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Old 09-22-2005, 10:00 AM   #1
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Bono Interview in the NY Times

I wasn't sure where was the best place to post this, so I chose PLEBA because I feel PLEBA has always been very fair to Bono.

Here is the Q and A that Bono did in the NY Times after that fantastic article in this past Sunday's NY Times magazine.



10 Questions for . . .

The singer and global advocate, who was profiled in The Times Magazine, answers reader questions on world poverty and the U.N. summit meeting.

Q. 1. I am the adoptive mother of a West African-born child with AIDS. Our family is often asked what the average American can do to make a difference, even the smallest dent, in the fight to control and treat AIDS in Africa. Which organizations in addition to DATA do you point people toward? Which agencies big and small are making the most difference on the ground?

Whenever we listen to U2, my daughter never fails to say, "I like this man's big voice, and Mom, he fights for Africa!" Heartfelt thanks for your boundless and tireless generosity and evangelization for all Africans!
- Cristina Merlo, New York

A. Question No. 1 is the No. 1 question we get asked: "What can I do?" President Truman said something like, "If you give Americans the facts, they will do the right thing." He was right. But what is the "right" thing? A few ideas: sign up to the One Campaign to Make Poverty History at You'll be in the company of 2 million others, and we're looking for 10 million by the next election. This campaign is not asking for your money, we're asking for your voice — to tell the president, the people up on Capitol Hill in Washington — that AIDS and extreme poverty is something you want them to pay attention to. I've been in meetings in D.C. with people who've said they want to do more, but they don't think their electorate wants them to. The One Campaign is a movement of people who challenge them on that. A movement of people who believe that America is not just a country, but also an idea and at the very center of this idea is the embracing of people who want to be free and equal. These issues we're discussing today are today's battleground for equality.

If you want to give money, there are organizations in America doing extraordinary work in Africa. One Campaign members such as Care, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Oxfam America, Save the Children and many others. Keep-a-Child-Alive is another one, which pays for life-saving ARV [antiretroviral] medicines for children in Africa.

Q. 2. With all of our pressing domestic concerns (education, health care, urban poverty) how can the average American be expected to empathize with Africa's problems?
- Pete Jameson, Ligonier, Penn.

A. I don't think it's a question of empathy. Americans are the most generous people in the world and the challenge isn't so much that people don't want to help, it's that they want to be sure what they do will help. There's no question these are tough choices to make when it comes to money, especially following the tragedy of Katrina, the inequalities that were exposed as the floods subsided. But it could be that the vulnerability we've seen on our television screens, pictures that look more like Mozambique than Mississippi, will increase empathy for others across the other side of the world whose vulnerability puts them at such risk.

Something strange happens in America when disaster strikes — we saw it during 9/11 and we're seeing it now — it's almost as if people are at their best in the worst of times, stronger when tending to the weak. It's an incredible thing, and very much at the heart of what makes America great.

Q. 3. How do you combat the perception in the States (right or wrong) that aid in the form of money to Africa is akin to putting paper in fire — that the cash ends up in the hands of unscrupulous African government officials?
- Jason Avant, San Diego, Calif.

A. Aid has become a dirty word, and not without reason. But practices are changing, and we're not in the business of redecorating presidential palaces. No more turning a blind eye to corruption (or even worse, being a part of it). Foreign assistance shouldn't be seen as "aid" but as "investment": start-up money for new democracies that are tackling corruption. This is the idea behind the Millennium Challenge approach. Ring-fencing the money is another way to do it. In Uganda, savings from debt cancellation were put into a Poverty Action Fund, and monitored by the people and organizations earmarked to get the money. Because of this system, three times as many children are going to school, and thousands of communities have clean water where before there was none.

Q. 4. What is the most common reason that leaders give you for not offering more aid to Africa?
- Patrick Brereton, Alexandria, Va.

A. In the United States you'd expect it to be something like: "This is America. You're Irish. Go home." But what we're usually told is they don't hear that these issues are important to the constituents they represent, i.e. the American people. That's why the One Campaign is so important. The second thing is suspicion around the effectiveness of aid. That's why new ways of spending the money are so important. In Europe, where we're just as much a pain in the arse, it's more or less the same fundamental issues.

Q. 5. How do you feel about micro-loans and micro-enterprise as a tool to end world poverty — by helping people help themselves to self-sufficiency?
- Barry Stevens, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

A. I met Professor Microcredit himself last week to discuss this. A very gracious, very great man: Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. You know that mantra, "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime"? It's missing something: microfinance is the fishing rod, the boat, the net, etc. Cash and dignity, side by side. Part of Professor Yunus's brilliance was to lend the money to women, who are much more reliable at paying back loans. Maybe the mantra should be: "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Give a woman microcredit, she, her husband, her children and her extended family will eat for a lifetime."

To get long-term self-sufficiency, macro trade reform is kind of the other side of the coin to micro-grassroots empowerment. Different ways of getting to the same thing, but I think you need both.

Q. 6. What is your opinion about the Brazilian government breaking the patents law to make HIV medicine?
- Marcel De Lima, Sao Paulo, Brazil

A. The AIDS pandemic is an emergency. People will look back at our generation with complete disbelief that we let 8,500 people die a day yet we had the drugs to save their lives that cost less than a dollar a day to make. I don't think Brazil had a choice.

Q. 7. What effect will canceling debt have on the ability of poor African nations to borrow in the future?
- Greg Hildebrandt, Oak Park, Calif.

A. Off come the flyshades, out come the little round spectacles. Cancellation of old debts should have a positive effect on creditworthiness in the long-term if it's part of a bigger strategy (including more investment, trade, etc.) to push economic growth levels up while forcing poverty levels down.

