East 15




I wrote the first few lines of this letter in Russian after the tragic death of Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, shot dead in the lift of her apartment block on Lesnaya Street in Moscow. A version of the text was sent to the Russian embassy on the occasion of Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Rome.

The frontier of rights

Violence against women may be carried out in the name of tradition, culture or religion, but it takes place in every country in the world. Discriminated against in their access to economic and social rights and far from full and equal participation in the world of politics and decision-making, women have yet to make it understood that human rights apply to them too.

Water: so precious and so different from oil

Very many people have said it and written it: in the 21st century water will be like “the black gold”. Political battles and perhaps international wars will be fought over it, while the countries richest in water will be in a privileged position.

Rubbia: An Alternative? I Can See At Least Three

“No” to the catastrophe theory, but beware of population growth: in 2050 there will be 9 billion people on earth. But technology will save us. Europe has a good plan to control emissions: now we have to make it work.

That’s Incredible

“Fast, painless procedure”; “New Generation method!”; or even “Minimum risk at minimum cost”: sparkling slogans for an insurance policy or a dentist’s surgery, but quite shocking when seen on leaflets being distributed outside almost every university in China.

When history becomes a political weapon

The latest case is the statue of the Russian soldier in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, but there have been many occasions, in the past and more recently, when historical reminders have been used for political purposes.

The Italian who brings light to Mecca

In 1979 Piero Cecchini, a young hotel-keeper in Cattolica, invented a digital signal transmission system that would make use of existing electricity cables. Today the lamps that light up Mecca during the time of the Haj pilgrimage, the street lights of Buenos Aires, Barcelona and other cities around the world are operated by a remote control system that is entirely Italian. 

Free Numbers

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers forecasts sales of 8.5 millioncars in the Republic of China in the course of 2007. Demand grew by 21.4%in the first few months of the year and sales by 21.5%


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