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March 20, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-03-20

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Iph Si itMan Daitil
Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Laser weapons and the arms race

Saturday, March 20, 1976

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and

managed by students at the University of Michigan

(TNS) - Even as the United
States and the Soviet Union
prepare for the next round of
the SALT II talks later this
spring, both powers are intensi-
fying research that could lead
to a new and destabilizing race
for superiority in laser weapon-
Despite Defense Department
attempts to keep the U.S. laser
weapons program secret, suf-
ficient information has surfaced
to indicate a major effort to
keep this nation abreast of the
Soviet Union - including re-
search on laser beams powerful
enough to knock out incoming
The Pentagon received $171
million for fiscal 1976 for its
high energy laser research pro-
gram - bringing total expendi-
tures to roughly $1 billion and
doubling the funding level of
three years ago. It plans to
decide by 1978 which laser weap-
ons to begin producing.
NO FIGURES on laser re-
search were included in the
Defense Department's fiscal 1977
budget, arousing the suspicion
of several congressmen. Les As-
pin (D-Wisc.), a prominent
member of the House Armed
Services Committee, has re-
quested more information on
laser research before Congress
votes on the defense budget.
Funding for the Soviet laser
program, according to the Pen-
tagon and "Janes Weapons
Systems," the authoritative
British military journal, is high-
er than that of the U.S. pro-
The U.S. is now testing at
least six different laser weap-
* The Air Force is outfitting
a Boeing KC-135 with two dif-
ferent lasers, one for tracking
enemy missiles, the other for

hitting them with a beam of
radiation so hot it would
theoretically "cook" their elec-
tronic circuitry.
According to a Pentagon
source, however, the system
looks like it may be more effec-
tive against U.S. missiles than
their Soviet counterparts.

Perhaps the most bizarre re-
search - and the most potenti-
ally destabilizing, in terms of
the strategic arms race-involv-
es methods for destroying in-
telligence or "spy" satellites,
something specifically banned
by the SALT agreement signed
in Helsinki.

'Despite the denial (that the blinding of
an American satellite had anything to do

with laser weapons),
tinued and the laser
longer seccret.'

speculation has con-
weapons race is no

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hoped to be capable of knock-
ing out incoming missiles and
enemy aircraft, is going through
trials at the Redstone Arsenal
in Alabama and the White Sands
Proving Grounds in New Mexi-
co. The anti-missile laser would
work on the same principle as
the aircraft-based laser; the
anti-aircraft laser would shatter
the cockpit canopy of enemy
" The Navy has made efforts
to develop a laser weapon for
shipboard mounting, to be used
against other ships, planes and
missiles, but hopes have been
dampened because lasers are
largely ineffective in humid or
foggy environments.
* Research contracts have also
been awarded for work on
lasers small enough to be
mounted on helicopters and used
by infantry troops. This includes
research into "laser-beam dam-
age in structural materials" -
perhaps leading to use against
enemy tanks and other weap-

THE PROSPECT of using a
laser weapon to knock out ene-
my satellites surfaced in mid-
December of last year. A source
within the Pentagon leaked a
story indicating that an Ameri-
can intelligence satellite had
been "illuminated" five times
by strong infrared radiation
from the western U.S.S.R.
The story surfaced only two
weeks after a warning in the
highly respected trade magazine
"Aviation Week," stating that
"The U.S.S.R. has conducted
numerous experiments with 'kil-
ler-satellites,' demonstrating the
ability to disable another space-
It warned that "the U.S. some
day may discover that its early
warning satellites, military com-
munications and navigation sat-
ellites and photo-reconnaissance
spacecraft are extremely vul-
Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld quickly called a news
conference to deny the "illum-
inated" satellite story, though
he conceded that an American

satellite had been blinded. A
source within the Defense De-
partment later leaked informa-
tion indicating the illumination
had been caused by a Soviet
natural gas pipeline which had
ruptured and burst into flame.
aver, speculation has continued
and the laser weapon race is
no longer secret. Peter Sch-
wartz, a Stanford Research In-
stitute research analyst who has
been monitoring laser research
developments for more than two
years, notes that last December
the Defense Department pub-
lished specifications for con-
tract bids on a defensive sys-
tem against high energy lasers.
"That indicated two things,"
he says. "We probably have an
offensive system already, and
the Soviets either have one or
soon will."
Schwartz represents a grow-
ing body of opinion inside and
outside the government which
holds that the escalating costs
and potential dangers of laser
weaponry should be openly dis-
cussed. He wants to see "multi-
lateral discussions with the
U.S.S.R. and other nations
which have the scientific ca-
pacity to develop the laser as
a weapon ... to be able to head
off the military applications."
But the man primarily respon-
sible for the invention of the
laser, Dr. Charles H. Townes
of the University of California-
Berkeley, believes Schwartz
overstates the dangers. The win-
ner of the 1964 Nobel Prize in
Physics, Townes believes the
high cost of laser weaponry
will ultimately limit its use.
"LIGHT BEAMS can be made
powerful enough to hurt peo-
ple," he says, "but I don't think
they are very effective weap-
ons ... the pistol is much cheap-


