Saturday, April 30, 2016

"We are family" award

Bono; Nile Rodgers

Bono surprised a New York audience Friday night when he jumped off the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom midway into "Mysterious Ways." It was the last song in a short set of U2 tunes that the singer was performing with Nile Rodgers and Chic at the We Are Family Foundation gala, and the revelers – most of whom had left their $1,500-a-plate tables to dance up front – made an easy path for him. He stopped midway through the room, climbed on a chair and belted the song's lyrics about how the "spirit moves in mysterious ways." Then, in just a few strides, he made his own mysterious way out of the building – but not without speaking the night's motto as Rodgers' guitar rang out the song's final notes: "We are family."

Rodgers and his wife, Nancy Hunt, put the event together to raise money for the We Are Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to promote a "global family" by focusing on educating young adults about respect and diversity. Early in evening, the Chic guitarist said his goal was to raise $1 million for the Foundation, which they ultimately accomplished with an auction, but the event as a whole also seemed like a celebration of creativity and compassion.

In addition to Bono, whose efforts to combat poverty in Africa and AIDS around the world, the event honored President Jimmy Carter, who accepted a "Peacemaker" award named after a young poet he once befriended, Mattie Stepanek, who had died at age 13 in 2004 after a battle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Between Bono's moves and Carter's moving speech, it was a gala full of surprises.

At the beginning of the evening, Rodgers stepped up to the podium holding a Stratocaster and began to tell the story of how he'd written "We Are Family," after using a sequence of chords he'd heard in a song by Children of God. "I only play that as an example that you can get an idea, and it just germinates and it blossoms and it grows – especially if you care and you have a big heart," he told the crowd. "That's what we stand for." Throughout the night, he and Hunt demonstrated that philosophy as they welcomed "youth ambassadors" to discuss how the organization had benefited them.

One young person who was involved with the We Are Family Foundation from its inception was Mattie Stepanek, whose mother Jeni gave a passionate speech about her son's admiration for Carter. Mattie had become infatuated with Carter and wanted to emulate his peaceful philosophies, and he got to share a friendship with the president a few years before his death. When Carter spoke, he dedicated his touching speech to Stepanek's memory. He talked about how the last three years of his young companion's life had affected him greatly ("It was a valuable friendship, an enjoyable friendship and it grew day by day," he said) to the point that when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, he said he felt like Stepanek shared the honor with him.

"I've known many famous people: kings and queens, great scientists, presidents, prime minister," he said. "I've known Mother Teresa. Nelson Mandela was a great friend of mine. We spent many times together. But I can tell you without equivocation that the most remarkable human being I've ever known was Mattie Stepanek."


After Carter spoke, the Foundation recognized the Adobe Project 1324, which promotes positive social change among young adults through creativity, and it began an auction. Items up for bid included dinner with Rodgers, a Greek getaway, an opportunity to showcase three songs for the CEO of Atlantic Records and a guitar lesson with Rodgers, among others. The pièce de résistance turned out to be the guitar Rodgers played during the David Bowie tribute at this past February's Grammys ceremony. It had been signed by Lady Gaga, LL Cool J, Dave Grohl, Beck, Skrillex, Rodgers and others, but as it went up to the crowd with a starting bid of $10,000, Bono autographed it and it sold for $100,000.

But Bono's true value at the event was not just his signature. Before the event began, Rodgers told Rolling Stone on the red carpet what it meant to him to have the U2 singer there. "Not only is Bono an incredible friend but he is at the top of the food chain when it comes to being a philanthropist and just a great humanitarian," the guitarist said.

When Bono accepted the honor, he gave his trophy to a young woman from the We Are Family Foundation who had introduced him ("It's better to give an award than to receive it," he said). "[With] the We Are Family Foundation, the gift is not just to see the future but to find those who can build the future," he said.

Bono then spent most of his time talking about the other luminaries there: Rodgers and Carter. He praised the way the guitarist had turned bad times growing up into (the song) "Good Times." Regarding Carter, Bono said that growing up during the Troubles in Ireland, he'd been impressed that the president quoted Bob Dylan and had an affinity for quoting scripture. "He presented a whole different way of thinking about American power," he said. "He made human rights a national mandate. He counted his success not by the wars that he waged but by the peace he made possible." He closed by comparing Carter to "great heroes of peace": Robert Kennedy, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., just as Rodgers and Chic – all dressed in white – kicked into U2's King tribute "Pride (In the Name of Love)".

Before the event, Rodgers told Rolling Stone that he'd asked to play "Pride," as it was one of his favorite songs. With Chic, the song picked up an almost transcendent quality as the beat got a little more disco-y, Rodgers played the riff crisply and the horn section played the occasional accents around Bono's "whoa-oh-oh-oh."

