Browsed by
Author: Bernie Mooney

MAD DOG AND ENGLISHMEN 1993: Happy St. Pat’s

MAD DOG AND ENGLISHMEN 1993: Happy St. Pat’s

©1993 Bernie Mooney                                                                                                     730 words


MAD DOG AND ENGLISHMEN

As the Loyalist death squads mounted their campaign of terror and murder in Northern Ireland, Prime Minister John Major was busy cutting a back room deal with Unionist politicians in order to save his floundering government.

Since the beginning of 1993, Loyalist paramilitaries had been waging a campaign of randomly targeting Catholics. By time of the IRA bombing on the Shankill Road in October that took nine lives, Loyalists had killed nearly two dozen Catholics, injured dozens and made attempts on the lives of Nationalist politicians. Not one word emanated from the mouth of John Major or his friends. Then came the IRA bombing on the Shankill Road.

Tory and Unionist politicians fell all over each other in condemning the horror. The chorus of denunciations that emanated from Britain’s House of Commons after the bombing echoed throughout the world.

For the last three years, Loyalist paramilitaries have killed more people than the IRA. Not once did any British or Unionist politician offer any condemnation of these groups. One Northern Irish police detective told me,

“The British government cares more about how much a bomb costs than they do about how much a life costs. I wouldn’t say it, but there are those who believe the price of a life is cheap.”

The top Loyalist hitman, nicknamed “Mad Dog,” claimed he has personally killed 13 Catholics over the last two years. The UVF and UFF, Loyalists paramilitaries, have publicly announced their  intent to “mass murder” Catholics. They made several attempts last month and succeeded on Halloween Eve in Greysteel.

Officials of the moderate Social Democratic National Labour Party (SDLP) claim at least 20 Loyalist death squads are operating in the Belfast area at the present time. A detective involved in tracking down IRA and Loyalist killers said in a pre-bombing statement to the local Belfast press, “There have been several mass murder attempts by Loyalists and only by the grace of God have more people not been killed.

There is no doubt that the threat from the Loyalist side has been increasing in recent years. And although the gangs claim they are targeting republicans for assassination, it is clear the vast majority of murders this year have been purely random and purely sectarian.”  No one can defend the horror of the Shankill, but there seems to be a double standard among Northern Irish Unionist and British politicians when it comes to the deaths of innocent Catholics.

Before the bombing, neither the Reverend Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew, nor Prime Minister John Major stood up in the House of Commons and condemned the Loyalist campaign. They and others were similarly quiet when Loyalist gunmen opened fire on a van full of workers, firebombed homes and attacked taxis. They were all content to ignore Mad Dog’s public declaration at the thrill of getting, “your first taste of  Fenian blood.”

When condemnation did come, it was late and muted and at the prodding of SDLP MP, Dr. Joe Hendron.

The voices that haven’t been heard at all are those in west Belfast who, while expressing sympathy with the families of those killed, find it hard to condemn the bombing due to its stated aim; to kill Loyalists who were killing their family members and neighbors.

Walking the streets of West Belfast, you could sense the unease of those on the streets. Anyone stepping out for a loaf of bread, or going to and from work was a potential target.

The IRA was under increasing pressure from the community to hit back at the death squads. The squads were striking with seeming impunity. So, the IRA finally did strike back, in what senior Republican sources told me was an “ill-conceived” action that went “tragically wrong.”

The bomb was meant for top Loyalists meeting in their headquarters above the fish shop on the Shankill Road, a meeting that ended 45 minutes before the bombers arrived. It was a classic IRA blunder that also claimed the life of one of the bombers. I heard the blast from my bed and breakfast in the University area, one mile away

That blunder left the Catholic community in even more fear and gave the Loyalists have another excuse to continue the bloodletting. It’s not as if they needed another excuse. Featuring traditional Irish folk music in your pub is enough.

For some time British and Unionist politicians have called on the Catholic community to condemn those who kill in their name. Yet, they were silent as people carried on their murderous campaign in their name.

Trump’s hero and mentor: the demonic Roy Cohn

Trump’s hero and mentor: the demonic Roy Cohn

 

The recent untimely death of investigative reporter Wayne Barrett left me sad. He was one of my NYC journalistic heroes. He was a giant and his dogged determination led him to expose the fraud and criminal that Trump is.  But no one paid attention. Trump once paid Atlantic City cops to arrest him when he was working on a story about his casino fraud after Barrett turned down his offer of a free apartment to back off the story.

