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Good Reads: Hillsborough, rural Russians, and chasing dreams of spaceflight

This week's long form good reads include a recounting of the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, insights into the political thinking of rural Russians, and the Dream Chaser spaceplane's history.

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“Yes, Russians outside Moscow and St. Petersburg have no appetite for the noisy street politics and abstract slogans of their big-city counterparts,” writes Foreign Affairs. “But they are far from content with the current political system, which they see as hopelessly corrupt and inept at providing basic services. Their support for Putin grows thinner by the month, and a major economic crisis could quite easily provoke them into protests on a massive scale.“

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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“Although the concerns and cultures of Russia's metropolises and its provinces differ, there is no contradiction between the urban activists' dreams of greater freedom and democracy and mainstream Russians' desires for honest police officers and well-run health clinics. Indeed, a more accountable state would almost certainly be a more effective one.”

Not quite the shuttle, but close enough

While NASA is still capable of incredible feats – witness the recent landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars – it lost a certain je ne sais quoi when it retired the Space Shuttle from service last year.  Satellites, rovers, and telescopes are great, but they lack the romance of manned flights in a spaceplane.

Fortunately, there is a potential love interest for shuttle-philes: Dream Chaser.

One of three vehicles being developed by NASA’s commercial space-transportation program CCiCap, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser looks like a snub-winged, wedge-shaped version of the Shuttle, and is meant to fill a similar role as a reusable, small-crew spaceplane able to land at ordinary airports.

Better yet, it has a history that reads like fiction. Sci/tech website Ars Technica writes that “The Dream Chaser is a Cold War product, replete with secret military programs, spy planes, rocket scientists, Russian trawlers, and Air Force test pilots working in the middle of the desert.”

“For 50 years, three clever and highly dedicated groups of dreamers have fed, nurtured, evangelized, refined, and defended the ideas behind the Dream Chaser as it inches toward becoming a reusable! orbital! mini-spaceplane! Those words are heavenly manna for true believers, the dreamers within the space industry and the would-be vacuum visitors in every country. The Dream Chaser has survived so many false starts, and has made so much progress, that the unthinkable now looks almost likely: the Dream Chaser will soon travel all the way to orbit.”

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Doing Good

 

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
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