After a year of relative quiet on the Seattle animal-rights front, the group Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC) last week began a weeklong series of actions against the local offices and employees of biotech giant Chiron. SHAC has been trying to shut down Huntington Life Sciences, a British-based testing firm, since evidence surfaced in the 1990s that HLS employees had, along with other perceived atrocities, punched beagle puppies. SHAC is most active in the United Kingdom and on the East Coast, where HLS has its American headquarters, and has had some success in bleeding HLS of cash flow by agitating against clients and financial partners. SHAC claims that Chiron, an Emeryville, Calif.-based pharmaceutical company, has been an HLS customer, though a Chiron spokesperson says the company does not currently contract for HLS services. Still, a small group of SHAC activists gathered at Chiron's Elliott Avenue West offices on Sept. 11 and shouted at Chiron employees through a megaphone, promising to hound them for their connections to animal researchat their homes, grocery stores, and neighborhood parks. "We won't go away," said Josh Harper, one of the activists. "You've never seen anything like us: We are a pissed-off bunch of activists." PHILIP DAWDY
U.S. District Judge John Coughenour opted for leniency last week when he sentenced Hussein Alshafei, an Iraqi immigrant from Edmonds who violated economic sanctions against his home country by running a money-transmitting business. The government arrested Alshafei with a burst of publicity that suggested the 36-year-old might be involved in terrorism, and prosecutors urged a sentence of 30 months, at the high end of sentencing guidelines. But the judge departed from the guidelines, ordering a jail term of only eight months, three of which Alshafei already has served. Between Alshafei's arrest and his sentencing, details have emerged about his former business, which sent money from Iraqi immigrants here to family members back home. Alshafei did not send the money directly, but through complicated routes that enabled a brother-in-law in Iraq to import goods from abroad, despite sanctions. While this was conveyed as damning information by the government, Alshafei's lawyers argued that the imported goods were "likely much-needed items." Judge Coughenour seemed more swayed by the defense, saying: "It is impressive upon me that these funds were not intended to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein, nor were they intended to do anything to the disadvantage of the United States government." NINA SHAPIRO
It's not every day that The Seattle Times uses its editorial pages to try to truth-squad a political mailer (that's usually left to the news staff). But then, it's not every year that a ballot measure like Initiative 75, with all its cultural symbolism, is before voters. The Times, which earlier recommended a no vote on the marijuana measurebased on what we can politely describe as generational prejudicewrote a second editorial on Sept. 13 dinging the I-75 campaign for sending out a mailer to voters in which proponents claimed the initiative would protect Seattle's medical-marijuana patients from being busted by the Man. Following the arguments of City Attorney Tom Carr, the Times wrote: "Medicinal use of marijuana is not on the ballot, no matter what the late-hit, manipulative mailer claims." Dominic Holden, I-75 campaign manager, says that because the measure would make adult recreational use of marijuana the city's lowest law-enforcement priority, it would also protect medical marijuana usersand that the mailer wasn't misleading.
In other Seattle Times news, it escaped virtually no local scribe's attention that the Sept. 11 New York Times dissed columnist Nicole Brodeur. In an article about the joint operating agreement fracas between the Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (see "Between the Lines," p. 19), NYT reporter Jacques Steinberg wrote, "The Post-Intelligencer has perhaps the best-known sports columnist in town (Art Thiel) and a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist (David Horsey), while the Times has Nicole Brodeur, whose columns have explored such perceived indignities as a tax on cafe latte." PHILIP DAWDY