• ROADSIDE VIEW OF TOUR DE FRANCE: The Monitor's Peter Ford watched from a spot high in the Pyrenees Sunday as US cyclist Lance Armstrong and German Jan Ullrich whizzed past. Just 10 miles from the border with Spain, the road was lined with Basque supporters waving green, red, and white flags. Peter says he missed the televised play-by-play - it was hard to tell how the race was going.
But there's "an undeniable frisson of excitement to find yourself within arm's length of men making such a supreme effort riding up a mountainside."
What struck him most forcibly was the look beyond grim determination on the leaders' faces. "We just didn't exist for them. All that existed was the tarmac ahead of them. We weren't on the same planet."
• AYATOLLAH AS IRAQI ICON: How much influence does the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran have over fellow Shiites in Iraq? The Monitor's Scott Peterson found that even if the example of Iran doesn't carry much weight in Iraq, many of Iran's icons resonate in Iraq.
Outside the holy mosque in Najaf, Scott came across a brisk trade in posters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. "They said they were selling like hot cakes, and that under Saddam, they would have been sent to prison for four months for selling the portraits," Scott says.
The 15-cent price tag was too much for many outside the mosque, but Scott couldn't resist. He bought a poster of a painting of a benevolent young Khomeini - an image that one rarely sees these days in Iran itself.
David Clark Scott