Nuclear-Free Earth

A presentation I gave at the Long Island Earth Day 2020 Program on September 21, 2020.

Nuclear-Free Earth

The two gargantuan threats—the climate crisis and nuclear weapons/nuclear power.

At the start of 2020, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday clock 100 seconds to midnight –the closest to midnight, doomsday, since the clock’s start in 1947.

The only realistic way to secure a future for the world without nuclear war is for the entire planet to become a nuclear-free zone¬. No nuclear weapons, no nuclear power.

A nuclear-free Earth.

How did India get an atomic bomb in 1974? Canada supplied a reactor and the US Atomic Energy Commission provided heavy water for it under the U.S so-called “Atoms for Peace” program.

From the reactor, India got the plutonium for its first nuclear weapon.
Any nation with a nuclear facility can use the plutonium produced in it to construct nuclear arms.

Nuclear technology continues to spread around the world. A recent headline: “Trump Administration Spearheads International Push for Nuclear Power.” Russia, despite Chernobyl, is pushing hard at selling nuclear plants.

Can the atomic genie be put back in the bottle?

Anything people have done other people can undo. And the prospect of massive loss of life from nuclear destruction is the best of reasons.

There’s a precedent: the outlawing of poison gas after World War I when its terrible impacts were tragically demonstrated, killing 90,000.

The Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Chemicals Weapons Convention of 1933 outlawed chemical warfare and to a large degree the prohibition has held.

There are major regions of the Earth—all of Africa and South America, the South Pacific and others—that are Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones based on the UN provision for such zones.

But if we are truly to have a world free of the horrific threat of nuclear arms, the goal needs to be more.

A world free of the other side of the nuclear coin—nuclear power—is also necessary.

Radical? Yes, but consider the even more radical alternative: A world where many nations will be able to have nuclear weapons because they have nuclear technology. And the world continuing to try using carrots and sticks to try to stop nuclear proliferation, juggling on the road to nuclear catastrophe.

As for the connection between purportedly “peaceful” atomic energy and nuclear weapons, physicist Amory Lovins and attorney Hunter Lovins spell it out well in their book Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link. They write: “All nuclear fission technologies both use and produce fissionable materials…Unavoidably latent in those technologies, therefore, is a potential for nuclear violence…Little strategic material is needed to make a weapon of mass destruction. A Nagasaki-yield bomb can be made from a few kilograms of plutonium, a piece the size of a tennis ball” and a nuclear plant “annually produces hundreds of kilograms of plutonium.”

There must be, they say, “civil denuclearization.”

As to claim the energy generated by nuclear power plants is necessary, that’s false. Safe, clean, green, renewable energy led—by solar and wind technologies—is available to provide all the power the world needs.

Of the assertion that nuclear power is carbon-free, that’s untrue. The nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, enrichment is carbon-intensive—and nuclear plants themselves emit radioactive Carbon-14.

It took decades of struggle to make Long Island nuclear-free. The Shoreham nuclear plant was stopped, and the six to ten more nuclear power plants the Long Island Lighting Company wanted to build prevented. The two reactors at Brookhaven National Laboratory leaking radioactive tritium into our underground water table have been shut down.

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, let us strive for the goals of defeating global warming and having all the Earth nuclear-free.

Scenes From An Epidemic

My column in Long Island newspapers and on LI news websites this week. This version in The Southampton Press and The East Hampton Press, April 6, 2020.

Among the most moving words about the novel coronavirus outbreak were those of Governor Andrew Cuomo to National Guard troops involved in converting the Javits Center into a hospital for coronavirus patients.

“You are living a moment in history,” said Mr. Cuomo. “This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people — makes them stronger, makes them weaker.

“Ten years from now, you will be talking about today to your children, and your children and you will shed a tear, because you will remember the lives lost … and you’ll remember how hard we worked, and that we still lost loved ones.”

But “you will also be proud. You’ll be proud of what you did. You’ll be proud that you showed up … When other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up, and you had the courage and professionalism to make a difference and save lives.”

James Larocca, a former state commissioner of energy and commissioner of transportation, and now a Sag Harbor Village trustee, penned an op-ed about Mr. Cuomo which ran in Newsday. “If extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and they do, then this is the time for the Democratic Party to nominate Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for president,” he wrote.

Mr. Larocca said Mr. Cuomo is “the only elected official in the United States today who has fully demonstrated the leadership, toughness, management skill and humanity that meeting the coronavirus pandemic demands.”

He said that “if a nominee is not chosen on a first ballot at the convention,” it can “open up to other candidates.”

Whether Mr. Cuomo might become the Democratic candidate for president because of his leadership in this crisis may or may not happen — he emphasized last week, “I am not running for president” — but certainly he has been catapulted into great political prominence.

Among the many TV pieces involving the gigantic number of people homebound to prevent the spread of the virus was a report by David Pogue, technology and science reporter on “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

“Welcome to lockdown!” he said into a camera he set up himself at his home. “How to live and work at home without losing your mind. First of all: curse the virus, but bless high-speed internet! The internet is our lifeline through this thing. It’s how we socialize, it’s our entertainment, it’s how business gets done. This is the internet’s big moment.

“It’s incredible what’s going on over video chat these days,” he continued. “Meetings, of course, but also exercise classes, concerts, church services, game nights, even weddings!

“Life goes on — you just have to go at it a little differently,” Mr. Pogue concluded.

Quite differently.

