Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #58 - October 20th, 1997
This is the first post-Cassini launch newsletter... There are many summations of the events of the last few months which need to be written, and it will take a number of newsletters to get them all published. This issue shows a sampling of the approximately 450 emails received here last week, and our responses.
In the future we intend to concentrate on stopping the 1999 Earth flyby, discussing low-level radiation dangers, and discussing the growing problem of space debris. Other topics will appear as well... Thank goodness the launch was successful. 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide -- gone. Let's keep it that way.
Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI newsletter.
***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #58, October 20th, 1997 *****
By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman
*** The last "event" we took part in, prior to launch, was a rally at Lafayette park in Washington, DC, Sunday, October 12th.
The Washington DC rally on October 12th, 1997 was as very successful failure. News reports have pegged the number in attendance at about 70, and I think that is reasonably accurate. Maybe 100. Maybe a little more.
I was the first speaker, after a musical introduction. And I wish to apologize to President Clinton for an incident that occurred: Little did I know until after my speech, that someone had put up a sign reading "Clinton: Far more insane than Hitler" right behind the podium, and that sign was there for my entire speech, of course. I never saw it until afterwards, at which point I asked one of the organizers to have it removed. It was, although the person who originally put it up later presented it on stage during their own somewhat-less-than-brilliant oration.
Other speakers included Daniel Ellsburg (Manhattan II Project) who stated that the Cassini Earth flyby in 1999 is not even necessary. He stated that other routing of the probe would also work to slingshot Cassini to Saturn, although it would take a bit longer for it to get there.
Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass (Radiological Physicist, University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine) gave a chilling summation of his statistical studies of the effects of low-level radiation on human health. We will be trying to bring more of this man's research before the public eye in the future.
We would like to thank Ellen Thomas of the Proposition One Committee, who have been outside the White House continuously since 1981 to protest nuclear weapons, and Mark Elsis of Lovearth, who jointly organized the rally.
To the best of our knowledge, although there were nearly a dozen cameras present and filming, from who-knows-what-news-services (and secret government agencies), not one word from any speaker was broadcast anywhere. Yet the same day, the "venerable" Washington Post, in an article by Kathy Sawyer, published (page A-22) a quote by me in their story on Cassini. They spelled my name wrong. And didn't give the URL. Here's the quote: "As webmaster of a STOP CASSINI web site, I have heard from health physics professionals, aerospace engineers and lay persons. I have tried to follow their logic, but I am not convinced." The Washington Post article was mainly NASA PR, and even included the phrase "at most" to describe the 120 deaths NASA says the 1999 Earth flyby could cause. In reality that is an averaged value, combining many "worst case" accident scenarios.
(Here is the URL of the speach, placed online November 6th, 1997:)
I left for a few days of vacation afterwards, and although I tried to get online Monday because of the launch delay, I was unable to do so. When I got back last Friday there were approximately 450 email messages waiting, which I have worked on over the weekend. A sampling appears later in this newsletter.
*** Recent web stats for www.animatedsoftware.com:
Here are the web stats for www.animatedsoftware.com for the past few weeks and for the individual days of October. Note that these numbers have not separated out the Cassini portion from the rest of the web site. Prior to October the Cassini portion was averaging less than 20% of the total hits at the web site. In the first half of October this went way up, to perhaps 80% of the total. Our estimate is that approximately 10 "hits" represents one person, but this is a very rough guess. Total exposure, due to server caches, redistribution, printed distribution, etc. is probably far higher than these numbers suggest.
