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.

Vulture capitalism shifts gear in Afghanistan

Shifts are afoot in Afghanistan over private security but the reality remains murky; what happens when mercenaries try and get respectable?

The Afghan government is giving companies extensions ranging from a few weeks to 90 days to change from private security guards to a government-run force, officials said Sunday.

The reprieve comes just three days before the March 21 deadline that the Afghan government had set for the majority of companies to start using government-provided security.

Private development companies have said the move is threatening billions in U.S. aid to the country because companies would delay projects or leave altogether because they didn’t feel safe using strictly local security over whose training and procedures they have little control.

President Hamid Karzai has railed for years against the large number of guns-for-hire in Afghanistan, saying private security companies skirt the law and risk becoming militias.

It’s been part of Karzai’s larger push for more control over the way his international allies operate in Afghanistan, as seen most recently in his call for NATO troops to pull back from village outposts and to hand over security responsibilities to Afghans more quickly.

Karzai said in 2009 that he wanted private security firms abolished and eventually set the March deadline for all companies except military or diplomatic facilities to use government guards. The ban would effectively end the wide-scale presence of foreigners acting as security contractors, an industry that boomed after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extensions did not appear to represent a change in policy as much as a recognition that the switch to government guards was taking longer than envisioned.

The process has been chaotic and has been weighed down by lengthy contract negotiations, making it appear unlikely in recent weeks that the Afghan Public Protection Force would be ready to take over for some 11,000 private guards by the deadline.

Companies that have yet to sign contracts are being allowed to continue to use private guards for a limited period of time, most ranging from 30 days to 90 days, said the head of the APPF agency, Jamal Abdul Naser Sidiqi.

Sidiqi argued that this did not amount to a major change as much as a “revised implementation plan.”

“This is a process. And on the 21st we are continuing our transition,” Sidiqi said. “We are just clarifying the deadline for every individual company.” In February, Sidiqi told The Associated Press that the entire handover would be finished by March 21.

A number of deals have already been signed. So far, the APPF has signed 16 contracts with companies to provide security and licensed 14 “Risk Management Companies,” according to a NATO official who spoke anonymously to discuss the inner workings of an Afghan government program. The Risk Management Companies will essentially act as go-betweens for companies and the government agency in order to help manage the guards, payments and help hold the Afghan guards to an international standard.

But Afghan officials have said that there are about 75 companies they need to sign contracts with in order to complete the switchover and there were worries that holding to the March 21 deadline would create security gaps.

Controversies caused by some contractors’ behavior, ranging from violence to cultural insensitivity, has given the private security industry a bad name among many Afghans. There have not been as many clashes in Afghanistan as there were in Iraq, but there have certainly been cases of contractor misconduct.

In 2010, for example, U.S. Senate investigators said Xe — the company formerly known as Blackwater — hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared “sidearms for everyone” — even though employees weren’t authorized to carry weapons. The allegations came as part of an investigation into the 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians by employees of the company.

one comment ↪
  • A few days ago I watched an interesting segment on a re-run of Hungry Beast about the ritual doping of soldiers, what goes up…

    Private security who return from O/S, those recruited into public and private sector, and those who only become privatized once they're home, present an increasingly significant problem for your average citizen. Their standards and compliance to regulations are dubious at best and there needs to be tighter domestic regulation for them. Same goes for security(like CCTV monitoring) outsourced to other countries, or even offices in other Aus capitals.