If you want to know Donald Trump all you have to do is look who his hero was. His hero was the hatchet man for Joe McCarthy and later in life was an evil man who was attorney for all five NYC mafia families. Everything about Cohn wreaked of evil and venality. And that was Trump’s hero and mentor.

In an interview with the New Republic in December of 2016, Barrett gave the most apt description of Cohn I’ve ever heard. He actually had lunch with Cohn and this was his takeaway :

Roy Cohn ate with his fingers. I kid you not. He brought a little glass inside of his coat pocket. He would pop little white pills when he thought you weren’t looking. He was the most satanic figure I ever met in my life. He was almost reptilian. I think he’s going to handle the swearing-in at the inauguration. They’re not going to bring a judge, they’re going to have Roy. And then Roy’s going to go back to the White House and fuck a 12-year-old. In the Oval Office.

R.I.P Mr. Barrett and read the interview.

 

 

Be careful what you wish for: Indian Point nuke plant to close by 2021… or 2025

Be careful what you wish for: Indian Point nuke plant to close by 2021… or 2025

The New York Times is reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached an agreement with the owners of the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plant to shut it down and its environmental critics are wetting their pants. The fight against the plant has been ongoing for years. This is one of those be careful what you wish for scenarios. Close it down and replace it with what? The article only mentions vague possibilities.

The prospects for replacing that power are so far unclear, but potential options include hydropower from Quebec and power from wind farms already operating across New York, according to the person.

Wind? At present wind provides a tiny 2.6% of all NY State power. Also, it would take 4,000 onshore wind turbines to power just NYC and that would take up about 40 square miles, or about half the size of Yellowstone. Then you have to run new transmission lines which will have an environmental impact.

The Quebec hydropower option called the Champlain Hudson Power Express  is an idea but that too is fraught with problems. The proposed transmission line from Quebec to NYC will run 333 miles, but cost is an issue and even the developers admit it will have to be subsidized by ratepayers since the cost of operating it will cost over $400 million/yr. This doesn’t even include the costs of construction. It cost the Port Authority $1 billion to run a seven-mile line from New Jersey to Manhattan.

New York City’s Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC) did a study back in 2011 about the various impacts resulting from Indian Point’s closure. They found that the use of hydropower would result in an increase in carbon emissions of 15% statewide and of 5%-10% in NYC. And, the addition of thermal plants would be needed because even the Quebec hydropower wouldn’t be enough.

IPEC is able to provide approximately 2 GW of generation with no direct air emissions. Its retirement will cause a substantial increase in the air emissions from power plants. Our analysis indicates that both the City and State would see approximately a 15% increase in carbon emissions under most conventional replacement scenarios, with roughly a 7-8% increase in NOx emissions. NYC would see similar carbon emissions increases.

In addition:

The state market would see wholesale cost increases of approximately $1.5 billion per year, or roughly a 10% increase under most scenarios. NYC consumers would pay approximately $300 million per year more for wholesale energy, or approximately a 5-10% increase.

The report also predicted that citywide reliability problems beginning within a year of the second reactor’s expiration.

Then you have the taxes and employment. The plant pays $75 million in state and local taxes and employs 1,000 contractors and 1,100 salaried employees and is the region’s major employer

As a former protester in the 70s, I have come around and feel nuclear power should be a major part of the mix. And major climate scientists like the Big Daddy of climate change activists, James Hansen formerly of NASA, support nuke power. I think they should upgrade Indian Point to state of the art rather than shut it down.

And speaking of Hansen, here’s his response to Bernie Sanders’ desire to close Indian Point:

Now, Bernie Sanders says he wants to shut down the plant. If that happened, it would be replaced in substantial part by fracked natural gas that would create the equivalent carbon emissions of adding roughly 1.4 million new cars to the road… For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.

In a press conference called  [LIVE] Conférence presse de James Hansen à La Galerie by World Efficiency. in 2015, James Hansen, along with  Tom Wigley, Kerry Emanuel, and Ken Caldeira spoke and took questions on the issue of nuclear power. All agreed that nuclear should be part of the mix.

Here’s a small clip from the presser posted on the site Atomic Insights by Rod Adams who notes “None of them agreed that a energy system using 100% renewable energy is a valid objective.”

 

Emmanuel, interestingly enough is a Republican. Both he and his wife suffered a barrage of threats from climate deniers in 2012 when he appeared at a climate panel in New Hampshire. His offense? Saying Republicans should take their heads outta their asses regarding climate change. As he told the DESMOG blog back then

“I don’t like it when ideology trumps reason, and I see that the Republicans are guilty of that in spades at the moment… I’ve been toying with the idea of officially switching to independent status,” he adds.

