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Gates and Bono complain that worlds well-off are lagging badly in helping developing nations
APTOPIX Switzerland 5525283
From left to right, Jordan's Queen Rania, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and Irish musician Bono listen to questions during a media conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Friday Jan. 25, 2008. Buoyed by a burst of optimism from Bill Gates, business and government leaders attending the World Economic Forum were set Friday to hear more about positive things they can do after two days of confronting fears. - photo by Associated Press
    DAVOS, Switzerland — Halfway to a 2015 deadline to implement sweeping U.N. goals to reduce poverty, fight AIDS and put more children in school, the world needs to do much more, billionaire Bill Gates and others said Friday.
    Nearly 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, half of the developing world lacks basic sanitation, 1 million people die of malaria each year, AIDS still wreaks havoc on poor nations and 72 million children are not in school, according to a panel that included Gates, U2 frontman Bono, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
    Gates, who later this year will step down as Microsoft Corp. chairman to concentrate full-time on his philanthropic foundation, announced a grant of $306 million to help millions of African farmers and others work their way out of poverty.
    But he had harsh words for the power elite gathered at the World Economic Forum.
    ‘‘This is the world’s report card. In some areas there are good grades, in some areas not,’’ Gates said. ‘‘We can make more progress, so it’s important to be part of this endeavor. It’s the most important work in the world.’’
    There was a far blunter call to arms from Bono, a frequent invitee to Davos who rarely misses an opportunity to talk bluntly about what he considers the elite’s shortcomings.
    ‘‘My advice to the developing world? Get a good lawyer and haul our asses into court!’’ he said.
    ‘‘This is the moment when our generation gets to draw a line in the sand — or snow,’’ Bono said, a reference to Davos’ Alpine setting. ‘‘Where other generations put a man on the moon, we can’t put every kid in school. ... Where other generations fought fascism and injustice and prevailed, we fail in our fight against the (malaria-carrying) anopheles mosquito, which kills 3,000 children a day.’’
    After two days focused on recession fears and political conflicts, the World Economic Forum turned Friday to humanity’s less fortunate. One panel looked at a three-year drive to boost malaria control across sub-Saharan Africa, another focused on the need for clean water.
    Despite the bad news on the U.N. goals, there has been some progress since 2000, according to the Gates panel. Some 2 million lives are saved each year by immunizations, 41 million more children are in school, and polio, leprosy and neonatal tetanus are close to elimination.
    African economies that have been left behind in the past grew at an average 6 percent annual rate the past three years, and are set to grow even faster in the future, the panel said.
    Nevertheless, progress has been slow, and panelists said a far greater commitment is necessary.
    Queen Rania of Jordan, another panelist, said the magnitude of problems and the silent suffering of those affected should not be an excuse for inaction.
    ‘‘Just because we can’t send wailing sirens to the scene doesn’t mean it is not an emergency. It is an emergency,’’ she said.
    Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer and Bradley S. Klapper contributed to this report.

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