Monday, April 7, 2008

Down in Flames?

Olympic Torch Protesters Scale Golden Gate Bridge
Three people protesting China's human rights record and the impending arrival of the Beijing Olympic torch climbed up the Golden Gate Bridge Monday and tied the Tibetan flag and two banners to its cables.

The banners read "One World, One Dream. Free Tibet" and "Free Tibet '08."

One of the climbers was Laurel Sutherlin from the San Francisco
Bay area. Speaking to CBS 5 live via his cell phone while hanging from a bridge cable, Sutherlin said he and his fellow climbers were urging the International Olympic Committee to ask China not to allow the torch to go through Tibet.

"We're demanding that the International Olympic committee immediately removes Tibet from the torch relay route," added Kate Waznow, campaign manager for Students of Free Tibet, which staged the demonstration.

The protesters wore helmets and harnesses as they made their way up the cables running next to the south tower of the famed span that connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County.

The climb had the group suspended about 150 feet above traffic, said Mary Ziegenbien, a spokeswoman with the California Highway Patrol.

The torch arrives in SF on Wednesday, but things are already getting interesting.

Torch draws protest fury in London's Olympic run

In a fresh bid by protesters to use the Beijing Summer Olympics as an opportunity to highlight China's human rights record, thousands of demonstrators crowded into the streets of central London on Sunday and turned the Olympic torch relay into a series of angry scuffles and melees. The police said that at least 30 people had been arrested.

Protests halt Paris torch relay early

Organizers canceled the final leg of the Olympic run through Paris after chaotic protests Monday, snuffing out the torch and putting it aboard a bus in a humiliating concession to protesters decrying China's human rights record.

Worried officials extinguished the torch and placed it on the bus five times throughout the day as protesters tried to grab the torch and block the relay. At least two activists got almost an arm's length away before they were seized by police.

Another protester threw water at the torch but failed to put it out before being taken away.

Clinton: Bush should not open Olympics
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on President Bush to stay away from the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing this summer.

The Democratic presidential candidate cites the recent unrest in Tibet and questions about China's relationship with Sudan.

The New York senator said Monday, "The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for presidential leadership." She said Bush should not plan on attending the ceremonies "absent major changes by the Chinese government."

City taps lesbian, gay man as Olympic torch bearers
San Francisco has included at least two members of the LGBT community in its picks of Olympic torchbearers: award-winning journalist Helen Zia and longtime AIDS survivor John Caldera.

Another 46 people will help carry the Olympic flame Wednesday, April 9 as it makes its way along a six-mile course along San Francisco's waterfront. The additional torchbearers were selected by Newsom; Beijing organizers; the United States Olympic Committee; and the relay's corporate sponsors: the Coca-Cola Company, Lenovo, and Samsung.

While he said he did consider dropping out due to the violence in Tibet, ultimately Caldera decided he could not let the opportunity pass by.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. No one in my family has been a torchbearer," said Caldera. "Those who want to protest should be able to protest. I just hope I don't get hit with tomatoes."

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