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Bono, The Gateses 'Persons of the Year'

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Time magazine named Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates its “Persons of the Year,” citing the U2 rocker’s and the Microsoft founder and his wife’s charitable work and activism aimed at reducing global poverty and improving world health.

The magazine (which, like PEOPLE, is part of Time Warner) said 2005 was a year of extraordinary charity in which people donated record amounts in response to extreme natural disasters, from the tsunami in South Asia to Hurricane Katrina. “Natural disasters are terrible things, but there is a different kind of ongoing calamity in poverty and nobody is doing a better job in addressing it in different ways than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono,” said Jim Kelly, Time’s managing editor.

“For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are Time’s Persons of the Year,” the magazine said. Time also named former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush as “Partners of the Year” for their work on behalf of the victims of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

In praising the Gateses for building the world’s largest charity – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a $29 billion endowment – Time said the couple gave “more money away faster than anyone ever has” this year. The foundation has saved at least 700,000 lives in poor countries by investing in vaccination programs, has donated computers and Internet access to 11,000 libraries and has sponsored the biggest scholarship fund in history, the magazine said.

Time said Bono’s campaign to make rich countries address the debt of poorer ones has had an equally impressive impact on the world. “Bono charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world’s richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest,” the magazine said.

Last year, the “Person of the Year” distinction went to President George Bush. In 2003, the magazine honored “The American Soldier.”