Crime, Booze, and Homeland Security

CRIME

The press release came from a Beverly Hills public relations firm called Luck Media and Marketing Inc., whose huge multi-colored logo sat atop a glamorous photo of Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, her long blond hair looking professionally tousled. "Attorney Anne Bremner Takes on Seattle Public School District," announced the e-mail sent earlier this month, referring to the attorney's work on behalf of two plaintiffs suing the district over molestation by a former elementary school teacher. The glitzy release seemed more appropriate for a movie premiere than a sensitive case involving the abuse of children. There's a reason for that. Bremner's use of Luck—a Beverly Hills firm whose clients also include singer Chaka Khan and "lady thug" rapper Amanda Perez—stems from the attorney's TV work. Not only is she a commentator on CNN and Fox News, but she recently helped create a pilot TV show that was bought by legendary producer Aaron Spelling. Called High Profile, the show "will be based loosely on some of my cases," Bremner says. NINA SHAPIRO

BOOZE

The federal judge sitting on Costco Corporation's antitrust suit against Washington state's wine-marketing laws blew a gigantic hole in the rules that have covered the field for 35 years. Judge Marsha Pechman ruled on Dec. 21 that in-state and out-of-state producers have to be treated identically: If California or Oregon wineries have to go through wholesale middlemen on the way to the retailer, so do Walla Walla or Yakima winemakers. Conversely, if tiny Washington superpremium winery Quilceda Creek is permitted to ship its wines directly to buyers, so can Gallo. Pechman suspended execution of her verdict until April 14, 2006, to let the state Legislature make the painful call: Either force Washington winemakers to pay wholesalers to distribute wine they'd prefer to distribute themselves, or let all retailers, giant Costco among them, cut out the middleman. Look for a lobbying frenzy in Olympia as the wholesalers try to maintain their mandated corner on the market. ROGER DOWNEY

HOMELAND SECURITY

Among the ways George W. Bush eavesdrops on telephone conversations or examines e-mails is through his listening posts in Eastern Washington. Well, the National Security Agency's posts, anyway, which Bush has authorized to freely intercept and scan domestic electronic transmissions for possible terrorist content. The NSA operates a high-tech listening post on the Army's Yakima Firing Range and maintains a global-antenna farm in Brewster, Okanogan County, which can overhear local phone calls and read e-mail that become airborne traveling from dishes to satellites. The local intercepts could be more intense than some others around the U.S. since Seattle has been high on the national list of possible terrorist targets and cells. This ongoing word search for the terrorist tongue is something to keep in mind the next time you visit the Web site—or send an e-mail about—the Jihad to Destroy Barney. RICK ANDERSON.

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