A rub regarding computers and the internet is that not everyone has the hardware. This is explored in a piece in the current issue of Time magazine, titled “The Online Learning Divide.” It focuses on online teaching caused by schools being closed, but it applies generally. It quotes a New York City English teacher saying: “I am concerned that, in 2020, all of our students don’t have access to technology or internet at home.”

The Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue reached out to “all our Socially Distanced Friends” in an email saying: “Hello … We finally have a day to reflect on this whirlwind of a week. Like you, there were moments we all felt overwhelmed, emotional, anxious, exhausted.”

The inn is limited to offering takeout meals, of course. It referenced a quote from former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson: “Let us all remember that ‘The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.’ … Stay well!”

For Suffolk County, an issue has been raised about folks from New York City seeking refuge here. An article in the New York Post was headlined: “‘We should blow up the bridges’ — coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons.”

High up is a quote: “‘There’s not a vegetable to be found in this town right now,’ says one resident of Springs, a working-class pocket of East Hampton. ‘It’s these elitist people who think they don’t have to follow the rules.’”

Phil Keith, a columnist colleague here, posted on Facebook: “Where’s our community spirit? I’ve seen so many posts and articles complaining about ‘city people’ coming out here and hogging our groceries and toilet paper. What — we only like their money in the summer? They have kids, and fears, and parents and grandparents, just like the rest of us. Why not just extend an elbow and say, ‘Hey, neighbor — how can I help?’ I’d like to think they’d do the same for us if, for example, a hurricane devastated the East End. C’mon, everyone, lend a hand — and a smile.”

In the obituaries are the names of more and more people — heading for 200 in Suffolk County as of this writing — who have died in this terrible epidemic. All that can be done to reduce the death toll, here and everywhere, must be done.

Why Does Journalism Matter?

Here’s an article by me just out in “The Journalism Issue” of The Waldo Tribune, “The Children’s Newspaper…that’s Read by Parents and Grandparents, too!” which has just started on its 30th year of publication.

By Karl Grossman

Journalism has been defined as the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines and news websites and preparing or communicating news for broadcast on radio and on television and, now, on the Internet, too.

But it is more than that.

Journalism serves as a watchdog—a monitor—of government and business. It is a necessary part—a vital part—of the democratic process.

Journalism begins with the invention of the printing press in 1440. The printing press allowed writing to be communicated by mechanical means. Given credit for inventing the printing press is Johann Gutenberg.

But newspapers were slow to emerge.

Indeed, the first newspapers sprung up—in the early 1600s—in countries where the rulers were tolerant, such as Holland, Belgium and Switzerland, or where there was no strong central government. Why? Because from the beginning of the printing press, most kings and queens and other rulers feared it.

They were afraid that through the press, information could be communicated that would challenge them.

For example, in England, King Henry VIII started—in 1529—the control of the press with a list of prohibited books. And he required printers to have royal permission before setting up shop. Moreover, the powers of the Privy Council in England were expanded to control the press.

These days in the United States, President Donald Trump regularly describes the press as “the enemy of the people.” This dislike of the press by Trump goes back centuries among many rulers.

A big breakthrough in achieving freedom of the press happened in what became the United States when it was a colony of England.

John Peter Zenger’s New York Weekly Journal criticized the colonial governor of New York, William Cosby. Zenger published articles telling of how Zenger was corrupt.

So Cosby had Zenger jailed on a charge of that his newspaper’s articles were “false, scandalous, malicious and seditious.”  Zenger, after nine months in jail, went on trial in Manhattan in 1734.

Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, in his summation to the jury said that “men who injure and oppress the people under their administration provoke them to cry out.” Zenger’s trial, he said, involved “the best cause. It is the cause of liberty….Every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have battled the attempt of tyranny, and by an impartial, and incorrupt verdict have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us, a right to liberty of both of exposing and opposing arbitrary power, by speaking and writing truth.”

The jury found Zenger not guilty.

As The New York Times editorialized on the 250th anniversary of the Zenger trial, it “turned common law on its head and established the freedom of our press.”

“The Zenger case,” said the The Times, “planted the seeds that flowered a half-century later in the First Amendment.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights declares that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”

The founders of this great democratic experiment called the United States of America established a system of checks and balances with the three branches of government—legislative, executive and judicial—checking upon and balancing each other. And the vision was that there would be a free press checking all of government.

Some 100 years later, when big corporations arose in the United States, our system was flexible enough to have the press not only be a watchdog of government but also of the huge businesses that formed, many of them monopolies. This period between 1900 and 1914 is known as the “Muckraking Era.” It was an early application of the investigative reporting of recent decades that has included the revelations by The Washington Post of the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. This courageous journalism brought down the Nixon administration and caused President Richard Nixon—like Trump also a bitter opponent of a free press—to resign.

Still, around the world, the press in most other nations is not free. Rulers just won’t let it be a watchdog because they fear being challenged.

And today in the United States, the press is under attack.

A free press is a wonderful and delicate thing—and every generation must work to preserve it.