Oh and this is curious. Two years ago, Cuomo fought to reopen an upstate coal-burning energy plant.

 

Trump Team and USRTK: Two peas in a pod

Trump Team and USRTK: Two peas in a pod

We’re all familiar with US Right to Know, (USRTK)  the group that is abusing FOIA to go after scientists they disagree with regarding GMOs. Well, check this out.  The Washington Post reports:

The Trump transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking officials there to identify which department employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”

The questionnaire, which one Energy Department official described as unusually “intrusive” and a matter for departmental lawyers, has raised concern that the Trump transition team was trying to figure out how to target the people, including civil servants, who have helped implement policies under Obama.

Remind you of anybody?

I wish the universities that caved to USRTK would have reacted like the DOE:

The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department, including the National Labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions. Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, a department spokesman. “Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE (Department of Energy) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people. We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department.

“We will be forthcoming with all publically-available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.” Burnham-Snyder’s email had the last sentence in boldface for emphasis.

The Post also quoted Rep. Steny H. Hoyer:

 “I am alarmed by the questionnaire sent by the Trump transition team to the Department of Energy seeking the names of career civil servants who have worked on climate change policy,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second ranking Democrat in the House. “This raises serious concerns as to the motivation of such a request and raises questions of possible retribution for following President Obama’s policies.” (my emphasis)

The Wolf Blitzer “Disturbing” Warning System

The Wolf Blitzer “Disturbing” Warning System

wolfpanic

 

“This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there.”

“We’ll stay on top of this very disturbing story.”

Very disturbing development in Chicago at the university there.”

“On the heels of a several disturbing incidents…”

“… that is a very disturbing element…”

“I want you to explain what you said, because it’s very disturbing,” Blitzer said…

“We have disturbing images we want to show our viewers as well” – wolf blitzer @cnn

“You have to realize, this is really disturbing a lot of people from all spectrums of life.”

“Disturbing video of police aggressively detaining a black college student..”

disturb

A yearly repost: A Thanksgiving story of secret generosity

A yearly repost: A Thanksgiving story of secret generosity

Thanksgiving is upon us and I have been remiss in posting. So, I decided to drag out this 2010 column from the archives. It’s from a previous incarnation. I figured since most of my posts are negative and how people are dumbasses and asshats, it might be nice to post something positive. It’s a story that I had to write since it was a story that I think about every year since it originally happened, decades ago.

Update: This is all the more relevant since our country just elected a vile, nasty selfish man as our president.

________________________________________________________________________

Another year, another Thanksgiving and holiday season begins. Another year of having the burden of deciding whose food and liquor I can consume without lifting a finger to make any meaningful contribution.

It’s that time of the year when those “New Yorkers of the Week” loom large on NY1. Committing selfless acts, being generous and basically putting themselves out, not just at the holidays but all year long. Man, I hate those people. Don’t get me started on the “Student/Athlete of the Week.”

On top of all that, the City just released stats on how the use of food pantries and soup kitchens have spiked in the last year. Every borough has seen an increase since last year with Staten Island leading the way with a 100% increase.

But that’s not what I what I want to talk about. I want to talk about a few years…er… decades, back when I was a teen. I want to talk about Pinhead Bomberger.

My father owned a small grocery store in small town Pennsylvania. Each year around this time, he would personally make certain grocery deliveries. He made me go with him to help. The groceries were full meals for a family, all the fixin’s, turkey included. It was food for people who couldn’t afford it.

It was weird that the old man was making these deliveries personally. It was even weirder that he dragged me along. I asked on more than once occasion what the deal was, but he would always brush it off saying that it was someone who gave him money and a list of people and said to deliver the groceries.

To this day I can vividly recall the faces and emotions of those people, mostly single mothers, when we showed up at their doors with the food. They were sure there was some mistake. My dad assured them it wasn’t a mistake. When they asked who was responsible my dad would just say, “Santa Claus.” (It worked better when we did the Xmas deliveries, but what the hell?)

They were really thankful to get the food they otherwise wouldn’t have had for the holiday. I remember a few mothers, kids hanging on them, who got tears in their eyes.

Years later, while visiting at Christmas, I decided to ask my dad what that was all about. He said that since the guy was dead, there was no harm in spilling the beans.

This is where Pinhead Bomberger comes in. Bomberger was the German teacher at our high school. He was a real miserable prick. Everyone hated him. His unfortunate moniker “Pinhead” was due to his tiny head.

