Olympic torch goes out.

Heard this story from Reuters Paris just now and it summed up events for me in a way. After a day of hearing radio and tv news bulletins about incidents involving protests about the Olympic torch and China’s human rights record particularly in Tibet, and an hour or so spent personally musing about how big a percentage of all British manufactured goods is sourced directly from China, this morning I heard a leading policeman, Commander Bob Broadhurst of the Met Police, on Radio 4 differentiating between pro and anti torch demonstrators – in a “goodies and baddies” kind of fashion. The pro demonstrators were “lawful” and the anti were not, apparently. I suppose the law exists to protect property at the end of the day. But……..Chinese property? British property manufactured in China…….? All I can say is, despite the presence of Chinese security guards protecting the torch, I couldn’t help but think (as Jane Austen would say) that you couldn’t protest in anything like this way if you were actually in China. And the lights were going out all over Europe……..

Security officials extinguished the Olympic torch on Monday on the Paris leg of its journey, disrupted by protesters against China’s crackdown on Tibet.

A police source said organizers were forced to put the torch on a bus to protect it from the hundreds of protesters who swarmed the procession after it set off from the Eiffel Tower.

The torch had to be extinguished because of a technical problem, a police spokesman told Reuters. After a brief interruption the relay resumed with the torch alight.

A member of the French Greens party had earlier been restrained by police when trying to grab the torch from the first of 80 torch bearers, former world 400 meters hurdles champion Stephane Diagana.

Escorted by security, Diagana was wearing a badge reading “For a better world”.

Several hundred demonstrators waving banners gathered on the Trocadero esplanade, just the other side of the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower, where the relay got under way at 6:35 a.m EDT.

France has deployed more than 3,000 police officers, some on roller blades, along the 28-km (17 miles) Paris leg of relay, to the Charlety stadium, on the southern edge of town, where the torch was due to arrive at 11:00 a.m EDT.

“Boycott Chinese goods” and “Save Tibet” read some of the banners held by the demonstrators, watched by police in riot gear and prevented by barriers from getting near the courseWe are doing our best but it will take the world to put pressure on China to help bring democracy and human rights to Tibet,” said Phurbu Dolker, a 21-year-old Tibetan refugee.

Thousands of protesters waving Tibetan flags and shouting “Shame on China” tried to disrupt the torch’s run through London on Sunday, the British leg of the international relay billed by Beijing as the “harmonious journey”.

French human rights minister, Rama Yade, denied on Saturday that President Nicolas Sarkozy would boycott the Games’ opening ceremony unless China started talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and released political prisoners.

The Olympic flame is expected to remain a magnet for anti-Chinese protests ahead of the August Games in Beijing.

The flame is due to return to Beijing on August 6, two days before it will be used to light the cauldron at the Olympic opening ceremony.

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