(great pictures, so click on this link for more)
A Ukrainian Pop Star's Would-Be Revolution
by Dan Charles
All Things Considered, April 7, 2008 · In Ukraine, an unlikely voice is
speaking - and singing - about the need for clean, green, energy.
Ruslana is Ukraine's biggest pop star. Her live shows are spectacles with
fire, smoke, dancers and costumes. In the middle of it all, there's Ruslana,
tossing her hair, stamping her feet and usually not wearing very much - a
small bundle of unbridled enerrgy
That's her public image, and that's why she decided to call her new album
and live show "Wild Energy." But Yuriy Melnyk, her international publicity
manager, says it gradually came to have a bigger meaning. Wild Energy, he
says, means "the energy of the sun, the energy of the wind, the energy of
"Renewable energy," Ruslana adds. "Energy independence."
The Ukrainian singer says she wants to get people thinking about the
environmental cost of fossil fuels, and the dangers of global climate
change. But translating that into the language of pop music isn't easy.
"It's very important to show this issue very visually," she says. It has to
be presented very well, so that teenagers don't just hear it, but that they
really understand it."
Ruslana, who rarely uses her last name, Lyzhychko, doesn't sing about carbon
footprints and gas prices; she sings about the wild energy of love.
It triumphs over a synthetic world, dependent on synthetic energy. In the
video version, that world is represented by a pale, metallic-looking woman
who gets her strength from a giant machine. She's transformed, though, into
a kind of Wild Energy woman, reminiscent of Xena the warrior princess.
Ruslana's interest in energy was kindled, in part, by Ukraine's current
energy situation. It is among the most energy-intensive countries in the
world, which means that it consumes large amounts of energy per dollar of
Energy consumption typically rises in tandem with income; rich countries
like the United States consume more energy, per person, than poor ones. But
Ukraine consumes almost as much energy - per person - as Italy, even though
the average Italian is four times richer.
Most of Ukraine's energy, especially natural gas, comes from Russia. And
every so often, Russia threatens to cut Ukraine off.
In fact, that's a big reason why Ruslana became interested in this issue.
There's more to her than steamy videos. She's a Ukrainian nationalist who
joined protesters on the streets of Kiev in 2004, in what became known as
the Orange Revolution. She even took a seat, briefly, in the Ukrainian
So she's trying to reduce Ukraine's dependence on natural gas imported from
"Ukrainians should know that they are not as dependent on the natural gas as
they think they are," she says.
But it's really not easy to get young Ukrainians interested in clean, green,
"Young people - they don't care about this, I think," says Roman Lebed, a
21-year-old journalist in Kiev.
"They think about their everyday problems," adds his friend, 19-year-old
Inna Zheliezna. "Everybody knows about this problem, but only a few are
really concerned about it and want to do something about it."
Even Iryna Stavchuk, who works specifically on climate change for one of
Ukraine's environmental groups, says she can't really get her generation
"They don't want to listen," she says. "One thing could be it's not
interesting. Another thing could be they don't want to be bothered with
They're too busy hanging on as their country continues its wild ride from a
Soviet socialist republic into capitalism.
They've seen dramatic changes, and underneath a layer of Slavic melancholy,
there's a touch of amazement.
"This life is more competitive," says Irina Kosovar, an economist with a
consulting company. "But you have a lot of opportunities. Really, a lot of
In the capital city of Kiev, wealth seems almost within reach now. It's seen
on television and billboards, and on streets clogged with shiny new cars. A
few are tasting it; the rest are scrambling to catch up or just stay on
In fact, if there's one thing that's the focus of life in the new,
capitalist Ukraine today, it's money.
Ruslana is trying to persuade young Ukrainians that coal and gas are just as
vital as cash.
"Energy is like currency, like money," she says. "This is how I see it in my
project. It's the most valuable currency. And until we realize it, we're
going to waste it."
Yet even Ruslana, for all her energy and celebrity, sounds, at times, a
little unsure that her cause will catch on.
To be honest, she says, she's a little bit afraid of starting a public
relations campaign about climate change or Ukraine's appetite for fossil
fuels. She says she needs more allies and sponsors.
She doesn't want to be a lonely
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Nuremberg
Germany likes to call itself the "Land of Ideas" - and over the centuries it
has certainly had plenty of them. It was Germans who invented the aspirin,
the airship, the printing press and the diesel engine.
But Germany has surely never produced anything quite as weird as the
I say "restaurant" - but it actually looks more like a rollercoaster, with
long metal tracks criss-crossing the dining area.
The tracks run all the way from the kitchen, high up in the roof, down to
the tables, twisting and turning as they go. And down the tracks - in little
pots with wheels fixed to the bottom - speeds food.
Supersonic sausages, high-pace pancakes and wine bottles whizzing down to
the customers' tables with the help of good old gravity. One pot is
spiralling down so fast, it looks like an Olympic bobsleigh (but it's only
What's more, at the 's Baggers restaurant in Nuremberg, you don't need
waiters to order food. Customers use touch-screen TVs to browse the menu and
choose their meal.
You can even use the computers to send e-mails and text messages while you
wait for the food to be cooked. But all this may not appeal to those who
like traditional waiter service.
Meals on wheels
Up in the kitchen, it is man, not machine, that makes the food. They haven't
found a way of automating the chef, just yet.
Everything is prepared from fresh. When it is ready, the meal is put in a
pot and given a sticker and a colour to match the customer's seat.
Then it is put on the rails and despatched downhill to the correct table.
Manna from heaven, German-style.
The restaurant is the brainchild of local businessman Michael Mack.
"I wanted to come up with a complete new restaurant system," Michael tells
me, "one that would be more efficient and more comfortable".
Replacing waiters with helter-skelters and computers is fun for the
customers. It also makes financial sense for the restaurant.
"You can save labour costs," explains restaurant spokesperson Kyra
"You don't need the waiters to run to the customers, take the orders, run to
the kitchen and back to the guests."
The restaurant has not completely done away with the human touch. There are
still some staff on hand to explain to rather bemused customers how to use
But what do the punters here think? Do Germans really have the appetite for
"It's another art for eating. I like it!" one man raves.
"It's more for young people than old people," a woman tells me. "My mother
was here yesterday and she needs my son's help to order."
Watching all this food raining down on the restaurant makes me ravenous. I
decide that it is my turn to test the system. I order steak and salad on the
computer and wait for it to appear. A few minutes later, a pot glides down
to my table with my "fast food" - and it is delicious.
As I finish the meal and prepare to leave, one final thought crosses my
mind. An automated meal doesn't only save the restaurant money, but the
After all, in a restaurant without waiters, there is no need to leave a