Tom Wall

Vilified Voices

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Review of 'Human Cargo', Caroline Moorehead, Chatto & Windus £12.99

This remarkable book began on a February afternoon in Cairo. The author and journalist, Caroline Moorehead, came across a group of Liberian refugees at a human rights meeting. They told her about their lives: where they came from and where they wanted to be. As the light faded she decided to tell their stories and the stories of other displaced people ignored and vilified by self-serving politicians in the west.

Election: Hey There, Wait a Minute Mr Postman

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More people than ever before are planning to vote by post in the general election - but how secure are postal votes?

In the key battleground of Bethnal Green and Bow, where George Galloway is taking on Oona King MP, 5,050 people (at the time of writing) are registered to vote by post compared with 494 at the last general election. This figure is likely to increase further, as voters have until the end of April to register. The election office told me that they are working round the clock processing applications. The neighbouring constituency of Poplar and Canning Town has seen a similar expansion of postal voting: from 1,537 in 2001 to 4,111.

Asbo: A License for Persecution

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Last month a teenager in Suffolk was served with an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) banning him from using abusive language and visiting particular areas.

It would have passed by unnoticed, but the district council decided, for the first time, to distribute 500 leaflets revealing his identity and urging residents to notify the appropriate authorities if he breaks any of his conditions.

'Either the locality will be too frightened to go near him or the opposite will happen, and they will get together, seek him out and exact some vengeance on him,' his solicitor David Stewart told Socialist Review. 'I am considering the law on the publication of photographs, and I may be taking further action.'

The Joy of Neglect

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Review of 'American Splendor', directors Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini, and 'Lost in Translation', director Sofia Coppola

Both of these films document the quiet desperation of modern life. American Splendor charts the life of gloomy loser Harvey Pekar. Lost in Translation examines the vacuous lifestyles of the burnt-out bourgeoisie.

Prisons: Locked in a Crazy System

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The rooftop protests at Wealstun and Maghaberry prisons in June - although relatively minor and isolated - are expressions of a deeper, more general malaise gripping Britain's jails.

The prison population is growing at such a rate that the system is struggling to cope. It is currently 7,000 over capacity. The scale of the crisis has provoked dire warnings from organisations as diverse as HM Inspectorate of Prisons, the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Reform Trust.

A Symbol of the New World Order

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Review of 'Lilya 4-Ever', director Lukas Moodysson

This dark, sobering film, the latest by acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, is all at once a profoundly moving story, a protest against misogyny, a damning indictment of the new world order and a longing for something better. It is, in short, a tale for our times. Set in the bleak housing schemes of the former USSR, it charts the descent of an abandoned Russian teenager into prostitution, rape and finally suicide.

Picture the Suffering and Struggle

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Review of 'Exodus: an exhibition of Sebastiao Salgado's photographs', Barbican Gallery, London

A man sleeps under a dirty blanket beside a vast rippling expanse of water. A woman, perhaps his wife, waits, her arms wrapped around her sari. In the distance a modern city stretches across the horizon. A bird, blurred and flapping, swoops down behind the pair.

The photograph, one of the many striking images in Sebastiao Salgado's new exhibition, depicts poor migrants on Marina Drive, overlooking Bombay, waiting for food handouts. It epitomises one of the major themes in the Brazilian-born photographer's work--the cycle of displacement and migration in the developing world.

Peron's Perfidy

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Review of 'The Real Odessa', Uki Goñi, Granta £9.99

In the twilight of the Second World War hundreds of Nazis fled to Argentina. The fugitives included some of the vilest figures of the 20th century: the architect of the Holocaust Adolf Eichmann, Auschwitz's 'angel of death' Josef Mengele, Erich Priebke and Klaus Barbie.

The Revolution Will Not be Publicised

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Review of 'Censored 2003', ed. Peter Phillips, Seven Stories £12.99

The US media sank to new depths in the aftermath of 11 September 2001. The major networks dropped even the pretence of objectivity and neutrality in favour of naked, shameless patriotism. Dan Rather, the prominent CBS newscaster, recently admitted, 'It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it.'

Justice on Ice

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The Wilderness Years'. TC Campbell and R McKay, Canongate £9.99

TC Campbell and Joe Steele were jailed for life, in the mid-1980s, for the notorious mass murder of the Doyle family.

It was alleged that the pair had firebombed the Doyles' Glasgow home in a bid to gain control of the city's lucrative ice cream runs--which were a cover for the distribution of drugs and money laundering. However, what was intended as a 'frightener', suggested the prosecution, turned into something else entirely.

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