STOP CASSINI Newsletter #140 -- June 19th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: The greatest technological achievement of all time: STOP CASSINI #140

Date: June 19th, 1999

Time Frame: There are 5 days left to demand that NASA smash Cassini into Venus, the best thing we can do with it.

Today's Subjects:

(1) NASA admits to its mistakes, but can't see past its apology:

In newsletter #138 we presented a report from James Oberg stating that Russia had flubbed the "commanding" given them by NASA, to move the International Space Station (ISS) away from the path of some potentially intersecting space debris (apparently of Russian origin). There are millions of smaller pieces of space junk, which cannot be tracked but are plenty big enough to rip a devastating hole in the space station. Avoiding this untracked space junk is entirely a "hit or miss" kind of a problem. But when it's a piece big enough to track, normally, avoidance maneuvers are executed. However in this instance the rockets did not fire, according to NASA. (According to Oberg, the ISS was left in a "free drift slow tumble".)

Both of my local papers (The North County Times and The San Diego Union Tribune) are reporting that NASA says it was NASA that goofed up the maneuvering of the space station. The NCT headline was, "Flight controllers botch maneuver" and the SD U-T headline was, "NASA goof nearly lets orbiting junk hit space station".

The SD U-T article points out, as they always do for articles like this, that U. S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado tracks "8,700 manmade objects in orbit, most of them junk". It leaves unmentioned that for each object tracked, there are at least a hundred which are nearly as dangerous, but too small to be tracked. It leaves unmentioned that most of the smaller objects are also manmade, the result of a CARELESS and SHAMEFUL space debris policy for the first 5 decades.

NASA Deputy Program Manager for Space Station Operations Frank Culbertson (who always seems to get to give the bad news, perhaps because he has such a convincing *long face*) says they'll learn from this latest gaff.

Why can't they learn the one lesson that would actually do some good -- that THEY AREN'T PERFECT? Sure, they won't make THAT EXACT MISTAKE again (for a while). But what about all the other mistakes they might make? Sure you say, space travel is risky. I agree. That is why we pay astronauts the big bucks to go up there, and why astronaut service is voluntary (but, oh how I wish they would start accepting tabloid -- I mean Internet -- journalists!). But Cassini has 270 BILLION "potentially lethal doses" (defined in newsletter #70) of plutonium to spread around the environment if it fails. That's a lot different from losing one or seven astronauts (or more, when the ISS is fully staffed).

If ISS can be maneuvered improperly, so can Cassini. There is absolutely no reasonable alternative opinion. And if NASA rocket scientists are to blame, not Russian rocket scientists, then that's certainly all the more reason to question their ability to do things right. After all, then it's the same group -- our own NASA, who are the bumbling idiots.

However, even if it turns out that Mr. Oberg is correct and the Russians really were at fault (which would mean that NASA is now covering for them!) it would not mitigate NASA's record of failures or the potential disaster that would occur if Cassini is maneuvered incorrectly.


(2) I guess these guys never heard of the Internet:

While looking for a NASA statement about their dangerous gaff last weekend (see item #1, above) the following hyperbole was found:

----- FROM -----

"On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body..."


I beg to differ. Now don't get me wrong, I was mighty excited when it happened and it seemed pretty impressive. And I hope we colonize the moon in my lifetime. (But will someone born there have the love-of-Mother (Earth) we expect all Earthlings to naturally have?)

Despite the excitement felt by all (including this editor) during the moon landing, I believe that the computer, and specifically the Internet, and even more specifically the World Wide Web, is really the "single greatest technological achievement of all time".

I will gladly debate that with anyone. And may I remind readers that I am PRO-colonization of the Moon, Mars, and other planets if possible (even Venus!). I believe NASA can do wonderful things to help us explore our world, and the solar system. (If only they weren't a mere cover-up for a military agenda (but they are).)

But human intellect is the key. It is thus more important to spend our money and our efforts teaching tomorrow's generation of scientists, than it is to spend our money and efforts on ANYTHING anyone will accomplish today. And it is more important to -- in the immortal words of a famous chain of rock bars --"save the planet". Why? Because it is a blue jewel full of life in a bleak and deadly universe.

Every day this planet survives, we have accomplished more than what that one small step could do. We live in a world where, for the first time in history, one's word, if it's good enough, if it's true enough, if enough people come to believe it, can spread throughout the world, on a fiber, through the ether, into every home, school, office -- anywhere people care.

