STOP CASSINI Newsletter #246 -- December 26th, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999
STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index
To: Subscribers, government officials, members of the press
From: Russell David Hoffman (not giving up on the planet just yet)
Re: Never a dull moment: STOP CASSINI #246
Date: December 26th, 1999
This issue's subjects:
*** (1) Hawking complacency
*** (2) Losing site of the target (peace)
*** (3) Assassination as a tool of democracy (add'l commentaries)
*** (4) Can you please sum up 245 issues of the newsletter in one paragraph?
*** (5) Tell Clinton how you feel -- Official government contact points
*** (6) Newsletter subscription information
*** (7) Newsletter Authorship notes and additional URLs
*** (1) Hawking complacency:
Just my luck! I am compelled to denounce the comments of an amazing, much-loved and highly respected genius, just 5 days before Y2K. Hopefully, it doesn't get any worse than this! But as one of my final acts of warning that the world is not paying proper attention to the dangers, it would be improper to leave this man's comments on CNN's Larry King Live uncorrected.
Steven Hawking was on Larry King "live" last night, and Dr. Hawking "said" (his computer did the talking, of course) that he thought nothing particularly serious would happen due to Y2K bugs.
Even those of us who have warned with all the passion we can muster about the POTENTIAL dangers of nuclear war, meltdowns, fuel dump and spent fuel pool disasters, etc. etc. do not think it is MORE likely that something will go wrong than that it won't. I think all of us expect -- hope -- pray -- that we will all be able to wake up and smell the coffee next year -- without tasteless, odorless, colorless plutonium and other radioactive particles mixed in.
But the real question to be faced is, are we prepared properly in case Y2K or some other unrelated (or related) emergency occurs? NO! KI is not being distributed in the United States -- is there any good reason why not? The vast majority of people are NOT storing food and water -- why not? For the most part we are not prepared for Earthquakes, floods, fires, riots, wars, tornados, Tsunamis, asteroid impacts or fascist dictators with charisma. Why pretend for a moment we as a society are prepared for Y2K?
But all those problems pale compared to the dangers of a meltdown or a nuclear war. A nuclear meltdown, caused for example by something as predictable as the phone lines being down such that special experts offsite from the accident could not be contacted, IS possible. Computer failures among the thousands of computer systems in the nuclear power plants which were upgraded for Y2K are possible. At my local nuke plant, San Onofre, over 3,500 computer systems needed Y2K study, of which about 1% needed remediation. Mistakes happen, even while fixing earlier failures. Riots are possible. Grid failures are definitely possible. No one really understands exactly how the grid works anyway (I'm told).
And nuclear war -- it might happen. There are certainly better ways to prevent it than having Boris the Notorious putting his newest missiles on "Red Alert" whatever that is, last week.
All sorts of catastrophes MIGHT happen, and most of them can be reduced in likelihood if the proper steps are taken now.
Nuclear power plants, which supply only a small fraction (about 20%) of the electrical power used in America on average, will NOT be needed during the Y2K rollover when so many things are shut down anyway, so why shouldn't they shut down for a few days and reduce the likelihood of problems? In fact in many parts of the country they barely are needed for anything more than summer air conditioning needs. Besides, a three-day power outage is relatively minor compared to a meltdown by any yardstick (except, perhaps, one held by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, better known as the NRC, which is currently both toothless and dangerous because of its lack of regulatory effect).
Shutting down the nukes now is a safe and reasonable precaution. Sure, they can probably be shut down quickly if an emergency appears to be impending, but it's not as safe as shutting them down more slowly over a period of days. That slow shutdown and reduction from maximum power output should be started immediately. It should have been started last summer.