Totals for Summary Period: Sep 14 1997 to Sep 20 1997
Files Transmitted During Summary Period: 41,213
Totals for Summary Period: Sep 21 1997 to Sep 27 1997
Files Transmitted During Summary Period: 44,798
Totals for Summary Period: Sep 28 1997 to Oct 4 1997
Files Transmitted During Summary Period: 55,405
Totals for Summary Period: Oct 5 1997 to Oct 11 1997
Files Transmitted During Summary Period: 104,708
Totals for Summary Period: Oct 12 1997 to Oct 18 1997
Files Transmitted During Summary Period: 119,984
Daily Transmission Statistics:
5320 | Sep 28 1997
7845 | Sep 29 1997
7975 | Sep 30 1997
7651 | Oct 1 1997
8578 | Oct 2 1997
6914 | Oct 3 1997
11122 | Oct 4 1997
18249 | Oct 5 1997
17399 | Oct 6 1997
12651 | Oct 7 1997
10718 | Oct 8 1997
10778 | Oct 9 1997
15512 | Oct 10 1997
19401 | Oct 11 1997
28038 | Oct 12 1997
24230 | Oct 13 1997
18114 | Oct 14 1997
24280 | Oct 15 1997
12957 | Oct 16 1997
7400 | Oct 17 1997
4965 | Oct 18 1997
These are a lot of hits, I think. About 70 countries/protectorates/colonies/domains/etc. "checked in" last week alone, prompting someone to write us: "[I] bet you're a burr under the saddle of 'The Powers That Be!'" I hope so!
For a more complete history of statistics for our web site, please visit:
We have heard that in Canada alone over 300 petitions were delivered to their Prime Minister. Also many thousands of signatures were collected in Germany as well. And tens of thousands in America. I call upon President Clinton to disclose the statistical data regarding the anti-Cassini movement's efforts to influence him. Obviously, in the end we failed to move him, but only his staff knows how strong the movement's combined effort was and how many people contacted him, and I think the public is entitled to that information.
*** From the mailbag: Why the battle raged late into the night...
At 12:26 AM 10/14/97 "L" wrote:
An argument I just thought of regarding the claim some make that everyone should have protested sooner instead of right at the end after the money was spent is (besides the fact that FCPJ has been protesting for a long time) is that NASA didn't write the wonderful environmental impact statement that NASA supporters point to as evidence of how safe it is until 1995 and didn't totally finish it till this spring -- both things happened after they'd spent money on the project -- so the EIS was likely done to justify the mission not unbiasedly analyze its safety. It would be easier to buy the idea the EIS was a fair, unbiased study, had it been done prior to the expenditure of funds on the project, say, back in 1990 when they wrote the plans. The EIS should have been studied and ok'd FIRST before going thru with paying for development of the mission, not at the last phase of the project. And besides, as Horst Poehler has pointed out in his essay called "Cassini Cancers," (which was apparently read by the LA Times writer), NASA exaggerated the reliability of projects before "to the risk of fantasy" per the findings of a scientist on the presidential Commission studying the Challenger accident, and as Dr. Kaku has pointed out, NASA's figures seem made up, so the risk assessment in the EIS seems an all around joke of a study. Anyway, I don't know if this thought about the lateness of the EIS will help anyone in argument any, but I thought I'd throw it into your arsenal of arguments in case there is something to this idea.
*** From the mailbag: Throw me in jail!
At 05:35 PM 10/12/97 "someone" wrote:
How can you be so ignorant to be against the advancement of science? Science is what got us out of the stone age and into the space age. If we don't try to advance in our scientific knowledge we will remain stupid for our time and I refuse to remain stupid. I want to advance and learn about the universe we live in to answer questions like how did we get here and where are we going. Saturn is next on the schedule of knowledge and NASA will send the Cassini whether you like it or not. Science must advance and will advance even with all of the nuts and hippies protesting. If you want my opinion they should throw you and every other anti-science idiot in jail for this betrayal of science.
If you like science so much why do you put up with NASA's dishonesty, such as outlined especially in section 2-12(e) of my rebuttal to NASA's rebuttal of my comments on their Draft SEIS on the Cassini mission, and elsewhere at the STOP CASSINI web site? Furthermore, if you like science so much, why have you chosen to "remain stupid" about the dangers to a global population from plutonium 238 in vaporized form, which obviously you have chosen to do? And lastly, if you like science so much, why do you want to throw people in jail for their beliefs? Do you think science could operate successfully in such an environment?
Here is the URL of the rebuttal to NASA's rebuttal: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/cassini/dsei9707.htm
*** From the mailbag: Nothing to counterbalance what I have stated.
At 09:41 PM 10/13/97 "E" wrote:
I find it very upsetting that you claim your website to be 'fair'. This is far from true. You have nothing to counterbalance what you have stated in this page. I know that you have your opinion, and you are more than entitled to it. But if you want to be fair, try listing some pros, instead of being the foreteller of doom that this page is.
