George Clooney may be an actor, director, writer, and silver fox extraordinaire, but you might not know how he created a satellite program that takes pictures of human-rights violations happening across the world and especially in war and genocide ravaged nations.
And you thought all he did was party at Lake Como and pull pranks on Brad Pitt. Haha, jokes on you America.
One day while in South Sudan, George Clooney wondered why it's okay for paparazzi to spy on celebrities’ lives, but not okay to spy on warlords and other individuals committing heinous human rights violations in third world countries.
"There's a satellite up there that's looking at my house right now," Clooney tells LA Times magazine, "You can Google Earth me, but you can't watch these [warlords]. Why not?"
When Clooney was first told that it was "spying" he shot back, "It's not spying on me. It's spying if it's a country. It's spying if it's the United Nations, maybe. But what if I'm a paparazzo with a lens 400 miles up? How is that spying? I'm just a tourist taking pictures and putting it on the Web. I don't understand where that's wrong."
Using that logic, Clooney met with the execs at Google and the satellite company DigitalGlobe to create the Satellite Sentinel Project. The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) uses commercial satellite technology to track actual and potential human-rights violations in real time.
When Clooney does a random appearance where he gets paid to mingle with commoners, he gives the money to his organization, SSP.
For example, he was paid $550,000 to make small talk with some brokers and investors in Hong Kong and he gave the entire appearance fee to SSP.
"I'm doing another one in Australia in December for another good speaking fee," says Clooney, "I go there, and we talk about whatever they want. They talk about movies...I don't care. But the money goes directly [to SSP], so to me that's a good way of playing."
Wait, people pay him that much just to talk? About movies or "whatever"? He doesn't even have to host a party or cut a giant parade ribbon? Wow, celebrities, they're not like us.
But Clooney says he tries to avoid people saying he's just an actor and that he doesn't know anything about the causes he gives money to. Clooney gets his advice from celebrity activist extraordinaire Bono of music group U2.
"The one thing I learned from Bono early on," says Clooney, "was you have to pick [a cause] you specifically want to work on, and you have to really engage. You have to be more knowledgeable than most reporters would be on it, so that when they try to make you sound stupid because you're just an actor...you go, 'Well, I can name all the rebel leaders, and I have [their numbers] on my phone.'"
However, even though he stars and directs in political dramas and also works closely with his humanitarian endeavors, he has no plans to run for president. Let's leave potential political turns to that other salt-and-pepper type, Alec Baldwin.
"I'm not getting in politics," says Clooney, "I have no interest - because of the compromises you have to make."