AS NEWSPAPER editors and politicians ignore the tragic consequences of their anti-refugee statements, some of our best dramatists are responding with brilliant plays about the experiences of asylum seekers. The latest drama to combine great theatre writing with a commitment to telling the truth about the asylum issue is Hannah and Hanna by Company of Angels. The play was a huge hit at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
"In the modern world the majority of people could be termed middle class." This is the conclusion of the new TV series Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl. It charts the "middle classes' rise to social dominance" through the 20th century.
Liam is set in working class Liverpool during the depression of the 1930s. It is one of a number of recent films, such as Billy Elliott and Ratcatcher, which attempt to realistically portray social conditions and working class life. The script is by Jimmy McGovern-who wrote excellent TV dramas about the Hillsborough tragedy and the Liverpool dockers.
Moth Smoke, a new novel by Moshin Hamid, is set in the border city of Lahore, Pakistan, in 1998. Electricity is in short supply, temperatures are over 120 degrees and nuclear testing is a common occurrence.
One of the greatest political plays of the 20th century is on tour across Britain in the coming weeks. If you have the chance to go, don't miss it. The Good Woman of Setzuan was written by the socialist playwright Bertolt Brecht in 1942.
We are told that the lives of many of the poorest people across the world are often at the mercy of "natural disasters". Millions of people in the Third World are driven into destitution or early graves by a drought or flooding which we are told human beings have no control over.
The play The Bogus Woman, written by Kay Adshead and solo performed by Norma Dumezweni, is an extremely powerful and moving political drama. It takes you on a painful journey through the state of the asylum system under New Labour.
Two excellent films by the Indian film-maker Deepa Mehta are now available on video. Fire and Earth are part of Deepa Mehta's trilogy of films set in India. They challenge many of the accepted ideas in Indian society. Cinemas in India showing Fire were targeted by the extreme right wing Hindu organisation Shiv Shena because the story includes a relationship between two women.
The media recently turned its attention upon Eminem, the US rap singer, during his British tour. Eminem's sexist and anti-gay lyrics led Sheffield University Student Union to ban his songs and image from campus. His concerts attract angry protests from gay rights activists. Socialist Worker spoke to people in the age group 14-17, Eminem's main fan base, about the rap star.
Those involved in the struggle against capitalism justly view the media with suspicion. Capitalists, after all, own the newspapers and TV stations and are, of course, deeply hostile to any movements which challenge their order. At best the media ignore protests. At worst they portray protesters as deranged fanatics.
Jazz: The History of America's Music is a moving book with stunning photographs. It accompanies a documentary series that has already wowed the US and will be shown in Britain later this year. The increased sales of jazz records in the US have been credited to the power of the series.
Kevin Danaher, a key organiser of the Seattle protests, has edited a new collection of articles on "the battle against the World Bank and the IMF". Democratizing the Global Economy contains a wide range of articles and is packed with useful facts about the way institutions such as the IMF bolster corporate power across the globe.
The Claim is a big screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, but with a difference.
On the evidence of the first episode the new series Earth Story (7.10pm, BBC2, continues from Monday 12 February) someone in the BBC has remembered the corporation's supposed commitment to "public service broadcasting".
Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years is the television adaptation of Sue Townsend's diaries of Adrian Mole. Adrian Mole is now 30 and working as a chef at Hoi Polloi, a restaurant catering for yuppies.
When the auditorium at an off the ring road multiplex is almost full on a cold midweek night, you know you are watching a box office hit. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a Chinese language epic that has captured and enthralled its audiences. But despite its stunning combat scenes this is no martial arts movie.
Under Suspicion is a film set in the US-run Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. It's a hot and sticky night. People dance on the streets. It's carnival time. A successful, rich lawyer gets ready to make his speech at a glitzy fundraising charity dinner-the island has recently been devastated by a hurricane. The day before the lawyer found the body of a raped and murdered girl while out jogging. It's the second such murder in recent weeks.
"This is no Hollywood movie," says film-maker Newton Aduaka about his new film, Rage. The film is about the friendship between three young men. Like so many people, Rage, G and T have a shared dream.
Vasily Grossman's novel Life and Fate has over 150 characters spread throughout war-torn Russia during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943. Grossman tells the story through the experiences of Soviet soldiers. The book also deals with the horrors of fascism. This is told in the most chilling way, as Nazi personnel build gas chambers and as a group of Jewish people are forced to journey to the camps.
The film is showing this Sunday in London-with all proceeds going to the "Socialist Worker" Appeal-and anyone who can should try to get along. The film is about the Paris Commune in 1871, one of the greatest ever events in working class history. For 72 days Parisian workers took control of the city. What makes the film so exciting is that it is not only about events over 100 years ago. It is also about how we can change the world today.