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Geldof Unveils Live Music Events to Combat African Poverty

Twenty years ago, Live Aid concert organizer Bob Geldof challenged the world to act to help the starving in Ethiopia. Now, the musician has announced a string of new music events in Europe and the United States. The events, dubbed Live-8, are designed to spur the world's richest nations, the G-8 or Group of Eight, into taking decisive action to combat poverty in Africa, at their upcoming summit in Scotland.

At a London news conference Tuesday, the musician and anti-poverty campaigner unveiled his plans for the concerts, which are to scheduled to take place July 2 and are aimed at getting the G-8 leaders to act to break the cycle of poverty in Africa.

Leading musicians are to take the stage on that day in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Philadelphia to reinforce the point that poverty must be stopped.

Mr. Geldof said it is all about people demanding that their elected leaders take moral responsibility. "It transcends left or right. This is really not an issue of politics. It is an issue of morality, as phony as that sounds. It is an intellectual absurdity that more people die of hunger every year in Africa than die of AIDs, T.B., malaria, polio and conflict combined. And, still 20 years on, it strikes me as being morally repulsive and intellectually absurd that people die of want in a world of surplus," he said.

And Mr. Geldof had a blunt message for the leaders who will be coming to the summit. "They must know that when they come to Scotland, they must have the will and the support of their electorates to change things. And if they do not want to do that, do not come. Let us not have it. Let us not have it, let us not have the G-8, just do not come. All this is doable. It was measured, it was analyzed and it was costed out on this plan here," he said.

Mr. Geldof and others on the Commission on Africa, a group set up by Prime Minister Tony Blair, have drafted a series of recommendations that they say will result in positive change on the continent. Among them are the cancellation of debt and the channelling of more funds to the world's poorest, actions which have been promised in the past, but never fully delivered.

"A doubling of aid will cost the citizens of the G-8 countries, half a stick of chewing gum a day. That is what it will cost to double aid. The cancellation of debt, I mean, that has already been agreed upon. We are not asking anything that has not already been promised. That is one of the sickening aspects of this, they agreed to double aid 35 years ago," he said.

Mr. Geldof is also calling for a world trading system that eliminates what he termed the inequalities and the exploitation of the world's poorest by the world's wealthiest nations.