The computer is the most wonderful invention ever. Sorry, Goddard. Sorry, Von Braun. Sorry, Mssrs Wright. Sorry Edison. Sorry Marconi.

All those things those folks invented -- those were THINGS. The Internet is not a thing, it is an idea. It is all the ideas at once. It is everything. It is audio. It is visual. It is animated. It is still. It is reading, it is watching, it is listening, it is speaking. It is lies, it is truth, it is the future, and holds the past within it -- and more is being added every day. What it has most of is what is happening today. Thus, it is what matters most.

Looking back into recent history, as NASA has done, to find our greatest technological achievement ever is correct, but it wasn't that small step, or giant leap, or whatever you want to call that hop off the lowest rung of the ladder onto the lifeless dirt of a desolate neighbor. No, not at all. It was the invention of Turing's "thinking machine", followed by Colossus during World War II, followed by ENIAC and its legions of tubes, then the transistor, which was followed by silicon "wafers" with etched electronic switches, diodes, resistors and so on. It was the little 4-bit microprocessor which begat an 8-bit puppy, and then 16 bits (where I'm still stuck), and then 32 bits and (mostly for games right now) 64 bits.

And it was the invention of fiber-optic communications systems so that we can have not just CSPAN 1 and CSPAN 2, but CSPAN 50,000 and CSPAN 50,001. (Of course, we don't have that yet, but that's a matter of public policy, NOT technology. It is technologically perfectly feasible.)

In short, it is our ability to communicate with each other. To share our thoughts, our experiences, our information, our data, our lives -- that is the greatest technological achievement ever. Perhaps some day we will be able to use all this ability to communicate for good, where the quiet voice of reason will win out over the loud drums of emotion. But without the ability to communicate, that could never, ever happen.

I believe it is the birthright of every citizen of every country to be on the Internet, with a permanent address which will ALWAYS be their's, even after their death, and with many -- untold billions -- of gigabytes for them to use. They should be able to seek out for themselves, the truth. And they should be able to speak out for themselves, about that which they know. These are our most basic, fundamental rights! To exist among the others! NOT to be insulated from the truth or shut out!

I fear the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) from a nuclear explosion because, aside from its obvious deleterious effect on nuclear power plants (causing them to melt down) it would also destroy our ability to communicate, and our ability to electronically store our knowledge and retrieve it. That would be a great shame. Poetry would be lost, and science, and opinion, and statements by great people. All gone in an instant.

I don't want that to happen. If society is to make progress, it must FIRST ensure that it will not lose the knowledge it has already gained. Go to your local library and ask them for a copy of the United States Government report from 1962 (the "updated" version) of THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. (AFP 136-1-3), prepared by the United States Department of Defense and published by the United States Atomic Energy Commission, April 1962. (730 pages, plus a *plastic* "Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer" in the back pocket.)

Dollars to donuts says they won't have a copy, but it should be on every CITIZEN'S SHELF, let alone in every library in the country. It and a million other books. The library should be where citizens can go to look things up, important things, things that matter to them, and that can affect their health, but instead we are expected to travel to Washington D. C. to go to the Library of Congress where (hopefully) there's at least THREE copies of everything.

But, NOW we have the Internet! It is there that the knowledge is, and when people unfairly accuse other people of spreading lies and disinformation, those charges must be answered vigorously. For the Internet holds the truth, AND the lies, and what differentiates them? I guess it's just the quality and the quantity of the shouting that goes on around something. Certainly, if you believe the things I've been saying in these 140 newsletters is correct, then you need to shout it out today! I can only try my best to say what I believe to be true, from everything that I have learned, and the shouting will go on regardless.

I don't think it is actually all that difficult to differentiate lies from truth, but it does take careful research. Such research is the heart of life's education. Do other things this person says ring true? Does it make sense? Sifting through the lies is something we all do, and get better at, all the time. First we learn there isn't a Santa Claus. Then we learn that when you get to "be all that you can be" you might end up killing people for a living. Then we learn (if we haven't already) about the mortality of our own loved ones. And sooner or later, we start to face our own eminent fate. We slim down. We exercise. We stop smoking. We die anyway, and life goes on for the living. In the end, all we can hope for is that we made a little difference, because none of us can ever really hope to make a BIG difference. Some of us get lucky, but most of us who try, merely beat our heads against the wall endlessly until we die, or go mad and give up.