After such precautions have been taken, on January 2nd or 3rd or 10th or whatever, if everything is going smoothly, and people (besides me and my fellow activists, obviously) want to restart the nuclear power plants, then they can be brought back on line "by popular demand". And no one will have had to find out the hard way that Y2K was worse than Dr. Hawking, or me, or everyone else, expected. -- rdh
*** (2) Losing site of the target (peace):
The writer of the next email mistakes winning a nuclear war for winning, period. -- rdh
----- INCOMING EMAIL FROM SOMEONE WHO'S BEEN THERE: -----
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 09:10:33 -0800 (PST)
From: "James P. Dailey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
These thoughts are my own, not the official position of any governmental
I have some problems with your analysis and argument below: a) the $10 M in US
funds were expended by the Dept of Energy for nuclear plants in Russia, not
nuclear arms systems controlled by the Russian military; b) the effort expended
on the part of the Russians for either nuclear arms-related systems (i.e.
command and control) is completely separate and distinct from the effort to
correct problems at nuclear power plants and we don't know how much money they
have spent in the Russian military (not quite a democracy yet); b) the cost of
remediation is undoubtedly orders of magnitude higher in the US for any
remediation given the pathetic state fo the Russian economy, and finally, c) the
cost and effort required for verifiable de-alerting nuclear armaments/missiles is
much higher than common sense would dictate. I would say that it is an axiom of
the military that unless it is verifiable, it isn't real. I think that the
military would argue that changing the strategic stance can actually lead to
more uncertainty, in military terms, and could therefore be more risky. At this
point it is too late to do anything other than a symbolic - and unverifiable -
Moreover, it is highly unusual, except under the strategic threat reduction
framework, for the US to fund the Russian military establishment. Any proposal
to replace the software and hardware that runs the Russian nuclear threat is
probably met with a great deal of distrust (that's an understatement) at the
Pentagon: Why should we help them become better at delivering nuclear
weapons?!? The policy aim is to reduce the threat, not improve its efficiency
and effectiveness. According to the experts, there is no way for a Y2K problem
to directly cause the launching of a nuclear weapon. Therefore, fixing Y2K
problems should only be directed at ensuring positive control over nuclear
"assets". Giving them $10 M for nuclear power plants, helps elevate the issue
within the Russian hierarchy, including the military command - that's the true
power of this funding.
Nonetheless, I completely agree with that part of your conclusion that says the
institutions involved should have done more to reduce whatever perceived risk of
nuclear arms problems exists. Perception will drive the outcome.
How can we reduce the perceived threat? The answer is communication. This has
been the driving force behind the Colorado springs Y2K Russian_American
cooperation. Having visited the place and asked these questions, I know that
they have at least five completely separate modes of communication back to
Russia. This is a historic first for the US-Russian military relationship,
something that has not been fully appreciated. I believe it should be
encouraged and supported, not simply derided for being insufficient (which I
don't believe is the case).
I should tell you that I am more concerned about the threat posed by aging and
ill-funded nuclear plants in Eastern Europe and CIS, than I am about all of the
other issues that you cover. The two issues are linked by the word "nuclear",
and the fear that that engenders, but that is all that they share in common.
Subject: Re: [y2k-nuclear] From AAP - US military ready for Y2K, Pent
Author: "Russell D. Hoffman" <email@example.com>
Date: 12/18/99 11:09 AM
If the American military needed to spend $3.6 Billion to fix our systems so
they are Y2K compliant (and we're to believe the difficult and rushed
programming effort bought with this incredibly large amount of money didn't
introduce any NEW bugs!), how are we to believe that a mere $10 Million
gift to Russia -- which is about 0.3% of what we needed to fix our own
systems -- was enough to fix all of Russia's systems, and not introduce any
new bugs there?
I find that logic preposterous. De-alerting is the only safety net anyone
should trust. Throwing money alone at this problem doesn't even begin to
address the long-term need of society, which is that we need to become more
peaceful, lest we blow ourselves up otherwise.
Furthermore, I see no reason why the safety and stability of the whole
world needs to be trusted to 20 Russian officers and 20 American ones
stationed in Colorado. That's too few people, and too big a concentration
of power. Besides, ONE such station isn't enough! What if it loses
contact with the military bases it's supposed to be watching?