My New TV Program Is Out: “Trump Space Force: Turning the Heavens Into a War Zone”

Trump Space Force: Turning the Heavens Into a War Zone

            Unless it’s stopped, Donald Trump will have opened space to war. Trump’s establishment of a U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of U.S. armed forces has come despite the landmark Outer Space Treaty that designates space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes. Trump and the U.S. military claim a Space Force is needed because China and Russia have been moving into space militarily. But, in fact, China and Russia—along with U.S. neighbor Canada—have for decades been seeking to expand the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space, to banning all weapons in space. The U.S. has repeatedly voted against this, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, or PAROS treaty, essentially vetoing it at the UN. And despite their efforts to expand the Outer Space Treaty, China and Russia—with the U.S. moving ahead to achieve what Trump calls “American dominance in space”—will meet the U.S. in kind. They’d be followed by other nations. And the heavens will be turned into a war zone. The program features Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

“Don’t Militarize the Heavens”

My op-ed piece today in Newsday which circulates on Long Island and in New York City.


January 5, 2020

Don’t Militarize the Heavens


President Donald Trump has signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 that establishes the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces — despite the landmark The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which designated space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes.

The treaty was put together by the United States, the former Soviet Union and Britain, and since been signed by most nations on Earth. Craig Eisendrath, as a U.S. State Department officer involved in its creation, has said that “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

It prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space. Although the Trump administration and U.S. military have said a Space Force is necessary because of Russia and China moving into space militarily, Russia, China and Canada have lead for decades in pushing for an expansion of the treaty. They’ve advocated for the UN’s Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space resolution, which would affirm a ban on placing weapons in space. The United States has opposed the PAROS treaty and has effectively vetoed it at the UN.

At the defense authorization act signing Dec. 20, Trump said forming a Space Force marked “a big moment.” He said: “Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain.”

Trump’s advocacy of a Space Force “started as a joke,” as National Public Radio has reported. NPR’s Claudia Grisales related that in March 2018 “Trump riffed on an idea he called ‘Space Force’ before a crowd of Marines in San Diego. It drew laughs.” Subsequently, Trump noted: “I said maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force. And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.’”

I’ve investigated the possibility of space becoming an arena of war since President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme of the 1980s.

This has included writing a book, “Weapons in Space,” and writing and narrating three TV documentaries. I’ve been to Russia several times, and I’ve been to China. What these nations want is the PAROS initiative and not to waste their national treasuries on weapons in space.

I recall sitting with Chinese diplomats after I spoke at a UN a conference on the threat of weaponization of space. They stressed how they need to feed, educate, house and provide health care to their people. My speech was followed by the Chinese UN ambassador speaking about how his nation sought to keep space for peace.

But if the United States moves ahead with a Space Force, China and Russia, and then other countries, will respond in kind. China and Russia won’t accept “American dominance” of space, and there would be an arms race in space.

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held a protest against space weaponization in Florida at which Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell participated. He said, “any war in space would be the one and only.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Maine-based Global Network, said Mitchell warned at the protest that in the event of war “activity on Earth below would immediately shut down — cell phones, ATM machines, cable TV, traffic lights, weather prediction and more — all hooked up to satellites, would be lost. Modern society would go dark.”

China has said that a U.S. Space Force would be a “direct threat” to peace. Its foreign ministry recently said the world should “adopt a cautious and responsible attitude to prevent outer space from beginning a new battlefield and work together to maintain lasting peace and tranquility in outer space.”

War in space would be calamitous.

Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the SUNY College at Old Westbury. He is author of “Weapons in Space” and writer and narrator of the TV documentary “Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.”

The Heavens Becoming A War Zone

If Donald Trump gets his way on formation of a Space Force, the heavens would become a war zone. Inevitably, there would be military conflict in space.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes—and of which Russia and China, as well as the United States, are parties—and the years of work facilitating the treaty since would be wasted.

If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow.

Moreover space weaponry, as I have detailed through the years in my writings and TV programs, would be nuclear-powered—as Reagan’s Star Wars scheme was to be with nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

This is what would be above our heads.

Amid the many horrible things being done by the Trump administration, this would be the most terribly destructive.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council this week.

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon,” he went on Monday, “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces; that is a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

The notion of the U.S. moving into space with weaponry isn’t new.

It goes back to the post-World War II years when the U.S. government brought former Nazi rocket scientists from Germany to the U.S.—mainly to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama—to use “their technological expertise to help create the U.S. space and weapons program,” writes Jack Manno, who retired last year as a professor at the State University of New York/Environmental Science and Forestry College, in his book Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1995.

“Many of the early space war schemes were dreamt up by scientists working for the German military, scientists who brought their rockets and their ideas to America after the war,” he relates. “It was like a professional sports draft.”

Nearly 1,000 of these scientists were brought to the U.S., “many of whom later rose to positions of power in the U.S. military, NASA, and the aerospace industry.” Among them were “Wernher von Braun and his V-2 colleagues” who began “working on rockets for the U.S. Army,” and at the Redstone Arsenal “were given the task of producing an intermediate range ballistic range missile to carry battlefield atomic weapons up to 200 miles. The Germans produced a modified V-2 renamed the Redstone….Huntsville became a major center of U.S. space military activities.”

Manno writes about former German Major General Walter Dornberger, who had been in charge of the entire Nazi rocket program who, “in 1947, as a consultant to the U.S Air Force and adviser to the Department of Defense…wrote a planning paper for his new employers. He proposed a system of hundreds of nuclear-armed satellites all orbiting at different altitudes and angles, each capable or reentering the atmosphere on command from Earth to proceed to its target. The Air Force began early work on Dornberger’s idea under the acronym NABS (Nuclear Armed Bombardment Satellites).”

