STOP CASSINI Newsletter #50 -- September 29th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #50 - September 29th, 1997


This is the 50th issue of this newsletter! Our thanks to all our readers, pro- and con-, who have stuck with us all this time and to the many (pro- and con-) who have emailed us over the months. And our usual welcome to all new readers. THERE IS STILL TIME TO STOP CASSINI!

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

***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #50, September 29th, 1997 *****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #50 September 29th, 1997 ******

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

*** Pro-Nuclear Cassini Counter-Protest Efforts: A letter to Jim Spellman


Some days are tougher than others...

My answers are interspersed within your original uncut document. My original comments are in bold italics.

My followup comments are indented.

Russell Hoffman

At 05:33 PM 9/30/97 Jim Spellman wrote:
In a message dated 97-09-29 15:11:11 EDT, you write:

I haven't heard anything yet regarding the D.C. event...

Read on. . .

I notice here they clearly admit to heckling...

Nowhere in that posting do I see an example where one camp was "picking on" (*heckling*) the other side -- unless you define shouting pro-space slogans as heckling.

Webster's, 1986 Edition, defining "heckle": "To comb flax; to ask awkward questions of a speaker at a public meeting."

So yes, I'll stick with calling un-permitted, sign-carrying, shouting opponents of a peaceful gathering of anti-nuclear Cassini citizens grouped together in lawful protest in the pouring rain "heckling", and I don't mean combing flax.

Your side could have had your own rally on another day to show the strength of your support -- not support for a Cassini mission to Saturn, mind you, but support of the plutonium -- support for the logic of attempting, with rickety rockets and untested containers, to throw 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide into space and then tossing it back at us two years later. But instead your side chose to be there specifically to disrupt the opposition, and try to take their coveted press coverage away -- a stated goal -- and you pretty well succeeded on both counts. I'm sure you're very proud for your crew. But you haven't won the battle for thinking people's brains, by any stretch.

There was reported to be either a few hundred, or perhaps "under 1000" people at the San Francisco rally (depending on which report I use) with NO pro-nuclear Cassini hecklers or protesters in sight. Did your guys forget about that one?

I knew about it: I passed the word to a couple of people I knew up in the Bay Area. I received one message back from an individual who could not go; haven't heard from the others; could be out of town -- or then again, maybe not worth their effort, since SF is the last bastion of "anti-anything" protestors (as opposed to, say Iowa ;-)

So what's you're point? No one showed up, yet you knew about it, and you personally asked people to go, and they either didn't get the message (technology failure perhaps?) or they didn't feel the urgency, or whatever. Where, Jim, is YOUR groundswell of support?

Never mind. Where's the logic of your arguments? And please: The NSS position paper is hardly an answer! I'll trash it -- I mean review it -- shortly. But it isn't very deep and doesn't anwer any specific anti-nuclear Cassini statements. It did an excellent job of linking to the opposition. I'm proud to have my site listed there!

As to the DC numbers, I guess we'll see what reports I get. Before the event, I told the organizer of the DC rally to send me pictures taken from far enough away so that it shows the ENTIRE crowd so we don't have to bother with estimates... Does your guy have any pictures showing both sides?

Based on these two new reports (which I've no reason to doubt), some photos are available on the NSS web site. You'll have to talk to Mark for photos from his side:

There have been enough reports now to see that there are the usual discrepancies but basically hardly anyone showed up for EITHER side. You are concerned about a non-event that does not change the facts about Cassini. Our guys didn't show up. Your guys didn't show up either. I thought you had an overwhelming majority yet you could barely muster what our supposedly pathetically outnumbered group of "activists" could gather! I saw the Usenet postings from your side calling for people to attend a counter-protest, by Mike Pelletier and others. We all know how hard your people tried to get your people to show up. Yet though you claim to massively outnumber us on paper, you could not do it in person. And in San Francisco, one of the largest cities in California, which is one of the largest recipient states of NASA dollars, your side could get NO ONE to attend a counter-protest and show support of the Cassini folly.

So where is YOUR grassroots support?

Should I guess nobody cares, Jim, not for your side or for mine? Face it: We both lost this round. America lost this round. America plans to spend at least two more billion dollars (or more) on Cassini before the end. And possibly MUCH more if it fails. And NASA is still riding the publicity wave of the highly successful Mars Pathfinder world event. Yet when serious scientific AND grassroots opposition to Cassini threatens to cancel the mission ("threatens" has been used in many newspaper articles, has it not?), and in the face of this opposition and despite the best efforts of your flagship DC membership and your own personal efforts, to show support and to help save the mission, you could barely rally 30 people in DC, and none in SF, to show that America is behind Cassini? The strength of our side has never been our numbers anyway, but now you've shown that your supposed overwhelming strength in numbers is yet another lie. But still, I think numbers have indeed always been your strength. Our strength has always been the reasonableness of our arguments...