er, for instance."
As far as developing a laser
anti-ballistic missile system,
Townes said, "If one could shoot
down missiles with it, I'd be
generally in favor of it. I would
very much like to see a time
when defensive weapons have
the edge over offensive weap-
ons ... We could then call it
a 'life ray' rather than a 'death
Concern over the laser weap-
ons program is mounting even
within the Pentagon, where most
officials remain only cautiously
"The crucial question is
whether or not lasers can com-
pete against more conventional
weapons in terms of cost-effec-
tiveness," says one Defense De-
partment official. "If they can's
- and I personally don't think
they can - we will be out over
one billion dollars with very lit-
tle to show for it."

l never lose a primary.. ; or an election!'

'Snuff': On-screen slaying deifies death

Wilson: A good man gone

BRITAIN'S Prime Minister Harold
Wilson recently announced his
plans to resign from office after his
unsuccessful eight year battle to as-
sauge the country's economic woes.
Wilson's failure to alleviate Brit-
ain's runaway inflation and massive
unemployment during his tenure as
Prime Minister cannot be attributed
to lack of effort or imagination. As
head of the liberal Labour Party, Wil-
son struggled to implement progres-
sive social programs.
The Labour Party has pressed for
more government intervention in the
economy, especially in the form of
nationalization of industry.
RUT WILSON'S desire to introduce
sweeping reforms in the face
of an economic decline inherited from
his political predecessor had to be
tempered by political realities.
Although Britain's economic plight
makes our recent recession look like
a picnic -- at 25 per cent their infla-
tion rate is highest among all Wes-
tern nations - Wilson and his Lab-
our Party must be commended for
nationalization on a broad scale. Na-
tionalization may not have been
News: Susan Ades, Phil Foley, J a y
Levin, George Lobsenz, Jeff Ris-
tine, Bill Turque, David Writing
Editorial Page: Marc Basson, Stephen
Hersh, Stephen Kursmon
Arts Page: David Blomquist
Photo Technician: Alan Bilinsky

overly effective in stimulating


economy, but, it does represent social
progress. The economic power in-
trinsic in the ownership of industry
belongs in the hands of those repre-
senting public, not private, interests.
And Wilson's government has be-
gun an inovative progra mto cope
with the unwieldy industrial bureau-
cracies, which represent one of t h e
major problems of fnationalization.
The British program centralizes de-
cision-making within certain large
companies. Modelling the manage-
ment of these corporations after pri-
vate industry, this approach should
make the companies better able to
compete in Britain's troubled eco-
A LTHOUGH the left wing of the La-
bour party has opposed cutting back
on social services, Wilson has astutely
recognized that there must be some
lid on governmental soendinz in or-
der to slow inflation, and that infla-
tion is at least partly responsible for
Britain's 1.25 million unemployment
Wilson's resignation will probably
have little effect on the economically
stricken country. James Callaghan,
the nation's Foreign Secretary, is ex-
pected to replace the present Prime
Minister. Hopefully, Callaghan will
also be progressive in formulating
national policy, while retaining the
moderation and diplomacy necessary
to keen the Labour Party united so
that it can carry on with its vision
of social reform.

WATCHING an actress ungla-
morously being hacked
apart was never my idea of
fun. Yet an audience of some
four hundred, at Detroit's Fox
Theater, was apparently willing
to do just that - nauseated, to
be sure, possibly consuming less
popcorn than they would other-
wise, but watching nonetheless.
Snuff is truly a film of our
time. Boasting a "genuine mur-

ned in all kins of intriguing plac-
One possible explanation for
Snuff is that the film is mere-
ly an attempt to cash in on the
sub-cult of "sick flicks" which
has been flourishing for many
years. Another is that S n u f f
is an attempt at cinematic
"art". Whichever of these ex-
planations is adopted, the phil-
osophical base is frightening.
If the first is the case, then

