Re: Future of Space Conference: Weaponization or Cooperation? (or appeasement) (November 20th, 2001)

From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Future of Space Conference: Weaponization or Cooperation?  (or appeasement)
Cc: <>, <>

November 20th, 2001

To Whom It May Concern:

A conference on "The Future of Space: Weaponization or Cooperation" sounds like a good idea. But is the conference described below, scheduled for December 1st in Philadelphia, likely to be a balanced discussion?  What exactly does "cooperation" mean in this context?  How many of the people represent the "cooperation" side of things?  Not many, as far as I can tell.

Retired Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll, who has made some useful comments in the past, now works for the Center for Defense Information, so I tend to discount his views.  That organization's president, Dr. Bruce Blair, does not appear to have any understanding of the dangers of Low Level Radiation, or nuclear meltdowns either.  He's no friend of peace and stability, and I doubt anyone he hires is, either.  Here's a very recent run-in I had with Dr. Blair:

Regarding another of the speakers, Bruce Gagnon, I have had the displeasure of observing him for some time and have read scores of articles by him and quoting him.  Gagnon seems like a caricature of a real activist.  I personally have written about space issues for a number of years, having edited, for example, 253 issues of the STOP CASSINI newsletter, and Gagnon was quite a thorn in my side that whole time (I can only hope the feeling was mutual).  Here is a URL which has links to descriptions of some of the offences against the "anti-nuclear" movement (that is, the "reasonable" movement) Gagnon is guilty of.  See "Bruce Gagnon: A History of Disinformation", which links to other items:

Another of the speakers, Dr. Frank von Hippel, is most famous for some relatively useless experiments in which he gave relatively large quantities of plutonium to relatively small numbers of Beagle dogs.  He then watched them die, not even putting the dogs to sleep when they were obviously suffering an inevitable, painful death from his diabolical game. (This was apparently done in order to see how long they would actually live in that condition.  Beagles are very docile by nature, making them a much better choice than, say Dobermans.)  These experiments, often cited by the pro-nuclear brigade and its literary henchmen, have virtually no relevance to any proper estimation of Low Level Radiation's dangers, but extrapolations from von Hippel's experiments have been used for many years, to excuse the crime of distributing radioactive elements into the environment at diluted levels.

An article by James Ridgeway in the Village Voice, August 11-17, 1999, contained a statement by von Hippel which served to undermine the complaints of the opposition against Cassini by essentially dismissing the effects of low level radiation on large populations, while agreeing that the containment for Cassini's plutonium was probably not good enough.  His analysis seems to have completely discounted the possibility of Cassini's plutonium being spread finely over a large city, a possible accident scenario which thankfully did not happen:

Von Hippel has co-authored peace statements with the afore-mentioned and equally appeasing Dr. Bruce Blair.

Here's a quote about nuclear weapons tests (and a "classic" example of appeasement) from von Hippel, which takes on a special relevance after 9-11: "We thought you'd be able to detect tests down to about 1 kiloton,"  says Von Hippel. "Below that, there isn't much interesting you can do." (New Scientist, June 11th, 1999.)  I guess he just never thought of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant.  A one-kiloton nuclear device would be more than sufficient for this task if lofted into the plant with a catapult, or driven in as a truck or car bomb, or dropped from an airplane (or from a hot air balloon, for that matter), or flown in on an Kamikazi airplane, or floated over near the plant on a boat.  Virtually all plants are near large bodies of water, and suck millions of gallons of water through their cooling systems each hour, 24 hours a day.  So one could even send a submersible 1-Kiloton nuke up the intake tunnel to make sure it got exactly where you need it to be.  This would be silly, of course, since being at the perimeter of any nuke plant with the same bomb would be more than amply close to "ground zero".

Maybe some good will come of the conference, but my guess is it's a waste of time for the public and the media to attend.  It's rigged and those who might say the truth are unlikely ever to be invited to speak.  The so-called activists and the other apologists for the military and the nuclear industry would probably refuse to be on the same bill with any real activists.

So I say, let this gang of idiots meet and proclaim themselves for peace (or whatever), but don't expect anything they say or do to really make any significant difference.


Russell Hoffman
Former editor,  STOP CASSINI newsletter:
Webmaster and owner, The Animated Software Company:
Current essays:


At 09:30 AM 11/20/01 , posted on the downwinder's forum:

The Future of Space:                                     


A Conference: Philadelphia, December 1, 2001, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sponsors: Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Philadelphia Project for Global Security, Global Security Institute and Lawyers Alliance for World Security/PA Chapter.
Tel: 215-988-9808  *  fax: 215-569-9595

Speakers include:

Amb. Thomas Graham, Jr., President, LAWS
Amb. Jonathan Dean, Union of Concerned Scientists
Dr. Lowell Wood, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories (inv.)
Jonathan Granoff, Global Security Institute
Canadian Senator Douglas Roche
Rear Admiral (ret.) Eugene Carroll, Center for Defense Information
Craig Eisendrath, Center for International Policy
Dr. Robert Edgar, National Council of Churches
Hon. Robert McDougall, Director of Non-proliferation,
Arms Control and Disarmament, Govt. of Canada (inv.)
Dr. Howard Perlmutter, author on global terrorism,
  University of Pennsylvania (inv.)
Dr. Steve Herzenberg, Keystone Research Institute
Greg Speeter, National Priorities Project
William Hartung, World Policy Institute
Prof. Frank Von Hippel, Physicist, Princeton University
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons in Space

These and other experts will address the issues of:

       >>>>  Missile Defense
       >>>>  Space Weapons
       >>>>  American and world military and social priorities post September 11.

Friends Conference Center,
4th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Conference Registration: $60

The conference will be preceded on the evening of November 30 by The Caring Business Leader Award event honoring life-long peace activists and community leaders John Haas and Fred Heldring, keynoted by Senator Joseph Biden (D-DEL).   For dinner or reception reservations and information, call 215-988-9808 or 215-923-3411.

Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities - 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Philadelphia, PA 19103

To Reserve --- download this form, fill in your information, and Email back, or fax to

[  ] Please reserve ____ places at $60 per person (includes lunch).

[  ] Enclosed is my check for $_____.

[   ] Please bill my credit card for $_____.    AMEX MC VISA
CARD #: ____________________________________ EXP. DATE: ___/___/___

NAME: ________________________ AFFILILATION: _________________________________
ADDRESS: ___________________________________________________________________
PHONE: ____________________  FAX: ______________________  E-MAIL: _____________

[  ]  I am a member of one of the four sponsoring organizations.  I understand this would
       entitle me to a discount, should I choose to request one.  Call 215-988-9808 for details.

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First posted November 20th, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman