Well, that didn't take long. They were still flicking the cigarette lighter in preparation of lighting the Olympic Torch today in Greece when a protester crashed the ceremony, with what looks like a pirate flag. A rousing start on the 84-day journey in which the torch will pass through several locations, including the most dangerous and controversial of all; New Jersey. Oh, and also Tibet.

Disregarding public outcry internationally and within the borders of Tibet, the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee reaffirmed its plans to carry the Olympic torch through Lhasa. The so-called "Journey of Harmony", the name given by the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, is scheduled to pass through 135 cities on it's way to the Chinese capital for the start of the Games August 8.

Well, this should be fun. Because already we've had:

• Steven Spielberg, who was to act as artistic adviser to the opening ceremonies, quit amid continuing Chinese involvement in the form of arms sales to the country of Sudan in their conflict in Darfur.

• Great Britain's Prince Charles has announced that he will not be attending the ceremony in support of the Dalai Lama. In London, the possibility of disruption by anti-China protesters became front-page news as the announcement of the deployment of 2,000 Metropolitan Police officers, marine and air support, plus mounted police along the torch's route to the town of Greenwich.

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• Rioting in Tibet, in which the Chinese army is accused of shooting monks and burning homes.

• Concerns by athletes that Beijing's infamous air pollution will not only affect their performances, but perhaps, you know, kill them.

• Some European politicians calling for an outright boycott of the Games.

And if that's not enough controversy for you, try this: "What, Lassie? What is it, girl? Timmy's friend Quon Li is trying to douse you in marinara sauce?"

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In China, the term Puppy Bowl has an entirely different meaning.

But back to the torch. One of its destinations is going to be San Francisco, a bastion of conservatism where of course things will go smoothly without a hint of trouble. From Scott Ostler's column in the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco officials are planning to allow protesters to protest from "free speech zones." This could require some re-writing of official documents, such as the Constitution, which, some legal scholars would argue, designates the United States of America as a free speech zone.

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And they're also taking the thing to the top of Mt. Everest, so I understand. Good luck hiring Sherpa guides for that.

Getting The Torch Through SF: Charge Of The Light Brigade [SFGate]
Olympic Flame Will Roll Through Tibet On Schedule [BrooWaHa]
Beijing Boycott? Don't Tell The Olympic Athletes [ABC News]
An Olympic Disgrace [Salon]