It was a small but noisy send-off down near Houston last week for the Bushies’ favorite evil empire, Halliburton, the only winner in the Iraq war, which is taking its $20 billion in blood money from all those no-bid contracts and moving, lock, stock, and oil barrels to Dubai – getting out of Dodge just ahead of the sheriff and the tax man.

Wearing red party hats and singing peace songs, seven North Texas anti-war activists joined more than two dozen protesters from around the country outside Halliburton’s annual – and probably last on these shores – shareholders’ meeting in The Woodlands on May 16. They broke a giant piñata filled with “Hallibacon” bucks in an aptly labeled “Take the Money and Run” farewell party for the company that’s under the threat of multiple congressional investigations for everything from allegedly defrauding the government of billions of dollars to hiring as security guards some thugs who shot at unarmed Iraqis for sport. Settling in on the sunny sands of Dubai will mean Halliburton can give Congress the finger when it sends out its subpoenas, stiff the U.S. on all those future tax dollars, and set up a luxury retirement villa for its former CEO Dick “Four Vietnam Deferments” Cheney. Real patriots, these guys.

Hear No Evil, Study No Evil With all the gas drilling going on within the Fort Worth city limits, you’d think someone would have studied the potential impact of the all-night rig lights, drilling noise, extremely heavy truck traffic, and millions of gallons of water being used. But when Susan Wade, a resident of the Southside Berkeley neighborhood – whose home is within 400 feet of a planned well on 8th Avenue – contacted the city asking to see the studies, she was told there were none. In fact, it turns out that the laws covering gas drilling in Texas don’t require them. So Wade and anti-drilling activist and lawyer Liane Janovsky decided to bring the issue up with the mayor himself. They found him at last week’s “Barnett Shale Expo,” sponsored by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Star-Telegram, and more than a hundred gas industry companies.

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“The mayor told us that we didn’t need to be so worried about our health and safety, because the city would protect us,” Janovsky said. At least the mayor spoke with her – a rare occurrence at any public event where he might encounter tough questions or contrary opinions. His apparent rule: Always keep an attorney, a secretary, or at least a city council dais between you and the great unwashed. Janovsky also learned from city and state officials that, despite the number of wells currently being drilled and planned around here, not a single additional inspector has been hired to oversee well safety. But don’t worry: The city will protect us.

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