Date: 97-09-29 09:30:47 EDT
From: Karen M Cramer

On Mon, 29 Sep 1997 wrote:

> Hey Kiddo,
> Just thought I'd touch base with you and see how you're doing.

Good, but very busy.

>How did the pro-Cassini counter-demonstration go? What exactly happened?

It rained all day. The anti-Cassini group postponed their demonstration until 2 but didn't have very many people. They had 4 marchers and a few people holding a banner but that was it.

They really oversold their demonstration. The press seems to have paid more attention to us.


They certainly did. See ABC News article which I respond to below.

Subj: NSS-Discuss/ Quick Report on DC Rally
Date: 97-09-28 17:59:22 EDT
From: Karen Rugg

[ NSS-Discuss message from Karen Rugg]

TO: NSS Supporters / DC Rally Participants
FR: Karen Rugg / NSS HQ
RE: DC Rally

A quick report from the rain-soaked pro-Cassini troops in Washington.

Although the weather did not cooperate (actually, a bit unusual for Washington), our people did. Thirty pro-Cassini demonstrators from DC, NYC, New Jersey, and Philadelphia gathered to walk a continuous circle directly in front of the White House. Our positioning for TV crews and photographers was prime.

Media coverage included the local NBC affiliate, the local Fox cable news network, Dutch TV, Associated Press, and NPR on their morning news summary for 9/29.

We began our rally at 12 noon, took a half hour break at 1:30 p.m. due to a torrential downpour, and then returned at 2:15 to rally until 4:00. We were unopposed and had all media to ourselves (NBC and Fox), because anti-Cassini supporters did not arrive until 2:00 p.m., when they were scheduled to have (according to their web page) a program of speakers followed by a candlelight vigil.

Candlelight vigils don't work in the rain. They must have forgotten to explain that to your people... But you guys always did have trouble understanding the forces of Mother Nature...

Their 17 protesters remained along the sidewalk on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue; four of those protesters would walk down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, shouting anti-Cassini slogans.

(NOTE TO RUSS: If you _do_ define "shouting pro-space slogans" as *heckling,* then I guess these four protesters are just as guilty. . .)

No, there was no speakers they were interrupting.

Favorite "pro" chants for the day: "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Cassini mission is a go".... "What do we want? Cassini! Where do we want her? Saturn!" ... "Preserve the Earth, explore space" ... "Choose knowledge, not fear" ... and, only when we were just about to finish and only when we were really tired and, even then, only briefly: "Don't be a weenie, launch Cassini!"

Such brilliant orators.

All in all, a good turnout and great dedication from all who kept going in spite of the continuous drizzle.

A jolly round of applause for everyone on both sides of the Cassini fence -- the side where the pubic is, and the side where the high priests of danger are.

Special thanks to all who attended, including representatives from Maryland Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, to Dwayne Day and his fellow students from the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, to NSS staffers Pat Dasch and Rob Pearlman, new NSS board member Greg Rucker and NSS chapter presidents Donnie Lowther and Greg Zsidisin (also a member of NSS's Board of Directors).

Gee, these hard-working folks will undoubtedly go far in your organization for their brilliantly organized opposition to the opposition. But they did not spend their time well. They have not fought the real battle. I wonder, considering the depth and logic of their slogans and arguments, whether they have even read the scientific and philosophical arguments presented by the anti-nuclear Cassini side? If so, where are their scholarly replies, which they could have written instead of gathering to show their meager numbers? Our documents are waiting to be answered.

But rather what the pro-nuclear Cassini "forces" chose to spend their time and effort on were attempting to outshout the desperate pleas of those who wish to warn the world one more time -- against seeming impossible odds, and perhaps to no avail (and despite a bone chilling rain) -- to what depths of madness we as a nation have sunk. I applaud those efforts and so should you. Even if you disagree with them. You could have let us have our say. If your side is right, what is it so worried about that it would try so hard (yet fail so miserably) to muster its massive forces against our pitiful band of "activists"?

And thanks to all who attended -- we'll be compiling a list of your names and formally thanking you in the future (and as we who were there know, despite the AP report, there was NOT an equal number of anti-Cassini protesters at the White House).

