Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Marco Pantani

I’ve just heard that Marco Pantani has been found dead.

For people who don’t know the sport of cycling, Marco was an extremely charismatic Italian cyclist, who achieved a remarkable double in 1998, when he won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France back-to-back. I remember Marco especially because I was one of the thousands cheering him to victory on the Champs Elysees. I was also privileged to see him duel with – and beat – Lance Armstrong up Le Mont Ventoux, in the tour two years later.

Words can’t really express the loss. He was a champion in one of the top sports as regards physical endurance, and a renowned mountain climber. Also, he was two years younger than me, and was apparently survived by both his parents. How sad for the world of cycling.

Monday, 2 February 2004

Hutton, and then some...

Well, it's taken me a week to comment about Hutton. What can one really say? To completely absolve anybody in government of any blame just doesn't hold water. To suggest that the security services might have "subconsciously" strengthened the language is just untenable. The question should really have been, "Had the government not had any input, would the dossier have been any different?" I think it would have and I think Hutton ducked the issue by confining himself purely to Kelly's death. Was the dossier "sexed up"? Of course it was, in my view, and what Gilligan reported has turned out to be true, although as he himself admitted the way he reported it was stupid.

Now we find that Blair is about to launch an enquiry regarding the flawed "intelligence" (well, you have to wonder, don't you?) What's the betting that the enquiry will conclude that the politicians behaved perfectly reasonably given the information they had to go on, and that it was either the information or the analysis of the information that was wrong. I tell you, Blair is one hell of a slippery customer. I've never counted myself a conspiracy theorist, but I very much doubt I'll find anything to convince me that Bush and Blair decided to invade Iraq, and then looked for reasons to do so. Any other conclusion will be a whitewash. Still, with any luck it'll cost them both their next elections.

And I haven't finished yet. I heard this morning that Blunkett, not happy with being able to detain foreigners without trial, now wishes to detail UK nationals too. Someone could be convicted of a crime on the basis that they might probably be guilty of intending to do something, but for security reasons they aren't even entitled to know the evidence against them. Blunkett claims it is necessary in order to counter terrorists, but if this knd of things become law, it is tearing down the fabric of hundreds of years of civilisation. And, of course, the terrorists have won. These people seem to be particularly bereft of ideas when it comes to eliminating the causes of terrorism. If people did not feel they had reason to become suicide bombers, they would not become suicide bombers.

There is so much wrong with the world.