Judith Orr

Economic crisis: Crash course in capitalism

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It will be years for the full effects of the crash of September 2008 to be felt.

The mainstream media ran out of superlatives as they struggled to keep up with the events that threatened the whole basis of the capitalist system. All reflected shock and disbelief that everything that seemed so solid had melted into air.

Every economic crisis in history has been met with similar incredulity and copious explanations as to why very specific conditions caused the "never ending" boom to bust.

The crisis fuels discontent

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Global economic turmoil has led to food riots abroad and spiralling inflation in Britain. Michael Bradley and Judith Orr report on the growing resentment towards the crisis-ridden Labour government

Where did it all go wrong for Gordon Brown? Was it his failure to call a general election last October? Was it the attempt to impose a pay freeze? Was it the vote in parliament to extend detention without trial to 42 days? Just one year into Brown's premiership a recent Gallup poll showed Labour's popularity at its lowest ebb of support since Gallup first asked people to declare their voting intention in 1943. The government is in a crisis that appears out of control and the central issue that is derailing Brown is the economic crisis.

Benjamin Zephaniah: Rhythms of radical culture

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Poet, novelist and musician Benjamin Zephaniah talks to Weyman Bennett and Judith Orr about politics, culture and why Boris Johnson's appointment of a black deputy should fool no one.

Your most recent album, Naked, blends spoken word with music. Is there more space for that?

For me they've never been really separate. When I start thinking about poetry I think of the sound of poetry and the effect it has on people when they hear it, rather than how they see it on the page.

The resistible rise of the BNP

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The recent local elections saw the BNP gain ten councillors and a London Assembly member. Judith Orr puts these results in context, and argues that the fascists can, and must, be stopped once more.

One of the most shocking results last month was the election of Nazi British National Party (BNP) member Richard Barnbrook to London's assembly. This was on top of 13 seats the fascist organisation won in councils in England. It also lost three seats, so its net gain was ten, bringing a total of 57 seats.

Abortion: their morals and ours

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We need to get ready for a big battle over abortion rights, argues Judith Orr, and the deluge of moral outrage about women's lives that will accompany it

The right is seriously mobilising around the issue of abortion. Tory leader David Cameron has stated that he wants to bring the limit down to 20 or 21 weeks and Tory ex-minister Anne Widdecombe has been taking her "pro-life" road show around the country in an effort to rally the troops. This is not something a Tory has been confident enough to do on any issue for many years - though, thanks to local activists, these meetings did not happen without noisy protests outside.

There Will Be Blood

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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson; Release date: 8 February

The first 20 minutes of There Will Be Blood feature no dialogue, just the occasionally grating soundtrack by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. It's a daring start to an epic film. The story is one that has attracted filmmakers since the beginning of Hollywood - a man starting from nothing and making his fortune-the frontier spirit, the American Dream.

El Violin

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Director: Francisco Vargas Quevedo; Release date: 4 January

The explicit and brutal first five minutes of this film are enough to make sure the viewer does not mistake it for a gentle whimsical tale of wily Mexican peasants outwitting rich landowners. For this is a story that has at its heart the threat and reality of violent repression by the Mexican state.

It is filmed in gritty black and white, giving the impression that you are watching vintage documentary footage. The focus is on the villagers who have been forced from their homes by the military and who refuse to give up the names and whereabouts of the local guerrillas.

The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service

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Ed: David Hilliard, Atria Books, £14.99

The Black Panther Party was a beacon of resistance for thousands of black people in the US during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It stood up against police brutality, provided welfare for the poorest communities and produced powerful propaganda against racism and oppression.

This collection of graphics gives a rare chance to read the contents of scores of issues of the Black Panther's newspaper, The Black Panther Intercommunal News. So much of the artwork of the Panthers has become iconic it's great to see some of it in its original setting.

Solidarity, struggle and resistance

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Iraqi-born writer and activist Haifa Zangana talks to Judith Orr about the struggle of Iraqi women still fighting for the liberation of their country.

Your new book, City of Widows, looks at the history of Iraq and in particular the role of women, which is often hidden in official histories.

During the period of Islam and the emergence of Islam and the building of the Islamic empire, there were always women leaders, poets - quite influential women in society.

Prominent women are more common at times of expansion, and when there have been struggles for national liberation women have been there, and have been quite powerful. So it varies from one period to another historically.

Abortion rights

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When even David Steel, the man most closely associated with the 1967 Abortion Act, has been quoted as saying there are "too many abortions" it is clear that abortion rights cannot be taken for granted.

This month the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will continue its passage through the Lords with anti-abortion politicians proposing amendments to it. There may also be amendments that make access to early abortions easier, which should be welcomed, but not at the expense of a cut in the time limit. Less than 2 percent of abortions happen after 20 weeks but the women affected are some of the most vulnerable. Abortion Rights has organised a public meeting: Defend the Abortion Act, Wednesday 16 January, 7.30pm, Committee room 10, House of Commons, nearest tube Westminster.

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