Blogs

Led Zeppelin Announce Reunion Show, Crash Website

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 3:35 PM EDT

Led Zeppelin
As we reported earlier in the rumor stage of things here on the Riff, seminal British rock band Led Zeppelin will reunite for one show only at the 22,000-capacity O2 Arena in London on November 26th. Jason Bonham, son of original drummer John Bonham, will join the three surviving members of the band for a two-hour set. The show will be part of a tribute to Ahment Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, who died last year; other performers include The Who's Pete Townsend, Foreigner's Mick Jones and Paolo Nutini, as well as former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and possibly current Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.

The chance to buy a pair of £125 ($254) tickets was to be awarded via lottery, but the event's website, Ahmettribute.com, crashed within minutes of its 4pm (UK time) opening, and appears to still be offline. In the meantime enjoy a couple Led Zeppelin mashups.

DJ Zebra - Icky Thump (Whole Lotta Thump Mix) (White Stripes vs. Led Zeppelin)
Me - Drop It Like It's a Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin vs. Snoop Dogg)
DJ Moule - "Black Sabotage" (Led Zeppelin vs. Beastie Boys)

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In the Arctic, Chemicals Disrupt Gender Balance

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 2:05 PM EDT

We already knew that our greenhouse gases were causing problems for the Inuit. Now, we find out that some other little "presents" we've given the Arctic Circle—chemicals from our electronics—are wreaking havoc, too.

In many Inuit communities these days, twice as many girls as boys are born. Scientists recently traced the trend to a buildup of chemicals present in common electronic devices (like televisions and computers). When the chemicals enter the bloodstream of a pregnant woman, they can, scientists believe, act like hormones, causing a fetus to undergo a sex change in the earliest stages of development.

This is not a good thing. In one community in Greenland, only baby girls were born during the course of the study. And if that's not alarming enough, consider the wider implications:

The sex balance of the human race - historically a slight excess of boys over girls - has recently begun to change. A paper published in the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences earlier this year said that in Japan and the US there were 250,000 boys fewer than would have been expected had the sex ratio existing in 1970 remained unchanged. The paper was unable to pin down a cause for the new excess of girls over boys.

This does not bode well for humanity. Not to mention lines for the ladies' room.

More Bad News for Edwards, Obama

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 1:57 PM EDT

Kevin Drum blogs today's Los Angeles Times poll (PDF):

[Clinton's] supporters are more firmly in her camp than Edwards' or Obama's. Interesting! I would have guessed that Obama had the bigger corps of highly dedicated supporters. Second, and more important, Hillary leads not just in the general category of "more experienced," but in the very specific categories of "best at fighting terrorism" and "best at ending the Iraq war." And she leads by enormous margins.

Also worth noting is that Clinton leads the "Have the best chance of beating the Republican candidate in November" category by double digits in Iowa and a stunning 30 or more points in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Since concerns about electability derailed Howard Dean's campaign and brought John Kerry to the forefront in 2004, Hillary's advantage in this category could prove to be decisive. The problem, of course, is that primary voters were wrong about John Kerry's electability. Could they be wrong about Hilldog's?

—Nick Baumann

Making Sense of Putin's Dissolution of Russian Government

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 1:20 PM EDT

If you're trying to make sense of today's revelation that Russian President Vladimir Putin has dissolved his country's government, try Nikolas Gvosdev's explanation in the National Interest:

As expected, six months prior to Russia's 2008 presidential elections, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has resigned his position. Fradkov, a technocratic figure who was expected to keep the government's trains running on time, was never expected to succeed Vladimir Putin as president of the country, and it was widely expected that he would be asked to step down in order to allow a possible presidential successor to Putin to, in effect, be anointed.
...It's difficult to see [appointed Prime Minister Viktor] Zubkov as being the designated "heir" to become president. It is important to note that if one looks at the last years of the second term of the Yeltsin Administration, a series of prime ministers were appointed, in part to keep the political establishment off balance.
This also gives some "breathing room" if the overall succession issue has not been settled by having another technocratic prime minister in place for the next several months, while negotiations would continue over how power would be distributed. Remember, the lesson many in the Russian elite learned from the Orange Revolution of 2004 in Ukraine was that when the elite is divided and cannot reach consensus, the system becomes destabilized.

Gvosdev also has something to say about Prime Minister Abe's resignation in Japan. Check out his article here. And thanks to Laura Rozen for forwarding it along.

Russia Explodes 'Father of All Bombs'

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 12:19 PM EDT

According to news reports (here and here), the Russian military has successfully tested what it hails as the world's most destructive non-nuclear bomb. The device—unofficially named the 'Father of All Bombs,' an apparent play on a similar U.S. device nicknamed the 'Mother of All Bombs'—relies on an initial explosion to disperse a cloud of explosive material that is then ignited by a secondary blast. The weapon contains 7.8 tons of high explosives, compared with more than 8 tons in its U.S. counterpart. But its explosive power is equal to 44 tons of TNT, about four times more powerful than America's MOAB. The BBC says the differential is due to "a new type of explosives developed with the use of nanotechnology."

