Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Uncle Fats' Tasty Meal of the Week
Uncle Fat's Note: Liberal usage of bourbon above the 2 tablespoons
Bourbon Pecan Pie - NY Times
Categories: Alcohol / Crust-Pie / Desserts / Pies & Pastries
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sweet butter; cold, cut up
3 tablespoons shortening, cold
3 tablespoons water, iced
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped
1. Crust Place flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor.
Pulse just to combine. Add butter and shortening. Pulse until
mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, slowly pour in
water. Process just until mixture begins to come together. Gently
press dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to fit a 9 in.
plate. Place dough in plate and trim, crimp edges.
3. Preheat oven 375 degrees.
4. Filling Whisk together the eggs, sugar, light and dark corn
syrups, butter, bourbon and salt. Place the pecans in the bottom of
the pie plate. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake until set,
about 35-40 minutes.
War Paint and Lawyers: Rainforest Indians versus Big Oil
Greg Palast investigates for BBC Newsnight - TONIGHT
Chevron: "Nobody has proved that crude causes cancer."
Tuesday, November 27, 10:30pm GMT [5:30pm New York Time] - live on
BBC2 TV or on the net at
BBC Television Newsnight has been able to get close-in film of a new
Cofan Indian ritual deep in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest.
Known as "The Filing of the Law Suit," natives of Ecuador's jungle,
decked in feathers and war paint and heavily armed with lawyers, are
filmed presenting a new complaint in their litigation seeking $12
billion from Chevron Inc., the international oil goliath.
It would all be a poignant joke - except that the indigenous tribe
is suddenly the odds-on favorite to defeat the oil company known for
naming its largest tanker, "Condoleezza," after former Chevron
director, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
For Newsnight, reporter Greg Palast, steps (somewhat inelegantly)
into a dug-out log canoe to seek out the Cofan in their rainforest
village to investigate their allegations. Palast discovers stinking
pits of old oil drilling residue leaking into drinking water - and
meets farmers whose limbs are covered in pustules.
The Cofan's leader, Emergildo Criollo, tells Palast that when Texaco
Oil, now part of Chevron, came to the village in 1972, it obtained
permission to drill by offering the Indians candy and cheese. The
indigenous folk threw the funny-selling cheese into the jungle.
Criollo says his three-year son died from oil contamination
after, "He went swimming, then began vomiting blood."
Flying out of the rainforest, past the Andes volcanoes, Palast gets
the other side of the story in Ecuador's capitol, Quito. "It's the
largest fraud in history!" asserts Chevron lawyer Jaime Varela
reacting to the Cofan law suits against his company. Chevron-
Texaco, Varela insists, cleaned up all its contaminated oil pits
when it abandoned the country nearly 15 years ago - except those
pits it left in the hands of Ecuador's own state oil company.
What about the Indian kids dying of cancer? Texaco lawyer Rodrigo
Perez asks, "And it's the only case of cancer in the world? How
many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States, in
Europe, in Quito? If there is somebody with cancer there, [the
Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by
petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR
crude which is absolutely impossible." The Texaco man
stated, "Scientifically, nobody has proved that crude causes
Even if the Indians can prove their case and win billions to clean
up the jungle, collecting the cash is another matter. Chevron has
removed all its assets from Ecuador.
But, this week, the political planet tilts toward the natives as
Alberto Acosta takes office as President of Ecuador's new
Constitutional Assembly. Newsnight catches up with Acosta - who
gives Chevron a tongue-lashing. "Chevron is responsible for
environmental and social destruction in the Amazon. And that's why
they're on trial."
"He LOVES Chavez"
Little Ecuador does not seem like much of a match against big
Chevron - whose revenue exceeds the entire GDP of the Andean
nation. However, behind Little Ecuador is Huge Venezuela - and its
larger-than-life leader, Hugo Chavez. "Acosta," complains one
local pundit to the BBC, "loves - LOVES - Chavez."
And apparently, the feeling is mutual. That is, Chavez sees in
Ecuador's new government, which won election campaigning to the tune
of the Twisted Sister hit, We're Not Gonna Take it Anymore, a new
ally in his fight with George Bush over control of Latin hearts and
minds - and energy.
Chevron-Texaco's largest new oil reserves are in Venezuela;
Venezuela stands with Ecuador; and Ecuador now stands with
its "affectados," the Indians and farmers claiming the poisons in
their bodies trace right back to the Texaco star.
Suddenly, the David-versus-Goliath story of Little Indians versus
Big Oil is becoming part of the larger conflict between Uncle Sam
and Uncle Hugo. The outcome is now a cliff-hanger. Indeed,
Newsnight has learned that this month, Chevron will face a new legal
challenge by Cofan attorneys before US securities regulators to
investigate whether the company has fully disclosed to shareholders
the massive potential legal liability from the equatorial Rumble in
Watch the story live on BBC2 or, in the US, on the net at
broadcast - or via a link from www.GregPalast.com. WARNING: The
day's news events may require Newsnight to delay broadcast to
And this weekend, catch Palast discussing the BBC Report with
environmental crusader Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on RFK's Air America
Radio program, Ring of Fire.
