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July 22, 1985
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July 22, 1985


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A small fleet rendezvoused in New Zealand last week preparing to sail for the South Pacific to protest French nuclear testing on the Polynesian atoll of Mururoa, southeast of Tahiti. The flagship was to be the Rainbow Warrior, a converted 160-foot trawler manned by members of the environmental group Greenpeace. But as the ship lay dockside in Auckland late Wednesday night, two explosions blew a gaping hole in its hull below the water-line. The Rainbow Warrior sank in four minutes. The ship's photographer. Fernando Pereira, 33, who was to accompany the fleet to Mururoa, drowned, apparently when he tried to reach his cameras after the first blast. Thirteen others on board got ashore safely.

Greenpeace is an international organization whose members serve as the seagoing commandos of the environmental movement. Called the "hippie navy" by detractors, it dispatches parties of volunteers in inflatable rafts from mother ships like the Rainbow Warrior to harass whalers, seal hunters and companies that dump toxic waste into rivers, lakes and oceans. Founded in 1971 by Canadians and now headquartered in England, Greenpeace has branches in 15 countries and operates on a $16 million budget, with funds coming mostly from small donations by concerned citizens in many lands.

Greenpeace's leader is David McTaggart, 54, a Canadian-born former building contractor who in 1972 sailed his 47-foot ketch, Vega, to Mururoa to prevent French testing of nuclear weapons. McTaggart penetrated a French naval cordon and delayed the tests until a French seagoing tug rammed his boat. In another protest there a year later French military personnel, he claims, beat him so severely with rubber billy clubs that he lost almost all sight in his right eye. The French eventually stopped testing in the atmosphere but continued underground explosions on Mururoa. Hence last week's planned sortie.

New Zealand prime minister David Lange, who opposes nuclear proliferation in the South Pacific, called the sabotage of the Rainbow Warrior "a major criminal act with terrorist overtones" and said he would consider sending a New Zealand naval vessel to Mururoa in place of the Rainbow Warrior.


On Monday the executive board of the Major League Players Association met in Chicago and voted to set a strike deadline of Aug. 6. For the second time in four years, baseball may come to a midseason halt. Both sides are pessimistic. Asked on Sunday about the odds of a strike, commissioner Peter Ueberroth said, "There's a fairly good chance."

Ueberroth also said, "A strike is a failure. They [the players] are not setting a strike date. They'll be setting a failure date." But whose failure, the players' or the owners'? The major issue this time around is the players' percentage of national television revenue. They want to maintain their traditional one-third of the new six-year, $1.1 billion package, and the owners, pleading financial hardship, are asking them to take a smaller slice of the bigger pie.

The two sides have been arguing about the financial state of the game since the old collective-bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 31. Ueberroth thought he was helping matters when he asked the owners to open their books, but time dragged on as baseball's greatest rivals—the union and management's Player Relations Committee—trotted out their accountants. "You've got an industry that's losing money," says Oriole owner Edward Bennett Williams. "I'm not talking about accounting losses. I'm talking about plain Ma-and-Pa-at-the-country-store accounting." Says Don Baylor of the Yankees, the American League player representative, "This team [the Yankees] was supposed to have lost $9 million. A lot of people who know the revenues here find that hard to believe." In the players' favor, while their salaries have risen 48% since the last strike, the owners' operating revenues, swollen by the new TV contract, are up 52%.

For now. the accountants have been benched, and both sides appear ready to negotiate. The owners also want to raise the time of service before players can submit salary demands to arbitration from two to three years and put a salary cap of, say, $10 million on a club's payroll. In other words, they are asking the players to save them from their profligate ways. And the players are adamant about not giving up what they've already won. Pragmatically, the strike date is very effective pressure on the owners. The players would have gotten most of their paychecks by then, while the clubs would lose out on the big revenues of August and September.

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