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Clown beams message of water conservation from space

MONTREAL — The first clown in space, Guy Laliberte, has launched a 14-city poetic planetary extravaganza to promote clean drinking water, from the International Space Station.

The billionaire space tourist and founder of Cirque du Soleil described his journey as a "poetic, social mission."

The two-hour live One Drop show, broadcast online Friday included guests Al Gore, Bono, Salma Hayek, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette and a musical theatrical performance by Laliberte's circus troupe.

It kicked off with a reading of a poem by Man-Booker prize-winning author Yann Martel, describing a conversation between the Sun, the Moon and a drop of water. Throughout the show, several people read bits of the fable.

Former US vice president Gore used charts and video to warn of melting polar ice caps, water pollution, and extreme weather causing droughts and flooding.

"To solve the climate crisis and safeguard our planet and its beauty ... will require global effort," he said.
Australian Tiffany Speight sang from the Sydney opera house. Inuit singer Elisapie Isaac belted out haunting lyrics in her native language, while rappers Fnaire performed from Morocco.

Throughout the show crowds danced and cheered in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, New York's Times Square and at outdoor concerts worldwide.

The 14 segments were broadcast from South Africa, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Canada, Britain, Japan, France, India, Morocco, Australia, and several cities in the United States.

Acrobats swan underwater with whales in the Pacific Ocean, as others swung from a makeshift ship dangling high above a pool at a Las Vegas casino.

In Moscow, ballet students of the State Academic Maliy Theatre splashed in a curtain of rain with Bolshoi Ballet star Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

U2 rocked a stadium crowd in Tampa Bay, Florida as part of what Bono described as "an out of this world event."

Between songs, Laliberte spoke with Bono onstage from orbit via a satellite video link. "Every time I look down at this fantastic planet (from the International Space Station) ... it looks so fragile," he said, at times losing his footing in zero gravity.

Later, Laliberte was shown trying to gulp a drop of water floating in air.
Flanked by the ISS crew who described onboard technology for recycling urine into drinking water that could someday be used to allay a water crisis predicted to be coming in 25 to 50 years, Laliberte touted: "All for water, water for all."

As well, he expressed his wish that a "ripple effect" from the show would spur more people to become water conservation activists.

Critics lamented the enormous cost of the promotion and Laliberte's own 35-million dollar space voyage aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, suggesting the money would have been better spent digging wells in Africa.
Others said it was a modest sum for such exposure of an important cause.

Montreal's daily Le Devoir accused Laliberte of being a "narcissus" and blasted media coverage of the event, saying it focused more on his red clown nose than on water issues.

Laliberte boarded the ISS with US astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev on October 2, two days after they blasted off from the Baikonur space base in Kazakhstan.

A former stilt-walker and fire-eater, Laliberte entertained his fellow crew members with a soap bubble show during their Soyuz flight. He is due to return to Earth on October 11.

NASA will rebroadcast the One Drop show on Saturday.
 
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