Dad said that one year Pinhead came to him with a list. It was a list of poor people, about a dozen or so. He wanted to buy them holiday dinners. My father was sworn to secrecy. Under no circumstances were these people to know where it came from. Dad didn’t know where he got the list. Then, as was his way, the old man decided to chip in and sweeten the deal. He added to Pinhead’s list and threw in more food.

Pinhead did that on Thanksgiving and Christmas until he died. The list was always different from year to year.

I asked why he made me go with him when he made those deliveries. He said it was a personal thing and he wanted to have me with him. He also wanted me to know how good I had it; to not take for granted my good fortune. Oh, by the way, did I mention dad was a Republican?

So, what do we take away from this? Is it that you never really know people? What made Pinhead do what he did? He knew he was hated. He could have easily made a big deal out of it, but he didn’t. He insisted on secrecy and the old man took that secret to the grave. I was the only one he told and it was only because I asked.

There are people like us who want to be liked, yet we probably haven’t done very much to help those less fortunate. And when we do it, we make sure people know it. It seems to me Pinhead was a real hero… a real human being.

And speaking of real… his real first name was Harry.

March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

March Against Monsanto claims victory for creating world’s largest agribusiness company

Pesticide and pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced that it would be acquiring seed giant Monsanto. Now you would think this would make MAM howling mad. You would think that. Instead, they are cheering it and counting it as a victory.

Obviously, we should take a brief pause to celebrate our efforts. One has to assume Monsanto, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, probably wouldn’t have curled up and allowed themselves to be gobbled up by Bayer if it weren’t for the amazing efforts of millions of people all over the globe.

What part of consolidation don’t these dipshits understand? While still not commanding a monopoly of the market, they will control sales of 29 percent of the world’s seeds and 24 percent of its pesticides. It will create the largest agribusiness in the world. Let me repeat that…. Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto will create the largest agribusiness in the world.  So yeah MAM! Pat yourselves on the back for your victory.

Monsanto held firm on an earlier offer, but Bayer kept upping the ante until Monsanto couldn’t say no. The $66 billion deal (I believe the actual number is $66.6 billion) is all cash. Since Bayer kept upping the ante and wound up paying about $22/share more than Monsanto’s current price, how toxic can they be?

The most surprising aspect of the merger is the fact that Bayer would be willing to take on the global disdain that many hold for Monsanto.

Sure, if it makes them money you idiots. Why would a company pay $66 billion for a company whose annual profits hover around $15 billion? The Wall Street Journal reports

Bayer plans to pay $128 a share for Monsanto in an all-cash transaction, up from its latest offer last week of $127.50 a share, the companies said. The price represents a roughly 5% increase over Bayer’s original offer in May of $122 a share. Including debt, the deal is valued at about $66 billion.

Oh, and check out this idiocy

We have exposed their corruption, we have made them lose millions, we have been the reason a 1/3 of their workforce has been laid off and we are the reason the word “Monsanto” is the equivalent to “toxic poison” for much of the world.

They’ve gone from totally nuts to totally delusional. These fuckers live in their own world. I don’t think they have any concept how the real world works.

The WSJ:

Tensions have escalated further because global crop prices have fallen for three straight years, squeezing profits and forcing the seed and agriculture industries to cut costs and trim their workforces. Monsanto said last year it would lay off 12 percent of its employees, or 2,600 jobs.*

They are also cheering 2,600 people losing their jobs? These people are vile.

Not all antis are as gleeful. Dave Murphy, the executive director of Food Democracy Now! was quoted on the site EcoWatch

Now the most evil company in Europe has absorbed the most evil company in America. Monsanto and Bayer’s new corporate motto should be ‘Killing bees and butterflies for fun and profit.’

And Murphy’s motto should be, “Being an idiot for a living.” 

Murphy’s take is more in line with most anti sentiment. Ronnie Cummins, the anti-vax head knucklehead over at the Organic Consumers Association also weighed in. He said something like, “BIG POISON! BIG POISON! Arrgghhh” as he scratched at his measles.

That said, the deal is not a done deal.  According to the WSJ, they still have a lot of regulatory hurdles to get through in the U.S. and the Europe.

The deal is likely to warrant intense scrutiny from American and German antitrust regulators, who will assess whether the merger would unfairly lead to higher prices for farmers worldwide. The new company would preside over roughly a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticide supplies.

Regulatory crackdowns have busted several high-profile mega-mergers this year, including a $150 billion deal between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan.

