It was easy enough to defend Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor from the venomous enforcers of social mores, but even when they lose, the guardians and their enablers are poisoning the public sphere, making people jittery, and damaging Western societies.
When Valentina Tereshkova, call sign Chaika (Seagull), reached orbit on June 16, 1963, she believed she had opened space up to women forever. Yet 50 years on, female cosmonauts remain an anomaly in the Russian space program.
It was a Soviet journalist who coined the moniker the Iron Lady for Margaret Thatcher. Intended as an insult, by the time she left office, for Russians it became a term of affection, or at the very least, grudging respect.
After centuries of oppression by a string of autocrats of varying cruelty, the collapse of the Soviet Union gave Russia an unprecedented chance to follow a different path. Unfortunately, that path was charted by Boris Berezovsky.
Twenty-five years after Seven Simeons, a Soviet family jazz band, caused a bloodbath following a failed hijacking, they still polarize opinion. To some they are victims of totalitarianism, to others murderers, prepared to kill innocents for material gain.
Communication technology is leading to a radical reorganization of UK society, says a major study. Traditional communities will become “less cohesive”, as virtual ones form in their place, and the very definition of what it is to be a person changes.
In their fight against corruption in road building, which costs the country billions of dollars, Russians are resorting to ever more exotic means, just to be noticed. The latest is sending a parcel of badly-laid asphalt to the officials responsible.
Despite a flurry of grand initiatives, Doha 2012 has yielded few specifics – with Europe the only major carbon emitter prepared to set clear emissions targets. Its zeal is likely to hamper growth, while doing little to lower worldwide CO2 levels.
Germany is facing rapidly climbing energy costs after turning away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster, instead relying increasingly on renewable energy. Meanwhile, its neighbors are building nuclear power stations on its doorstep.
The Pope’s former butler has gone on trial in the Vatican, accused of stealing confidential data. But the defendant may only be a pawn in an unseemly struggle between power-hungry cardinals and God’s Bankers that the Vatican would rather keep quiet.