Healthier finger-lickin’

Times Staff Writers

With concern and competitive pressures rising over artery-clogging fats in American foods, KFC Corp. announces it will soon switch to using a new soybean oil to deep-fry its “finger-lickin’ good” chicken without trans fat.

Health advocates praise the move by KFC, the nation’s largest fried-chicken chain, suggesting that the action will pressure other major fast-food chains to take similar steps.

A broad scientific consensus links trans fats with high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. New York, Chicago and other cities are pondering banning restaurants from using trans fats, which the Food and Drug Administration requires be listed on packaged foods.

Wendy’s International announced a similar move to drop the trans fat last summer.


“Trans fat has become box office poison in the food world,” says one nutritionist. Page C1


Mirror, mirror in the stall...

Researchers have determined that the elephant is one of the few species that is aware of itself.


They placed an 8-foot-by-8-foot mirror before the animals. Initially, the elephants tried to look under and behind the mirror. But three female elephants at the Bronx Zoo soon began examining the insides of their mouths, studying their ears and showing other signs that they recognized themselves in the reflected images.

One of the elephants named Happy even used her trunk to touch a mark on her head that was visible only in the mirror, a standard test of self-awareness.

Previously, chimpanzees, humans and possibly dolphins were thought to be the only species that primp and groom before the mirror, recognizing themselves.

But, a study co-author says, “the elephant now joins the cognitive elite.” Page A11


Air marshal sues over his firing

A former federal air marshal is suing the Transportation Security Administration for firing him after he revealed to reporters an unclassified plan to stop assigning marshals on long-distance flights.

Robert MacLean’s disclosure in 2003 came days after the agency warned airlines of a hijacking threat on overseas flights. News of the cutback generated outrage in Congress and forced the TSA to reverse its decision.


This April, the agency fired MacLean for leaking sensitive information. MacLean is challenging the agency’s claim that it was sensitive information. Page A11


Angelides writes on immigration

Phil Angelides, the Democratic nominee for governor, criticizes legislation to build a fence along the Mexican border, signed into law Thursday by President Bush, as a “half-promise.”

Writing in an op-ed piece, Angelides notes his own family’s immigrant background and says they too encountered bias and discrimination.

The state treasurer calls for comprehensive immigration reforms, including strong border security measures, a path toward citizenship for millions of undocumented residents and a realistic addressing of the labor market pressures driving the movement of millions of illegal immigrants. Page A19


Flames of dissent


A street barricade burns in the Mexican state capital of Oaxaca after federal police storm the central plaza and evict protesters who had occupied the square for five months. Mexican President Vicente Fox declares the city and plaza “recovered” while protests continue. Page A4



It’s a tall order for the Lakers

Good news in Lakers land: They added a major star Monday. Now the disclaimer. This star is no taller than a flapjack and jumps like it’s anchored in concrete ... which, actually, it is, because it resides on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and now bears the name of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. As for basketball stars, the Lakers still have just two, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, along with a limping supporting cast, and that might not even be enough to get them into the playoffs. Mike Bresnahan analyzes the roster, while Mark Heisler says the Clippers are likely to further cement their reputation as the best NBA team in town. The season starts tonight; coverage begins on Page D1



To Fiorina, it still doesn’t compute

If Carly Fiorina’s timing had been this good two years ago, she’d still be chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. But she was fired. Now she’s on tour promoting a memoir just as HP is trying to recover from a scandal swirling around its board of directors.

Don’t call it a victory lap, though. Fiorina hasn’t quite moved past what happened in her final weeks there. Page C1


Fewer sales, more readers for papers?

Average weekday circulation at 770 U.S. newspapers drops 2.8% to 43.7 million, while Sunday circulation for 619 papers declines 3.4% to 47.6 million. But an industry group says total readership is actually increasing, noting that 57 million people visited newspaper websites in the third quarter of 2006. Page C3



Share fire photos

See photographs of the Esperanza blaze west of Palm Springs through the eyes of Los Angeles Times readers. Your Scene readers’ photo archives allow area residents to post their own photos of the devastating smoke and flames. Look at the pictures and leave your comments on them at



Telling it like it is in his boxed set

If the blues fathered rock ‘n’ roll, why didn’t rock’s 1950s toddlers show more respect to their elders? Chalk it up partly to the generation gap, Robert Hilburn writes. Blues greats such as John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were adults -- and sounded like it -- when teeny-boppers reigned.

“Hooker,” a boxed-set retrospective of the bluesman’s career, serves as a fitting showcase for Hooker’s uncompromising sound, which maybe the sock-hop crowd wasn’t ready for.

After all, Hilburn notes, when the teens were crooning and swooning over high school crushes, Hooker was delivering messages like “Leave My Wife Alone,” in which he threatened: “Hey man! ... I done told you once and I ain’t gonna tell you no more.” Page E3


Telling too much turns tiresome

We live in a confessional age, Patrick Goldstein notes in today’s Big Picture column. Memoirs get more attention than novels, and TV talk and reality shows, which thrive on exhibitionism, have superseded sitcoms in importance, Goldstein writes. Yet two of the most acclaimed movies now in theaters celebrate a quiet little virtue: reticence.

“Flags of Our Fathers” follows taciturn men who wind up guilt-ridden for the unwanted celebrity they received for their war deeds, while “The Queen” traces Queen Elizabeth’s reluctance to put on a public show of emotion after Princess Diana’s death.

Fed up with the yakety-yak? So is Clint Eastwood, director of “Flags.” “Everyone today can’t wait to spill their guts about all their feelings” or whom they’re sleeping with, Eastwood tells Goldstein. “Well, I don’t give a crap about that or the inner workings of Ang and Brad and whatever they’ve got going. I’m just tired of looking at it.” Page E1


Telling two tales of similar stature

Copycats run wild in television -- can you say “serialized drama”? -- but sometimes legitimate coincidences occur. Take, for example, “Boston Legal” and “Nip/Tuck.” Both delight in outrageous characters. Both air at 10 p.m. Tuesdays. And this season, characters on both have romantic relationships with dwarfs.

“Boston Legal” handles the subject with a lighter tone than “Nip/Tuck,” but neither show goes short for short’s sake, a la the 1938 all-dwarf Western “The Terror of Tiny Town.” Creators of the shows say they wrote the parts for actors they liked: Meredith Eaton-Gilden, who landed on “Boston Legal” via a role in the film “Unconditional Love,” and Peter Dinklage, who joined “Nip/Tuck” after starring in “The Station Agent.” Page E1


Telling the story of a wonder drug

Sometimes miracle drugs really are miraculous, and sometimes seemingly dry subjects make for great books. “The Demon Under the Microscope” by Thomas Hager recounts the rise of sulfa drugs, which saved countless lives after they hit the market in the 1930s. Reviewer Martin Rubin calls the story “compelling and horrifying” and says Hager “has the ability to zero in on all the inherent drama and color to present an indelible portrait.” Page E11