Sacha Baron Cohen has always walked a razor's edge between satire and reaction. In his new film he has come down on the side of reaction. My first warning of this came from one of the black students I teach at college. He announced that Ali G was a fool, but then added quietly that when he saw the film in the West End he felt people were laughing at him.
IT WON'T just be George Bush choking on his pretzels after the events of last week. Three months ago Bush, Blair and their media supporters were declaring victory after victory.
Tony Blair took time off from the Barcelona summit to attack TUC general secretary John Monks for criticising his alliance with Silvio Berlusconi. "A large part of Europe's centre left take a more modern view of this," he said. Blair had proved the modernity of his own outlook two days earlier. During question time in the House of Commons he defended the creationist gang who are imposing a medieval view of the world on their pupils at Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead.
I had the misfortune of going to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, We Were Soldiers, last week. It depicts the first major battle in Vietnam between the US army and the Viet Minh in 1965. Lines in the film like "I'm glad I died for America" will have you reaching for the sick bag.
Union leaders exploded in fury at the Labour government last week. "The time has come for Tony Blair to stop bowing down to big business," said GMB union leader John Edmonds. Blair had launched a pamphlet on public services side by side with Chris Garnet. Garnet is chief executive of the GNER rail company and the brother of ex Tory health secretary Virginia Bottomley.
George Bush's decision to impose tariffs (taxes on imports) on steel entering the US from abroad has shocked many people. The US government is central to "the Washington consensus" of "neo-liberalism"-the doctrine that says governments must not interfere with the free flow of trade, capital and profit. Yet it has done precisely that.
BBC4, the new digital channel, sells itself with the slogan "Everybody needs a place to think." But most of us will have to make do with the bathroom as our thinking place, because we certainly aren't going to see BBC4.
Some 20,000 people joined an anti-war march through London last Saturday. How right they were to protest has been underlined by events in the last week. First Tony Blair cheered on US president George Bush's plans to launch a new war against Iraq. Then the war in Afghanistan erupted in some of the heaviest fighting yet seen.
Anyone who was on last Saturday's 20,000-strong demonstration will have been delighted at the size of it. It showed that there is an impressive movement ready to oppose the warmongers and their threats against new targets, especially Iraq.
Imagine some New Labour minister, press puppet or government geek steps up at a press conference and makes a statement: "Our job in education has always been seen as raising standards. This remains absolutely and unequivocally our policy. To bring this about, many ways have been tried-hiring extra staff, putting money into schools in areas where there is poverty, and supporting children with special needs, whether those are due to deprivation, disability or speaking another language. Sometimes what's been tried is ending the way children are selected for this or that school, or this or that stream. The idea here was that we would treat school students as people who would discover their
If you sacrifice public interest for private sector gain you have to bury bad news every day. That simple truth lies at the root of the row surrounding transport secretary Stephen Byers. The media and mainstream parties are focusing solely on the tale of who said what to who.
There is a debate going on among establishment economists over the recession that hit the US last year. Many of them claim that it is already over. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve board (the US central bank), told a Senate committee last month that economic activity was "beginning to firm".
"This is not political – this is entertainment," said the man who refused my leaflet for the Stop the War demo. Then as if to confirm his point the tannoy system announced, "The Tony Benn show will start in five minutes."
George Bush has lit the fuse for war on Iraq, a war that will kill thousands of innocent people. Next weekend is your chance to protest against this rush to mass murder. The bombing of Afghanistan has been horrific, killing more civilians than died in the World Trade Centre. War against Iraq will be far worse.
Amid the uproar caused by George W Bush's "axis of evil" speech, one voice has not been raised in criticism-that of Tony Blair. Bush's apparent extension of the "war against terrorism" to include Iran, Iraq and North Korea caused outrage in the European Union (EU).
IT IS rare for a television drama to be set in an ordinary workplace. Clocking Off is, and has attracted audiences of around 11 million. This is the third series of the award-winning BBC drama set in a Manchester textile factory.
I am the father of two young children, one five, one nearly two. After some anxiety, my partner and I decided they should have the MMR vaccination. I believe that was the right choice, and that scientific evidence supports that view. But I can equally well understand why many, many parents do not trust MMR or government advice about it.
"Tony Blair talks about public sector workers putting scars on his back, and then calls us wreckers. I think public sector workers should be a boil on Tony Blair's nose." Julie Pih, a Rochdale homecare worker, is furious with the government, especially after Blair's "wreckers" insult. She is one among millions. Julie was one of the delegates who expressed their anger at last week's Unison women's conference.
Tony Blair has been strutting around abroad again, posing as the saviour of the world. This time Africa has been the victim of his attentions. When Blair pledged to "reorder the world" at the Labour Party conference last October he claimed to have Africa especially in his sights. He called the continent a "scar on the conscience of the world".
"I am under pressure from rank and file members of my union to disaffiliate from the Labour Party." That was the message from Dave Prentis of Unison to his fellow union leaders last week. Both Unison and the GMB union have launched big advertising campaigns in response to Blair's "wreckers" insults. They rightly point out that public sector workers are not wreckers.