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'One possible explanation behind Snuff
is that the film is merely an attempt to cash
in on the sub-cult of "sick flicks" which has
been flourishing for many years. Another
is that Sunff is an attempt at cinematic
"art." Whichever of these explanations is
adopted, the philosophical base is frighten-
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films, he depicts a young moth-'
er giving birth and biting o f f
her child's umbilical cord in her
teeth. In another, a crazed out-
law woman chops up policemen
and eats them.
THIS, SO FAR, constitutes
some pretty high camp. But
Snuff takes itself seriously. If
indeed it is the deification of
death "art," then the actual
murder for art's sake becomes
a chilling variation on a scene
from Waters' Female Trouble,
where Divine brandisnes a gun
to a packed nightclub audience,
and bellows "Who wants to die
for art?" Someone volunteers,
and Divine plugs him. This is
not taken seriously by the aud-
ience or by Waters.
But what of Snuff? There is
no bloodless murder there; it
is the whole unlovely business
laid out at our feet, presented
for the audience's consumption,
with one of two bases: it is as-
sumed that either the audience
wants to see this degradation of
humanity (and will pay for it),
or that it is art.
Those who conceived the film

may be grossly cynical, a n d
the film makes adquate com-
ment on the state of their
psyches. Yet the most chilling
aspect is that they wouldn't
have wasted footage for some-
thing that wouldn't make mon-
And watching a woman hack-
ed to death (whether it's a

Contact your reps-
Sen. Phillip Hart (Dem), 253 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Rep. Marvin Esch (Rep), 2353 Rayburn Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.

real murder or not - it cer-
tainly looks real) is no kind of
entertainment. It is no kind of
art. It is obscenity.
Jeffrey Selbst is a night editor
and occasional film critic for
the Arts and Entertainment

Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep), Senate,
Lansing, Mi. 48933.
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem), House of
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, Mi. 48933.

State Capitol Bldg.,
Representatives, State

'\ F~ i: ':"i;;;r:}; 7° . r , 1;. Ii:Ss:.. .y.":.i:"{. wY . {.vvy"vv:y;{

der" on screen, the film h a s
been the subject of a massive
publicity hype in the past few
weeks. Releases, whose s o1 e
intent was to stir interest in this
sordid piece, have hinted a) that
the actress was really alive and
living in New York City, b) that
she was murdered, c) that the
film was made "somewhere" in
South America "as it could have
only been made there", a n d
d) that the film has been ban-

it clearly indicates that a film
producer feels relatively certain
the American public can be ex-
pected to pay to see a gut-curd-
ling display of twisted violence.
As for Snuff as art, let's look
at the film's spiritual predeces-
sors: John Waters and the Di-
vine series - Pink Flamingoes,
Female Trouble, and the 1 i k e.
Waters attempts a film art bas-
ed on the utilization of cinema-
tic Bad Taste. In one of his

Happenings .. .

Letters to the Daily

To The Daily:
THIS IS IN reply to M. Lu-
ther's letter of the 14th, con-
cerning "U.S. air attacks"
against Cambodia. M. Luther
shows surprising naivete and
gullibility in accepting the Cam-
bodian version of the incident.
So, let's look at the facts:
The Cambodians claimed that
three U.S. F-111s attacked Siem
Reap. The truth is, the nearest
F-111s are in South Korea, thous-
ands of miles away. For that
matter, there weren't even any
U.S. planes in the area, period.
Also, it is known that the Cam-
bodians are having trouble with
rebels in the countryside, fight-
ing against the new communist
government. It is only natural
that they would keep face and
not admit that they were hav-
ing troubles internally, a n d
blame everything on America.
The logic of the attack is tot-
ally ridiculous. U.S. p 1 a n e s
would never attack in such
small numbers against only one,
small insignificant target. It just
doesn't fit. The U.S. has no rea-
son to attck Cambodia anyway.
AS FOR lies, the communists
are experts. They are as bad. if

To The Daily:
PERMIT ME to provide Tom
Stevens with one example of
what Billy Graham's ministry is
all about. A few years back Bil-
ly Graham was preaching in
New York City at a crusade
meeting. The president of Ray-
theon Company (the youngest
president ever of that corpora-
tion) attended one of Graham's
preaching sessions and c a m e
under conviction of God's Holy
Spirit. He made a decision to
place his life in the hands of
Jesus Christ and was converted.
This man also happened to be
a friend of Charles Colson, one
of former President Nixon's
lieutenants. Colson had also
about the same time started to
come under conviction by the
power of the Holy Spirit and the
chance he discovered in his
friend from Raytheon deeply im-
pressed him. Colson later be-
came a Christian and began a
prison ministry while serving a
seventh month term in a Federal
correctional center. He is con-
tinuing this ministry and numer-
ous lives have already been
strongly influenced as a result.

