Back in the day, big-time musicians used to regularly get together for all-star jams benefiting good causes like famine relief, AIDS research and ending apartheid. But ever since the problems that afflicted the world in the 80s were magically fixed through the transformative power of mediocre pop songs (thanks for opening our eyes, Bono!), rock stars appear less eager to join forces onstage against the intractable ills of the 21st century. Nowadays, the good work is done through compilation albums.
Enter Rhythms del Mundo (just wondering: why not hispanicize all three titular words?), a high-minded album created to raise money for the green activist organization Artists Project Earth. Although its a bit unclear exactly how the group plans to use the money—the Web site mentions raising public awareness of the need to reduce fossil-fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions—its a refreshing approach to environmental fundraising.
The project features a weird mix of do-gooder artists, including the usual mainstream suspects (Sting, U2, Maroon 5, Jack Johnson), along with bands with more indie cred, like the Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs. All the songs on the album are infused with Latin rhythms inspired by the Buena Vista Social Club, and late, great Social Club members Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo appear on a few tracks. Even Coldplay, the recording industrys answer to unflavored yogurt, gets revitalized with some Cuban flair. Be sure to check out one of the standout tracks, a spiced-up version of Stings Fragile. Get the message? The planet is fragile. Yes, its about as subtle as a cattle prod, but it does sound good. —Doug Cantor
Photo: State of California/ protectingourenvironment.com
Although hes appeared on film in scandalously skimpy attire more often than most bombshell babes, the Governator is apparently no girly-man when it comes to cracking down on polluters. Impatient with federal policies on global warming and greenhouse-gas emissions, Ahnold took his own stance earlier this week by signing a partnership with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to explore cleaner-burning fuels and cut back on industrial carbon dioxide output.
President Bush has declined to implement aggressive policies regulating industrial emissions, preferring to leave the regulation up to individual companies. And although officials at the state and national level insist that Schwarzeneggers move did not sidestep the White House, the California EPA stated that they had not been asked to review the agreement before its signing.
California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming, Schwarzenegger said, calling it the single most important issue" faced by the world community.
The state was the 12th-largest source of greenhouse gases in the world last year, producing more than some whole countries, so efforts to curb emissions in the Golden State could put a serious dent in pollution worldwide. —Nicole Price Fasig
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