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May 13, 2002

Narco News '02

Authentic Journalism on the "War on Drugs" in Latin America

"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simón Bolívar

"Narco Dollars for

Real Dopes (TM)?"

An Email Exchange

with Corporate America

Publisher's Note: This is our reply, sent today, to an email we received from a representative of the Wiley Publishing, Inc., company about our October 2001 series about Narco Dollars by Catherine Austin Fitts. The original email from Kimberly Ward Skeel, "Contracts Manager" of Wiley, uncensored and unabridged, appears below our response.


May 13, 2002

To: Kimberly Ward Skeel
Contracts Manager
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
(317) 572-3304

From: Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin

From somewhere in a country called América

Dear Ms. Skeel,

Thank you for your email dated April 29, 2002.

I’m still trying to decipher your prose and divine exactly what you are asking me to do.

It seems as if you would like me to change the title of the three-part series by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Catherine Austin Fitts, which I published in October 2001 under the title “Narco Dollars for Dummies.”

That series appears on the following three pages:

On the one hand, you write, “we appreciate that the use of ‘? For Dummies’ in the article Narco-Dollars for Dummies is not intended to harm Wiley in any manner.”

Excuse me, Ms. Skeel, but I had never even heard of Wiley Publishing, Inc., until receiving your letter only two weeks ago. And I thought the term “for Dummies” was one of those quaint has-been phenomena like the Hula Hoop or “The Gospel According to…” (TM). But it seems that somebody, namely your firm, is still out there trying to make money off it. Of course, living in Latin America, I admit that I am sometimes out of the loop of such concerns of corporate America.

You should also note that my publication, The Narco News Bulletin, makes no profit, charges no price, sells no advertising, has no bank account, and I myself have no assets other than a laptop and an old guitar. (Your letter was not clear: Is it my guitar that you want?) I have never made a dollar, laundered or clean, off the phrase “Narco Dollars for Dummies.” Relax, please, Ms. Skeel: It’s just a throwaway title that I put on an excellent work of Authentic Journalism by Catherine Austin Fitts.

Another question left unclear by your letter: Does Wiley Publishing, Inc. have a book or other product titled “Narco Dollars for Dummies”? Or are you trying to say that your company owns the words “for Dummies” in every possible context or use?

Regardless, I’m sure we can come to some kind of arrangement satisfactory to you, but with your confusing e-mail letter to me you’ve paid the carnival barker and now you’re gonna have to, first, see the two-headed ferret and the sword-swallowing freak.

Because although you acknowledge no intent at all on my part to harm a company I’ve never heard of, on the other hand you write to me saying, “I look forward to hearing from you no later than May 13, 2002.”

I divine from that little gem that either, A., business must be slow at Wiley Publishing, Inc. and you have little better to do than make bizarre deadline demands of little websites and their expatriate publishers, or, B., that if you don’t hear from me by today, May 13, 2002, is there some horrible thing you are going to do to me? Or to my guitar? Heavens, Ms. Skeel: You cannot have my guitar under any circumstances. Some things are non-negotiable in this world!

I am further perturbed because your demand of some unspecified action from me within two weeks happened to come in the middle of my first decent vacation in some time and you’re lucky that I checked my email at all. Right now, I am more dedicated to pondering great philosophical questions like whether to shake another coconut down from the tree, crack it open with my machete, insert a straw and drink from it, or whether I should just jump into the ocean and cool off in this 100 degree tropic. But, no, thanks to you I have to interrupt the importantísimo work of a romantic poem I’m scribbling to respond to some corporate “Contracts Manager” who has given me a silly deadline accompanied by some unexplained threat.

You should also know that the implied threat of litigation makes my Authentic Journalist’s heart go all aflutter: The last time a big financial institution came after little Narco News, the big money boys not only lost a precedent setting free speech case in the New York Supreme Court (and caused, by their own actions, significant harm to their own trademarks), but they also boneheadedly brought so much fabulous publicity to Narco News that our hit count increased from a mere 100,000 a month to more than a million hits a month). You can read the fun history of how Banamex, Citigroup, the ham-handed ambulance-chasing Akin Gump law firm and its incompetent attorney Thomas McLish shot themselves in the foot, all archived for posterity on our defense page:

Is that what would have happened if I didn’t cut short my poor man’s vacation to write you back by today?

However, if all that you’re asking is for me to change the title of the splendid series by Catherine Austin Fitts in a form that removes the words “for dummies” (again, your letter is not totally clear on that point), well, sure, why not?

As tempted I am to meet your arbitrary deadline with one of my own, I’ll refrain and simply make you this offer to which you can respond to at your own convenience:

If all you want is that we remove “for Dummies” from the title on those three pages and the front page of Narco News that links to it, then it is my pleasure to inform you that both the author, Ms. Austin Fitts, and I are agreeable to change the title. Life is too short, there are bigger corporate dragons than yours to fry, and I’d rather dedicate what little is left of my vacation to coconuts than to corporate nuts.

I trust you have no problem if we change it to “Narco Dollars for Beginners,” or even “Narco Dollars for Real Dopes.”

But if you don’t already have a product named “Narco Dollars for Dummies,” you might, as a completely separate, unconditional and unrelated matter to this exchange, consider publishing Ms. Austin Fitts’ fine work. Now, THAT would vastly improve the value of this trademark you’ve told me about, and bring it back into the 21st century with some cutting-edge relevance somewhere higher on the trademark food chain than that of the Hula Hoop.

Now, please, stop with the silly deadlines and implied threats, and tell it to me straight: Will you be satisfied if I simply change the title of that work? Or will there still be some other pretext remaining to sue me for my very popular and coveted guitar?

If all you want is for me to change the title, then I will agree to it, and will implement the change immediately upon hearing from you. That can be as soon as today, if you like. And then you can get back to your very important office work, and I can get back to scribbling poetry on the beach before the next US-sponsored coup d’etat is attempted in our América (with Otto Reich in charge, that could be any day now) when I really will have to get back to the real work of Narco News.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin

Text of the Original Email

from Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Subject: Trademark Infringement, Narco-Dollars for Dummies
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 15:08:34 -0500


April 29, 2002

Al Giordano
The NarcoNews Bulletin
P.O. Box 20743
New York, NY 10009

(Narco News Publisher's Note: As those who followed the affidavits in the Drug War on Trial Case know, I lost the key to this P.O. Box two years ago and it was taken away by the U.S. Postal Service for non-payment of rent. Now, continuing with Ms. Skeel's letter...)

Re: Trademark Infringement
Narco-Dollars for Dummies

Dear Mr. Giordano:

Wiley Publishing, Inc. ("Wiley"), formerly Hungry Minds, Inc.
recently became aware of the article titled Narco-Dollars for
Dummies, by Catherine Austin Fitts on your website

As you may know, Wiley has over 100 trademark registrations and
applications in the United States, Canada, and other jurisdictions
for the trademark "FOR DUMMIES", many "DUMMIES" formatives and the
FOR DUMMIES trade dress. The FOR DUMMIES trademark appears not
only on our books, but also on CD-ROMs, trade and consumer
advertising, in catalogues, point of sale displays, Wiley's
websites, and other promotional and licensed material distributed
worldwide. This series has been in existence since 1991 and has
enjoyed tremendous success.

Since the FOR DUMMIES trademark is a federally registered mark,
United States trademark law requires that Wiley take all reasonable
steps to prevent others from using its marks, or confusingly
similar marks, in such a way so as to "dilute" its distinctiveness
as an exclusive designator of Wiley's goods and services. If the
mark is used by too many different sources, it becomes a "generic"
term, and Wiley may lose its exclusive right to use it. Thus, it
is Wiley's responsibility to police for the use of "? For Dummies"
in any manner, and stop all unauthorized use of its trademark.

Although we appreciate that the use of "? For Dummies" in the
article Narco-Dollars for Dummies is not intended to harm Wiley in
any manner, we trust that you can appreciate our concerns.
Accordingly, we request that you remove all FOR DUMMIES references
from the above-mentioned article/website, and provide Wiley with
written assurance that you will refrain from using its trademarks
in the future by no later than May 13, 2002.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to
hearing from you no later than May 13, 2002.


Kimberly Ward Skeel
Contracts Manager
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
(317) 572-3304

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