For my 2001 book, Weapons in Space, Manno told me that “control over the Earth” was what those who have wanted to weaponize space seek. He said the Nazi scientists are an important “historical and technical link, and also an ideological link….The aim is to…have the capacity to carry out global warfare, including weapons systems that reside in space.”

But then came the Outer Space Treaty put together by the U.S., Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. In the 2001 TV documentary I wrote and narrate, “Star Wars Returns,”

Craig Eisendrath, who had been a U.S. State Department officer involved in its creation, notes that the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite, Sputnik, in 1957 and “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, it entered into force in 1967. It has been ratified or signed by 123 nations.

It provides that nations “undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in space in any other manner.”

Atomic physicist Edward Teller, the main figure in developing the hydrogen bomb and instrumental in founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, pitched to Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California visiting the lab, a plan of orbiting hydrogen bombs which became the initial basis for Reagan’s “Star Wars.” The bombs were to energize X-ray lasers. “As the bomb at the core of an X-ray battle station exploded, multiple beams would flash out to strike multiple targets before the entire station consumed itself in in a ball of nuclear fire,” explained New York Times journalist William Broad in his 1986 book Star Warriors.

Subsequently there was a shift in “Star Wars” to orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors or “super” plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board that would provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

The rapid boil of “Star Wars” under Reagan picked up again under the administrations George H. W. Bush and son George W. Bush. And all along the U.S. military has been gung-ho on space warfare.

A U.S. Space Command was formed in 1982.

“US Space Command—dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict,” it trumpeted in its 1998 report Vision for 2020. It laid out these words to resemble the crawl at the start of the Star Wars movies. The U.S. Space Command was set up by the Pentagon to “help institutionalize the use of space.” Or, as the motto of one of its units declares, to be “Master of Space.”

Vision for 2020 states, “Historically, military forces have evolved to protect national interests and investments-both military and economic.” Nations built navies “to protect and enhance their commercial interests” and during “the westward expansion of the United States, military outposts and the cavalry emerged to protect our wagon trains, settlements and railroads. The emergence of space power follows both of these models. During the early portion of the 2lst Century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare.”

“It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen,” remarked U.S. Space Command Commander-in-Chief Joseph W. Ashy in Aviation Week and Space Technology (8/9/96):  “Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but—absolutely—we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space…. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space.”

Or as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Keith R. Hall told the National Space Club in 1997: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it and we’re going to keep it.”

The basic concept of the Pentagon’s approach to space is contained in The Future of War: Power, Technology & American World Dominance in the 2lst Century. Written by “arms experts” George and Meredith Friedman, the 1996 book concludes: “Just as by the year 1500 it was apparent that the European experience of power would be its domination of the global seas, it does not take much to see that the American experience of power will rest on the domination of space. Just as Europe expanded war and its power to the global oceans, the United States is expanding war and its power into space and to the planets. Just as Europe shaped the world for a half a millennium [by dominating the oceans with fleets], so too the United States will shape the world for at least that length of time.”

Or as a 2001 report of the U.S. Space Commission led by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted: “In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the earth and in space.”

Nuclear power and space weaponry are intimately linked.

“In the next two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict,” stated New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, a 1996 US Air Force board report. “These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.” However, “power limitations impose restrictions” on such space weaponry making them “relatively unfeasible,” but “a natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space.” Says the report: “Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space.”

Or as General James Abrahamson, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, put it at a Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion, “without reactors in orbit [there is] going to be a long, long light [extension] cord that goes down to the surface of the Earth” to power space weaponry.

Thus nuclear power would be needed for weapons in space.

Since 1985 there have been attempts at the UN to expand the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to prohibit not only nuclear weapons but all weapons from space. This is called the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty and leading in urging its passage have been Canada, Russia and China. There has been virtually universal backing from nations around the world for it. But by balking, U.S. administration after administration has prevented its passage.

Although waging war in space was hotly promoted by the Reagan and Bush administrations and ostensibly discouraged by the Obama administration and Clinton administration, all U.S. administrations have refused to sign on to the PAROS treaty.

In my book Weapons in Space, I relate a presentation I gave at a conference at the UN in Geneva in 1999 on the eve of a vote the next day on PAROS. I spoke about the “military use of space being planned by the U.S.” being “in total contradiction of the principles of peaceful international cooperation that the U.S. likes to espouse” and “pushes us—all of us—to war in the heavens.”

I was followed by Wang Xiaoyu, first secretary of the Delegation of China, who declared: “Outer space is he common heritage of human beings. It should be used for peaceful purposes…It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race.”

The next day, on my way to observe the vote, I saw a U.S. diplomat who had been at my presentation. We approached each other and he said he would like to talk to me, anonymously. He said, on the street in front of the UN buildings, that the U.S has trouble with its citizenry in fielding a large number of troops on the ground. But the U.S military believes “we can project power from space” and that was why the military was moving in this direction. I questioned him on whether, if the U.S. moved ahead with weapons in space, other nations would meet the U.S. in kind, igniting an arms race in space. He replied that the U.S. military had done analyses and determined that China was “30 years behind” in competing with the U.S. militarily in space and Russia “doesn’t have the money.”

Then he went to vote and I watched as again there was overwhelming international support for the PAROS treaty—but the U.S. balked. And because a consensus was needed for the passage of the treaty, it was blocked once more.
And this was during the Clinton administration.

With the Trump administration, there is more than non-support of the PAROS treaty but now a drive by the U.S. to weaponize space.

