A spokeswoman for the Russian government, Olga Kamenchuk, reports that VsTIOM, the state’s polling organization, has found an astounding level of ignorance among Russians about basic facts of science. As an example, one-third of Russians polled believe that the sun revolves around the earth (not vice versa), and an equal number believe that the earth is the center of the solar system. Also, most Russians polled, 55 percent of them, believe that all radioactivity is man-made.

Scandal-plagued Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be tried in April on charges of corruption and paying for sex with an under-age prostitute. The evidence is reportedly so overwhelming that the prosecutors secured a fast-track trial for the billionaire leader, bypassing the normal preliminary hearing.

On February 13 voters in Switzerland turned back a proposal that would have tightened controls on firearms possession and use in a country where a large share of the homes have at least one gun and where learning to shoot and handle a rifle for defense of country (as well as sport) is a right of passage for every Swiss male.

When the Los Angeles Times confirmed that protests that started in January in Tunisia and then moved to Egypt were spreading to Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Cameroon, and Kuwait, many concluded that they were being driven by unhappy citizens connected via the internet. On Twitter, for example, protests set for Monday, February 14th, in Bahrain, can be found at #feb14, and #bahman for Libya. Algerian protest details can be found on #feb19, protests in Morocco at #feb20, Cameroon at #feb23, and Kuwait at #mar8.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy agrees with other European leaders who say multiculturalism has failed.