Rupert’s blaming racism

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Prejudice keeps people in wealthy countries from paying attention to the worldwide AIDS epidemic, said British actor Rupert Everett, visiting Thailand to attend the 15th International AIDS Conference.

“We are extremely racist,” the 45-year-old actor told reporters Thursday, adding that patients in developed countries such as the United States have access to health care to manage AIDS while the disease devastates poorer nations.

Everett, the voice of Prince Charming in the animated movie “Shrek 2,” has visited Africa and Asia as a goodwill ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a private foundation that raises money to combat the diseases.

On Wednesday, he completed a six-day visit to neighboring Cambodia, where he met with hospice patients and talked to schoolchildren.

“What Cambodia needs, like everybody else needs, is more – more money,” he said Thursday in Bangkok.

Everett said he hopes to draw attention to the fight against AIDS and to encourage people to give money to the cause.

There are about 600,000 people in Thailand living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Aretha, Rawls top festival

DETROIT (AP) – Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls and Ramsey Lewis lead the lineup for the 2004 Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival.

The festival’s 25th anniversary edition will be held during the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6, at Hart Plaza.

Other top acts include Detroit-born saxophone player James Carter and a parade of prominent drummers, including Detroit-born Louis Hayes, Chico Hamilton, Winard Harpard, Lenny White, Cindy Blackman and Carl Allen.

This year’s edition honors Elvin Ray Jones, the Pontiac-born drummer and member of John Coltrane’s quartet who died in May.

Rick White, a senior producer at Festival Productions, was impressed with the festival’s lineup.

“I’m seeing a lot of pure jazz. … It’s a nice blend,” he told The Detroit News for a story published Thursday.

The Queen of Soul said she plans to sing Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Gershwin, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Last year, the festival attracted more than 500,000 fans to downtown Detroit.

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