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The Hurley bird gets the farm

Liz Hurley to star in reality show about her organic farm

Actress-turned-organic-advocate Liz Hurley will soon star in a reality show about life on her organic farm in the U.K. and the launch of her organic brand: Hurley Meat. Says Hurley, "People always imagine me with perfect hair, but that's not who I am." Hm ... are you sure that's how they imagine you?

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Is your favorite beach polluted?

Photo: Tom Twigg American beaches "continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk," concludes the Natural Resources Defense Council in an annual report. There were 22,571 pollution-related closures or warning advisories on 3,516 beaches in 2007, says the report, second only to the all-time high 25,643 closures or warnings in 2006. NRDC attributed the decline to less rainfall in the West and Hawaii in 2007, which caused less overflow from sewer systems and storm drains. But stormwater runoff still caused nearly half of the closures and warnings, and pollution at 7 percent of the beaches exceeded …

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Beijing skies clear a little, but Olympic athletes still wary

After a disconcertingly smoggy weekend, wind and rain cleared some haze from Beijing's skies on Tuesday. But with just a week and half left until the Olympic Games begin, officials are considering emergency measures to keep the smog at bay. The city has already kicked half the cars off its roads, halted construction, planted trees, and closed down some factories; officials said Monday that they may keep 90 percent of cars from driving, shut down more industrial operations, and discontinue special traffic lanes for Olympic VIPs. Many of the 10,500 athletes who will compete at the Games are taking precautions: …

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Plastic ain't fantastic, reason No. 4,972

Beads in many face scrubs harmful to marine life

Photo: Perfecto Insecto. Plastic needs a new slogan, LOLcat-style: Im in ur facewash, hurting teh fishes. Slate, YahooGreen, and now EarthFirst are reporting that the tiny exfoliating beads in many facial scrubs are made of polyethylene, and once the beads get washed down the drain and make their way to the ocean, it's time for Nemo and friends to get ill. (Of course, polyethylene's also a suspected carcinogen, and as a plastic, its production is fossil fuel-intensive.) From Slate: [L]aboratory experiments have shown that a range of bottom-of-the-food-chain critters -- including mussels, barnacles, lugworms, and tiny crustaceans called amphipods -- …

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Umbra on adult tricycles

Dear Umbra, I want to reduce my carbon footprint. I already take a commuter train to work, but the station is down a steep hill from my house, so I drive the first mile or so in the morning and back up the hill at night. The train station has lock-ups for cycles and I'm interested in that -- but I have a disability that affects my whole right side, arm, foot, leg. I'm not able to stay balanced on a conventional two-wheeled bike but have seen specialty adult-sized tricycles around town -- mostly pedicabs for tourists. Do you know …

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Advocates pushing LEDs into the spotlight

Compact fluorescents have had their time in the sun; it's time to herald the era of LEDs, say advocates. Light-emitting diodes are bright, extremely long-lasting, über-efficient, and can color-shift by remote control (fun!). The bulbs shine in many traffic lights, colored the Times Square ball on New Year's Eve, may soon light up the Empire State Building, and are becoming the bulb of choice for commercial lighting. Many bulb manufacturers expect that they'll soon widely light up households as well; so sure is Philips Lighting, in fact, that it is spending no R&D money on CFLs, focusing solely on LEDs. …

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'Lazy locavores,' revisited

The WSJ reports on lavish second-home gardens

I got a bit of flack for my post on "lazy locavores" earlier this week. Riffing off of a New York Times "trend" piece, I questioned the practice of "outsourcing one's veggie patch" -- paying someone to install, tend, and harvest a home veggie garden. I accused folks who use such services of having a "hyper-consumerist" take on local food -- of wanting the trappings and status of a home garden without getting their hands dirty. Several people -- including energy blogger extraordinaire Bart Anderson -- cogently critiqued my position. "Is it not a good thing to support local organic …

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From Feud to Fashion

Toby ... or not Toby Former feuders Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks tried to put a boot in global warming's ass by appearing together in a "we" campaign ad. But plans were nixed when they couldn't reconcile their differences schedules. Seems they're still not ready to make nice. Photo: John Shearer/Wire Image Grin and bear it Remember back on April Fool's Day when we wrote that fake news story about polar bears being relocated to Antarctica and y'all totally bought it? Hahaha. Good times. Well, turns out the joke may be on us. And the penguins. The green Miley …

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More school districts consider four-day week

As energy costs rise, rural school districts across the country may follow the lead of the 100 or so schools in 16 states that offer classes just four days a week. Cutting out a day of heating, cooling, and transportation fuel -- which can be significant in spread-out districts where school buses might travel 100 miles round trip each day -- allows schools to put funds toward valuable programs and staff. Advocates say four-day weeks can also improve student attendance and performance (though at least one district switched back to a five-day week after concluding that effective teaching and learning …

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After a mass bike ride across Iowa, a slow-food chef picks up the pace

Do the ride thing. Photo: David Wade Every year for the last 36, Iowa plays host to a unique event. At the beginning of the last full week of July, more than 15,000 people dip the rear tires of their bicycles in the Missouri River -- and seven days and about 450 miles later, they dunk their front tires in the Mississippi. That ceremonial immersion draws to a close a ride that is sometimes called "Burning Man on Wheels," or "The World's Longest Pub Crawl," but is formally referred to as RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. …

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