It could be seen—and read about—coming.

“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article in 2016 in Washington-based Roll Call. It said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

Intense support for the plan was anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Callb mentioned that Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”

In a speech in March at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Trump declared: “My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force—develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, notes that Trump cannot establish a Space Force on his own—that Congressional authorization and approval is needed. And last year, Gagnon points out, an attempt to establish what was called a Space Corps within the Air Force passed in the House but “stalled in the Senate.”

“Thus at this point it is only a suggestion,” said Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network.

“I think though,” Gagnon went on, “his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of the White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his ‘Twitter powers’ to push this hard in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, relates Gagnon, there is the “steadily mounting” U.S. “fiscal crisis…Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for space plans and indicated that it had come up with it—the entitlement programs. That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump’s new Space Force. Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can’t have it both ways—it’s going to be social progress or war in space.”

As Robert Anderson of New Mexico, a board member of the Global Network, puts it: “There is no money for water in Flint, Michigan or a power grid in Puerto Rico, but there is money to wage ware in space.”

Or as another Global Network director, J. Narayana Rao of India, comments: “President Donald Trump has formally inaugurated weaponization of space in announcing that the U.S. should establish a Space Force which will lead to an arms race in outer space.”

Russian officials are protesting the Trump Space Force plan, “Militarization of space is a way to disaster,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told the RIA news agency the day after the announcement. This Space Force would be operating in “forbidden skies.” He said Moscow is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the Outer Space Treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in space.

And opposition among legislators in Washington has begun. “Thankfully the president cannot do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

“Space as a warfighting domain is the latest obscenity in a long list of vile actions by a vile administration,” writes Linda Pentz Gunter, who specializes in international nuclear issues for the organization Beyond Nuclear, this week. “Space is for wonder. It’s where we live. We are a small dot in the midst of enormity, floating in a dark vastness about which we know a surprising amount, and yet with so much more still mysteriously unknown.”

“A Space Force is not an aspiration unique to the Trump administration, of course,” she continued on the Beyond Nuclear International website of the Takoma Park, Maryland group, “but it feels worse in his reckless hands.”

“A Crusading Career”

The East Hampton Press, January 31, 2018

By Karl Grossman

I was thrilled to be informed recently that I’ve been honored as “Environmentalist of the Year” by the Long Island Sierra Club. As a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury, for decades I’ve taught Environmental Journalism and spend several classes in presentations about John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.

Muir is especially known for crusading for the creation of Yosemite National Park with his one-on-one three-day camping trip there in 1903 with President Theodore Roosevelt having a great influence on Roosevelt, a conservation-minded Long Islander, not too incidentally. It’s been called the “camping trip that changed the nation.”

Saving wilderness was Muir’s mission. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” he wrote. He and the Sierra Club were instrumental in the preservation of many great natural places.

Important for the Environmental Journalism class is that Muir emphasized the use of the published word to raise public awareness. He wrote 12 books and 300 articles—his first article, “Yosemite Glaciers,” was published in 1871 in The New York Tribune.

Thus, I tell my students, Muir and other early writers on nature—Thoreau, Emerson and Long Island’s own Walt Whitman—provided a base. And then came, in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” her expose on the dangers of pesticides, which laid the foundation for the contemporary practice of what became to be called environmental journalism.

It was 1962 when I got my first job as a reporter, on Long Island, at the Babylon Town Leader, with my first major assignment being to look into the plan of public works czar Robert Moses, a Babylon resident, to build a four-lane highway the length of Fire Island.

I began combining what’s now called investigative reporting with environmental journalism in many articles challenging the Moses scheme and pointing to preservation with a Fire Island National Seashore, which was created in 1964.

I went on that year to the Long Island Press and, after a few years of daily cops-and-courts reporting, was back with a focus on mixing investigative reporting and environmental journalism. John Hohenberg, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, was to update what had been a standard journalism textbook that he wrote, “The Professional Journalist,” adding: “It has not taken the nation’s newspapers very long to demonstrate their effectiveness as crusaders to protect the environment. Through their accomplishments, they have gone far toward making up for the long years during which they neglected the issue. It has seemed to make no difference whether a paper is large or small; if it has a public-spirited publisher, a determined editor, and a talented and devoted staff, it can—and does—obtain results.”

I was elated that he then mentioned my work and that of three other journalists.

I’ve continued to combine investigative reporting with environmental journalism now for more than 50 years, in books, on TV (hosting the TV program “Enviro-Close-Up” for 27 years; visit and on radio, in magazines and newspapers—including with the column you are reading in this newspaper—and, in recent years, the internet.

A lot of my work has been done nationally and some internationally, and this has included breaking the story of how the next mission of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle involved it lofting a space probe fueled with deadly plutonium. This sparked one of my books, “The Wrong Stuff,” and a TV documentary, “Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.” I detail accidents that have happened in the use of nuclear power in space by the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia.

I was invited to speak in Russia and made a series of presentations through the 1990s and into the middle 2000s, including at the Russian Academy of Sciences. I would not accept an invite now, with Vladimir Putin imposing totalitarianism, and journalists—and environmentalists—in enormous peril.

But my home is, and the subjects of much of my journalism have been, on Long Island—which is why the honor from the Long Island Sierra Club is so gratifying. The club has 6,000 members in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

As I’ve continued the combination of investigative reporting and environmental journalism I started with the Fire Island stories, for 25 years I challenged the plan to build seven to 11 nuclear power plants on Long Island. Today, after the strong activism of folks at the grassroots and stand-up opposition by governmental leaders, Long Island is nuclear-free.

