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A different tune

Members of the British rock group Arctic Monkeys have become the latest music industry stars to question whether the performers taking part in Live Earth tomorrow are suitable climate-change activists.

“It’s a bit patronizing for us 21-year-olds to try to start to change the world,” said Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, explaining why the group is not on the bill at any of Al Gore‘scharity concerts.

“Especially when we’re using enough power for 10 houses just for [stage] lighting. It’d be a bit hypocritical,” he told Agence France-Presse in an interview before a concert in Paris.

Bass player Nick O’Malley chimed in: “And we’re always jetting off on aeroplanes.”

Large parts of the band’s hometown of Sheffield were flooded at the end of last month after a deluge of midsummer rain that some blamed on global warming. Two persons were killed.

But the band wonders why anyone would be interested in the opinion of rock stars on a complex scientific issue like climate change.

“Someone asked us to give a quote about what was happening in Sheffield, and it’s like ‘who cares what we think about what’s happening’?” Mr. Helders said.

“There’s more important people who can have an opinion. Why does it make us have an opinion because we’re in a band?”

The group, whose first record was the fastest-selling debut album in British history, will clock up thousands of air miles — in normal airliners not private jets, they say — during their tour to Asia and Australia in the next few months.

They are not the only stars to take a cynical view of Live Earth, which aims to raise awareness about global warming but which will require many long-haul flights and thousands of car journeys to and from the music venues.

Bowing to AFL-CIO

“Democrats are promising to improve America’s image in the world if they retake the White House next year. Tell that to Peru and Colombia, which are watching Democrats in Congress renege on free-trade assurances that are barely a month old,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“House Democrats pulled that fast one late last Friday, shortly before a holiday weekend when few were watching. They also announced their opposition to a free-trade pact with South Korea only a day before the deal was signed, and for good measure they announced that an extension of trade promotion authority (which expired June 30) is essentially dead as long as they run Congress. Ah, bipartisanship,” the newspaper said.

“All of this is particularly embarrassing for [New York Rep.] Charlie Rangel, the Ways and Means chairman, who has tried to strike a trade compromise with President Bush. We’ve praised him for his efforts, and a month ago Republicans swallowed hard to give Mr. Rangel concessions on labor and the environment that he could bring to his fellow Democrats. The administration even agreed to weaken drug-company intellectual property rights to make Democrats happy.

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