AIDS funding in Canada

There is quite a lot of video and text coverage at the CTV site of Bono in Canada today, speaking at the "HIV-AIDS and Education Symposium" in Ottawa, doing a press conference with Paul Martin. (A RealAudio version of the speech is here for those of you with slow connections.) Canada has announced $100 million in new AIDS funding, doubled its contribution to the WHO's Global Fund, and is working on passing generic drugs legislation. Bono's full of praise, but also relentlessly pushes for the goal of Canada (and all the other UN member states, of course) to fulfill the commitment to give 0.7% of its GNP in official development assistance (ODA, if you're Googling it). (And how are we all doing at keeping our pledge? Check it out at the UN.) If you're not familiar with the Millennium Development Goals in general, by the way, there is a website for them too.

There are, of course, lots of critics of all this, and not only those Canadians who think Martin's using Bono to get votes. I do sympathize, in a sense, with one group -- the U2 fans who want their favorite frontman to go back to the studio and finish the new album. (But where I come from, you don't take the kind of sense of calling which Bono more and more obviously has about his advocacy work lightly. I recognize what I see happening there, and in the face of it can only set aside my own eagerness to hear their new material.) The other group, who assume that this is one more case of a bleeding-heart celebrity picking some hip cause and brainlessly mouthing generalizations about it when convenient, baffles me. I can only assume they've neither kept tabs on the huge sacrifices of time and money behind this campaign, nor actually listened to the material.

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