Long Island is a wonderful environment—it includes exquisite waters embraced by beautiful beaches and wetlands, and rich farmland providing for a still vibrant agricultural industry—but there are many environmental threats still.

Applying to the island’s green environment the remarks of journalist, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin, at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the founding of our republic: We have it if we can “keep it.”

Nukes in Space — in Time of Trump

The website nuclear-news this month declares: “Nuclear Power and Space Exploration—theme for November 17.”  And, indeed, a desire of nuclear power zealots for decades is, now in 2017 with the Trump administration, poised for possible major implementation.

As nuclear-news says: “Coinciding with the severe downturn in the nuclear industry is the rush for enthusiasm for space exploration—and the goal of ‘putting a man on Mars.’ The nuclear industry must be pleased” now with the focus on nuclear-powered rockets to Mars. The apparent motive? “Space travel might save their industry?” Continues nuclear-news: “The effects of a spacecraft crash on an Earth city are almost unimaginable, and certainly never properly condemned by the space technocrats and nuclear enthusiasts. To them, this is an ‘acceptable risk.’”

As Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space told me: “For many years the nuclear power industry held an annual conference in New Mexico to promote the use of their deadly product in space. Nuclear-powered mining colonies and nuclear-powered rockets to Mars were key themes at these events.”

Now with Trump as president and green lights given to industry after industry to do or continue to do deadly things, Trump and his band of scoundrels are pushing for the nuclear industry to bring its deadly product into the heavens.

“Trump’s spaceman,” was the headline in February of a Vice News piece about Trump campaign space advisor Robert Smith Walker, an arch-conservative ex-congressman who had been chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the panel with NASA oversight. The sub-head: “President Trump has a plan for space domination.”

“Trump has appointed former Rep. Thomas Walker as a space science policy advisor, and he has an aggressive, business-type vision for NASA,” it says. “Under Trump, missions are expected to be more deep-space-oriented, beginning with robots mining for resources such as Helium 3 on the Moon. Walker foresees human lunar colonies as well as spaceships fueled by nuclear power to cut travel time to Mars from months to weeks.”

In a Vice News interview, which can be heard online at this site, Walker speaks of mining on the Moon for Helium 3 to be used as a fuel for nuclear fusion and of the U.S. “developing a generation of spaceships powered by nuclear power.”

Originally a high school teacher, Walker left the House in 1997 after 20 years representing a portion of Pennsylvania. He later was named by President George W. Bush as chairman of the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and also was a member of the President’s Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy. He is executive chairman of the Washington lobbying firm, Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.

In July, Scientific American published an article headlined: “NASA Seeks Nuclear Power for Mars.” Its sub-head: “After a half-century hiatus, the agency is reviving its reactor development with a test later this summer.”

It starts: “As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option, small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.”

“NASA’s technology development branch has been funding a project called Kilopower for three years, with the aim of demonstrating the system at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Testing is due to start in September and end in January 2018.” (The Nevada National Security Site was previously called the Nevada Test Site and before that Nevada Proving Ground where nuclear weapons tests were conducted.)

The Scientific American piece offers a history of the U.S. developing nuclear power for space use. “The last time NASA tested a fission reactor was during the 1960s’ System for Nuclear Auxiliary Power, or SNAP, program, which developed two types of nuclear power systems. The first system—radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs—taps heat released from the natural decay of a radioactive element, such as plutonium. RTGs have powered dozens of space probes over the years, including the Curiosity rover currently exploring Mars. The second technology developed under SNAP was an atom-splitting fission reactor. SNAP-10A was the first—and so far, only—U.S. nuclear power plant to operate in space. Launched on April 3, 1965, SNAP-10A operated for 43 days, producing 500 watts of electrical power, before an unrelated equipment failure ended the demonstration. The spacecraft remains in Earth orbit.”

The Scientific American article does not mention a far more serious accident involving a SNAP nuclear device that occurred a year before: the SNAP-9A accident happening in 1964, on April 24. A U.S. satellite using a plutonium-powered SNAP-9A system failed to achieve orbit and fell to Earth, disintegrating upon hitting the atmosphere causing its Plutonium-238 fuel to be dispersed as dust. The late Dr. John Gofman, an M.D. and professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, long linked the SNAP-9A accident to a global rise in lung cancer.

The SNAP-9A accident was a key reason for NASA to push for solar power for satellites. Now all satellites launched are energized by solar photovoltaic panels, as is the International Space Station.

As for space probes launched by NASA on which RTGs provided the electricity to power instruments, a break came with the Juno space probe, its electricity also provided by solar panels instead, which on July 4, 2016 arrived at Jupiter—a distance in space that NASA had for decades insisted only nuclear power could generate enough onboard electricity.

Likewise, the Scientific American article does not mention the work through the years by the since disbanded U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and a successor agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA and the Pentagon on nuclear-powered rockets—none of which ever flew but which underwent years of ground-testing.

But not only has the safe alternative of solar power been developed and used to substitute for nuclear power to produce electricity on space devices, there have been breakthroughs in non-nuclear space propulsion, too. A highly promising technology involves, after launch, the utilization of the ionized particles in the vacuum of space with what are being called solar sails. Several solar sail test flights have been conducted.