I don't like being accused of all the things I've been accused of in 140 issues of this newsletter. But I continue to publish, because I believe that what I am saying is scientifically correct, with just a touch more compassion than most science writers seem to have these days. Enough to make a difference.

In response I am sometimes called names, vicious names, which are intended to cripple my effectiveness. But merely calling me names does not make it so. I research what I write very carefully, and despite an occasional gaff or two such as anyone would make, nevertheless, I am confident in this newsletter's overall accuracy. I expect my readers to be confident as well.

I know that my reputation hangs on every word, and those who claim I don't do careful research have a long row to hoe. I am as sure of my views against nuclear power as I am on what the most amazing pump in the world is, something most people would probably consider me eminently qualified to say (it's your own heart!).

I defend myself vigorously on the Internet because it matters. Because it is where we all really live. If some day, that small step for man becomes the precursor to an Earth-free existence, so be it. I would be overjoyed! But it will take vast knowledge, and we as a society are not yet prepared to handle that knowledge properly. (If we were, we would not be constantly pushing ourselves to the brink of disaster.)

(3) Letter to Astronomy Magazine:

----- CLIP FROM -----

"Cassini's Nuclear Risk

As Cassini prepares to fly past Earth this August, the conflict rages between environmentalists who fear disaster and space explorers seeking to study Saturn. - David Grinspoon"

----- END OF CLIP -----


To The Editor:

It states at your home page that your upcoming issue is going to talk about the Cassini debate, pitting exploration against the considerations of the dangers of Cassini.

That's a RED HERRING and it's disgusting that you would pretend that is the nature of the debate. As you can check with Dr. Michio Kaku (, Cassini could have easily been replaced with AT MOST TWO, and possibly just ONE, solar mission. So there is NO DEBATE between "safety" and "exploration". There is only a debate as to whether exploration should be done honestly and safely, or backed by a military agenda, lies, misinformation and arrogance.

Please read [STOP CASSINI] newsletter #137, or any of the others, which I will gladly send you if you want to explore the REAL debate instead of an imagined debate that is not happening. [Note: All S.C. newsletters are posted at our web site. -- rdh] You should not be a part of this lie, and you should not present a debate which is NOT OCCURRING.


Russell D. Hoffman
Proponent of space exploration, observation, and colonization


(4) Bud Aaron demands $5000 for the right to publish his insolence

Yep, you heard right. Mr. Bud Aaron, he of Oceanside, California, he (according to him; I haven't actually checked) of Marquis Who's Who in the West, Marquis Who's Who in the World, and Marquis Who's Who in the Media and Communications (YH&OS is in that one too (or so I've heard -- I have a plaque on the wall -- but I haven't actually checked)), he with books published by Osborne/McGraw-Hill, Sybex, Howard W. Sams, Que and others (again, according to his "invoice"). THAT Bud Aaron emailed the editor of this newsletter an invoice in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5000) purported to be "for the use of my intellectual property on your web site in the form of private email correspondence".

He advises that he will "vigorously protect" his "intellectual property rights" and demands I remove "it" immediately from my web site or from "any other location controlled by you".

All this hassle is presumably because it's a lot easier to attack my right to defend myself against his accusations (published in the North County Times, June 17th, 1999, plus those which were emailed (unsolicited) to me a few days earlier) than it is to defend his original accusations against my document THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, which I have already defended (in newsletter #138) against Mr. Aaron's accusations. I assume the effectiveness of my defense is what's really bothering him. I mean, why not just start answering the essay point by point with references and data to balance it? Instead, what I had to defend against was: "Totally tabloid and false to fact", "wildly false in fact", "trash", "tabloid journalism at its worst" and "virtually no basis in fact", "disseminating false and misleading information" etc.. In addition, he claims to have eminently more relevant experience, which turns out to be nothing more than setting up strain gauges and the like.

Mr. Aaron should have expected a vigorous defense. And he has NO reasonable expectations of privacy when he sends me his missives. And he should expect to receive no quarter (let alone $5,000 bucks) in my response. I'm out here doing this to prove a point. The point is, that AMERICAN CITIZENS -- you, dear reader, me, your neighbor, your friend, your family, your fellow citizens -- have been lied to by the nuclear establishment.

