SO MUCH Shouting, So Much Laughter is the new live album by US alternative folk singer Ani DiFranco. It is a great introduction to her music. Since her first album in 1990, she has toured almost constantly, building up a devoted following in the US and internationally. She is a fantastic live performer.
SWEET SIXTEEN is the latest film by director Ken Loach. His films always focus on the struggles of working class people to survive when all the odds are stacked against them. This film is no exception. Liam's mum, Jean, is in prison but she will be released in time for his 16th birthday.
THE BBC comedy series The Office started a second series on Monday this week. Its huge success is a sign of the times. It is a brilliantly sustained assault on all the management bollocks about caring and sharing concern for employees. Every episode tears into myths about work being a partnership between workers and management where everyone is in the same boat.
US AND Israeli politicians and commentators always blame the current violence in the Middle East on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. They claim that the Palestinians were getting the best deal possible in the peace process and they rejected it. The new edition of The End of the Peace Process, a collection of essays by the Palestinian writer Edward Said, exposes these claims for the lies they are. It shows that under the peace agreements the areas under Palestinian control would be small, cut off from one another and remain dominated by Israeli troops and settlers.
Bacardi is one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the world, but behind the sleek image lies a sinister side to this multinational. Hernando Calvo Ospina, a Colombian investigative journalist, demonstrates in his new book Bacardi: The Hidden War that Bacardi has prosecuted a clandestine war against Cuba in an effort to destabilise the Castro government.
Radio Bemba Sound System, the new live album by the anti-capitalist musician Manu Chao, captures the exuberant energy of his live shows. It makes it clear why he and his sound system have become a flagship for the movement. His music fuses influences from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and the US in a manic aural assault.
The experience of refugees in British society has given rise to a number of plays in recent years. One of the best has been John Retallack's Hannah and Hanna, which is about to go on an extensive tour. Set in Margate, on the Kent coast, it follows the relationship between two teenage girls - one from the town itself, the other a refugee from Kosovo.
PALESTINE IS Still The Issue, the new film by the journalist John Pilger, is a rarity on TV. It is a painfully honest documentary that refuses to toe the established political line.
IF YOU'VE spent the last two years planning to read Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth you can now take a shortcut. Channel 4 has turned the highly popular novel into a four-part series. It is about the way that people from different backgrounds mix in modern Britain.
"EARTH FROM the Air" is an amazing outdoor exhibition of giant photographs that contrast the beauty of the world we live in to the terrible suffering all around us.
THE BAND Blue Murder brings together seven of the most influential voices in English folk music. Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson are joined by their daughter Eliza, Norma's brother Mike, and the trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson. The end result is a celebration of the human spirit. None of the songs on this CD are overtly political. There's a fair slab of religion, gospel-style, thrown in.
TWO MEN, a nurse and a travel journalist, and their relationships with two women, a dancer and a bullfighter, who are both in a coma. Talk To Her, a new film by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, uses that unlikely storyline to reveal a lot about sexuality in Spain today. The characters are sensitively drawn, especially male nurse Benigno and his obsessive and one-sided relationship with the dancer.
THE SUM of All Fears, which is now being shown in cinemas, was done and dusted before 11 September 2001. But the film deals with a major terrorist attack on the US and has been seen as Hollywood's first attempt to deal with the attacks. It has been a big hit in the US.
IF YOU want to know more about modern Italy then read See Naples and Die, the new book by socialist Tom Behan. It is about the Camorra, the powerful organised crime group that dominates the southern Italian city of Naples. The Camorra has grown because of the huge unemployment rate in the Campania region - 23.3 percent overall and 28 percent in Naples.
EVEN AMID the horror of full scale war there exists an obscene taboo. It is the fate of those soldiers who are severely wounded and mutilated. So when Margaret Thatcher ordered a Falklands War victory parade, such casualties were told not to attend.
A CLASSIC Marxist account of religion, The Meek and the Militant by Paul N Siegel, has been reprinted in a special deal for London's socialist bookshop, Bookmarks. It takes as its starting point Marx's famous description of religion as "the sigh of the oppressed, the heart in the heartless world, the opium of the people".
LANGSTON HUGHES was one of the greatest and most popular black US writers of the 20th century. He was one of the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. This was a movement that celebrated black culture and was associated with very left wing politics.
JUST HOW far will Tony Blair go in his pursuit of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch? Blair is set to rip up the findings of a parliamentary committee that discussed his government's draft Communications Bill. The committee advised New Labour to scrap its plans to loosen controls on British TV that would allow Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV to gobble up Channel 5.
THE NEWS of famine across much of southern Africa has underlined the suffering of that continent-a suffering which is the result of slavery, colonialism and capitalism. But there is another side of African experience-the fightback against capitalism and imperialism.
A NEW radio play this week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the trial of the Angry Brigade. The Angry Brigade were a group of young British men and women who launched a campaign of bombing against the government in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were inspired by the huge waves of international protests against war in Vietnam, repression in Ireland and attacks on workers' rights in Britain.