Moreover, power on Mars could be generated by solar energy instead of nuclear power, too. As the website Universe Today reported in 2008, “With the help of energy specialists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA commissioned a study of how future manned Mars settlements can be powered. Will nuclear generators need to be constructed? Or can solar panels fulfil our proto-colony’s energy needs (regardless of the dust situation)? Interestingly, if positioned in the correct location, solar arrays might function just as well, if not better, than the nuclear options. Solar panels could provide all the energy a fledgling colony needs.”

The nuclear power industry “obviously views space as a new market and one with little opposition because the planetary bodies are ‘far away,’” says Gagnon of the Global Network. “But the plutonium production process at the Department of Energy’s labs around the country have illustrated their ineptitude over the years. When they were fabricating RTGs for the 1997 Cassini mission to Saturn—involving 72 pounds of Plutonium-238 fuel—they contaminated 244 workers during that production process.”

“Local water sources and air are frequently contaminated by radioactive releases,” he continued. “So it is not just a possible launch accident that we are concerned about—the nuclear industry is killing us right here on Mother Earth as they prepare to go to space.”

Moreover, there has long been an intimate link between the use of nuclear power for civilian and military purposes. President Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme was based on orbiting “battle platforms” with uranium-fueled nuclear reactors or plutonium-fueled “super” RTGs to provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

And the Trump administration is gearing for greater U.S. military activities in space—with a strong likelihood of a new drive to weaponize space. As Washington-based Roll Call has reported: “Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look.” Its article said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

“The weapons industry views space as a market as well,” says Gagnon. He speaks of the proposal that’s been before Congress to create a “U.S. Space Force” as a separate military branch and described it as “driven by the aerospace industry’s huge appetite for endless war—and space offers bountiful opportunities.”

“Over the years we’ve heard the aerospace industry saying that ‘Star Wars’ would be ‘the largest industrial project in the history of our planet.’ And how would they pay for such an expensive endeavor?” he asks. He speaks of reports about aersopace lobbyists in Washington seeking “the defunding of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what is left of the welfare program in order to transfer those funds into creating pyramids to the heavens. The weapons industry are the new pharaohs and we, the taxpayers, are to be their slaves.”

An op-ed piece last year in Space News written by Walker and co-authored by Peter Navarro, professor of business at the University of California-Irvine, said the Trump administration will “lead the way on emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize warfare…Trump’s priorities for our military space program are clear: We must reduce our current vulnerabilities and assure that our military commands have the space tools they need for their missions.”

Trump Resistance on Long Island — My Long Island column this week

The presidency of Donald Trump has resulted in a “huge increase” in interest and involvement in Democratic Party activities in Suffolk, says the county’s Democratic chairman, Rich Schaffer. “People have been reaching out to town [Democratic] committees through the county and to us,” said Mr. Schaffer other day.
Since the election, the Suffolk Democratic Party has received thousands of telephone calls and emails “from people who want to get involved—and do something,” said the party leader.
Meanwhile, anti-Trump “resistance” groups have sprung up in Suffolk and with the Suffolk Democratic Party are committed to opposing Mr. Trump and defeating officeholders backing him.
Mr. Schaffer has sought to coordinate with these groups. He held a meeting recently with 50 people from the groups at Suffolk Democratic Party headquarters. “We all have the same goals—defeat of [Lee] Zeldin and [Peter] King.” Republican Zeldin is an avid supporter of Mr. Trump with ties to him that go back to 2014 when Mr. Zeldin first ran for Congress and Mr. Trump contributed to his campaign and made a robocall describing Mr. Zeldin as “a terrific guy” and “very conservative.”
GOPer King initially held Mr. Trump was “not fit to be president,” but after Mr. Trump clinched the GOP nomination, endorsed him with reluctance—“I don’t agree with Donald Trump on everything,” he said. The third congressman representing Suffolk is Democrat Tom Suozzi.
The district of Mr. Zeldin of Shirley, the lst C.D., includes all five East End towns, Brookhaven and most of Smithtown. The district of Mr. King, the 2nd C.D., includes Babylon and Islip Towns and extends west into Nassau County where he resides, in Seaford. Mr. Suozzi’s district, the 3rd C.D., takes in Huntington and also extends into Nassau where Mr. Suozzi lives, in Glen Cove.
All seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election next year.
“It’s important that we supplement each other to achieve our goals,” said Mr. Schaffer of the anti-Trump “resistance” groups. The Democratic chairman, a former Suffolk County legislator, spoke about how “every day the actions of Trump and his cast of characters—on health care, the environment, on issue after issue” provides added momentum to the opposition to the Trump presidency here.
The situation in Suffolk mirrors the national picture.
The Washington Post published an article last month headlined, “Democrats partner with political newcomers aiming to create anti-Trump wave in 2018 midterms.” It began: “A wave of first-time candidates eager to fight President Trump and his young administration plan to challenge House Republican incumbents, giving Democratic Party leaders hope that they can capitalize on the anger and intensity of grass-roots protests and town hall meetings across the country this year….Democratic strategists are trying to take advantage of the groundswell of engagement.”
One of the anti-Trump “resistance” groups in Suffolk is IndivisibleNY01 in the lst C.D. of Mr. Zeldin. As it says on its website under “Mission”—“To share knowledge of our political process and performance of our elected officials so that we can inspire our community to contribute to their and their family’s future, by persuading our representatives to represent US.” Under “Our Principles,” it states—“The current administration and elected officials will take America backwards and MUST BE STOPPED! Any elected officials that don’t represent us properly MUST BE STOPPED!….Whenever one of our representatives acts, whether sponsoring or co-sponsoring a bill, makes a speech, votes on legislation, etc. that doesn’t consider our concerns,” that representative “must be told, loudly.” An early action of the group was a demonstration at an event involving Mr. Zeldin.
A recent meeting of IndivisibleNY01 was addressed by Bryan Erwin of Riverhead whose background in government includes being an aide to former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. He discussed political strategy.
John A. Smith of Patchogue, founder of InvisibleNY01, says: “We see that there are a lot of angry and scared people in our communities. We want to direct that anger and fear into something constructive. We want to educate and register those people in our communities to vote and get involved. We want them to realize they have a voice and that we need their voice to change the racist, authoritarian and corrupt agenda being carried out by the president and the party in control of the county.”
Anti-Trump energies in Suffolk are also being channeled through social media. In a recent Facebook posting, psychotherapist Michael Z. Jody of East Hampton cited various “monstrous” appointments by Mr. Trump, among them Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry who has said he wanted “to shut down” DOE; Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA which “Pruitt has been battling for years;” Betty DeVos as head of the Department of Education although she “does not believe in public education…. And on and on it goes…We need resistance like our lives depend on it,” said Mr. Jody, because they “just might.”