I don't blame Mr. Aaron one bit . He had such a small part to play, and it must have felt so very patriotic at the time. He set up some gauges for some big firecrackers. Since then, the truth about radiation dangers has filtered out. NOTHING has been able to stop that truth, because, when one considers the facts, it is SELF-EVIDENT that humans and radiation don't mix. In fact, I believe a first-grader can understand the logic against radiation in the environment:

Radioactive substances cannot be destroyed. They decay at whatever rate a given substance decays at, and the substance cannot be made non-radioactive by heating it, cooling it, compressing it, molding it, mixing it or melting it -- nothing. Radioactive substances can only be diluted, and such dilution into the environment is a crime against humanity. Dilution does not weaken or reduce the CONSEQUENCES that can occur from radiation. It merely distributes the material around, to the point where the effect is statistically indistinguishable among many other effects (we all die of something). But, no one has a "mild" case of leukemia.

There are people supporting Cassini who, incredibly, claim there have been ZERO deaths from nuclear weapons testing; that there are ZERO increases in cancer rates around nuclear power plants; or even that a little radiation inside your body is actually good for you. It isn't. Your body receives ZERO benefit from radioactive particles in your system. Whether or not they destroy you is a hit or miss thing -- pure chance. What natural radiation there is in the environment, is more than enough. There is no reason to add more, or to distribute that which there is into the food chain.

These are the kinds of facts, simple as they may appear, which are denied by Bud Aaron and all the others who trivialize radiation dangers.

Instead we get the blind-faith nuclear arguments that the San Diego Union Tribune regularly presents, for example, as when it accused the Stop Cassini movement of all kinds of unscientific things in an editorial prior to launch in 1997. We get the BIG LIES like we saw the New York Times commit earlier this week, ignoring the sorts of statements Dr. Karl Z. Morgan was well known (and loved) throughout the anti-nuclear movement for, in their obituary. I spoke with Dr. Morgan personally several times. I wrote statements about those conversations immediately afterwards. But now, those statements will be questioned because ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT isn't.

I am personally quite convinced CNN is highly infiltrated by CIA operatives who disrupt its ability to present the news fairly. (I think you might ask April Oliver what she thinks!) But the nature of live news broadcasts is that sometimes, real stuff gets out! I would LOVE to have subpoena power to get the tapes I've heard once but not seen repeated on CNN, like about what was on board the TITAN IV that BLEW UP on August 12th, 1998 (note that wanting fully-indexed, transcribed access to all already-published reports is VERY DIFFERENT from asking a newsperson to reveal their sources!). I know I heard one of the keywords -- either "plutonium" or "RTG" in that broadcast. But it's been denied officially by NASA/MIL. For the record, I am utterly convinced that that rocket had a nuclear power source just like Cassini's. And it had ZERO "scientific" gain possible -- it was for spying on us Earthlings!

Oh, okay, there's some scientific gain there. The CIA gets data they can use. But with all the data they've been collecting (for and against us) all these years, how smart are they? They missed India and her nukes. They missed Pakistan's. They missed Russia moving into Kosovo. They bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, and have yet to explain how that happened to the American People (let alone, to the Chinese, who still today, aren't buying their explanations). They've had leaks, infiltrators -- the whole nine yards. They are at best a black hole of knowledge for humanity, and at worst, the world's "greatest" source of disinformation.

Well, maybe not greater than NASA. Watch carefully, and you will see EVERY NEWSPAPER IN THE COUNTRY buy NASA's line about "As it would happen" regarding why Cassini is going to threaten Africa more than anywhere else on Earth come August 18th, 1999 when it does the Earth flyby. But it's not "as it would happen" at all! It's something they can very, very easily control (it must be near the equator, but other than that they can control it entirely). That is a calculation they can adjust RIGHT NOW nearly 2 months out from the flyby! A slight change in speed now, a little change in the height of the flyby later, and they can be going exactly where they want at the end, but change the moment and place of most likely reentry practically at will. So where does it happen to end up? Just west of Africa.

