Victoria Pendleton Wins World Championship Gold

Victoria Pendleton won a gold medal with sprint partner Shanaze Reade in the Women's 500 metre sprint. In qualifying they set a new world record and were only marginally slower in the final to beat the Chinese.

It was a glorious night for the British track cycling squad, with the Men's 4km pursuit team setting a new world record as they claimed gold. In a performance of near perfection they set a time of 3min 56.322sec to beat the old Australian record set in the Athens Olympics. It was the second Gold Medal for Bradley Wiggins, he had earlier successfully defended his individual pursuit title.

Rebecca Romero also won Gold in the women's individual pursuit title. Her result was even more exceptional given that she recently switched from rowing, in which she was also a world champion and Olympic silver medalist.

Rebbeca Romero wins gold

International Herald Tribune

Victoria Pendleton aims for Gold at Times
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American Voters Prefer Shorter Elections

In a shock opinion poll, 94% of American voters said they would prefer elections to last two weeks rather than two years.

One voter said, I really don't know why elections have to last two years, it's almost as soon as one election is over, people start campaigning for the next one.

However, political scientists said the two year election trail was essential for creating a mind numbing sense of political boredom, essential for any modern democracy. If the election didn't last for two years what we fill the newspapers and TV programs with?

Furthermore, the American political campaigning season is big business; with each candidate spending $10 billion on election campaigns, the election process has become an essential part of the American economy.

"Cut the election process to two weeks and the American economy could be plunged into a deep recession. Clearly spending several billion pounds on useless political adverts, which don't say anything meaningful, is one of the mainstays of the American economy."

With the credit crunch hitting stock markets, analysts agree that any cut in the election campaigning season would be disastrous for a financial system suffering from decades of mismanagement."

One voter chipped in:

"Maybe if politicians didn't spend all their time campaigning they would have been able to introduce sufficient regulations and checks on the risky subprime mortgage sector and could have avoided the current financial crisis."

However, politicians on both sides argued it was not their job to avoid crisis. It makes much better politics to offer solutions to crisis situations. "I mean if we prevent crisis in the first place who is ever going to know what we have done? However, if we create a crisis we can improve our poll ratings by offering solutions."
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Doping in Professional Cycling

There are many problems currently facing professional cycling, some of these problems have dogged the sport for many years.

Doping Issue. Mention cycling and inevitably people think of the doping problem. To be fair it is not just cycling that suffers from a doping problem. But, in recent years, cycling seems to have had more than its fair share of doping revelations and drug scandals. Before, Tommy Simpsons' death in the 1960s, doping was pretty much widespread in the peloton and the dope controls were very lax. Many riders barely attempted to hide the fact they were taking dope (often amphetamines). After Tom Simpson's death, controls were tightened, but, the sport was never really enthusiastic about enforcing strict doping controls. The taking of drugs was too deeply embedded in the sport.

A ground breaking book was Paul Kimmage's - Rough Ride this offered an inside insight into the extent of doping within the peloton. However, its rough reception showed how the UCI and the cycling establishment wanted to try and just brush the issue under the carpet.

After Kimmage's retirement in the late 1980s, the doping issue if anything got worse. With a new generation of performance enhancing drugs, there was an even greater incentive for cyclists to cheat. These drugs included EPO and growth hormones. It was not until the Festina scandal of 1998, that the issue was brought to light with a vengeance. The Festina massuer Willy Voet, was found with a car full of doping products. Comically, he tried to claim they were for personal use. But, eventually the main team members came to admit their guilt.

Yet, despite increasing evidence of doping, the sport has suffered many more scandals with nearly all recent major tour contenders being implicated in some way.

The list is almost too long to name but some of the biggest names to be implicated in doing scandals include:

  • Bjarne Riis - Tour winner later admitted to EPO use
  • Marco Pantani - would die from cocaine overdose
  • Michael Rasmussen - leading 2007 Tour until forced out over missed dope test.
  • Lance Armstrong - nothing conclusively proved. Although tainted by relationship with doctor Micheal Ferrari and alleged failed test (however, this test was several years old and has been ruled as being inadmissable as evidence)
  • Jan Ullrich - implicated in Fuentes scandal, packets of Ullrich's blood was found stored with Fuentes
  • Alexandre Vinokourov - failed dope test in 2007 tour after making dramatic recovery in a time trial stage.
  • David Miller - British cyclist admitted to taking EPO, banned for 2 years, now back racing
  • Tyler Hamilton - Olympic gold medallist - later failed drugs test.
  • Flloyd Landis - Leading 2006 Tour, when failed a test for testosterone after making dramatic stage win.
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Problems of Starbucks

Recently, I went into the Starbucks in Oxford and was shocked at how poor the experience was. Usually, I go to Cafe Nero in Blackwells bookshop. These were the main problems of Starbucks

  • Long Queue. There always seem to be a long queue at Starbucks; as a result the staff seem stressed out. On one or two occasions I had stopped going to Starbucks rather than wait in the long queue.
  • Coffee was weak and feeble. I ordered a small dry cappuccino. It was like drinking a piece of coloured milk. I could barely taste the coffee. A similar small dry cappuccino in Costa Coffee or Cafe Nero is much better. It was so weak I didn't bother drinking it all. True, I might have been able to queue up and complain; but what's the point? I don't want to have to complain.
  • Atmosphere. The atmosphere reminded me of McDonalds or a slightly upmarket Little Chef. . Coffee shops should have class, style and dignity. The place was also quite dark, dingy and loud music. This is completely different to the coffee shops in the Oxford bookstores.
  • Price. The price is no different to other coffee shops. I wouldn't have minded paying an extra 20p for better coffee and better environment.
  • That was my experience; but the fact it was so busy shows they must be doing something right. I guess they don't need miserable old men like me...

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