“Highlight of My Life — My Long Island column this week

My syndicated column running this week in newspapers and on websites on Long Island. This is how it appears in The Southampton Press and The East Hampton Press.

A Part Of History

By Karl Grossman

It was a highlight of my life. Dennis Fabiszak, director of the East Hampton Library, sent an email last month saying: “I have great news. Your archive is now live. We currently have 3,401 documents included, and we are scanning every day.” It included a link:

What a thrill! After 55 years as a journalist on Long Island, all my files,­thousands of articles and what historians call “primary documents” ­are being digitized by the East Hampton Library to be available to anyone on Long Island and indeed the world.

They chronicle the modern history of Long Island, which I’ve covered from 1962 to the present, for most of the years as an investigative reporter and columnist. My now nearly 50-year-old column, begun at the daily Long Island Press, has, since The Press folded in 1977, run in weekly newspapers and now also on news websites.

The material amassed id derived, too, from my work as nightly news anchor on the island’s commercial TV station, WSNL67, as host of “Long Island World” on its PBS station, WLIW21, and chief investigative reporter at WVVH50, “Hamptons TV.”

It’s a great honor to donate all the material to the East Hampton Library. The title of the archive: “Karl Grossman Research Archive.”

I’ve had a front-row seat as Long Island has exploded in population and gone through many changes­ while, so fortunately, preserving much of its beautiful nature and the charm of its communities.

Some examples of what you and others can now start to access digitally:

Robert Moses was hell-bent between 1962 and 1964 on building a highway the length of Fire Island but was stopped by creation of a Fire Island National Seashore. I was in the middle of this story. All the documents, ­Mr. Moses’s declarations, the statements of Citizens Committee for a Fire Island National Seashore­, and many, many articles, are all there.

There were three major campaigns for the secession of the East End of Long Island from Suffolk County to form a separate Peconic County, and there are records of these drives. The first, in the 1960s, was led by Shelter Island Town Supervisor Evans K. Griffing; the second, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, by then-State Assemblyman John Behan of Montauk; and the third, in the 1990s, by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor.

The establishment by New York State of Stony Brook University was mired in “town=gown” conflict with some in the nearby area objecting to the university and its students. This culminated in an army of Suffolk County Police streaming onto the campus at 5 a.m. on January 17, 1968, in a raid I covered called “Operation Stony Brook.” The police put out a 107-page manual ­in my files ­identifying student after student as a purveyor of drugs, mostly marijuana. One of the cops whose undercover activities, hanging out with Stony Brook students, led to the raid would later remark: “We were the first police department that ever had the nerve to hit a university.”

There are voluminous records and articles on a huge Suffolk scandal of the 1970s: the $1 billion Southwest Sewer District project. With sewering on again here, they offer lessons.

The Long Island Lighting Company spent decades seeking to build seven to 11 nuclear power plants with Shoreham the first. There are thousands of records of this ultimately defeated scheme to make Long Island what nuclear promoters called a “nuclear park.” I also wrote a book published by Grove Press on this nuclear push, titled “Power Crazy.”

With development pressures intense, Suffolk County created an extraordinary Open Space Program, the largest land acquisition undertaking of any county in the United States, and a first-in-the-nation Farmland Preservation Program. Many documents and articles about them are in the files.

There was the scam about building a “deepwater port” in Jamesport. Excavation on a square mile of land along the Long Island Sound was proceeding full-tilt by 1970. But, in fact, what was involved was a gigantic sand mine, ­no port. I received the George Polk Award for my journalism’s role in stopping this.

Then LILCO bought the land for four of its planned nuclear plants. And this was stopped in the 1980s. I was deep as a journalist in this phase of the saga, too. The land is happily now the site of Hallockville State Park.

If you’d like to support this archive project, please contact Mr. Fabiszak, at, or call him at 631-324-0222, extension 7.


Karl Grossman, a resident of Noyac, is a journalism educator, author and award-winning journalist who has written “Suffolk Closeup,” focusing on local and regional issues, for nearly 50 years. His email address is