STOP CASSINI Newsletter #28 -- August 13th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index



Jane Prettyman was unfairly attacked by this newsletter and here is the apology. Also, a call to connect; where has Louis Friedman gone; and a bit about what we need to do next. There are 54 days left until Cassini launches...

Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #28 August 13th, 1997 ****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #28 August 13th, 1997 ******

By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman

Cassini correspondence

Note: In the item below, it should be 496 miles, not 312 miles. NASA raised it for the June 1997 FSEIS. Also, it is 72 pounds of plutonium dioxide, not "plutonium 238". It is about 10% Pu 239. The pro-nuclear Cassini people are very numbers-oriented. They find solace in NASA's fantasy numbers and they try to destroy us for comparatively minor mistakes...


At 10:37 PM 8/12/97, Jane Prettyman wrote:
>Dear Folks,
>Here's a small but effective payoff .... I asked Frank Knapp to take a
>look at our Cassini page and try to write something about Cassini on "The
>Jefferson Report," a popular e-mail transcript of his radio show. Others no
>doubt have contacted him, too. Sure enough did a great hit on Cassini and
>even added our URL. I'm very pleased because Jefferson Report is plugged
>into everybody under the sun in the liberal progressive world, including a
>few reporters.
>Russell will like the last line which he could have written himself.
>"The Jefferson Report" -- 8/12/97
> Radioactive Global Warming
>Global warming is an important issue but because the problem
>seems so distant, most people aren't too concerned. Well, I want
>to tell you about a different kind of global warming that could
>happen as early as October 6th.
>Plutonium-238 is an excellent source of energy because it
>generates intense heat which can be converted into power. The
>problem with this plutonium is that it is the deadliest substance
>known to man. On October 6th of this year, there is a small
>chance that Plutonium-238 will fire-up the Florida skies. That's
>the day a Titan IV rocket carrying the Saturn space probe named
>Cassini, powered by 72 pounds of Plutonium-238, is scheduled to
>be launched from Cape Canaveral.
>NASA scientists downplay the chances of an accident, but then
>they didn't expect any of the rocket launch accidents this
>country has experienced. But even if the launch is successful,
>Cassini is scheduled to return within 312 miles of Earth in 1999
>on its way to Saturn. Any slight miscalculation could mean a
>Plutonium-filled sky.
>Critics have suggested that Cassini use solar power for energy.
>One scientist replied, "If they took the time to redesign, the
>project could get canceled and the spacecraft might end up in the
>Well, I'd rather have Cassini in the museum, than innocent people
>in the graveyard.
>For more information on the Cassini probe, go to:
>(For a FREE e-mail subscription to "The Jefferson Report", a
>syndicated daily radio commentary, send "subscribe" message to
>Robert Jefferson at Reprint with permission
>only. Visit "The Jefferson Report" web page:
>Rob, Ironically, for all this fuss about my not (yet) having linked to Mr.
>Hoffman's page, I had a major letter about Cassini published in the Santa
>Barbara News Press today in which I referred readers to both your site (Rob)
>and to Mr. Hoffman's site. It was written about 10 days ago, before I
>stepped on Mr. Hoffman's toes with my ignorance of who's who in the
>anti-Cassini movement.
>More links will be added to my site, including Rob's and and
>Mr. Hoffman and others. We may also add links to the official NASA/JLP sites
>(so as not to appear like a *real* censor of the opposing view.) They would
>make for a dramatic comparison and readers can see for themselves how well
>hidden is NASA/JPL's discussion of the plutonium power source and how
>glibbly they describe the risks. We will also try to link to the NASA FEIS
>for reference from Dr. Kaku's critique.
>The title of our subsite is "The Cassini Debate: Where Is It?" Our aim is
>eventually over the next week or so to present both sides of the debate in
>microcosm and let readers use their own brains to see for themselves what's
>going on. This has not been built up yet. It's a small evolving subsite
>designed as a reference for news managers, while preserving my own style of
>subdued hysteria that, yes, does provide some of the energy of activism.
>You mentioned >> there is a sort of split in the Anti-Cassini Movement. <<
>I think it's a matter of different editorial styles, communication styles,
>and points of view, the more the merrier so as to show that Cassini is
>drawing attention from a variety of segments of society. Multiple
>independent points of view all coverging on the same essential wave length
>can be very powerful. It's like the principle of the value of diversity.
>Mr. Hoffman's unwarranted attack on me for not (yet) listing his site is
>separate matter about which I have commented (almost) sufficiently. I
>deserve an apology which I may never get, just to acknowledge the
>civilization we are all so actively trying to preserve when we fight things
>like Cassini. But an apology is not expected and I won't hold it against
>him, which preserves an even more important form of civilization, as I think
>Rob understands. I fully expect that in a few weeks Mr. Hoffman and I will
>be saying "Hi" to each other once we both get some sleep.
>Regards to all,
>Jane W. Prettyman
>Editor, The Real News Page
>Cassini: URL........./cassini.htm
To: Jane Prettyman
From: Russell Hoffman
Date: 8/13/97

Dear Jane Prettyman,

It is clear from your comments (shown below) that I owe you an apology for my remarks and for the opinions I expressed in my newsletter #27, August 11th, 1997. Clearly, as you claim, my remarks were misdirected.