And pick of a copy of "Ecuador: Oiled and Despoiled," one of the
documentary shorts on Palast's DVD film collection, The
Assassination of Hugo Chavez, released this week. Available only by
making a tax-deductible donation to The Palast Investigative Fund at
BBC Television Newsnight story filmed in Ecuador by Rick Rowley,
edited by Jacquie Shoohen in New York, produced in London by Meirion
Jones, written and reported from Ecuador by Greg Palast.
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Witnesses testify in Blackwater lawsuit
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Nov 28, 2007
A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard
witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government
contractor's bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their
posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17
Iraqi civilians dead.
Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil
complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to
give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad even though an estimated
one in four of them was using steroids or other "judgment altering
A Blackwater spokeswoman said Tuesday its employees are banned from
using steroids or other enhancement drugs but declined to comment on
the other charges detailed in the 18-page lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of five Iraqis who were
killed and two who were injured during the Sept. 16 shooting in
Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The shootings enraged the Iraqi government,
and the Justice Department is investigating whether it can bring
criminal charges in the case, even though the State Department
promised limited immunity to the Blackwater guards.
Justice Department national security prosecutors Kenneth Kohl and
Stephen Ponticiello, both of whom are handling the Blackwater case,
spent much of Tuesday afternoon in the grand jury room, which is off
limits to the public. Two witnesses also spent hours behind closed
doors in the District of Columbia's federal courthouse. One of them
emerged sporadically to speak with an attorney, who refused to
identify himself, his law firm or his client.
When the grand jury was dismissed for the day, the men left without
commenting, as did Kohl.
Before the shootings in Baghdad last September, the three teams of
an estimated dozen Blackwater bodyguards had already dropped off the
State Department official they were tasked with protecting when they
headed to Nisoor Square, according to the lawsuit filed by lawyers
working with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Blackwater and State Department personnel staffing a tactical
operations center "expressly directed the Blackwater shooters to
stay with the official and refrain from leaving the secure area,"
the complaint says. "Reasonable discovery will establish that the
Blackwater shooters ignored those directives."
Additionally, the lawsuit notes: "One of Blackwater's own shooters
tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing upon the
crowd of innocent civilians but he was unsuccessful in his efforts."
The civil complaint offers new details of the incident that has
strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is
demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater
The Justice Department says it likely will be months before it
decides whether it can prosecute the guards, and it is trying now to
pinpoint how many shooters in the Blackwater convoy could face
charges. A senior U.S. law enforcement official confirmed Tuesday
that government investigators are looking at whether the Blackwater
guards were authorized to be in the square at the time of the
shooting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of
the ongoing investigation.
In an interview, lead plaintiff attorney Susan L. Burke said private
investigators turned up the new evidence through interviews with
people in Iraq and the United States "who would have reason to
know." Those people do not include government officials, Burke said,
and she declined to comment when asked if they include Blackwater
The civil lawsuit does not specify how much money the victims and
their families are seeking from Blackwater, its 11 subsidiaries and
founder, Erik Prince, all of whom are named as defendants.
"We're looking for compensatory (damages) because the people who
were killed were the breadwinners in their families," Burke
said. "And we're looking for punitive in a manner that suffices to
change the corporation's conduct. We have a real interest in holding
them accountable for what were completely avoidable deaths."
The lawsuit also accuses Blackwater of routinely sending its guards
into Baghdad despite knowing that at least 25 percent of them were
using steroids or other "judgment-altering substances." Attorneys
estimated that Blackwater employs about 600 guards in Iraq. The
company "did not conduct drug-testing of any of its shooters before
sending them equipped with heavy weapons into the streets of
Baghdad," the lawsuit states.
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Blackwater employees are
tested for drug use before they are hired and later given random
quarterly tests. She said use of steroids and other performance
enhancement drugs "are absolutely in violation of our policy."
"Blackwater has very strict policies concerning drug use, and if
anyone were known to be in violation of them they would be
immediately fired," Tyrrell said.
She declined comment on whether the bodyguards ignored their orders
and abandoned their posts, or on other details outlined in the
Blackwater's contract with the State Department to protect diplomats
in Iraq expires in May, and there are questions whether it will
remain as the primary contractor for diplomatic bodyguards. Iraqi
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said his Cabinet is drafting
legislation that would force the State Department to replace
Blackwater with another security company.
The State Department declined to comment on the case Tuesday, citing
standard policy on pending legal matters. Deputy spokesman Tom Casey
referred questions on the matter "to those involved in the lawsuit."
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Matt Apuzzo contributed to
Carson Daly, Entertainment Douchebag of the Month
Carson Daly About to Defy Writers Strike
Nov 28, 2007
By FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" is about to
become the first late- night talk show to defy the writers strike
and resume production.
Daly, who is not a member of the Writers Guild, will begin taping
new episodes of his Burbank-based show this week for airing next
week, an NBC spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
The half-hour "Last Call" airs at 1:35 a.m. EST weeknights, but
whether Daly's first new episode would air next Monday or Tuesday
was initially unclear. No guests were disclosed.
