Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

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Half of the world's food is thrown away? Come on, supermarkets: give us ‘imperfection’

Special offers that go mouldy in the fridge are partly why people throw so much food away

Guns won't protect Indian women. Ask the US

What was going through Barack Obama's mind as a member of staff told him about the Sandy Hook shootings? In a dramatic photograph released by the White House last week, the President leans against the back of a sofa, arms folded and head bowed. It's a sombre moment: six adults and 20 children had just died in the massacre in Connecticut. No one could avoid shock on hearing the news, but the President must surely have been wondering how on earth to persuade millions of Americans to give up their delusional attachment to guns.

The Government has gone to great lengths to restrict access to university. Where was Willetts's concern for the disadvantaged then?

The Universities Minister's professed concern for white working class boys is risible

2012: A year I won't forget, for all the wrong reasons

I can't remember when I've ended a year so angry. Goodbye 2012 and good riddance. In this country, a “much-loved” entertainer with a warm relationship with a former prime minister was exposed as possibly the UK's most prolific sexual predator.

Lives are at the mercy of quacks online

The most surprising people go in for magical thinking. Faced with a devastating diagnosis, they ignore medical advice and try alternative treatments they've heard about from friends or on the internet.

Leveson: The battlelines are drawn

This is a long game and the Leveson recommendations will become law eventually

Leveson: As someone who was hacked by the News of the World, I believe this scandal is about abuse of power

Leveson said the press is exercising unaccountable power which nobody holds to account.

This squabbling sect has no place in the Lords

Imagine a body with a female hereditary leader, a male chief executive and an all-male board which women aren't allowed to join. Obviously we're talking about a dysfunctional organisation which, you might suppose, is crying out for a challenge under equality law. Now imagine that this body has an automatic right to put its directors in the country's legislature, where they are able to lecture us on controversial matters. Some mistake, surely?

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Our zombie church has a new leader. So what?

As events go, it's not exactly earth-shaking. A couple of days ago, a pressure group announced the name of its new boss, a white bloke in his 50s who used to work in the oil industry.

Is £624 the price of a rape victim's anonymity?

Some friends and supporters of Ched Evans wrote the name of the woman he raped on Twitter - all they got was a measly fine.

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?