Be sure to visit the NSS website for digital images from the rally:

Good night from Rally Central!

Karen Rugg


NSS-Discuss - National Space Society member discussion (thanks ARInternet)
For more info, send to:
in body of msg: help
info NSS-Announce
info NSS-Discuss

Russell Hoffman

*** Florida Today's report on the DC protest:

Rain drenched the anti-Cassini protest in Washington DC last Sunday. Some speakers were forced to cancel, the start was delayed, and turnout was low (see story, above)

But despite claims of this being some sort of victory for the pro-nuclear Cassini forces, it was at best a draw. But considering that the anti-nuclear Cassini people are supposedly ONLY a small band of activists, and considering that the pro-nuclear Cassini forces made considerable effort to round themselves up, reportedly (by their own admission) coming from as far away as Michigan, I'd say the victory went to the anti's, by a microgram.

FROM: Florida Today, September 29th, 1997


About 30 supporters of the Cassini, an interplanetary probe headed for Saturn next month with 72 pounds of plutonium on board, rallied in front of the White House carrying signs that read "Cassini, go now!"

Across the street, an equal number of Cassini opponents listened to poems warning President Clinton that he would be known as "the president who brought the apocolypse" if the seven-year journey receives White House approval.

Occassionally, the two sides engaged in heated debates over the potential risk to humans if the space probe's plutonium were to make its way into earth's atmosphere.

"We have the right to say that we don't want the risk of plutonium over our heads," said Priscilla Felia, a member of an anti-nuclear group based in Long Island, N.Y.

Donnie Lowther, president of the D.C. chapter of the National Space Society, squared off with Felia, arguing that "the danger is overblown."

"It's easy to get people scared about radiation," Lowther said.



There is good reason for that fear, Donnie Lowther. People don't like losing loved ones to cancer and Leukemia.

*** San Francisco Examiner report on the SF protest


"Groups opposed to the launch gathered for a music-filled Sunday afternoon rally at Justin Herman Plaza and spoke to a crowd that organizers estimated at more than 300."

Perhaps most amazing is the SFE article closes with a quote from Mary Beth Murrill, as if she were there (she is a NASA PR person.)

And as usual, there is a link to NASA but no link to the opposition web sites, even though the article is supposedly about the opposition's protest!

*** ABC News Covers the News that Isn't The News:

We sent the following message to ABC News after reading their article titled "To Saturn, or Not: Cassiniís Plutonium Debated."

The original ABC article is located here:

We especially liked the caption to the picture of Richard Spehalski, program manager for the Cassini Saturn probe. It refers to the RTG containment system as "a box of plutonium". No journalist took credit for the article. I can't blame them.

~~~~~~~~~ OUR COMMENTS TO ABC NEWS ~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: Russell Hoffman

To Whom It May Concern:

It is frightening that you link to the NASA Cassini web site when reporting on a rained-out protest in Washington DC last Sunday but will not link to the anti-Cassini web sites as well, which have actually more of NASA's own documentation on the dangers of Cassini posted than NASA does.

Also, it is deeply disturbing that you repeat such NASA assertions as "NASA has been using plutonium for more than 30 years on space missions" as if this has been some sort of accomplishment, when in fact that use has occurred in the face of strong opposition from day one, opposition from RESPECTED AMERICAN SCIENTISTS such as Dr. John Gofman and Dr. Karl Z. Morgan. Other scientists opposed to Cassini and NASA's plutonium use in space include Dr. Horst Poehler, and of course Dr. Michio Kaku whom you did quote -- 11 words.

I suggest you visit our web site, and add a link to it to balance the link to NASA. Note that we link to NASA's web site, but NASA does not link to ours. We are an acknowledged voice of the opposition with thousands visiting our web site each week. Your job is to try to balance the reporting, is it not? Yet you only link your article to NASA, and not to anyone in the opposition? If NASA won't be fair, and you won't be fair, what are we, independent American Citizens who have researched the matter in great detail, what are we the people, who rely on ABC and a small few other international media news services, left with as avenues for legitimate and scientific complaints against Cassini? Where can our voice be heard, if even you will silence it?

Are we left with dropping our books and our studies and getting out and protesting in the rain to get your attention? And even then, you barely acknowledge our existence and use the occasion to offer more simplistic NASA PR?

Are you biased or do you just allow yourselves to appear that way?

Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI newsletter

~~~~~~~~~~ A RESPONSE ARRIVED SHORTLY... ~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 17:45:18 -0700
From: "L-Soft list server at Starwave Corporation (1.8c)"

Subject: Your message to ABC-CONTENT-L-request@LISTSERV.STARWAVE.COM

Tue, 30 Sep 1997 17:45:18
Thanks for bringing that error to our attention. We copyedit carefully, but--let's face it--we're human and sometimes mistakes slip through. Readers like you keep us honest.