The Chic guitarist also picked the other selections. The guitar line in "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" rang anew as a more subtle song, gilded with female backup vocals and Rodgers' a bluesy, buoyant solo, as Bono sang the melody soulfully and smiled wide. "Beautiful Day" was greeted with a huge audience response, as fans danced and waved glow sticks previously used during the auction in the air. Bono just nodded along, grinned and blissed out.

Bono; Nile Rodgers

"It's a very special feeling to be on this stage with this extraordinary band and these singers," Bono told the audience between songs. "It's a very incredible thing for me not to be onstage with my three brothers. I always feel like one quarter of an artist without them."

He also talked about Rodgers' importance to his band. "Edge doesn't look up to many guitar players, but Nile's right at the top for him. I tried to get the band here, but everyone's doing something. I said, 'Edge, this is such a hero to you.' He said, 'Listen, I just can't get out of something.' I said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'I'm doing a gig in the Sistine Chapel with the Holy Father.'" The audience laughed. "I said, 'Well, I'm doing a gig at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and we are going to turn it into the cathedral that it has been over the years for rock & roll music and hip-hop and dance music. And I am with the 'groove Pope.' To which Edge had nothing to say." He introduced "Mysterious Ways," which took on new life with a horn part that swelled with the guitars, and then disappeared into the crowd as it ended.

After a brief pause after Bono's departure, Rodgers led Chic in a thrilling set of hits he'd written and produced over the years. "Stay there," he told the crowd. "It's party time." From Chic's "Everybody Dance" and "Le Freak" to "Let's Dance" by "the man who changed my life," David Bowie, and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," it was a showcase of Rodgers' breadth. He played his oft-imitated jittery, nimble guitar lines as the audience danced and swelled toward the stage around the tables up front. The night ended, of course, with Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." Dozens of concertgoers stormed the stage, as Kathy Sledge sang the anthem next to Rodgers. It was a display of unity. "I hope to see everybody next year," said the guitarist. "Let's do it again."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Edge meets Pope Francis at International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday addressed participants of an International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact. The Conference is being sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Stem for Life Foundation, and the STOQ Foundation.

The 2016 conference focused on pediatric cancers and rare diseases, as well as diseases that occur with aging. It featured talks and discussions with leading cell therapy scientists, physicians, patient advocates, ethicists, philanthropists, leaders of faith and government officials.

In his address, Pope Francis focused on three aspects of the commitment of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and the institutions working with it.

“It is fundamentally important that we promote greater empathy in society,” the Pope said, “and not remain indifferent to our neighbour’s cry for help, including when he or she is suffering from a rare disease.” Pope Francis described this aspect of their work as “increasing sensitivity.”

The Holy Father also emphasized the importance of research, in terms of “education and genuine scientific study.” Education, he said, is necessary not only to develop students’ intellectual abilities, but also to ensure “human formation and a professionalism of the highest degree.” Research, meanwhile, “requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person.”

The third aspect highlighted by Pope Francis was “ensuring access to care.” A desire for profit should never prevail over the value of human life. This, the Pope said, “is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy.” By drawing attention to and educating people about rare diseases, by increasing funds for research, and by promoting “necessary legislation as well as an economic paradigm shift,” he continued, “the centrality of the human person will be rediscovered.”

Pope Francis concluded his address with a word of encouragement for those participating in the Conference. “During this Jubilee Year, may you be capable and generous co-operators with the Father’s mercy.”

Here is the text of the whole address by the Pope.
Pics: Facebook

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ali Hewson ,Honorary Doctorate of Letters

The University of Limerick has  awarded Honorary Doctorate of Letters to Chernobyl Children Internationa, founder and voluntary CEO Adi Roche and board member and activist Ali Hewson. Both Adi and Ali are champions of human rights and were honoured for their work with the children of the stricken regions of Chernobyl, who continue to suffer as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Adi and Ali believe institutional care is a human rights violation and because of this they have developed pioneering interventionist programmes for the rights of children with the eventual aim of closing down institutions across the Chernobyl affected regions. Adi and Ali have collaborated on a number of projects together including independent living facilities for young adults with disabilities, baby hospices, adoption agreements and documentaries. In 2015 Ali and Adi were awarded the Princess Grace Award for their work in the Chernobyl affected regions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bono & Eugene Peterson | THE PSALMS

This short film documents the friendship between Bono (lead musician of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home.

The film is featured exclusively through FULLER studio, a site offering resources—videos, podcasts, reflections, stories—for all who seek deeply formed spiritual lives. Explore these resources, on the Psalms and a myriad of other topics, at

© Fuller Theological Seminary / Fuller Studio

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Edge's father, Garvin Evans, passed away

EVANS John Garvin (Malahide) - April 16, 2016 - Peacefully after a long and courageous battle with illness met with typical joie de vivre, in the wonderful care of the staff of the Bons Secours Hospital. Widower of the late Gwenda Evans. Very sadly missed by children Richard, Edge and Gillian, brother Peter, daughters-in-law Miranda and Morleigh, son-in-law Tim and sisters-in-law Ann and Heulwen. Very proud Tadcu of Hollie, Arran, Blue, Molly, Tim, Sian, Jacob, Levi and Eva and adoring Hen Tadcu of Luna and Finn. Sadly missed by dear friend Norma, Anne, extended family and his wide circle of friends. Funeral in Howth Presbyterian Church at 11.00am on Wednesday, April 20. Family Flowers only. Donations, if desired to Rotary International ("I know that my Redeemer liveth"

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bono: Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis

Bono with kids at a refugee camp 

I’VE recently returned from the Middle East and East Africa, where I visited a number of refugee camps — car parks of humanity. I went as an activist and as a European. Because Europeans have come to realize — quite painfully in the past year or two — that the mass exodus from collapsed countries like Syria is not just a Middle Eastern or African problem, it’s a European problem. It’s an American one, too. It affects us all.

My countryman Peter Sutherland, a senior United Nations official for international migration, has made clear that we’re living through the worst crisis of forced displacement since World War II. In 2010, some 10,000 people worldwide fled their homes every day, on average. Which sounds like a lot — until you consider that four years later, that number had quadrupled. And when people are driven out of their homes by violence, poverty and instability, they take themselves and their despair elsewhere. And “elsewhere” can be anywhere.

But with their despair some of them also have hope. It seems insane or naïve to speak of hope in this context, and I may be both of these things. But in most of the places where refugees live, hope has not left the building: hope to go home someday, hope to find work and a better life. I left Kenya, Jordan and Turkey feeling a little hopeful myself. For as hard as it is to truly imagine what life as a refugee is like, we have a chance to reimagine that reality — and reinvent our relationship with the people and countries consumed now by conflict, or hosting those who have fled it.

That needs to start, as it has for me, by parting with a couple of wrong ideas about the refugee crisis. One is that the Syrian refugees are concentrated in camps. They aren’t. These arid encampments are so huge that it’s hard to fathom that only a small percentage of those refugees actually live in one; in many places, a majority live in the communities of their host countries. In Jordan and Lebanon, for example, most refugees are in urban centers rather than in camps. This is a problem that knows no perimeter.

Another fallacy is that the crisis is temporary. I guess it depends on your definition of “temporary,” but I didn’t meet many refugees, some of whom have been displaced for decades, who felt that they were just passing through. Some families have spent two generations — and some young people their entire lives — as refugees. They have been exiled by their home countries only to face a second exile in the countries that have accepted their presence but not their right to move or to work. You hear the term “permanent temporary solution” thrown around by officials, but not with the irony you’d think it deserves.

Those understandings should shape our response. The United States and other developed nations have a chance to act smarter, think bigger and move faster in addressing this crisis and preventing the next one. Having talked with refugees, and having talked to countless officials and representatives of civil society along the way, I see three areas where the world should act.

First, the refugees, and the countries where they’re living, need more humanitarian support. You see this most vividly in a place like the Dadaab complex in Kenya, near the border of Somalia, a place patched together (or not) with sticks and plastic sheets. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is doing noble and exceedingly hard work. But it can’t do everything it needs to do when it is chronically underfunded by the very governments that expect it to handle this global problem.

Second, we can help host countries see refugees not just as a burden, but as a benefit. The international community could be doing much more, through development assistance and trade deals, to encourage businesses and states hosting refugees to see the upside of people’s hands being occupied and not idle (the World Bank and the Scriptures agree on this). The refugees want to work. They were shopkeepers, teachers and musicians at home, and want to be these things again, or maybe become new things — if they can get education, training and access to the labor market.

In other words, they need development. Development that invests in them and empowers them — that treats them not as passive recipients but as leaders and partners. The world tends to give humanitarian efforts and development efforts their own separate bureaucracies and unlisted phone numbers, as if they’re wholly separate concerns. But to be effective they need to be better coordinated; we have to link the two and fund them both. Refugees living in camps need food and shelter right away, but they also need the long-term benefits of education, training, jobs and financial security.

Third, the world needs to shore up the development assistance it gives to those countries that have not collapsed but are racked by conflict, corruption and weak governance. These countries may yet spiral into anarchy. Lately some Western governments have been cutting overseas aid to spend money instead on asylum-seekers within their borders. But it is less expensive to invest in stability than to confront instability. Transparency, respect for rule of law, and a free and independent media are also crucial to the survival of countries on the periphery of chaos. Because chaos, as we know all too well, is contagious.

‎Bono‬, in an art gallery led by refugees, in the refugee camp in Zaatari, Jordan.
What we don’t want and can’t afford is to have important countries in the Sahel, the band of countries just south of the Sahara, going the same way as Syria. If Nigeria, a country many times larger than Syria, were to fracture as a result of groups like Boko Haram, we are going to wish we had been thinking bigger before the storm.

Actually, some people are thinking bigger. I keep hearing calls from a real gathering of forces — Africans and Europeans, army generals and World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials — to emulate that most genius of American ideas, the Marshall Plan. That plan delivered trade and development in service of security — in places where institutions were broken and hope had been lost. Well, hope is not lost in the Middle East and North Africa, not yet, not even where it’s held together by string. But hope is getting impatient. We should be, too.

Bono Opening Statement Senate. Foreign Aid Isn't Charity Its National Security Foreign Assistance and Violent Extremism U2 lead singer and activist Bono and United Nations and military officials testified at a hearing on the role of foreign assistance in combating violent extremism worldwide.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Take a selfie, mind your selfie

Ireland’s A-List bloggers take part in #MindYourSelfie day, Friday 8th April to support Walk in My Shoes awareness campaign

Dublin, 5th April 2016; U2’s Adam Clayton, along with almost 30 of Ireland’s A-List bloggers and celebrities, will be sharing their selfies on Friday 8th April to launch #MindYourSelfie, an exciting new information campaign by Walk In My Shoes.

Adam Clayton talks about alcohol and his own  mental health struggles

"I've got it wrong at times in my life and relied on alcohol to get me through something."
U2 bassist Adam Clayton has spoken about the moment he realised he needed help in his struggle with his emotional wellbeing, telling Eoghan McDermott on 2fm, "I was fed up of being fed up."

Clayton's struggles with his alcohol use have been well documented, and he spoke of the role of his friends in helping him through the roughest point in his life.

The Dubliner is looking to demystify the stigma around mental health problems, and spoke to McDermott about Friday's #MindYourSelfie campaign on Twitter.

Adam Clayton at the #MindYourSelfie launch with (L-R) 2fm's Eoghan McDermott, model Alison Canavan, broadcaster Rebecca Horan and model Corina Grant
Clayton also discussed U2's four homecoming shows last November at the 3Arena. "It was really great to be able to play that show, in Dublin, indoors again, because we hadn't played Dublin indoors since the last Point show that we did way back when at the end of '89, really. And it was a real Dublin crowd. It was a real home crowd," he said.

"The first night, I think, we were kind of wandering around bumping into things because it was unfamiliar. But by the fourth night we were pretty comfortable."

When asked if his attention ever wandered while playing any of U2's classic tracks, Clayton replied that the songs were part of him.

"They're a little bit like an old, comfortable pair of shoes," he explained. "You've been amazing places in them. They've maybe seen better days but you know them inside out. Those songs, they mean so much to the people that come to the shows [that] it's kind of an amazing gift to have one of those songs and be able to perform it to people." 

For more on the campaign, see or #mindyourselfie.

Monday, April 4, 2016

U2’s Incredible Career & Activism Is Honored With iHeartRadio Innovator Award

U2 received the Innovator Award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3, celebrating the band’s legendary career and activism. After Pharrell Williams honored a band that ‘reinvented’ music, Bono and The Edge dedicated their award to musicians still fighting for free speech around the world!
What a beautiful day! It’s a prestigious honor given from one innovator to another, as Pharrell Williams, 42, presented U2 –with the third ever Innovator Award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards!

I guess a band still using bass, guitar and drums, after rock and roll was invented, doesn’t sound so innovative,” Bono said after he and The Edge accepted the award at the April 3 awards ceremony. “But, it turns out rock and roll has more to do with spirit than flesh.” The two then celebrated Pharrell, the first ever iHeartRadio Innovator award winner and presented of this year’s award.

“They speak up for the voiceless and they tell the truth,” Pharrell said while introducing the band. “Millions of people are alive today because of what they’ve done…making AIDS medication affordable for all. These are the type of guys who, when they see a problem, they don’t just sing about it, they try to fix it.” Right on, Pharrell! Bono and The Edge even dedicated their award to those fighting for the right to perform freely in oppressive countries today!

“U2 is a band of activists, not only in music but in politics, popular culture and human rights,” John Sykes, president of iHeartMedia’s entertainment enterprises, said in a statement, per Billboard. They began as a punk band and that attitude still runs strong throughout their songwriting, albums and live performances. They will never stop testing the limits, and that’s why we are honored to recognize them with this Innovator Award.”