Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bono's Appearance on American Morning-6/29/2006-CNN


Turning now to a story we've been talking about all morning, Bono, and his mission to help fight poverty and AIDS in Africa. We're going to have my exclusive interview with Bono in just a moment, but first a look at his work and legacy, too.(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
S. O'BRIEN (voice-over): He's the frontman for one of the world's great rock bands. And the pointman for the Global Aid for Africa Campaign. Bono's interest in Africa dates back to the mid- '80s, and the Band Aid and Live Aid projects, all efforts to raise money and awareness of famine in Africa. Bono wanted to know more and wanted to help. He went to Africa and spent six eye-opening weeks working at an orphanage in Ethiopia. Since then, he's been tireless in his efforts to end poverty in Africa. He founded the group DATA, which stands for debt, AIDS, trade, Africa.
BONO, SINGER/ACTIVIST: I don't think what's happening in Africa, with AIDS in particular and just the poverty and despair there, is a cause. I think it's an emergency. And lots of people have causes, and I have. But 69,000 people die ever day -- not a cause, an emergency.
S. O'BRIEN: Last July, Bono and Bob Geldof staged Live 8, billed as the biggest rock concert ever with a powerful message for the world's most powerful leaders. Days after Live 8, members of the G8, the world's eight most industrialized countries, responded. They pledged to cancel the debt of the 18 poorest African nations, and to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010.Bono is the only person to be nominated for a Grammy, an Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize.
S. O'BRIEN (on camera): It's been almost a year since those G8 promises. So what is the status? Bono joins us from Monaco this morning. It's nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us.DATA said it was going to...
BONO: Thanks. Thanks for having us on.
S. O'BRIEN: It's our pleasure.DATA said it would have this report to serve as a report card, but also a road map for the next years coming. So let's start with the report card part of it. Would you say it's been successful, it gets a stellar grade, or would you say that the G8's commitments get a failing grade at this point so far?
BONO: Well, there's good news and bad news, the DATA report shows. There's a couple of high grades to be given. Maybe we should start with those. I mean, just in the United States, you should be very proud that you have a truly historic AIDS initiative. It was an unfathomable, even a few years ago, to imagine that you could get, I think it's probably 600,000 people on anti-retroviral drugs in an 18-month period. On motorcycles and on bicycles, those drugs got out there, and I think you should be very proud about that.Though, that said, Congress in the last months have tried to block the president's request for his AIDS money for next year, and that, that's bewildering. You know, I was just in Africa a few weeks ago, and there's kids following me around like I'm a hero. They think I'm American. I don't explain where Ireland is. And I'm saying, you know, the reason she's following me around is because her mother, her father, her sister, her brother, all HIV-positive, all going to die, but these drugs are on their way from America.
S. O'BRIEN: What you're talking about...
BONO: And she thinks I'm a hero. The idea of going back to that kid and saying actually, the Congress cut the budget, sorry about that, is just obscene.
S. O'BRIEN: You're talking about this $3 billion that they're debating right now, and Congress is sort of saying, well, no, more like $600 million is what we're thinking about, which is a, you know, massive percentage cut there. Is the crux of the problem that the leaders of the G8 can pledge all they want, but at the end of the day, if you don't have public support and if you don't have congressional support, and then, frankly, if you don't have the president willing to put political capital on the line and push it through, it's just not going to happen.
BONO: Soledad, you're exactly right. And I think the cavalry here are going to turn out to be the American people. They're organizing in ways that are very inspiring, across the political spectrum, you know. There's two -- I think it's maybe 2.2 million Americans have joined the one campaign recently, one.org, because they're serious about this. They're soccer moms. They're student activists. They're NASCAR dads. They're hip-hop stars. I mean, it's not just rock stars and policy wonks that are on this. And I think it says something deep about the way Americans feel about America right now, which is, they do not like to see their flag disrespected in far- off places around the world. They're very proud of this AIDS initiative. They want to put kids in schools, because they know that Democracy is being taught in those schools.I was in a school in Abuja with Gordon Brown, the finance minister, the chancellor of (INAUDIBLE), the U.K. And next door to where we were sitting, there was a class being taught in Nigeria about democracy, complicated questions that the kids could easily answer.A thousand miles from there in northern Nigeria, there are madrassas where children are being taught to hate us.So I think that it's a missed opportunity not to keep the promises made in the G8 and get more kids to school. Because of the debt cancellation movement -- that's another thing I want to give a good mark on, debt cancellation. They did follow through on that, and when I was recently in Africa, 15 million more kids were going to school, because of the drop-the-debt movement. And all the people that got out on the streets there should, you know, should give themselves a high five. That was really something.But there's 40 million more African children that want to go to school who can't, and in these dangerous times it might be just smart to get them to school.So, unless we keep track of these promises and fulfill them, they won't go to school. So that's the kind of yin and yang of this DATA report.
S. O'BRIEN: There is a theory, Bono, as I'm sure you've heard before, that people will say, listen, what Africa really needs is something that money can't buy. Africa needs political growth and socioeconomic growth. And by -- sometimes by giving large chunks of money, what you really do is fund brutal dictators, who often, as we know from Africa's history, steal the money, take the money, and it never gets to the people who really, really need it. How do you make sure that doesn't happen?
BONO: That used to be true. The Cold War was fought on the African continent, and we in the West propped up some very dangerous dictators by giving them loans and throwing aid at them, because they were not communists. And we can't then point to the waste of those resources as just their fault.Anyway, that era is over. Now we only increase aid to countries where we can see that they're tackling corruption, where there's a clear and transparent process. If there's not, we pull out. In Ethiopia, things were looking great for a while, and then we couldn't see where the money was going, people pulled out. In Uganda, the Global Fund, this extraordinary organization that gets AIDS drugs to people and fights TB and malaria, they pulled out of Uganda because they couldn't see the -- where the money was going.It's a new era of aid, and I think Americans will become much more generous when they know that the money is being spent well. And I can assure you, with the Millennium Challenge corporation supported in Congress, that's what will happen.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's look ahead in the little time I have left with you. You say it's a report card and a road map. You point to a lot of nations that are behind, that aren't really on track to meet their goals, the U.S. included. What has to happen to make sure that in 2010 we're meeting that goal? What has to happen next?
BONO: I think the dawning of on the body politick that this strategic value in dealing with Africa's problems. It's a 40 percent Muslim country. A country like Nigeria is a big oil-producing country. And it would be awful to see Nigeria get into trouble. I think then just at the grassroots level, as we get into the 2008 election, I think politicians will be wise to pay attention to this movement, because it will be five million by then. And you know, that's like -- that's real political muscle.(END VIDEOTAPE)
S. O'BRIEN: If you want more information on Bono's campaign to help fight poverty, go to data.org, or one.org

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