I offer this apology in public with this newsletter. I offer it with shame and without misgivings, but I do offer some explanations, which are not given as excuses, but only as facts involved in my mistake. Jane Prettyman, if there is anything you would like me to add or explain in greater detail, I will endeavor to answer your request. I regret my mistake. If you want an apology in person, you may have that as well, wherever you are on this small planet. You deserve it.

My greatest sorrow in giving this apology is that you did not think you would get it.

Russell Hoffman

A comment to everyone:

First, I must put in a big thank you to all who wrote on my behalf to Jane Prettyman. I have to conclude at least a few of you did and my heart is warmed greatly by your support.

We have now less than two months left to stop, or even delay, Cassini. There are several things that need to be done. The first one is to interconnect, and that is why I was so hurt by what I (incorrectly) perceived as a slight and a brush-off for failing to list my (and other) STOP CASSINI web sites among The Real News Page sources. But make no mistake about this fact: Had I been right, (stressing, of course, that I now know it was only an oversight!) but had I been right, it would have been a grave mistake! And it has been done to me, on purpose, on this issue, by other important elements in the movement, and it is a grave mistake there too, right now. I have, indeed been silenced both within and outside the movement! But NOT by Jane Prettyman!

In a few days I will give a lecture, as I do every year, to several hundred people (probably, that's what usually show up) at the San Diego Computer Faire. The topic? I can't find the piece of paper that has the exact title (it's undoubtedly buried under a bunch of CASSINI documents) but it's something like How to Use the Internet to Distribute Information.

I mention this because we all know that Cassini, in the words of the latest news report after the upper stage booster leak was "fixed", is "back on schedule". So one thing that has to happen is the word has to be gotten out. Only the Internet can possibly do this. Only a vast effort to INTERCONNECT each other and get everyone to pass the message on to another and another and another all around the world -- only that will work in the 54 days that we have left. On this, I am an expert. On this, I have nearly two decades of experience and can stand up to other "experts". USE THIS INTERNET. I have been programming for 17 years. My one man company was the first to support AOL with an interactive download site (now "we" are directly on the Internet). My entire web site was built by one person -- not just the CASSINI part, but virtually all of THIS IS A POWERFUL TOOL. I have written interactive educational software for 15 years. I have built software tools and I have used software tools. My software programs that are over 10 years old got great reviews THIS YEAR from hospitals, doctors, etc. I know about software. I am not just a "concerned citizen" about the Internet. And I am telling all of you: Use This Tool. It is our only hope. Don't drop the connections.

But what should we tell people with it? Tell them lots of things, but most of all, tell them to tell others! Every school that is debating Cassini should contact other schools and tell THEM to debate Cassini! Every church, synagogue, mosque, business group, every wacko cult, every bridge club, every physicians' organization, political groups on both sides -- should tell every other one they are in contact with! Everyone should email everyone they know and say, "now is the time to oppose the nuclear degradation that Cassini can cause". Don't worry about mismatches. I have heard from conservatives and liberals, scientists and people who spell even worse than I do. I have heard from mothers, students, teachers . . . everyone. I am convinced that there is NO group of people which does not have a portion of people, however large or small, who are opposed to Cassini. And that's only among those that even know what "Cassini" is! So don't be afraid to talk about Cassini to people you hang out with! Proudly say you heard it on the Internet! You'll probably find that they are amazed and shocked about Cassini. Or, you will find that they heard about it too -- on the Internet!

The first time I saw the nuclear component of Cassini mentioned in the newspaper was just last weekend! The very first time! It said it's "controversial". Lots of controversial things -- happen! It was a three inch article many pages into the paper. Cassini will launch at this rate of opposition. I've been watching closely for about eight months, and I do not see ANY reason to think that Cassini will not launch. I hope I am wrong.

Your voice, my voice, any voice, every voice -- the more voices, the better, the more different voices, the better! If you don't like my voice, use another! But someone out there WILL like my voice over Kaku's, and Grossman's, and over everyone else's -- even yours! It doesn't dilute the message! It boosts it! It makes it more powerful!

I think that there needs to be a Congressional hearing. I see three distinct areas of focus:

1) How much damage CAN 72+ pounds of Plutonium 238 Dioxide do?
2) How likely are various accident scenarios?
3) What are the alternatives?

