Santa Monica has made international news again.

The Hump, a sushi bar adjoining the Typhoon restaurant and owned by parent company, Typhoon Restaurant, Inc. and located on city property in the administration building at the Santa Monica Airport, had been selling whale meat in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

It all started last October when an outreach coordinator for the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tipped off an associate producer of the Academy Award winning documentary, “The Cove” (a film about the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins in a secret Japanese cove) that The Hump was serving whale meat.

Federal agents and animal activists cooperated in a sting orchestrated by film’s production team. Two female animal activists posing as customers went into The Hump and ordered kujira (whale meat) which cost $85, according to news reports. They recorded the dinner which included, being served eight pieces of whale. The activists bagged samples of the meat and sent it to the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, where DNA tests confirmed it was meat from the endangered sei whale.

A week ago Friday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials accompanied by officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Customs and Border Protection searched The Hump for evidence. According to the search warrant, endangered whale meat was served to the activists on three separate occasions.

Typhoon Restaurant, Inc, and sushi chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto were charged with illegally selling an endangered species product.

Japan operates a controversial whaling program which involves the “taking” of hundreds of whales a season in the Antarctic for “scientific research." Multiple species of whales are harpooned with exploding warheads and slaughtered during the hunt. When research is finished, leftover whale meat is sold for human consumption in Japan, Korea and Norway where it’s considered a delicacy.

This annual Japanese whale hunt is documented on "Whale Wars,” a cable TV series returning to Animal Planet on June 5. The series follows activists from the Sea Shepherd as they try to prevent the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales in international waters. It’s an intense and dynamically produced show. After watching it and “The Cove,” you’ll want to permanently boycott all Japanese made products in protest of the barbaric, senseless and unwarranted slaughter of marine mammals.

Most large whale species are endangered and it’s illegal to export their products to the United States. Numerous news sources reported that federal agents watched Yamamoto at work and even observed the removal of whale meat, wrapped in clear plastic, from the trunk of a Mercedes parked behind the restaurant. The U.S. attorney’s office is still investigating the source of the meat.

Outraged City Council members at last Tuesday’s meeting called for the termination of the restaurant’s lease and cancellation of its business license.

An attorney for Typhoon has acknowledged its responsibility for serving whale meat and said it will agree to pay a fine. The maximum penalty for Typhoon could be a fine for up to $200,000 and Yamamoto could face a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if convicted.

Even that isn’t adequate for this outrageous violation of the law by the scum bags involved and their contribution to the ongoing illegal slaughter of endangered whales. I say, “close ‘em down,” too!

O’Connor fails to disclose disclosures <p>

Councilwoman Pam O’Connor’s election committee, “Friends of Pam O’Connor,” has still not filed its (July 1 through Dec. 31) 2009 campaign financial disclosure statements which were due at the City Clerk on Monday, Feb. 1. Having not received them, the City Clerk sent a letter to O’Connor giving her to March 4 to provide the disclosures and submit a letter as to why they are late.

On Feb. 23, O’Connor wrote the City Clerk and said she was late because she recently had knee surgery, was recuperating and going through therapy. March 4 came and went with the disclosures still unavailable although O’Connor did notify the City Clerk by e-mail saying that she needed the weekend to finish the documents. Monday, March 8 came and still no disclosure statements. As of March 11, the disclosures were still not filed. The year-end disclosures will list persons who contributed a total of about $5,000 to O’Connor at a Sept. 22, 2009 re-election kick-off breakfast.

O’Connor could be fined based on the number of days she’s late, but the fine could be waived depending on the reason for being late. Despite recuperating, O’Connor attended the last two City Council meetings, Feb. 23 and March 9.

Knee surgery is a pretty lame excuse for not submitting or arranging for her campaign treasurer Alfredo Caravelli to submit the required disclosures as required by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. From Pam O’Connor to the citizens of Santa Monica: another big thumb off the nose.

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

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