348508_44124480466@N01.jpg Sudanese baby Africa Oil Watch: September 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bono to address Labour party conference in Brighton on September 29

UK Sunday Times report, September 19, 2004, by Andrew Porter, Deputy Political Editor:

BONO, the lead singer of the rock band U2 and a prominent campaigner on Third World debt relief, is to address the Labour party conference in Brighton next week.

The Dublin-based star, whose real name is Paul Hewson, recently gave Tony Blair an electric guitar as a present.

Both Blair and Gordon Brown, the chancellor, are likely to be on the platform to listen when Bono takes the stage on September 29.

Brown has championed reduction of Third World debt and increased the budget of the Department for International Development in his July spending review.

Another speaker at the conference will be Ken Livingstone, the London mayor and former Labour MP who was expelled by the party for opposing Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2000. He was readmitted earlier this year.

Livingstone is expected to share a platform with Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, to promote London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

But Blair and Brown are likely to be far more welcoming to Bono, 44, who has recently spoken at both Democrat and Republican conventions in America.

The prime minister used his conference speech three years ago to call on the world to address the problem of Africa, which he said was a scar on the world’s conscience.

Bono said last week: “The year 2005 is our chance to go down in history for what we did do, rather than what we didn’t. This campaign (to eradicate global poverty) is critical and is coming to a stadium and pulpit near you.”

He has joined forces with a powerful group of charities, non-governmental organisations and unions who are pressing Blair to do more to tackle world poverty.

One Labour source said: “He will add a bit of rock-star glamour to proceedings and we will again be assured of some decent coverage for what is a very serious issue.”

The government has set up a Commission for Africa to take a fresh look at the issues that have made it the only continent where poverty has worsened in the past 25 years.

Blair has promised Sir Bob Geldof, another rock star who has become a debt relief campaigner, that he will make the issue of Africa a key part of discussions when Britain hosts the G8 summit of leading industrial nations next year.

Geldof has attacked Blair’s commitment to the Third World as “guff and grandiose” and condemned Britain’s “pathetic” contributions relief. Since Brown’s spending review, however, Geldof is understood to have softened his position.

Blair had originally wanted Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, to address the conference as the major overseas speaker. Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton have both played this role in the past.

The Labour leader wanted to signal that what he has done in Iraq has been for the good of the Iraqi people and that the country it is in a far better state than it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge.

However the plan was shelved following protests from backbench MPs and anti-war activists.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Senate Panel Votes to Raise AIDS Funding - Bono takes AIDS Fight to Republican Convention

Here is a copy of a September 15 report out of Washington. Unfortunately I have mislaid the source and link.

A Senate committee voted Wednesday to boost funds for battling AIDS and other diseases in poor nations, but provided less than half what President Bush wanted for prodding countries to adopt democratic reforms.

The effort to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis abroad — largely in Africa — would get $2.4 billion next year, $200 million more than Bush proposed. But the $1.1 billion for the Millennium Challenge program, which provides extra aid to countries embracing democratic and free-market practices, was well below the $2.5 billion he requested.

The AIDS and Millennium Challenge funds were part of a $19.5 billion foreign aid bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved.

The House has approved a similar reduction in Millennium Challenge, as lawmakers have shown little hesitation in shifting money from that Bush priority to their own. Though the program would get $120 million over this year's level, the reduction from Bush's proposal drew criticism from Bono, the rock singer who has lobbied Congress on the issue.

"America's Millennium Challenge should be shouted from the rooftops, not left in a suitcase under the bed getting dusty," he said.

The Senate foreign aid bill would also make it harder for Bush to block funds for international family planning programs, as he has done. Senators have tried that before, however, only to see provisions restored that let Bush kill the spending.

The trade-off between those two programs was but one indication of budget pressures that the Appropriations panel displayed as it approved two other spending bills for the government's new budget year, which starts Oct. 1.

The committee also:

- Approved $145.9 billion for labor, health and education programs, nearly $7 billion over what is being spent this year. The measure includes increases over 2004 expenditures for community health centers, grants to low-income school districts and abstinence education.

- Adopted a $39.8 billion measure financing the Justice, Commerce and State departments, with an overall $240 million increase over Bush's requests.

The bill for labor, health and education underlined how the Senate GOP is finding additional funds, even as Republicans try to control spending at a time of soaring federal deficits.

That measure exceeds budget limits approved by the Senate by $3.6 billion. Most of that extra money was made available by delaying for three days payments due recipients of Supplemental Security Income benefits on Sept. 30, 2005 — a shift that pushes those checks into the 2006 budget year.

While debating that bill, the committee voted 16-13 to block the Bush administration's new rules defining which workers are entitled to overtime pay. Democrats, who were joined by two Republicans, say the regulations will prevent millions of workers from getting the extra pay, an estimate Republicans say is overblown.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has led past efforts to lift the ban on travel to Cuba, said he would not force a House vote on the issue this year in the run-up to the presidential election.

"Unfortunately neither party can see past Florida when trying to decide what to do about Cuba," he said.

Flake urged support for a narrower amendment to be offered next week by Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., to overturn recently imposed restrictions on family travel to Cuba.
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Bono takes AIDS Fight to Republican Convention

09.02.04 The ONE Campaign and Bono went to the Republican convention to get AIDS and extreme poverty on the agenda, following a visit to the Democratic convention in Boston last month.

In addition to a church service with Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann, he appeared on FOX's The O'Reilly Factor.

This was a follow-up after appearing on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show a month ago at the Democratic National Convention. 

Bono and Bill O'Reilly engaged each other in a spirited discussion on the issues of global AIDS and poverty and how Americans are making a difference.

• Read the transcript of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Bono
• Watch the video broadcast of Bono on O'Reilly Factor (Windows Media)
• Bono Takes African Aid Cause to Republicans (Reuters)