Changing The World In 2008

Happy New Year, everyone!

Whatever you did, I hope you all had a great holiday. It's the start of 2008 and a time for celebration. But even with a new day and a new year, it only takes a new morning paper to make you realize that the world still faces the same old problems as yesterday.

Maybe I've watched too many PSA's over the holiday period, but with the ongoing situation in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ever-saddening crisis in Darfur, it only becomes more apparent that these problems are still here today and will only get worse tomorrow, unless action is taken now.

It's important to realize that though these problems may not happen on our very doorstep, and may even occur a million miles away, that doesn't mean that these are not our problems.

After all, if there were something that you could do to help those who are most in need, wouldn't you want to at least try?

Flying to impoverished, starving or war-torn areas of the world isn't something that everyone can do, but thanks to the Internet and various worldwide organizations, giving help and taking action is now simply a mouse-click away.

Recently, actor Brad Pitt has been busy juggling his ever-growing family with an intense barrage of PR — hitting every station from MTV to CNN — but this time, not for a movie. Brad launched Make It Right, his own regeneration project for Katrina-ravaged New Orleans with 150 huge, pink Monopoly-shaped houses and an aim to replace the pink blocks (which he describes as "works of art," though I'm not so sure!) with actual houses designed by various architectural firms, incorporating solar power and other environmentally sound designs. In addition to launching a Web site (MakeItRightNOLA.org) that asks corporations, church groups and others for $150,000 donations for his adopt-a-house project, as well as smaller donations (from $5) to sponsor eco-friendly items like low-cost light bulbs, solar panels and even low-flush toilets, Brad also put up $5 million of his own money to help rebuild New Orleans, a city he fell in love with while filming "Interview With a Vampire."

MTV has been doing its own good work: We launched the Think campaign last year, a revolutionary non-profit site that invites young people from all over the world to connect with each other, get informed, be heard and ultimately take action on the issues that matter most to them, ranging from poverty, sex, substance abuse, war, education, politics, health, etc. In recent months, tens of thousands of young people from all around the world have become members. Simply by clicking and connecting they have made an impact on their own lives and the lives of others.

Meanwhile, there are some in the music world trying to make a difference through their art. Ice Cube is doing his bit for society, as the crisp video for his latest track, "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It," hit the Net just a few days ago. It's officially the first good rap song of 2008. It seems as if acting in movies like "Are We There Yet?" has caused Cube to build up a lot of frustration and anger, which he unleashes in verses about 2007's most controversial issues. Michael Richards' use of the N-word, Michael Vick's dog-fighting charges, police violence, drugs, Don Imus, President Bush, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Iraq war, the Jena Six, famine, poverty and violent computer games — nothing is safe from Cube's biting lyrics, not even Oprah.

Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It

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Personally, I'm a fan of the track and of Ice Cube, but a few people have come up to me questioning whether Cube should still be rapping hard after doing so many kiddie-friendly movies. You tell me, is he still believable?