(Continued from Page 3)
art, film or the concept of suc-
cess in America.*****
Blazing Saddles -(Ann Arbor
Film Co-op, Ang. Aud. A., 7,
8:45 & 10:30) - Western satire
that established Mel Brooks'
ability to appeal to a mass aud-
ience. Thematically, the film
doesn't exhibit any appreciable
artistic progress from Brooks'
Get Smart scripts, but those
were funny and so is this, in
a low-road sort of way. Brooks
will stoop to anything to get
a laugh, but even his most
banal efforts seem to w o r kkk
banal efforts seem to w o r k
pretty humorously here - al-
though Saddles' final, frenzied
climax falls thuddingly flat.****
The Harder They Come -
(New World, Nat. Sci. Aud., 7
& 9:15) - Jamaican Reggae
singer-turned-criminal becomes
a sort of folk hero to his fel-
Bonnie and Clyde-ish plot is
low countrymen. The film's
Bonnie and Clyde-ish plot is
pretty warmed-over stuff, b u t
the music and visual atmos-
phere are so infectious that
they tend to obliterate a n y
thematic shortcomings that
may exist.***
Emmanuelle - (Matrix, 7
& 9:30) - See Wednesday Cin-
Heidelberg Rathskeller -
Mustard's Retreat, folk, 9, no
Chances Are - Shooter, rock,
9, $1 to $1.50.
Golden Falcon - Melodioso,
iazz. 9:30, $1.

King of Hearts - (Ann Arbor
Film Co-op, MLB 4, 7 only) -
Say, I'll bet Alan Bates wins
again this week.***
The Charge of the Light Bri-
gade - (Ann Arbor Film Co-
op, MLB 4, 9 only) - Tony
Richardson's dramatic approxi-
mation of the historical events
precipitating the suicidal cav-
alry charge immortalized by
Tennyson. Richardson zeroes in
on the priggish buffoonery of
the military higher-ups leading
to thefamous blunder, and per-
haps lays on the irony just a
bit thick. But the film is vis-
ually exciting, and benefits
from solid performances by
Trevor Howard, John Gielgud
and especially David Hemmings
as the ill-starred officer w h o,
sounded the charge.***
The Three Musketeers -(Ann
Arbor Film Co-op, MLB, 3, 7 &
9) - See Saturday Cinema.
Juliet of the Spirits - (Ann
Arbor Film Co-op, Ang. Aud.
A., 7 only) - Neo psychedelic
study of a woman's fantasies
revolving around the ongoing
disintegration of her marriage.
Fellini's first color film; he
seems uncomfortable with it,
perhaps sensing a requirement
to pile in as many variations as
possible on his new-found ele-
ment. The result is a surreal-

low-key Amarcord.***
Flesh Gordon - (Matrix, 7
& 9:30) - See Saturday Cin-
The Wizard of Oz - (Cinema
Guild, Arch. Aud., 7 & 9:05)
- What can one add to a film
that every kid from four to
ninety knows by heart already?
Here's your chance to see it in
large screen - the one thing
TV can't match.****
The Chiminal Code - (L a w
School Films, 100 Hutchins Hall,
7 & 9:05) - Very early How-
ard Hawks film, unseen and un-
heard of by this critic.
The Great Waldo Pepper -
(Mediatrics, Nat. Sci. Aud.,
7:30 & 9:30) - Robert Re d-
ford stars in George Roy Hill's
concocted malemacho fantasy.
Say, did I ever tell you about
me and this German fella in
the war? I wonder what's be-
come of him . . . slick and ter-
Emmanuelle - (Matrix, 7
&'9:30) - See Wednesday Cin-
Mr. Flood's Party - Silver-
tones, blues, 9:30, $1.
Golden Falcon - Melodioso,
jazz, 9:30, $1.
Chances Are - Shooter, rock,
8, $2 to $2.50.
Blind Pig - Aldaberan, jazz,
9:30, $1.
Lomq Linda - JB & Com-
pany. 9:30, no cover.
Ark - Martin, Bagen, a n d
Armstrong, folk, 9, $2.50.
Bimbo's - Gaslighters, rag-
time sing-along, 6 - 1:30, 50c
after 8.


A&3~ ~


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