Voices Pope Francis: 'I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it'

Is he doomed to play the role of Mikhail Gorbachev to an organisation long as secretive as the Kremlin?

Russians on red alert as rouble is reinvented

Nerves are jangling in Russia over tomorrow's introduction of the new rouble. As Phil Reeves reports from Moscow, it comes at a jittery time.

Reagan Reborn: ... while Gorby gets the blame for everything

History, in all its perversity, could hardly have dealt two more different hands. While a befuddled Ronald Reagan totters towards republican sainthood, the man on the other side of the Cold War parapets, Mikhail Gorbachev, is held in about as much affection by his kith and kin as a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman at 6am on a Sunday morning.

Celebrity Advertising: There's no escape from the world of the global commercial

It is the year 2012. There is a Teletubbies revival and Baby Spice has just taken over as the new landlady of the Queen Vic Internet Salon in EastEnders. Tony Blair is still everywhere. He may no longer be Prime Minister but he appears regularly on our TV screens advertising a new chain of restaurants, Planet Politics. Having already done rather well out of endorsing private health care plans, he, Bill Clinton and Lionel Jospin have got together a nice little franchise in which you can eat turkey burgers - the last remaining cow was publicly executed several years ago amidst a display of digitally mastered world leaders.

Gorbachev is latest star in Pizza Hut TV ad

Politics is an unforgiving game. One day you are changing history, overseeing the end of the Cold War, bringing down the Berlin Wall and getting to keep the nuclear button by your bed. Next thing you know you're lining up with the likes of Pamela Anderson and Gareth Southgate to appear in a fast-food commercial.

Book: Tsar to commissar

A History of Twentieth-Century Russia by Robert Service Allen Lane, pounds 25; The terror may have vanished into history, but Communism still has a grip on Russian life

Why tomorrow should not be as predictable as Today

Who sets the agenda, the 'Today' programme or the politicians? Robert Hanks believes the Today team need to look beyond Westminster for some refreshment

Games: The Ignobel prizes

Last weekend, in a ceremony at Harvard University, the annual "Ig Nobel" Prizes were awarded. Named after Alfred Nobel's justly little- known brother Ignatius (allegedly the inventor of soda pop) the Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to academics whose works the other Nobel committee have chosen to IgNore. The Medicine prize, for example, went to two Wilkes University researchers for their discovery that listening to music in lifts stimulates the production of immunoglobin in the brain and thus may help prevent the common cold. The Economics prize went to the Japanese inventors of the Tamagotchi "for its contribution to economics by wasting millions of working hours".

Is aid to Russia academic?

As Blair and Yeltsin meet in Moscow, Peter Koenig asks if the pounds 4bn spent on Western consultants has been a good use of taxpayers' money

Eight centuries of the `wet' city

1147 (ish): Small outpost established on the banks of the marshy Moscow River. The name derives from an old Slavic word meaning "wet".

As the British mainland's most westerly arm, Ardnamurchan is off the tourist map. But for those who make the journey, writes Steve Crawshaw, the peninsula's natural beauty is matched only by its tranquillity

It seemed that Scottish holidays and I were not destined to be a happy match. Six years ago, what promised to be a blissful fortnight on the island of Arran was interrupted on the second day by the radio headlines, which woke us with annoyingly dramatic news. "The Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has been overthrown in a coup," I heard through my half-sleep. I was responsible for The Independent's coverage of Russia at the time. I told myself for as long as I could that it was probably just a dream. Eventually, however, I was forced to confront reality. By the time I stumbled downstairs, a message was lying on the kitchen table. "Please phone office urgently." Arran, it was nice to know you.

Freddie Starr ate your mortgage

Real celebrities in advertisements don't come cheap, but often they're worth it. So says Ron Mowlam, but he would, wouldn't he? By Serena Mackesy

A LAW UNTO HIMSELF

Adrian Turpin talks back to CLIVE ANDERSON

HIDDEN DEPTHS

Actor RUTGER HAUER talks with James Rampton

Blair bridges the divide

Lady Thatcher's invitation to No 10 reveals one big difference between her and the new occupant, says Donald Macintyre
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?