"The Writers Guild of America, East joins our colleagues of the
Writers Guild of America, West in expressing our profound
disappointment with Carson Daly's decision to return to work," the
guild said in a statement that also commended other late-night talk
show hosts for showing solidarity with their writers. "We thank them
and hope that Mr. Daly will reconsider his decision, including the
soliciting of scab writers to provide material for his program."
Daly is not the first talk-show host to go back into production.
Ellen DeGeneres, who is a member of the union, has continued taping
her daytime syndicated talk show after shutting down the first day
of the strike. But "Last Call" becomes the first to break ranks
among the late-night shows, which all had chosen to air repeats
rather than tape new shows without their striking writers.
It was unclear what effect, if any, the return of "Last Call" would
have on other late-night talk shows, which include NBC's "The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien,"
CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Late Show with Craig
Ferguson," and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Comedy Central's late-
night news-and- commentary spoofs, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
and "The Colbert Report" with Stephen Colbert, have also been in
There was no immediate word on when any of those shows might follow
suit and return with new episodes.
On Monday, contract talks with the studios resumed for the first
time since movie and TV writers went on strike Nov. 5. The Writers
Guild is seeking more money for material distributed over the
Internet and cell phones.
NBC is owned by General Electric Co.
On the Net:
November 26, 2007
Jen Howard, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x22
FCC Chairman's Big Media Giveaway Exposed
Free Press report outlines 10 facts Kevin Martin `doesn't want you
to know' about cross-ownership proposal
WASHINGTON Today, Free Press released Devil in the Details, a
report exposing 10 key facts that Federal Communications Commission
Chairman Kevin Martin is hiding from the public about his recent
proposal to lift the longstanding ban on "newspaper/broadcast cross-
Using a carefully crafted PR campaign including an op-ed in the
New York Times Chairman Martin has portrayed his proposal as
a "moderate compromise" that would only allow one company to own
both a daily newspaper and a broadcast TV or radio station in the 20
largest media markets.
But Devil in the Details exposes how the loose and
ambiguous "waiver" standard proposed by Martin creates a giant
loophole for big media companies to sidestep the ban in any market
and for any station.
"Chairman Martin's double-speak can't disguise the fact that his
proposal would gut the cross-ownership ban everywhere," said Derek
Turner, research director of Free Press and co-author of the
report. "The reality is that Martin's plan is no moderate
compromise. If passed, the new rules would unleash unprecedented
consolidation across the country."
To stop a merger in the top 20 markets, the burden of proof would
rest with average citizens and public interest groups opposing the
deal. Outside the top 20 markets, the burden of proof would rest
with media companies the same companies that control all the
information and could make promises that would be almost impossible
"Martin's proposal stacks the decks against the public interest,"
said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press and co-author of
the report. "The expensive and bureaucratic waiver process would pit
the limited resources of average American citizens against giant
media companies with the money and time to game the system."
As this new report illustrates, Martin's rhetoric can't match the
reality that his plan is a massive giveaway to the largest media
companies. The 10 facts about the proposal include:
FACT #1: Martin's "modest" proposal is corporate welfare for Big
Media. Martin's plan would unleash a buying spree in the top 20
markets, making it easier for companies like Belo, News Corp. and
Tribune Co. to push out independent, local owners.
FACT #2: Loopholes open the door to cross-ownership in any market.
Under Martin's loose standards, cross-ownership waivers could be
approved in hundreds of smaller cities and towns.
FACT #3: Loopholes allow newspapers to own TV stations of any size.
The same technicalities could permit top-rated stations in any
market to combine with major newspapers.
FACT #4: FCC history shows weak standards won't protect the public.
The current rules forbid cross-ownership, but the FCC hasn't denied
any temporary waiver request in years.
FACT #5: Cross-ownership doesn't create more local news. The latest
studies using the FCC's own data show that markets with cross-
ownership produce less total local news, as one dominant company
crowds out the competition.
FACT #6: Cross-ownership won't solve newspapers' financial woes.
Claims that the newspaper industry is about to "wither and die" are
greatly exaggerated, and no evidence shows that cross-ownership
would make things better.
FACT # 7: The Internet is an opportunity, not a death sentence.
Mergers and consolidation are not the answer to the financial
problems of the traditional media.
FACT #8: Martin's plan would harm minority media owners. Nearly half
of the nation's minority-owned TV stations are lower-rated outlets
in the top 20 markets, making them a target for Big Media takeovers.
FACT # 9: A broken and corrupt process creates bad policies. The
FCC's lack of transparency, flawed research and secret timetable
have tossed aside basic fairness and accountability in the rush to
change media ownership rules.
FACT # 10: The public doesn't want more media consolidation.
Martin's actions ignore the millions of Americans and 99 percent
of the comments in the FCC docket who oppose letting a few media
giants swallow up more local media.
"Chairman Martin has demonstrated an unyielding determination to
ignore the public will and any evidence that challenges his
predetermined conclusions," said Craig Aaron, communications
director of Free Press and co-author of the report. "His proposal
undermines the FCC's fundamental responsibility to protect
competition, localism and diversity over the public airwaves. It's
now up to Congress to put the brakes on runaway media consolidation."
Read Devil in the Details: