Iban Mayo…

David Millar (just signed for Slipstream) ought to be absolutely furious with Iban Mayo.

On the first day in the Pyrenees, Millar and David De La Fuente of the Saunier-Duval team drove the peloton over the Port de Pailheres at a crazy pace, in the hope that team-leader Mayo could do something on the way up to the stage-finish at Plateau de Beille. But he couldn’t, and lost nearly ten minutes on the final climb. And now we learn he was on drugs too.

Mayo had a terrible tour, finishing 16th at 27’09”. I thought the drugs were supposed to prevent that kind of thing.

Hari / Cohen Cage Match

This is all terribly, terribly funny. First we have Johann Hari writing about Nick Cohen’s not especially good recent book What’s Left? in Dissent here (with bloggers’ responses here, here, here, here and here). Then we get NC’s reply to JH here and JH’s reply to NC’s reply to JH here, with today’s blog discussion over here [update: subsequently removed].

I want this one to run and run.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Oliver Kamm weighs in, again; AaroWatch has an Ode to Kamm [update: subsequently removed]; and JH has added bits and pieces to his reply to the reply [update: and some of the bits and pieces have been, er, subsequently removed].

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Indecent Left, Conor Foley, Chris Bertram, Blood & Treasure.

Champs-Élysées

I don’t think I’ll try to become a professional sports photographer any time soon. But here are three images from this afternoon’s racing, anyway.

Quite by chance I seem to have got Alberto Contador in the middle of this pic, on the second half of the first circuit of the Champs-Élysées, flanked by the rest of his Discovery Channel team.

Here comes the peloton!

The Lampre riders, on their way to set up the stage win for Daniele Bennati.

Dead Socialist Watch, #282

Leonora Eyles, novelist, journalist, agony aunt and socialist. Brought up near Stoke-on-Trent, Leonora Pitcairn ran away to London at eighteen, and then emigrated to Australia, where she married Alfred William Eyles, whom she later divorced. Having returned to England she went to work for Dr Barnardo’s, becoming a munitions worker in the Woolwich Arsenal during the First World War. Her 1922 book, The Woman in the Little House is a minor classic about women and urban poverty. She regularly wrote for left-wing publications but was best known as an agony aunt for Modern Woman and Woman’s Own. Born in Swindon, 1 September 1889, she died in Hampstead, 27 July 1960.

Vino Fails Dope Test!

Over here, or en français.

Not entirely clear why Klöden et al should be pulled from the race, too. Maybe we’ll find out in the hours to come. Anyway: this is just what we want: a drugs angle to inject a bit of life into the cycling soap opera that won’t destabilise the whole event.

While I’m on the subject, do other Stoa-readers agree with me that Vino looks funny when he rides his bike? Especially when he’s being filmed from the front on the breakaway. I can’t really describe it; he looks like some kind of comically stubborn child as the legs pump up and down. The bandaged knee has something to do with it, but I don’t think it’s just the bandage; he’s stockier than the average cyclist, and that has something to do with it, too. Maybe it is just me.

Anyway: it’s been a cracking Tour, and I can breathe easily now that it looks as if Cadel Evans won’t be winning it.

UPDATE: Good piece (as ever) by William Fotheringham in tehgraun.

Call for Asylum

My old friend Dan Hardie, whom I met at university and haven’t seen for many years, pops up on blogs from time to time to have arguments with people with whom he disagrees. (They can get quite heated.) But now he’s turned his attention to starting a political campaign, which I want to publicise here, and to support.

The British have been occupying Basra and a chunk of Southern Iraq for four years now. During this time, lots of Iraqis will have worked in one way or another for the occupying forces. And those Iraqis are now the targets of local death squads: see here, for example, for details of what’s been happening to people who have worked as interpreters.

Incredibly, it seems that the British Government is not willing as a matter of course to grant refugee status and asylum in the UK to these people. Dan wants us to write to our MPs to ask that they be promised this status immediately. Whether or not you thought the war was ever a good idea, whatever you think the future of British forces in Southern Iraq should or should not be, however many other Iraqis you think the British Government ought to take in as refugees in recognition of its share of the responsibility for creating the bloody mess that is Iraq today, you ought to be able to agree that those Iraqis whose lives are now at risk because of their work for the British Government in Iraq are at the very least owed sanctuary by that Government.

So write to your MP: this website can be helpful (though politicians always take letters that arrive in the mail on a bit of paper and with a stamp on them a bit more seriously). I’ll be sending my letters off to the two Oxford MPs tomorrow.

And Dan’s original post [here], which provides more details, is reproduced over the fold:

Continue reading “Call for Asylum”