Justice Department investigators have in recent years launched probes into “possible anticompetitive practices” in America’s Monsanto-led seed industry, though a formal investigation was closed in 2012 without pursuing charges.

The EU opened an investigation into the merger of Dow and DuPont this year and the merger of Swiss seed maker Syngenta and China National Chemical Corp. is also on their radar. The Monsanto/Bayer merger makes it the 5th agricultural merger this year alone. Others have included John Deere/Precision Planting, and Potash Corp./Agrium. All these mergers are coming at a fast past are alarming regulators, not to mention, farmers.

Now, about that John Deere merger. Precision Planting is owned by Monsanto and the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the merger back in August. Renata Hesse, the head of the antitrust division said, “If this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems,

If all these mergers go through, around 75 percent of the global agricultural/pesticide and agricultural services industry could end up in the hands of three companies.  Farmers fear lack of competition would raise prices and that concern is a valid one, especially in a time of flat crop prices cutting into their incomes. The concern is so great that Iowa Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley has slated a hearing for Sept. 20 to question seed-industry executives and experts.

Grassley said the hearing will focus on the transactions currently being reviewed by antitrust regulators, and the current trend in consolidation of the seed and chemical industries.

The seed and chemical industries are critical to agriculture and the nation’s economy, and Iowans are concerned that this sudden consolidation in the industry could cause rising input costs in an already declining agriculture economy.

And here’s a question. What about the name Monsanto? Good question. Glad you asked. Here we have a bit of confusion. Monsanto says the deal is a merger. Bayer says it’s an acquisition. What’s the difference you ask?

Well a merger is where two companies form a new company. An acquisition is when one firm buys out another and the bought company ceases to exist.

Which will it be? Hmmm. Given Monsanto’s negatives in the PR department, I will go out on a limb, with my limited knowledge, and say this will be an acquisition. Monsanto will be folded into Bayer and Monsanto will cease to exist.


* Here’s what I never got about corporation finances. Look at the above quote. Monsanto didn’t say they were losing money. They said their profits were squeezed. What exactly does that mean? They’re still making money, just not as much as they’d like so, so laying off people seems like a real dick move. In the first quarter of this year their net income was $1.06 billion compared to last year when it was $1.42 billion.  Did they really have to lay off 2,000+ people? Yeah, I know shareholders,  blah, blah blah. But still. This just goes to show that as benign as Monsanto is in relation to other corporations, they’re still a corporation and they act like one when it comes to money. I don’t know this is a fact, but I’m assuming that the execs didn’t take a pay cut during this downturn.

The suits may be nice people, but when it comes to profits, their loyalties lie with the company and not the people who work for it. That’s why I never hopped on the Monsanto bandwagon and bought a shirt or hat etc. as a poke in the eye to the anti-gmo crowd.

9/11/2001

9/11/2001

These images were taken by my friend and officemate Joe from our “balcony.”

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Note: This is re-write and update from a 2013 post.

Bankruptcy_monopoly

Days after a group of 107 Nobel Laureates published a letter telling Greenpeace to knock it off with their anti-GMO nonsense, the biotechnology industry filed for bankruptcy, citing their misguided buying everybody off, scheme .

At a hastily called press conference, industry representative and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, told assembled reporters

I mean, do you know how many people are in the Nation Academy of Sciences alone? Something like 2,000. So, a few million to a scientific body here and a few million to every independent scientist in the world there, and it begins to add up.” That’s not even including  having to pay those thousands of keyboard jockeys who defend us on internet comment boards. The straw that broke the financial camel’s back were the Nobel laureates. Those bastards didn’t come cheap.”

Anti-gmo activists were left slack-jawed. “We just lost our boogeyman,” one activist lamented. “It’s not fair.”

Asked what was next for the bankrupt industry, Executive VP and CTO, Rob Fraley said it was too early to tell, but excitedly suggested they were thinking of getting into the organic farming business.  “Man, do you know what a cash cow that racket is? I was in Whole Foods the other day and they get like 4 bucks for a freakin’ tomato. Sweet. We’ve gotta get in on that action.”

Hours after the announcement, Organic Consumer’s Association honcho Ronnie Cummins and GM Watch honchette, Claire Robinson had to be talked down off a Maharishi University rooftop after Jeffrey Smith pleaded with them saying, “Cmon guys. We can still make stuff up about beneficial technology.”

In a related story, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she planned to retire from the Court and buy the Bronx.

%d bloggers like this: