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U2’s Bono Defends Jobs After Criticism About His Philanthropy

Bono, U2 rock band’s lead singer, defended Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs after a New York Times columnist wrote the former chief executive wasn’t a prominent philanthropist.

Jobs said there was “nothing better than the chance to save lives,” when Bono approached him about a campaign to fight AIDS in Africa, according to a letter the singer wrote to the New York Times yesterday. Through the sale of red-colored products, Apple was (Product) RED’s largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, giving tens of millions of dollars, Bono wrote.

“I’m proud to know him,” Bono wrote about Jobs. “He’s a poetic fellow, an artist and a businessman. Just because he’s been extremely busy, that doesn’t mean that he and his wife, Laurene, haven’t been thinking about these things.”

The participation was “invaluable” and helped transform the lives of more than 2 million Africans, Bono wrote. Bono sent the letter after Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote in a column that Jobs wasn’t a “prominent philanthropist” even after accumulating $8.3 billion through his holdings in Apple and Walt Disney Co.

There was no public record of Jobs giving money to charity and he wasn’t a member of the Giving Pledge, founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to persuade America’s rich to give away at least half their wealth, Sorkin wrote.

The lack of public giving by Jobs is “curious,” Sorkin wrote. In 1986, Jobs started the Steven P. Jobs Foundation and closed it a little over a year later, Sorkin wrote.

Apple gives a portion of the purchase price from consumers choosing (Product) RED special edition iPod models and iTunes gift cards toward the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa, according to the company’s Website.

Jobs resigned last week as the chief executive officer of Apple, a company he co-founded. Jobs, who will become chairman, had been on medical leave since Jan. 17, following a 2003 cancer diagnosis and a liver transplant in 2009.

Bono is co-founder of the (Product) RED group.

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