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December 08 2011

Opposition to Dow Olympic stadium wrap deal crosses international and political boundaries

Since I lasted posted about the row over London 2012's organisers controversially awarding the Olympic stadium wrap sponsorship deal to Dow Chemical, the Indian government has urged the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to make its displeasure known to Seb and Co, and Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Commttee chairman, has joined Coe and Boris Johnson in echoing Dow's line of defence - that in 1984 it wasn't involved with the company that owned and ran the chemical plant in Bhopal that leaked catastrophically in that year, leading to the deaths of thousands of people.

Anti-Dow ampaigners, of course, think otherwise. They believe that when Dow bought Union Carbide, the firm that did own and run the plant at the time, it also also inherited an obligation to put right the enduring environmental damage the disaster did to Bhopal and its people, up to 25,000 of whom they claim have died as result of it. The IOA has ruled out a boycott by India's athletes, but has noted that pressure for the Dow deal to be dropped has acquired an international dimension. And among London politicians it has also become a bit of a cross-party issue.

Last Friday, marking the disaster's 27th anniversary, a letter organised by Barry Gardiner MP (Brent North) and Labour Friends of India was sent to Coe urging him to review the decision. As you'd expect, most of its signatories were Labourites, including the party's mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell MP. But it was also signed by senior Lib Dem Simon Hughes MP (Bermondsey), and by four Conservatives members of the Commons including Bob Blackman (Harrow East) and that famously green Tory Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park and North Kingston). Others who put their names to letter included academic Noam Chomsky, actor Martin Sheen, artist Antony Gormley and TV personality Nancy Dell'Olio.

At a press conference held beside the stadium a spokesperson for the Bhopal Medical Appeal said that responsibility for Bhopal and its legacy was being "shifted to the Indian state," by Dow and that "that's what LOCOG is supporting when it supports Dow's statements unquestioningly."

Livingstone accused to Dow of using "every legal manoeuvre to avoid honouring its obligations" and said he didn't want the Olympic stadium becoming "the target of protestors," urging LOCOG to change its position in order to pre-empt this. He added that if elected next May, two months before the start of the games, he would be "looking for a legal challenge to try and drop Dow Chemical" and in the meantime would be "writing personally to Seb Coe to say I think this is a catastrophic error and it isn't going to go away."

He's not far wrong, I'd say. Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, the Olympic host borough in which the stadium stands, is another (Labour) politician to come out against the Dow deal. So has his independent Tower Hamlets counterpart Lutfur Rahman. For more on the issue, catch up with top London blogger and Sunday Express correspondent Ted Jeory's trail blazing coverage, which has now taken him to Bhopal itself. See here and here and here. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

January 06 2011

A Havana cigar for breakfast?

We asked everyone from John Humphrys to Tessa Jowell to Rafael Nadal what they have for breakfast

Helena Bonham Carter, actor

I have muesli – organic Alara, ordinary everyday mix. No sugar. I tend to have it with some yoghurt, Yeo Valley or Rachel's low-fat vanilla. And fresh orange juice, not squeezed – Tropicana. Sometimes I have a frozen banana. I take the skin off the night before and pop it in the freezer. Mmm. Banana ice-cream! On rare occasions, I might have scrambled eggs on toasted soda bread. I do my own breakfast.

Lord Richard Rogers, architect

Breakfast! I love it. It's great to come down to coffee from a really good espresso machine. And a pile of fruit – raspberries, strawberries, peaches, little Pakistani mangoes when they're in season – all cut up with Greek yoghurt. Sometimes I have toast with Marmite. I've been having that since schooldays. Ruthie [Rogers, his wife, the chef and co-founder of the River Café) and I try to have breakfast together, usually in dressing gowns. Often there are people in and out and we are on the hoof. When we are in Italy we have salted anchovies and bruschetta.

Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood; shadow minister for the Olympics

I'm pretty routine about breakfast. I get up at about 6.30 and have hot water to which I add fresh ginger and a slice of lemon – very good for the immune system. Then I go down to the gym. I usually eat at 7.45am. I have porridge – I'll ring the changes – maple syrup, nuts. I went off cappuccino, the soapy taste, but I'm on it again, although now I have more coffee, really strong, and less milk. And I love roibosch with a slice of lemon. I do like breakfast to be the meal of the day. There's no rush. These are private moments of complete pleasure. When I was a young woman I didn't eat breakfast. Now that's as unthinkable as not having a shower.

Rafael Nadal, tennis player

I have to have breakfast. No tea. No coffee. Hot chocolate. And Quelitas (traditional Majorcan crackers made of wheat flour, sunflower oil, yeast, olive oil and sea salt). I have them with Majorcan sheep's cheese, or sometimes marmalade, or with sobrasada (Majorcan pate made from pig meat and paprika). I have oranges and orange juice too. When travelling, I might have a croissant with Nutella, or cornflakes with chocolate. I like breakfast.

John Humphrys, presenter

I have two breakfasts if I'm doing the Today programme. When I get to the office at 4.15am, I have a large bowl of fruit, muesli and yoghurt, and a banana – on the assumption it might help my brain work more efficiently. No tea or coffee till after. I drink gallons of water instead. When I get home I have toast with Marmite or blackcurrant and apple jam made by a nice lady who comes when I do Mastermind. On ordinary days, I have fresh grapefruit, then toast and the papers with a pot of tea made with leaves. Not tea bags.

Marie Helvin, former model

In the summer, fruit; in winter, cheese on toast. I'm addicted to Leerdammer, a mild continental cheese, on rye. I think of eggs as an evening meal food. If I'm really going to town, I use my juicer. There's nothing better than starting the morning with carrot and ginger. I don't drink tea or coffee – I probably have one a year and it always sends me flying to the moon.

Sir Terence Conran, designer

I have a glass of juice. Orange. I'm glad to say proper stuff. And coffee, freshly ground, Gourmet Noir from the Algerian Coffee Store. I've been using it since the age of 20. With milk, warmed of course. Sixty years I've been pouring that into my bladder. And a cigar. A good Havana called Hoya de Monterrey. My wife complains at the smoking. I'm normally dressed at breakfast and we have it in the kitchen-dining room in London, or in our country house. When I'm driving long distances in France, I love having breakfast in lorry drivers' caffs – or crisp croissants in a good hotel.

Carlos Acosta, principal guest artist of the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden

I need carbohydrates, but they have to be digestible. You can't go to a ballet class with a full stomach. Breakfast has to be healthy too. I have coffee, Cuban of course, made by my fiancee, with sugar. I like sugar very much. I have sugar with coffee, not coffee with sugar. I try to have protein – eggs, or an omelette with brown wheat toast. You need this. I hammer my body every day. After ballet class, orange juice. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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