Thank you for your email. If you read our newsletters you will find numerous statements, unedited, which serve to counterbalance our views as best the opposition is able to. Also you can find, throughout the site, links to NASA and other pro-nuclear Cassini sites. And we answer, line by line and paragraph by paragraph, NASA and other documents.
This is far more than any pro-nuclear Cassini site has done. Far, far more. Your accusations are thus entirely unfounded.
Thank you again for writing to express your views.
*** From the mailbag: I'm dangerous when I sit at my computer...
At 12:54 AM 10/12/97 PDT "K" wrote:
Your webpage, and the whole 'Stop Cassini' movement is an act of irresponsibly and childishness. The space program is the future of mankind. Groups like this that play on public fears and news-media hype are a far greater danger to our future than a space probe designed to increase our knowledge and expand the limits of the human race. The probe was designed and built by people who have families. They would suffer as well if the probe were not safe. There is a certain element of risk. However, all worthwhile endeavors involve risk. The danger posed by this probe is considerably less than you driving your car or just sitting at your computer. Let's try to be a little more responsible in the future.
Thank you for your email, shown below.
The space program may indeed represent part of mankind's future, but if Cassini is a representative sample of your sense of urgency and lack of balance, the space program is willing to destroy the blue jewel (Earth) in order to find a barren solar system, and probably, eventually, a barren galaxy. And for what? Because NASA could not find an alternative to RTGs? We didn't try to stop Cassini, we tried to stop an ill-conceived and dangerous Pu-238 laden madness. What do you know of the hazards of vaporized Pu-238?
We did not play on public fears, and the vast majority of the news media were a lot kinder to NASA than they ever were to us. Or do you see that with rose-colored glasses as well?
The probe was designed and built by people who passed the buck on the risks and the dangers. Sure everything involves some risk. But if, as NASA has done, you pretend the risks are not as great as they actually are, then it is not proper to then go around saying this venture is "worth the risk". First, define the risk properly. Then we can decide, as a nation, if this is worth the risk. Instead NASA did not tell the nation a thing about the RTGs. It was left to us to do that. Look at Popular Science's big cover article last month. They and their risks are not mentioned (one caption points to them, that's all).
If the space scientists were the only ones to run a risk from Cassini, I couldn't care less what risk they wish to suffer. Some have told me they would accept a one in two chance of dying to get to outer space and that's fine if that's what they want. But when they apply that risk to a GLOBAL population, and do so in such a way that they themselves will not be culpable or be held responsible if an accident occurs (because you will not be able to identify WHO died from a Cassini accident, which does NOT mean those deaths would not occur) I feel it is irresponsible and unworthy of our tax dollars.
Furthermore, we have documented a number of lies NASA told to convince a gullible public, that the Cassini risks are less than they are, and that the RTG alternatives are not as capable as they are (see our report on the 1981 Rockey report, for example, expecially section 2-12(e) of our official rebuttal to NASA's official rebuttal of our comments on the April 1997 draft SEIS). This is the sort of bad science you are supporting, and your callus name-calling cannot change facts.
Thank you again for writing. I hope you will research the issues more thoroughly before you support NASA lies and bad science so whole-heartedly.
*** From the mailbag: Propaganda, half truths, and outright lies.
At 01:56 AM 10/15/97 "D" wrote:
Hello Mr. Hoffman,
I am a pro-Cassini American, but I have also examined the "other side" of the anti-Cassini protesters. You're "Stop Cassini!" web site is most interesting and I actually took the time to read most of the articles posted on it. Without being rude, I must say that I have never seen a web site so full of propaganda, half truths, and outright lies. Do you actually think intelligent people will fall for your tricks? Come on! Sure, some people will believe your twisted view of reality, but not many. Take note - only 500 protesters showed up at the NASA gates last week. Not very impressive, Mr. Hoffman.
