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Check overhead: Council says weapons not allowed there

By Elizabeth Gettelman Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday September 14, 2002

A Congressman crusading against weapons in space who is scheduled to visit Berkeley Saturday won’t need to worry about weapons assaults above his head. This week – in a statement of protest – the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution declaring a person’s space directly overhead a weapons-free zone. 

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio is scheduled to speak 7 p.m. Saturday at UC’s Wheeler Auditorium against Star Wars, a proposal to put weapons in space. 

This week the city also made a move to support Kucinich’s federal legislation known as the Space Preservation Act, which protests deploying weapons into space. The city’s resolution to side with Kucinich’s cause is the first formal support the Congressman has received. 

Councilmember Dona Spring, who sponsored the Berkeley resolution, hopes the city’s support will help propel the debate about weapons in space to the forefront of national and even international politics. 

“Our resolution is a model for the country,” Spring said, adding that she believes weapons in space is a bad idea. 

“It continues escalation of the arms race and makes our nation even less secure,” she said. Pollution in space would also be a problem, she said. 

Kucinich’s bill is currently in the House International Relations Committee, where it has been since February. 

Many countries sympathize with Kucinich’s position against putting weapons in space, according to Carol Rosin, president of the Institute for Cooperation in Space. Although no international treaties have addressed the issue, on Nov. 29 the U.N. General Assembly voted 156-0 to take steps to address it. Meeting the consensus call last month, Russia and China issued a joint statement denouncing the deployment of weapons in space. There is a similar resolution in the works in Japan, and local resolutions supporting the Space Preservation Act are being considered in Berkeley and cities and towns across the nation. 

“Every weapon you know about will be up there [without the legislation],” Rosin said. “Along with many you can’t even imagine.” Those include psychotronic devices that can be “directed at individual persons or targeted populations for the purpose of ... mood management or mind control.” 

Kucinich’s bill does not propose to hinder industrial and military work in space, just ban weapon deployment. 

“The act allows for the military industrial complex to continue with their research and development, so long as it is not related to space-based weapons,” said Rosin.  

Kucinich’s proposal would impact space weapons construction at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, said Mary Lia Kelly of Tri-Valley Cares, a watchdog organization of nuclear development complexes. 

Production of such weapons would be halted under Kucinich’s plan, Kelly said.