General Alexander Rukshin, Russia's deputy armed forces chief of staff, described the new bomb as "relatively cheap" and effective, with explosive power "commensurate with a nuclear weapon." He went on to say the new bomb would allow Russia's military to "protect the nation's security and confront international terrorism in any situation in any region."

Sure, if there's one thing we've learned from Iraq, it's that the best way to dispose of a guy hiding in a roadside shack with his finger on an IED detonator is to blow up his entire city.

Best of all, though, Rukshin pointed out that fuel-air bombs don't emit radiation and therefore are environmentally friendly.

Joe Lieberman is Now Almost Comically Hawkish

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 11:30 AM EDT

Lieberman to Petraeus: Isn't it time to give you authority to invade Iran?

Petraeus to Lieberman: Uh, no.

Just watch below.

(H/T TPM)

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Introducing BK's Apple Fries, Healthy Food Their Way

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 11:29 AM EDT

bk-applefries091107.jpgBurger King announced today that they're going to offer healthier food for kids this fall. Their new "Kids Meal" will offer low-fat milk, flame-broiled chicken strips, and "Apple Fries"—red apples sliced (via BK's patented cutting process) and packaged, you guessed it, to look like fries. Although, leave it to Burger King to leave out the most nutritious part of the apple—the skin.

Burger King's attempt to provide healthier food could be in the interest of public health (or pressure?), but to me it sounds like just another marketing ploy which is par for the course for the fast food industry these days. But what's BK up to with these apple fries? Are they shaped like fries to trick children into eating them, or to have kids associate healthiness with french fries? Why not just give the kids a whole apple, skin and all?

After all, a recent Washington Post survey of DC fourth graders showed that kids actually do like fruit. Minimally processed mandarin orange segments, applesauce, and pineapple receive as high a kid's review as processed, sweetened treats. But I guess kids can't have it their way at Burger King.

New Opinion Poll: Pakistan Loves Osama, Hates Musharraf and Bush

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 10:57 AM EDT

According to a new public opinion poll of Pakistani citizens, Osama bin Laden has a higher approval rating in Pakistan, 46 percent, than does Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, 38 percent.

This is potentially disastrous because Pakistan is home to two things: (1) nuclear weapons, (2) al Qaeda's leadership. If Indonesia or Libya held widespread popular support for bin Laden, it wouldn't be nearly as big a deal.

All I can say is, it's a good thing America is seen as a force for good in the world, a force willing to use positive incentives and diplomacy to reassure the Pakistani people that the extreme ideology of Osama bin Laden is a road to ruin, and that embracing the fragile democracy headed by Musharraf may someday lead them to become the strong and vibrant participatory society we are ourselves.

Oh wait. That's not right at all. And President Bush's approval rating in Pakistan, in the same public opinion poll, is nine percent. Nine percent! We've screwed things up so badly across the world, we don't have the cache to fix our most dire problems.

Iraq War Making the U.S. Safer? Of Course Not

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 10:34 AM EDT

So General Petraeus says he doesn't know if the war in Iraq is making the United States safer. We can answer that for him: it isn't. Not by a long shot. Here's the proof.

Update: Ah, the inevitable backtrack.

Lying Former Prostitute Passes Lie Detector Test

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 11:49 PM EDT

When former prostitute Wendy Yow Ellis claimed that she and Louisiana Congressman David Vitter had had a sexual relationship lasting several months, he accused her of lying. Vitter's name had already been disclosed as part of the client list of the now-famous "DC Madam," and the also now-famous "Canal Street Madam" had named him as one of her establishment's clients, also. At the time that she named Vitter, she said he liked to visit a prostitute named Wendy; however, Ellis claims that she had nothing to do with the Canal Street operation, that her negotiations with Vitter took place in a French Quarter apartment via the New Orleans Escort Service, and she was paid $300 an hour through a pimp named Jonathan.

It is not known whether there was actually another Wendy who worked at the Canal Street establishment (as implied by Canal Street Madam Jeanette Maier) who had sex with Vitter. So far, only Wendy Yow Ellis, sometimes known as Wendy Cortez, has come forward. This rather confusing scenario involving Wendys is complicated even more by the fact that Vitter's wife is named Wendy, also.

At any rate, publisher Larry Flynt paid for Wendy Yow Ellis to take a lie detector test, which she passed, and which Vitter's press secretary has refused to comment on. Flynt has also paid Ellis for details about her sessions with Vitter, which he is publishing in a future issue of Hustler.

Vitter, of course, ran for office with a promise of "protecting the sanctity of marriage." Ellis, who describes Vitter as "a very clean man," says she took the polygraph because people who heard Vitter's denial of their relationship might see her as "a two-bit whore when I'm the one telling the truth."