Ellen Clifford

The Deuce

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The world of 1970s porn is the subject for David Simon’s new HBO series, The Deuce, which premiered on 26 September. Co-written with George Pelecanos, who also worked with Simon on The Wire, this semi-fictional dramatisation looks at the legalisation and rise of the porn industry in New York.

While the first season promises to look at themes such as the drug epidemic, associated violence and its impact on various communities, the pilot episode establishes the conditions of prostitution, women’s oppression and mob rule out of which the porn industry emerged.

Hip and hop: You Can Do Anything

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I have a three year old niece who loves reading together, so I was excessively excited to learn that rapper and activist Akala has brought out his debut children’s picture book. Trying to find books that don’t reinforce gender stereotypes or the centrality of the nuclear family isn’t easy, even in worlds of talking animals and magic. So I was keen to see what Akala would offer us.

Mental health rhetoric is a distraction

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Mental health was the focus of Theresa May’s first major speech on health, given in January. She was strong on rhetoric, expressing her drive to tackle the “burning injustice” of inadequate mental health treatment, while dismissing the call for extra funding.

At best the limited measures announced will do no more than sticking a plaster over a gaping wound. At worst they serve to distract from a far more fundamental and serious government policy approach to mental health, which is moving towards the ending of out of work benefits.

We got IDS with bold action

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If the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party suggested that politics can be unpredictable, the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) in a self-proclaimed stand for disabled people proves it.

Watching the former secretary of state for work and pensions tell Andrew Marr that the cuts are “hurting the most vulnerable” and that welfare cuts “are going too far” was more than surreal. This from a man who has steadfastly lied and denied his way around the true impact of welfare reform since 2010.

Freaks: One of us!

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Tod Browning’s Freaks, re-released this month, is a 1932 horror film about sideshow circus freaks that was banned in the UK for 30 years. Yet its treatment of disability is notably refreshing compared to most of what the contemporary mainstream media has to offer.

One of the film’s central themes is the concept of solidarity — rather than let themselves be divided and compete for acceptance by the “normals”, the freaks protect themselves against cruelty by adopting the principle of “an offence to one is an offence to all”.

Re-forging the disability movement

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The fightback against austerity is reshaping the disability movement in Britain.

Last month's Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) national conference was a chance to agree targets and strategies for campaigning over the next year, reflecting on wins such as the victory over Atos, and taking stock of the battles ahead as cuts bite deeper and conditions worsen. It was also a space to debate and shape the continuing development of the disabled people's rights movement which has dramatically grown, re-energised and progressed politically since the emergence of DPAC in 2010.

Scapegoat

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Katharine Quarmby

Scapegoat has been called "the most important book you will read all year". That's the quote on the cover from Tom Shakespeare, a disability academic of questionable politics who refused to take disability hate crime seriously until he personally experienced it on the Newcastle metro.

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