Our nuclear weapons facilities operate virtually without any checks or balances, under the "Department of Energy" (DOE), an absurd classification. They should all be shut down and handed over to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those facilities are environmental disasters bigger than anything we have inflicted on anyone outside the U.S.. Indeed, in the course of "weapons testing", the United States military has attacked millions of Americans (including Native Americans, such as the Shoshone, on whose land many of the tests were conducted) and killed vast numbers of us. Not that there has not been an awful toll exacted on others as well. But the number of dead in America is staggering, and the toll will go up, and up and up. Weapons testing in the atmosphere is over. But weapons and power plant leakage, and the cleanup that must inevitably follow, has only just begun.

It's time for a reality check.

When Bud Aaron tries to destroy my credibility by accusing me of "tabloid journalism", it does NOT address the issues.

I didn't make this world the way it is. I just report it as I find it.

It's what I've been doing for 20 years, either in my educational software or in my letters to the editor, my web documents, and anywhere else I can get printed, which isn't many places because of the stranglehold the nuclear industry has on society. I sent many letters to the San Diego Union-Tribune about Cassini, but they never printed the truth about the dangers. The present editorial board will never tell about the dangers of the J. C. Stennis or of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, or even discuss their uselessness to America, when viewed from any long-term policy which accounts for the burden of the waste, the seepage, the leaks, the potential for melt-downs (from Y2K, WWIII, or human error, or whatever), or from a 1000 other weak points.

As readers may recall, I answered the charges brought against me by Bud Aaron in newsletter #138, and I denounced as baseless his claim that he has substantially more relevant experience than I. His experience was merely to set up pressure test equipment for "more than 12" blasts in the 1940's and 1950's, but he was representing that as some sort of credential giving him, in his words, "considerably more expertise than Mr. Hoffman". His response to my document doesn't actually reference any scientific documents. It is nothing but his prognostication from on high, because of his "relevant" experience which was, in fact, practically irrelevant!

For this waste of everyone's time, he demands $5000.

I stand by the article 100%. It was well researched. Americans should want to know the truth about what dangers they face. We should be the nation where truth rules. I do not believe there are any real experts out there who can dispute the many terrifying points I have made in that article. Perhaps someone reading this knows someone who can refute it better than Mr. Aaron can. Perhaps Dr. Bengelsdorf will eventually want to take a crack at it. But so far, no one has, and as close as Mr Aaron got has clearly just left him in utter frustration, with egg all over his face.

Better egg today than fallout tomorrow, Mr. Aaron.

Facing the truth is so very hard to do. I hope my readers will forward THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS to everyone they know as soon as possible. Nuclear war waits for no one. And it will surely happen some day, if we keep playing the game long enough. If/when it does, the article this whole brouhaha is about, tells what it will be like. It is NOT a pretty sight, but if you want to avoid it, you better know what it looks like:

The truth about radiation (and about the madness of M.A.D.) requires knowing far more facts than any soldier was told in the 1940's or 1950's, and that's a fact.

(5) Blast from the past: W. W. Schutz, General Electric, 1951:

This quote was brought to our attention by Pamela Blockey-O'Brien:


"It is possible to eliminate certain hazards by suitable physical or chemical treatments. Harmful bacteria can be destroyed by heat or by suitable chemicals. An acid can be neutralized by a base. A capacitor can be discharged. In contrast to this, there is nothing that can be done to a radioactive material that will change the characteristics of its radiation. Its temperature may be raised or lowered and it may be subjected to severe mechanical treatment or combined chemically with other elements, but it will still continue to radiate as before. There is no switch available which can turn the radiation on and off. No matter what treatment they receive, radioactive materials will continue to emit radiation in accordance with definite natural laws."

-- From: Radiation and Radiation Hazards, by W. W. Schutz of the General Engineering Laboratory of the General Electric Company, written in 1951.

----- END OF CLIP -----

Adds Pamela, "All 'dilution' in water does, for example, is spread it around."

What you can do today to stop the Cassini flyby of Earth:

To stop NASA's dangerous upcoming August 17th (note new date!), 1999 flyby of Earth by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, with its deadly cargo of 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238 dioxide, arrogantly launched in 1997 amidst strong protests, please start by contacting NASA/JPL immediately and tell them you oppose Cassini:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or
(818) 354-6478

NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions!

Here's NASA's "comments" email address:

Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: or

Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:


Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.

Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.

After you have acquainted yourself with what NASA is doing, please:



CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!

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