NASA refuses to discuss #1. They reduce the imagined amount that can be released to a tiny fraction of the total and they only imagine releasing it in a relatively unpopulated area. Then they continue to average, average, average until they find that on average, most people will live. Which is true as far as it goes but it doesn't go nearly far enough.

NASA makes up numbers for #2. There is clear documentation that historically, NASA's numbers can be off by one, two, three, and "many" orders of magnitude. That is not a small error! Orders of magnitude are huge errors! But discrepancies of such magnitude appear throughout NASA documents and indications that more such errors might exist (ie, lack of data) is rampant as well.

And #3, NASA's last hope, is a fraud. One of the key reports NASA uses to produce their summary execution of the solar alternative actually clearly implies the opposite conclusion! And Michio Kaku, a noted, eminent physicist (and fine writer and speaker, besides), and Ross McCluney, Principal Research Scientist at the Florida Solar Energy Center, and probably others I am unaware of, have answered with alternatives that should completely eliminate the need to even ask -- or answer -- questions #1 and #2! If solar would work, the risk is really not worth taking for ANY science gain!

This is the "out" that the nuclear energy society needs, but they have no way of taking it. If they can shake this monkey (Cassini) off their back, they won't have to appear in a Congressional hearing to answer, in public, issue #1 -- the dangers of low-level radiation. Dr. John Gofman and other noted, eminent scientists, whose reputations are irrefutable, are ready any time for that debate. We want to see it happen. So we don't really want to solve it by NASA jumping out all of a sudden and proclaiming that solar WILL work! It would be better, far better, than NO victory, but it would really miss the point we have all gathered together over Cassini. It would be better, I think, for the anti-nuclear movement to focus on #1, than on #2 and #3, because #1 applies to ALL nuclear battles, but #2 and #3, although easier (I think) to win, apply only to Cassini-type battles. But if we push hard, really hard, on #1, just watch: NASA will manage despite everything they have said so far, to make #3 (solar) work -- just because pro-nuclear forces do not want a showdown. We can win the Cassini battle, but if we win it for the wrong reason, we'll just have to come back and fight the "right" battle later. It still might be a victory but it will not be nearly as good a one.

I have talked to many pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear Cassini people, and I have read as much as I can, and I am convinced that NASA cannot win a reasonably fairly fought battle over #2 or #3. I have not been able to learn enough to know if they can win a battle over #1--the dangers of low level radiation. But frankly I don't think, really, that NASA stands any hope on that one either. But the public deserves the chance to find out.

Those are where I see the *real* battles. They do not involve me, although I hope to be able to observe the hearings and comment on them, as a "concerned citizen." But right now, I DO have a roll. It is to tell you all first -- you MUST interconnect! Or these battles, none of them, will happen. This tool, email and the Internet, this glorious gift from US COMPUTER PEOPLE TO YOU ACTIVISTS is being wasted, and that's what hurts. When FCPJ's Bruce Gagnon, the "default" leader of this movement, first removed all his links to my web site nearly six months ago, I was shocked. I already knew he didn't like me, though I never cared much one way or the other about that. I cared that he wouldn't connect. Then Fenton Communic@tions ignored me as well. What is going on, I wondered? Then, when I mistakenly thought The REAL NEWS had done it too, despite day after day of relentless effort, 20 hour days, 18 hour days... I admit, I was upset. Angry? Maybe. Hurt, certainly. I snapped? Yeah, I guess you could say that. Here, I saw an editor trying to expose the hidden story... and she follows along and hides me again like FCPJ and Fenton Communic@tions! And it's the worst thing this movement can do to itself! Fail to INTERCONNECT. I know this, because of who I am and what I've done in "real life". I am a reasonably famous computer person, listed in a variety of "who's who" books over the years, and author of some fairly well respected educational software products. I am telling you this: Here on the Internet, is our ONLY hope! On this fact and only this fact, I am an expert. (On all other Cassini matters, I am only a "concerned citizen".)

At this point, with 54 days left, we have to move fast, we have to move in unison, and we have to move with force. Only the Internet can do this. It was not here for the last "great" anti-nuclear battle, (Chernobyl?) and who knows, either it, or we, or both, may not be around for the next one, but for this one, which has become such a "hot button" topic lately, here it is! Virtually free, far reaching, fast. Let's use it before we lose it!!

I have communicated, as many people know, with many pro-nuclear Cassini people. Right now I have some very hard letters from them to answer, and I have several items at my web site, relatively minor I think, that unless I get hold of some good knowledgable anti-nuke experts to help me refute what I have said, I will have to correct, take back, and perhaps even apologize for. I need the help of qualified radiation experts to answer the onslaught properly. Right now this is a private battle. My pro-nuclear Cassini opponents have asked to be kept secret and have asked that I keep their communications to me private and I will, of course, abide by those requests. But we are reaching an impasse. I cannot respond because I am not a scientist. But I know that there are scientists that can.

