Another reason to vote

President Bush’s July 22 decision to withhold $34 million from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is another “first.” No other country has ever pulled funding from the Fund, which promotes family planning, AIDS education and improved pregnancy and childbirth conditions in 142 countries.

U.N. sources estimate that the money – 12 percent of the Population Fund’s annual budget – would have allowed the agency to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies and more than 77,000 infant and child deaths.

Thoraya Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, said denial will “significantly affect millions of children for whom the lifesaving services provided by UNFPA will have to be discontinued. Women and children will die because of this decision.”

The decision to withhold money already approved by Congress brought a sharp rebuff from the European Union who pledged an extra $32 million dollars to help fill what it called the “decency gap” created by the Bush administration’s action.

In an effort to justify its action, the White House charged that UNFPA tacitly supports China’s one-child policy just by its involvement there, a charge hotly denied by Obaid.

A White House team dispatched to China to study the UNFPA work there also found the accusation untrue and recommended that Bush release the money while continuing to withhold money from China – a policy that has been in effect for eight years.

As one would imagine, withholding the money was greeted warmly by the Washington’s anti-abortion lobby and denounced by pro-choice groups. But the U.N. Fund has nothing to do with abortion and lots to do with the rights of poor women to refuse marriage at age 13 and to have a safe, clean place to give birth.

And it goes far in explaining why organizations like NOW and the National Abortion Rights Action League are gearing up for defeat the right wing in the November 5 elections. And we’re going to join them!


Wall Street scrambles the 2002 elections

The AFL-CIO will demonstrate on Wall Street next week to protest the corporate fraud and abuse that threatens to push the nation into a “double-dip” recession that could leave many millions without jobs. It could not come at a better moment.

Commander-in-chief George W. Bush now looks half-pint as the financial scandals crash around his ears. He pleads, and doubtless prays, for the markets to rebound but few investors are listening. In the past two weeks $1.5 trillion was lost in the sell-off of publicly traded stocks. In the past two years, a whopping $7 trillion has vanished from the market. The bubble has popped.

Bush’s approval ratings have dropped to 65 percent in just-released polls by Newsweek and CBS News. With no sign that the Wall Street crisis will end soon, those poll number are likely to continue heading down.

The AFL-CIO and its allies are working to hold Wall Street banks and corporations accountable. But that is only half the battle. They also seek to hold accountable the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich politicians who unleashed these ravenous corporate wolves over the past twenty years.

These are the lawmakers who asked corporate America to give them a “wish-list” of regulations they wanted repealed, who dismantled the regulatory agencies and slashed their enforcement budgets. They are the same “bought-and-paid-for” federal and state lawmakers who slashed taxes on big business and the rich and busted unions to pave the way for the disaster now engulfing us. All of them, starting with House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) should be removed from office.

It looked like an uphill battle a few days ago but the situation has changed dramatically. Majority Republican control of the House can be ended. Bush’s hopes of restoring GOP control of the Senate can be blocked. But only if every voter gets active now to prevent the Bush-Cheney crew from stealing another election.