I'm not sure why you have this need to cut down NASA, but I think the following sums up your agenda rather nicely --
There is a certain trait evident in human nature which people like you seem to possess to a greater extent than others. It derives from a state of insecurity and low self-esteem and shows itself in the actions of yourself and other anti-Cassini protesters who wish to make themselves look good by making NASA look bad. People like you who can't gain respect for your own merits feel obliged to try and tear down those who do. One sees it in anti-Cassini protesters who try to prove their aloofness by criticizing the actions of those who actually do something to benefit humanity. A big advantage to such an attitude is that it keeps them so involved in other peoples' lives that they need not examine their own. It's people like you grim-faced protesters who are stirring around in the dark places of life hoping to find something about NASA - anything at all - dirtier than their own reflection. And if you can't find anything - no problem - you'll just make something up!
Now, I know you're saying to yourself: "Oh no, no, no.... everything on the web site is accurate and is the truth!" To put it bluntly Mr. Hoffman: "No, it is not!" You know you're lying, OK. I do not expect you to fess up, you won't. But deep inside, you know you're full of it. You have to live with that. Meanwhile humanity will go on exploring space and seeking the answers to the big questions.
As I write this I am watching the perfect launch of the Cassini probe. And I mean PERFECT! It was a beautiful sight and it made me proud to be an American, [darned] proud! Tell me, Mr. Hoffman, how did you feel when the Cassini launched?
Thanks for your rude email (though you claim you were not trying to be rude). You accuse me of tricks, lies, half-truths, and propaganda. Yet you bring forward NOT ONE EXAMPLE. I am not surprised, because your accusations are false or, of course, at best unprovable (because, as we have often stated, NASA is guessing on many things).
We of the anti-nuclear Cassini movement don't make NASA look bad --- NASA does that. We only expose their foolishness.
By the way, if you took the time to check out the rest of my web site it would be pretty obvious to you that I have been well respected for my "merits" over the years, and thus it hardly follows that my opposition to Cassini was done for some sort of ego boost or whatever it is you think, and anyone with the least bit of care can surely see that. I was already listed in many "Who's Who" publications over the years; I have lectured to grant recipients of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and many others, my work has been very well received. You are so far off base it's disgusting. I doubt you've read the web site nearly as well as you claim.
Perhaps I will write about my feelings when Cassini launched at another time and if so, it will be made public if you wish to read it, but I will not answer your question, since your entire letter is accusatory and insulting, unfair and unjust. It is clear that you know little or nothing of the things you try to write about. Get a life and learn the truth. And next time, I suggest you pick on someone with an intellectual capacity more equal to your own, however rare they may be. I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find them. But it will be hard -- lobotomy's went out of style some time ago.
*** Will wonders never cease?
Well, just a final Cassini note...YOU were thanked in Bruce's last email to his network. Congratulations.
* The FCPJ web master Joe McIntire worked daily to keep our Cancel Cassini web site up-to-date. Also credits to other webmasters Jane Prettyman, Russell Hoffman, Mark Elsis and Robert Cherwink for their hard work.
At 08:56 PM 9/12/97 Bruce Gagnon wrote:
Russell, I just saw your most recent newsletter where you take another shot at me for the national media not mentioning the N.Y U.N. demo. You asked the question, "WHO" didn't tell them about this event. Once again you show the world how you open your big mouth without the facts. If you would take the time to watch the video from that Sept 8 press conference you will find that I DID IN FACT mention the Sept 20 and Sept 28 demos. As to why you were not invited. That press conference was organized, and the room paid for by the FCPJ, and we are able to invite who ever we wish to. Why don't you organize your own events and get the media to cover them. Why do you assume that it is my job to organize events for people like you who shoot from the hip? Get real! Bruce Gagnon
To: Bruce Gagnon
From: Russell Hoffman
BCC: Wouldn't you like to know?
Re: Your newsletter statements versus your statements directly to me
I see from sources unnamed that you have lamely thanked my for my efforts in a recent newsletter. You know as well as I do you don't mean a word of it.
You are not entitled to privacy in your correspondence to me, because you are a public figure, you have refused to cooperate or even talk to me, and you have made public statements about me. Nor have you asked for privacy. I therefore will publish this gem [shown above here] in my next newsletter to balance your gratuitous and disingenuous [garbage].
If you wish to say anything about me in public in the future, make sure it's the truth.
AND IN CONCLUSION...
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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