On the debt part of this: make sure these countries get a clean slate, i.e. proper debts should be written off. Incrementalism can just add to moral hazard. Make sure the money freed up is spent well, invested in health, education and infrastructure. Don't give loans to countries that don't have strong enough economies to pay back the money, give grants instead.

Q. 8. Where do you see the continent of Africa in 10 years?
- Angela M. Slape, Saint Louis, Mo.

A. Africa is a dazzling, shining, beautiful continent full of smart, spiritual people. We need to stop thinking of this continent as a burden, and start thinking of it as an adventure. The truth is that Africa is also an opportunity for us, a chance to show the world what we in Europe and America stand for at a time when the world really needs to know. Every nation has its hour of need; the rebuilding of Europe after the second World War was only possible because America came to our rescue with the Marshall Plan. The metaphor only goes so far, but if we can get a comprehensive plan like that for Africa it will help create the conditions for Africans to help themselves. Then, in the next decade, there could be an AIDS vaccine, and malaria vaccine; we could be buying our clothes from African companies, eating African chocolate, drinking African coffee processed in Africa rather than Switzerland. There's a lot of work to do to get there but it's possible. If not in 10 years, then in our lifetime.

Working on this stuff should not just be a moral imperative for our leaders, there's a political imperative coming. In dangerous times, post-9/11, America needs a strategic partnership with Africa. Forty percent of the population of Africa is Muslim. In a world where distance no longer determines who our neighbors are this is not just heart, it's smart. It's in our interest as well as theirs.

Q. 9. I read the article in the magazine, and that was the first I had heard of the Millenium Challenge Fund. For clarification, is it a usual U.S. Congress thing, i.e. are the funds authorized but not appropriated? If not, how exactly do those funds get appropriated? What will be the fate of the Millenium Challenge Fund, or what plans for making it meaningful currently exist?
- Margie Lawlor, Corning, N.Y.

A. Bobby Shriver, co-founder of DATA, describes us as being in the "Get the Check" business. The balance of power between the president, the House and Senate means a lot can change between getting the check promised, written and finally cashed. The Milllenium Challenge is a brilliant idea, but has been very slow to get going. Congress didn't want to give the president the funding levels he'd requested until they saw that the program was working. Now the money has started to flow, results should start to follow, and it'll be easier to get the funding through Congress. This stuff is not easy. It needs the best and the brightest working on it with African governments.

Q. 10. Do you think there will ever be a time when you go over to the other side of the barricades? Will there ever be just one too many broken promises that will make you join the great unwashed? People power has moved mountains. You know this because you know about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. If you put as much of your energy into people power instead of lobbying politicians, what do you think the outcome would be? Could you ever see yourself standing at the head of the march the way King did, demanding, instead of asking nicely?
- Susie Long, Kilkenny, Ireland

A. I'm a rock star: my natural home is on the barricades with a handkerchief over my face — much hipper than putting on a suit and hanging out with politicians. But as the Edge has pointed out (with more than a little despair in his voice), I'd have lunch with the devil if I thought it would make a difference. Too many lives are being senselessly lost to let either ideology or partisan politics be the guardian of these issues. In the 21st century, 3,000 Africans are dying each day, mainly children, because of a mosquito bite; 6,500 Africans are dying a day of AIDS, a preventable treatable disease. This outrage is the same whether you're sitting in the Oval Office or banging a dustbin lid outside on the streets. We need both.

As well as lobbying, DATA has spent a lot of time working alongside others on the One campaign to help build a movement in America so that in the future if a politician fails to keep their promises there is a political price to pay. Conversely, if they do the right thing they deserve to get the applause. The idea is to build an N.R.A.-type organization to get to work on behalf of the poorest of the poor. That's never been done before on our issues. We'll march alright, first on our own indifference, then on the body politic and I'll be proud to be a part of it — at the front or at the back.

Bonus: Music Q&A

Q. 11. For most bands that have been together as long as you have, the members usually do side projects to explore stuff outside the band. I'm curious if any of you have — and if not, why not?
- Marshall McDonald, New York

A. Well, there have been a couple of side projects. The truth is that U2 is elastic enough to contain all of our musical ambitions. There is no one mood that dominates, so if Larry wanted to do an Irish folk song or if Edge wanted to score some symphonic stuff, U2 can accommodate that. Our songwriting is an interesting case in point: we all work to realize each others ambitions. I will try out a melodic idea of Larry's, Edge will try a guitar idea of Adam's or mine, Larry will try a drum beat of Edge's, etc. There are no lines of demarcation in the studio with U2. For that reason we are less likely to stray to side projects.

Q. 12. What are your favorite pubs in Dublin for trad music?
- James Flood, Pittsburgh, Penn.

A. My favorite pubs are any that let you drink in after hours. As for traditional music, all over Temple Bar in Dublin. If in Howth Head, check out Sharon Shannon — still a genius.



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Old 09-22-2005, 11:56 AM   #2
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Wonderful article. Thanks for posting it Jamila!

Into the heart of a child...
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Old 09-22-2005, 04:08 PM   #3
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you're welcome, tiny dancer.

thank you for your kindness.
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Old 09-22-2005, 04:19 PM   #4
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Great article (what article with Bono as subject ISN'T great?!!)
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Old 09-22-2005, 07:16 PM   #5
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What are your favorite pubs in Dublin for trad music?
- James Flood, Pittsburgh, Penn.

A. My favorite pubs are any that let you drink in after hours

Classic Bono -
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