But publicly, Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the Planetary Society, has challenged me to back up a previous statement of mine, that "millions MAY have died" from previous NASA experiments -- SNAP-9A and Apollo 13. Dr. Gofman is ready, willing, and able (despite his advancing years) to take up that challenge for us, and answer to any radiation expert Mr. Friedman cares to present or to Mr. Friedman himself, or both, in public, in court, in the open. But Mr. Friedman has dropped the ball. He has not accepted the challenge he himself proposed! (See my newsletter #24, which is at my web site.)

It MUST happen! What needs to happen in the next 54 days is whatever it takes to get Gofman and the others in court, in Congressional hearings, on T.V., and in the media. That's why everyone has to interconnect through the Internet. You know, people do constantly talk about shutting this glorious communications system down. It might happen, but it won't likely happen in the next 54 days. Maybe next time, there won't be an Internet to help activists, but it's here now and this may just be the golden age of democracy. Things we do here, today, will show if modern electronic free speech, A) can flourish, and B) can accomplish anything anyway.

People talk about how unreliable the Internet is for information, but anyone with a lick of sense knows the truth--it's as unreliable as any library, and bigger than any library too, including the Library of Congress. I have tried to build as complete a record as possible of the issues in the Cassini battle, up to now. Now, someone, anyone, everyone, needs to take over! Someone with those almighty "credentials", someone with connections, someone with at least half the passion I have put into this, but someone, mighty, mighty good. Don't, whatever you do, pick the wrong person! Be sure it is someone who understands the power of the Internet. There isn't much time. At this time, though, I know of no one who should lead this movement and I consider it leaderless.

I apologize to Jane Prettyman. But still, I must stress that The Real News Page web site, as announced, was all wrong not just for not having my site listed, but for not listing all the others it could find as well. That's no way to go into battle, with only a fraction of your ammunition! I'm behind you, Jane Prettyman. I support you. I will link to your web site. I hope we can work together somehow. I hope all those reading this understand what they need to do. There is no way ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or FOX is going to give us the hours and hours needed to explain this complex and yet compelling story. But hammer on the big mass media too! Let them know that you are going to demand that the ones that won't report on the STOP CASSINI battle should lose their FCC license, for hiding the news! Of course, there are good people in those organizations too. If you know them, reach out to them.

The Internet is the only hope. Use it. Thanks again to all who have written to help me in the past few days, and my apologies, wholeheartedly, to Jane Prettyman. And now, I am tired. I will wait, and watch. I have a speech to write. In my lecture I am sorely tempted to use the anti-nuclear Cassini movement as a good example of how to waste a good tool.

Not connecting is like cutting a tower in half. When you cut a tower in half, only a tiny fraction of the population who could see the tower before, can still see it. Each unconnected Internet web page cuts the tower in half. Each email or newsletter that reaches half the people it could reach, cuts the tower in half. And each person who does not forward something, or does not go to their friends about this, cuts the tower in half.

Russell Hoffman


Hi, Russell!

I accept your apology gratefully and know that it was never really about me but about the frustration we all have with the battles we wage against monumental resistance. I must remind you and your readers that The Real News Page is an effort to focus upon limitation of public information and our decision to tackle Cassini as an activist effort was taken with great trepidation since this is not all that we do around here. I'm a medical administrator to three psychiatrists 45-50 hours a week. My sig other is likewise desirous of my company (believe it or not), and so is my very dear cat "My Guy."

I entered this Cassini fray to try to do a little bridging into mainstream communications and news managers. The Jefferson Report is written by Frank Knapp, an Internet ally of a couple of years. I'm pleased that Frank picked up Cassini from my little site for his radio spot and eline and that I had time (finally) to put up a full set of links for all those Jefferson readers to tap into.

My point is that my time is limited to do much more than put up the subsite "The Cassini Debate: Where Is It?" to try to frame the thing a bit for news managers and educators, et al. I can't really deliver the e-mail exchanges with everybody that you can, Russell, and others who are reading this. Please don't think of The Real News Page as particularly important except to those for whom it is important. I'm trying to get some funding so that I can do a combo website, public access TV show and print newsletter promoting media reform along the lines of anti-trust actions, etc. That's my battle, really.

I hope you and your readers will check into the site and my editorial essay "Where's the News on Cassini?

Jane W. Prettyman
Editor, The Real News Page
"The Cassini Debate: Where Is It?" URL......./cassini.htm
Formerly at (the very old) Esquire Magazine



Please feel free to post these newsletters anywhere you feel it's appropriate! THANKS!!!

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


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First placed online August 8th, 1997.
Last modified August 17th, 1997.
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