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Thursday, May 18, 2006
London (Reuters): Irish rock star and Third World campaigner Bono turned guest newspaper editor yesterday with Britain's Independent daily agreeing to give half its revenues for the day to fight AIDS in Africa. Bono got to interview British Prime Minister Tony Blair and finance minister Gordon Brown while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered her 10 favourite pieces of music.
In a celebrity-laden one-off edition, the front page illustrated by British artist Damien Hirst proclaimed in a banner headline that there was ''No News Today''-except for the deaths of 6,500 Africans from HIV/AIDS. Blair, who has made Africa one of the top priorities of his premiership, said the continent ''wants to stand on its own two feet and what it wants from us in the meantime is help to get there''.
Among the paper's other big name interviews of the day was Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez who told the Independent that Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe ''is my friend. He has been demonised too much.'' Stella McCartney interviewed fellow designer Giorgio Armani who said: ''Fashion requires consumers to consume but we can run our companies in a socially responsible way.'' Even other members of Bono's band U2 got into the act. Guitarist The Edge told how the musicians of New Orleans were rebuilding their culture and livelihood after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.
The paper asked if rock stars like Bono and Live Aid and Live8 organiser Bob Geldof could change the world by using the power of celebrity to pressure politicians into helping to eradicate poverty. ''No,'' was the answer from the guest editor who was the first to admit the limitations of pop fame on the world political stage. ''Celebrity is ridiculous but it is currency and I want to spend mine wisely.'' he said.
Yesterday, Bono launched a new bright red mobile phone in Britain. Sales of the phone, following on the heels of the RED American Express credit card, are expected to raise hundreds of of dollars to fight AIDS in Africa. He co-founded Product RED, an ambitious branding and AIDS fund-raising scheme, with former US President John F Kennedy's nephew Bobby Shriver in January. Big names from politics and show business abounded through the pages of today's Independent with Rice asked to pick her 10 best musical works. They ranged from Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor to ''Rocket Man'' by Elton John and, tipping her hat to the editor of the day, she also chose ''anything by U2''.