BEIJING -- Woke up at 9 a.m. in Beijing here Thursday and went to the window to check out the situation overhead. Not surprisingly, it's a hellish haze. Looking out over the city from the 17th floor of the hotel, you can see barely a couple of hundred yards. They say it has been pretty bad here the last week or so. I can only hope this is the worst example of the famously foul Beijing air.

Even in the hotel room, you can feel the effects of the smog in this city. There's a thin layer of dust on the bathroom floor. My girlfriend, Melinda, made the trip to the Olympics. Melinda is a reading coach in the Buffalo schools. She says she's considering a gas mask.

Great move by the U.S. Olympians, voting for Lopez Lomong to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremonies. Lomong is a native African and was one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" who were abducted from a government-backed militia and raised for 10 years in a Kenyan refugee camp.

It's a powerful statement for the American athletes to choose a flag-bearer who was born in another country. They showed a keen awareness of what the Olympics are supposed to be about, and this choice is true to the Chinese motto for these Olympics -- One World, One Dream.

Of course, it might also be seen as a bit of a political statement. One of the main criticisms of the Chinese regime is its cozy relationship with Sudan, despite the genocide in the Darfur region of that east African nation. Sudan sells about 80 percent of its oil to China, so it's largely about business.

Barack Obama is half-Kenyan, of course, which adds another political touch to the choice.

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