News Release

* Maathai’s Nobel Prize * Unemployment Numbers * DeLay’s Scandals

Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004. She is founder of the Green Belt Movement.
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NJOKI NJOROGE NJEHU
Njehu is director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network and worked with the Green Belt Movement for several years. Professor Maathai is both a mentor and a close family friend. [Njehu’s mother, Lilian Njehu, who will be arriving in the U.S. this weekend, is on the board of the Green Belt Movement and will be available for a limited number of interviews through translation.] Njoki Njoroge Njehu said today: “This award provides invaluable recognition to a remarkable woman and to the many related struggles Professor Maathai has been part of for nearly 30 years: the importance of a sustainable environment to the local and the global community; the empowerment of women within their communities; and standing up to the forces of corruption that threaten the environment and human rights. … The awarding of this prize to Professor Maathai recognizes that peace is possible only when communities can achieve economic and environmental sustainability. Resources and rights must be shared by all; if they are monopolized by an elite class, the result will be deprivation and conflict. … We have been pleased to work with her to increase an understanding of the impact of external forces such as the World Bank and the IMF in Kenya and across Africa. Her understanding is best exemplified by her leadership in Kenya’s Jubilee campaign for debt cancellation.”
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DEAN BAKER
The unemployment numbers came out this morning. Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “The labor market showed renewed signs of weakness in September, with the economy adding just 96,000 jobs according to the Labor Department’s establishment survey. The private sector accounted for just 59,000 of these jobs, making the average private sector job gain over the last three months just 65,000. Including the benchmark adjustments, this brings the job loss during the Bush administration to 585,000 overall, and 1,398,000 in the private sector.”
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LOUIS DUBOSE
Co-author of the new book The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, Dubose said today: “For a while it looked like September was the cruelest month for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After an investigation that dragged on for a year and a half, a district attorney in Texas indicted three of DeLay’s associates and eight corporations for raising and contributing corporate funds that were used in Texas elections. Since 1905, it has been illegal to contribute corporate money or spend corporate money on election campaigns [in Texas]. The political action committee DeLay and one of his three indicted associates founded in 2001 spent $1.5 million on 22 state house elections in Texas. They won 17 of the races, elected the first Republican House in Texas since Reconstruction, and put in place the House speaker who did the redistricting deal DeLay had demanded: redrawing the state’s congressional district lines to create five to seven Republican seats. Travis County DA Ronnie Earle will probably hand down more indictments later, even as the Republican Legislature moves to eliminate legislative funding for his Public Integrity Unit next year.

“October isn’t looking so good for DeLay either. The House Ethics Committee is a moribund operation and in fact has done little to enforce ethics in the House since 1999, when it admonished DeLay for pulling a bill from the House floor to protest a trade association’s hiring of a former Democratic House member to serve as executive director and chief lobbyist. The lack of activity by House Ethics isn’t DeLay’s fault. There is a mutual agreement between the two parties that no ethics complaints will be filed.

“Then on October 6, House Ethics again reprimanded DeLay, for attending a two-day golf fund-raiser hosted by Westar Energy, a Kansas utility that had a critical provision it wanted inserted in an energy bill and had, with that in mind, also contributed $25,000 to a DeLay PAC. In the same act, the committee also admonished DeLay for pressuring Federal Aviation Administration officials to track down a lost plane flown by the former Democratic House speaker in Texas. It wasn’t lost. The legislator was flying from Austin to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to join other Democratic legislators breaking a quorum so they could deny the House a vote on the redistricting scheme DeLay had put in place. DeLay’s use of the FAA raised serious concerns that the Majority Leader from Texas had used ‘government resources for a political undertaking.'”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167