Thank you,
ABC News.Com

A computer generated this response. But fear not--an actual person did, in fact, read your mail.


*** From the mailbag: Why not have a vote?

~~~~~~INCOMING EMAIL ~~~~~~

At 08:17 PM 9/29/97 "SN" wrote:

All I ask is that you place a poll on your Cassini page....

Do you support NASA'S Cassini mission? Or not.........and please, don't be dissapointed by the results.........

And leave you with this quote....

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out there. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid."

-Q (Star Trek TNG)


"If you do not wish to move forward. Step aside... and let the rest of the human race through."



Thank you for your email. You might be interested to know that a very recent newsletter (#48) sent people to an online Cassini poll. The newsletter is posted at the web site. Frankly, though, I am disappointed that people think it should be a popularity contest rather than a scientific consideration of the facts of the matter.

I think a better idea than posting an electronic voting station, would be to put an extensive CASSINI QUIZ at the site and see how many of the visitors can pass it! Better yet, how about a CASSINI QUIZ combined with a chance to vote? The more your score on the quiz, the more points your vote would be worth! I wonder how the voting would turn out THEN?

As to taking risks, I am not opposed to taking significant personal risks when one wishes to accomplish something wonderful. That's what heros are all about. But one should risk ones OWN life, not the lives of others such as Cassini is so aptly capable of doing. Also, humanity will move forward most when it recognizes the value each of us can contribute, and begins to utilize the human resources available but unused around the world to solve the problems which exist on this planet. Or is that why you wish to get off the planet -- because it is being trashed, in part by the very people who wish to get away from it so badly!?!?

Here is a quote from last Sunday night's OUTER LIMITS, about a space station invaded by an alien:

"Some say that the truth is only what we persuade others to believe. If so, we should be wary, for truth is easily and often hidden by the arguments of those who are false."

If I cannot see the truth correctly, perhaps one reason is all the documented lies NASA has told again and again, lies which persuade me (and others) that something most foul is afoot. But lies which, when they go unnoticed, as they apparently have with you, lull society into feeling that Cassini is not such a terrible and UNNECESSARY risk after all. Unnecessary not because we need not go to Saturn, but unnecessary because safe alternatives exist or are clearly being developed. This is NOT, and no leader in the movement that I know of ever said it was, a fight against space exploration and CERTAINLY it is not a fight against technology in general. It is a fight against a preposterous risk to humanity from a lousy (very lousy) 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide. At least, that is where my feelings are and that is what I see the true leaders of the anti-NUCLEAR Cassini movement expressing.

If the scientists who oppose Cassini, respected American icons such as Dr. John Gofman and Dr. Michio Kaku, are lying, well, I find that preposterous. If they are merely wrong, well, I have yet to be persuaded of that fact by your side, and I have been listening. Some have argued the case much more persuasively than you, (or at least they have put far more words into their efforts, and I think in some cases far more effort into their words as well, but I admit I really cannot judge that). None have convinced me, but it's not for lack of listening to their arguments.

Regarding your ending quote, I am sorry, but I see no reason to step aside for the likes of you and your careless concepts of progress. I'm afraid I find your views are unreasonable and unsafe, and I do not believe you represent progress to America or to civilization.

Thank you again for writing.

Russell Hoffman


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


Next issue (#51)
Previous issue (#49)

********* SUBSCRIPTION INFO *********
To subscribe to this newsletter just email me at
with the words:

Please include something else:
It can be an indication of where
you found our newsletter, or what you
read that made you want to subscribe, but
you do NOT need to include your name.

To unsubscribe email me and say

Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Available at the source by blind carbon copy
subscription ONLY--free. Subscription list never
sold or bartered or divulged (except if by
government order, and then only after
exhausting all legal arguments against such
disclosure). Subscribing in no way
constitutes endorsement of our positions and
may indicate opposition!
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman.
May be freely distributed but please include all
headers, footers, and contents or request
permission to excerpt. Thank you.


This article has been presented on the World Wide Web by:

The Animated Software Company
Mail to:
First placed online October 2nd, 1997.
Last modified October 2nd, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman