Blogs

Live Earth Concert Kicks Off, Critics Weigh In

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 1:52 PM PDT

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Live Earth, the 24-hour concert, part of a larger multi-year campaign called Save Our Selves -- The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis (see video below), kicked off today on all seven continents across the globe. The event, organized by former U.S. Veep Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection, features nearly 150 artists, including U2, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna, who play to trigger a "global movement to solve the climate crisis."

But regardless of the star power, some are critical. Live Aid/Live 8 creator Bob Geldof says, "It's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage." Keith Farnish, a British environmentalist and the founder of the Earth Blog is "not sure events like this make a difference."

Some are more harsh. Matt Helder, the drummer of Arctic Monkeys, a British Indie rock band, thinks the execution is hypocritical. "We're using enough power for ten houses just for lighting," he notes. This type of skepticism is being echoed by many, but Treehugger, an environmental blog that touts bringing sustainability to the mainstream, reports that steps have been made to make the concert greener and proceeds do go to create a foundation to combat global warming, which will be led by the Alliance for Climate Protection.

The concert does have its supporters (it is estimated that 2 billion people will be reached). Vocalist Patrick Stump of the alt rock band Fallout Boy is hopeful. "If we spread out the influence as much as we can and if we hit some people with some really big ideas, there might be a kid there that will totally eradicate fossil fuel." And of course, Gore is a big, big fan. He says, "the task of saving the global environment is a task we should all approach with a sense of joy."

We want to know what you think?

—Anna Weggel

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Live Earth Concert Kicks Off, Critics Weigh In

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 1:42 PM PDT

LE%20image.jpg

Live Earth, the 24-hour concert, part of a larger multi-year campaign to combat climate change, kicked off today on all seven continents across the globe. The event, organized by former U.S. Veep Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection, features nearly 150 artists, including U2, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna, who play to trigger a "global movement to solve the climate crisis."

But regardless of the star power, some are critical. Live Aid/Live 8 creator Bob Geldof says, "It's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage." Keith Farnish, a British environmentalist and the founder of the Earth Blog is "not sure events like this make a difference."

Some are more harsh. Matt Helder, the drummer of Arctic Monkeys, a British Indie rock band, thinks the execution is hypocritical. "We're using enough power for ten houses just for lighting," he notes. This type of skepticism is being echoed by many, but Treehugger, an environmental blog that touts bringing sustainability to the mainstream, reports that steps have been made to make the concert greener and proceeds do go to create a foundation to combat global warming, which will be led by the Alliance for Climate Protection.

The concert does have its supporters (it is estimated that 2 billion people will be reached). Vocalist Patrick Stump of the alt rock band Fallout Boy is hopeful. "If we spread out the influence as much as we can and if we hit some people with some really big ideas, there might be a kid there that will totally eradicate fossil fuel." And of course, Gore is a big, big fan. He says, "the task of saving the global environment is a task we should all approach with a sense of joy."

We want to know — what you think?

—Anna Weggel

NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Case Dismissed

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 1:10 PM PDT

A three-member federal appeals court ruled very narrowly yesterday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program should remain in place until a plaintiff comes along who can prove s/he was spied on, resulting in concrete harm. The decision suggests that the program might be illegal, but states clearly that the lawyers and journalists who brought the suit had no standing to do so.

There are some important sticking points in the decision, however. First, what about the generalized harm that results when any number of law-abiding citizens clam up because they believe, with a some justification, that they are being monitored? Second, people could only know for sure that they were spied on if the government told them. The government claims that that information is a "state secret"—information that, if revealed, would threaten national security. (One of the two judges in the decision determined categorically that the plaintiffs had no standing; the other wrote that the state secrets privilege prohibits the court from knowing.) The government's claim is, of course, only true if warrantless wiretapping were only conducted on people who posed a genuine threat, but it allows no legal avenue to determine if that's the case. Many legal experts argue that the state secrets privilege should not serve as a get-out-of-court-free card, but rather should simply require careful handling of the potentially secret material by the federal judges. After all, if we can't trust presidentially appointed federal judges to maintain confidentiality—which they already do as a routine part of their jobs—who can we trust? The same Bush administration that leaked Valerie Plame's name?

A case in San Francisco in which the plaintiffs claim to have proof that they were monitored is still pending.

Matches Go To War

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 11:12 PM PDT

Conflagration.

First Listen: Interpol - Our Love To Admire

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 10:36 PM PDT

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Total number of animals pictured in the cover booklet's photographs of nature dioramas: 21

Percentage of those which appear to be male Greater Kudu antelopes: 10%

Rank of Track 1, "Pioneer to the Falls," a bottomlessly bleak track dominated by an epic and mournful guitar melody, on the List of Best Interpol Songs of All Time According to Me: #4 (behind "Untitled," "PDA," and "NYC" from Turn On the Bright Lights, 2002)

Number of days frontman Paul Banks claims he hasn't slept on Track 8, "Rest My Chemistry," in what is apparently a reference to a cocaine binge: 2

Amount of time into the 4 minute and 30 second Track 10, "Wrecking Ball," a TV On the Radio-reminiscent lament, before the band are joined by what sounds like a full orchestra: 3:09

