DALLAS – Two hundred low-income activists rode into Dallas on Oct. 24 to make sure that the world knows how George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the Halliburton Corporation are pulling America down. Local activists gladly joined in for the opportunity to contribute to the AFL-CIO’s “No Business As Usual Day” that was held the previous Saturday to expose corporate greed nationwide. The big group crowded into the lobby of the corporation’s world headquarters building and held their own People’s Court.
The National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support started their publicity work before leaving their various cities. They had a national “call in” day on Oct. 22 with a goal of 2,000 to 3,000 calls to the ABC and CNN television news. An advance man, Kevin Borden, started working in Dallas more than a week before the buses arrived. He spoke to peace, community, labor and immigrants’ rights activists about joining the rally at Halliburton. Each organization had good reasons to join the protest.
Halliburton bought Dresser Industries and laid off employees in Dallas as well as in other parts of the nation. They also launched an effort to challenge employees’ rights to their pension plans. Halliburton employees who had been exposed to toxic asbestos poisoning found themselves fighting the company’s legal maneuver to avoid paying for damages. The issue found extra news exposure because none other than Vice President Dick Cheney had been CEO of Halliburton when the asbestos liabilities were incurred.
After “Enron-Gate” broke, Halliburton was one of the mega-companies accused of “cooking their books.” That is, they were accused of using questionable accounting practices in order to make their stock prices much more attractive than they actually were. The AFL-CIO says that Halliburton CEO David Lesar received $10.3 million in compensation for 2001, while stockholders were taking a bath!
During the 2000 elections, jokesters said that the Bush/Cheney ticket had “diversity” since the two Texans from Dallas came from “two different oil companies,” but both were tied to Halliburton at the Oct. 24 People’s Court. Bush and Cheney were accused of having conspired with Halliburton and other oil companies to set a national energy policy beneficial to oil corporations. The details about how the energy policy was set are still secret.
Bush’s proposal to make “workfare” even more stringent and harder on low-income Americans was also featured among the many accusations at the People’s Court. The actor with the Bush mask defended himself by saying, “You have to believe me because I am the President and, before I became President, I was an average guy.”
“The people are the jurors,” yelled the Judge, “What say you?”
“Guilty” the crowd roared, and repeated, “Guilty” louder and louder while a dozen Dallas police officers nervously fingered their gun belts. Leaders of the rally deliberated for a few minutes when the police told them to leave the lobby, but they decided to go. They did not go far. They established a militant march that encircled Lincoln Square and the Halliburton skyscraper.
After a few more minutes, the crowd marched away. They had to get to their buses because they had more of the same kind of business in Waco, Crawford, and at the Bush ranch!
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