the lessons learned; and
(iii) establishes targeted goals for the subsequent year.”

A recent investigation by Corpwatch reported that even though Serco receives hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts from governments around the world, it has a poor track record as far as financial accountability is concerned.

NM asked DIAC why Serco is not required to comply with an independent audit in the terms of the contract, whether any audits had occurred and if so whether they were conducted by an independent organisation. At the time of publication we had not received a reply.

Serco is also required to compile “Incident Reports” to be filed with DIAC when certain events occur. The contract details three major categories of incidents: critical, major and minor. Critical incidents include death, bomb threats and suicide — but they also include “unauthorised media access” and “high profile visitor refused access”.

Curiously, this was reported several months ago as having been a later amendment to the contract but the document reveals that in fact these categories were always listed in this way and were agreed on by DIAC. These incidents need to be reported verbally within 30 minutes and in writing within four hours to DIAC.

Worryingly, some of the incidents considered “minor” include serious events that could be life-threatening. Clinical depression, substance abuse, voluntary starvation for less than 24 hours and the birth of children are only considered to be minor and only need to have a written report after 24 hours. All critical and major incidents are required to be audited but only 10 per cent of minor incidents need to be audited per month. These audits are internally conducted, and are not required to be independent.

Given there’s no independent oversight, this system relies on Serco fulfilling its reporting obligations. This, in turn, opens the possibility of incident reports simply not being filed.

During the Christmas Island leg of the recent Senate inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention network, Kaye Bernard, the General Secretary of the Union of Christmas Island Workers, told the committee hearing about an incident in which a Serco worker was stabbed — and no incident report ever reached DIAC:

Ms Bernard: The incident report was filed by the officer and when he went to get a copy of it, it had been put in bin 13. Bin 13 is commonly referred to by the detention workers as ‘the shredder’.

Mr Scott Morrison: Tell me a bit more about bin 13 then.

Ms Bernard: Bin 13 is when you have a completely overworked and understaffed facility, because of this client-detainee ratio. You have a huge reporting requirement and paperwork stacked up in boxes under the manager’s desk. It was put through a shredder.

Mr Morrison: So you are telling me that, even though an incident report was filed, to your knowledge, those incident reports are actually not reflected in the number of incident reports that may have been reported by DIAC or Serco?

Ms Bernard: Correct.

Mr Morrison: How many incidents are we talking about here? Given that there are thousands of incidents, albeit ones have been reported already, which is alarming enough, how many incidents do you think are not being reported?

Ms Bernard: If you take one incident — a riot with 200 people, one officer getting stabbed and others being injured, which was described in the media by DIAC as a tiff with unaccompanied minors — I do not know how many reports you could write up about that.

DIAC relies on incident reporting by Serco for real-time updates of what is happening in detention centres. In the absence of other real-time measures to log events, it is worrying if, as the above exchange suggests, the “Incident Management Log” is not an accurate reflection of what is happening inside detention centres.

We have spoken to a number of former Serco staff, who worked in many detention centres. They confirm that many incidents are not accurately reported — if at all — to avoid conflicts with management anger over potential financial sanctions from the federal government.

The Labor government pledged upon winning government in 2007 to implement humane and transparent policies towards asylum seekers. The lack of formal independent audit requirements make it impossible to know exactly what is happening inside immigration detention centres and to achieve the promised transparency.

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