How heard-rendingly sad the Spanish-style guitars that accompany album closer "The Lighthouse" are on a scale where 1 equals Spongebob Squarepants and 100 equals the inevitable death of the universe in a entropy-driven whimper: 99

Average rating out of 100 for the album in reviews compiled so far by Metacritic: 90

Random sampling of adjectives used in the featured reviews: "ominous," "doomy," "funereal," "reverberating," "devastating," "terrible," "brooding," "magnificent," "cadaverous"

Number of offices and studios out of which one could hear Our Love to Admire playing after advance copies arrived at our radio station this afternoon: 4

Date on which the general public can purchase and enjoy this brutal, majestic album: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

MTV.com website where you can stream the entire album: right here

SOS For Live Earth

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 4:12 PM PDT

The concerts. You know. 7/7/07. New York, London, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney, Hamburg. JULIA WHITTY

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Gray Whales Going Hungry

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 1:21 PM PDT

Scientists are reporting an unusually high number of undernourished whales for the first time since malnourishment and disease claimed a third of the gray whale population in 1999 and 2000. Ken Weiss at the Los Angeles Times reports that so far this year scientists haven't seen a decline in numbers. Nor are they sure what's causing the whales to waste. But they suspect the same thing that triggered a die-off eight years ago &mdash a rapid warming of the whales' Arctic feeding waters. Gray whales consume tons of small crustaceans in order to pack on the pounds for their long migration to Mexican breeding lagoons. But as Arctic ice recedes, the crustaceans on the Bering Sea floor are disappearing. . . Add this to the bad news for gray whales on the other side of the Pacific too. JULIA WHITTY

CO2 Weakens Soybeans

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 12:37 PM PDT

Elevated atmospheric CO2 may negatively impact the relationship between some plants and insects. A new study from the University of Illinois finds that soybeans exposed to elevated levels of CO2 become more susceptible to attack by Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica), reports the American Society of Plant Biologists. Furthermore, as the beetles consume the weakened soybeans, the insects' invasive abilities also intensify. . . So how will the naysayers spin this? JULIA WHITTY

National Monument Saved From 4x4 Enthusiasts

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 12:10 PM PDT

A federal judge recently ruled that Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may not be used as an ATV playground, putting an end to nine years of heated disputes between off-road vehicle activists and equally dedicated conservationists. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Earthjustice acted as defendants in the case and Kane and Garfield counties, within which the monument lies, were plaintiffs.

The 1.9 million-acre monument, established as such in 1996 by President Clinton under the Antiquities Act, became the second largest monument in the continental United States and and is habitat for countless endangered species.

The Grand Staircase is one of many monuments, for which counties supportive of off-roading have invoked a 1866 mining statute called RS 2477 (a law that allows road construction over public lands), to counteract usage restrictions that monument status brings. Effectively, if the county can prove a road had been established before 1976, they have a shot at re-opening it to the public and, of course, for off-roading. In that spirit, horse trails, boulder-strewn washes, dried up creeks, and even hiking paths became possible ATV highways, sometimes even private property as we reported in our most recent issue.

The recent federal ruling puts ownership of these public lands firmly in federal hands, which hopefully means fewer 18" tires will be traversing (and destroying) the monument's unique ecosystem. But most likely, the ruling will also increase the ire of 4x4 activists dedicated to driving public lands, regardless of what's on them.

This marks one of the first times the federal government has stepped into the debate in favor of environmental conservation. Previously, the Bush administration loosened restrictions on off-roading in national parks and has repeatedly made it easier for counties to claim RS 2477 road rights.

Mike Gravel the "Avant Garde of the New Artpolitical Era"?

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 10:19 AM PDT

I didn't know we were entering into a new "artpolitical" era. And if this is a new one, was there an old one?

I probably don't know these things because I'm not an art history professor writing in the LA Times. If I was, I would understand that Mike Gravel, what with his crazy campaign ads, is a genius on par with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Jackson Pollack. And the interpretation of Gravel and his campaign goes something like this:

Gravel's works confront us with our own existences and our deaths, the brute thereness of truth, the skull beneath the $400 haircut, the cellulite under the pants suit. His is neo-existentialist, post-apocalyptic, post-post modern art, a silence that screams and cajoles.
Gravel's politics are a politics of the body and of the physical world, of what is underneath our language and above it, what is broken and beautiful, the real world of human beings.
I suggest to you that a Gravel presidency would lead to an entirely new America, doing to us what cubism did to post-impressionism: dragging us moaning in glorious epiphanic pain into a new world.
It may be that Gravel, like Vincent van Gogh, Friedrich Nietzsche or indeed, Crispin Sartwell, is a premature birth of an astonishing future. He may toil in obscurity, misunderstood or ignored in his own time. And yet, whether we can fully theorize him or not, Mike Gravel, though he may never be president, has brought us all to the very brink of political ecstasy.

A ten on the crazy meter? That's probably what most Times readers will say. But I'll go with an eight -- there are some kernels of truth in there.

And good golly, I enjoyed that op-ed more than any other in a long, long time.

Via The Plank.