James P. Dailey
----- END OF INCOMING EMAIL (INCLUDE MY ORIGINAL MESSAGE) -----
----- MY RESPONSE: -----
Thank you for your letter. It is clear that you are not really considering the "worst-case" scenarios at all. For example, here is a clip from your own Y2K web page, describing possible Y2K scenarios. Skipping you ideas of "good" and "bad" scenarios, we have "worst":
--- FROM http://www.speakeasy.org/~jdailey/y2k/ : ---
· Large-scale power outages for months
· Telephone network crashes or degrades to unreliability
· Rioting in cities
· Banking system fails, stock market crashes
· Huge shortages in food, medical supplies, other necessities
--- end of clip ---
Where is your mention of nuclear power plants? Nuclear war? Chemical plant problems? Instead you worry about the least important types of failures, besides public panic ("rioting in cities").
I find your views anything but environmental.
Regarding items "a" and the first item "b" in your letter to me, here is the article that comment was based on:
--- from an email posted on Y2K-Nuclear forum by:
FoE Sydney - Nuclear Campaign <firstname.lastname@example.org> ---
Friday, 17 Dec 1999 at 10:30am; Category: Overseas News; High priority;
Story No. 2765.
US: US military ready for Y2K, Pentagon says
By Jonathan S. Landay
WASHINGTON, Dec 16 KRT - The Pentagon today declared the US military ready for a trouble-free Y2K turnover on December 31 after a $3.6 billion overhaul of more than 7,600 computer systems that control everything from payrolls to nuclear weapons.
Senior defence officials said they also are confident that Russia, bolstered by $10 million in US aid, will avert Y2K errors that could cause its dilapidated early warning systems falsely to detect a US attack, triggering a nuclear crisis.
--- end of clip ---
Thus, the money is for military expenditures as I stated.
Regarding your second item "b" in your letter to me, you state that you find the "cost of remediation" would be "undoubtedly orders of magnitude higher in the US for any remediation given the pathetic state of the Russian economy". "Orders of magnitude" is a difference of a hundred times or more ("orders" is plural), and I don't think you can justify such an exaggeration. It might cost America a billion dollars to do some thing, but it won't cost Russian 10 million or less to do the same thing - -the difference wouldn't be that great, if indeed there is any difference at all -- since Russian systems have more problems, not less, than ours, the economic differences which might make Russian programmers cheaper was probably not enough to offset the larger task -- in short, they needed hundreds of billions of dollars too.
Regarding your item "c", your concept of "cost" is similarly way out of line -- "cost" is the cost of a destroyed (i.e., "nuked" or "melted down") city like Paris, London, etc. etc., etc. Great treasures lost forever. Don't tell me about the costs of "verification" and so on -- the world can afford it. The world had better learn to afford it!
You wonder why we -- that is, "the Pentagon" would help "them" (that is, Russia) "become better at delivering nuclear weapons?!?" That's not what would be happening at all -- we would simply be doing whatever it takes to make it less likely that the weapons would be fired due to malfunctions, misunderstandings, or even the mistaken belief that America is about to attack THEM -- or for some other reason we can't think of. Perhaps because an asteroid takes out Moscow and everyone thinks we did it, for gosh sakes!
For example, we might modernize their phone system.
You talk about the $10 million dollars as if it is a token, like a campaign contribution of some sort -- to help "elevate the issue within the Russian hierarchy, including the military command -- that's the true power of this funding." SO, you are saying we really have no desire to help -- only a desire to influence opinion within the Russian hierarchy! What a shame: What they needed was real help. And perhaps it was never explained properly in your PC training courses, but a nuclear meltdown anywhere really IS a nuclear meltdown everywhere!
It is undoubtedly true that more open communication will reduce "perceived risk" although I think it's utterly absurd to think that the "perceived risk" is the real problem, as you suggest -- what the millions of peace-loving peons like myself think and what we worry about doesn't seem to make any difference at all to the .1% of the world that plays with these nuclear materials, yet controls so much of media, communications, etc. (Look who GE owns, etc.).
I wonder why this command center they built doesn't have a live Internet feed for people all around the world to see what's really going on. If they really wanted to reduce the "perceived risk" they only need to reduce the real risk, because most people actually have a pretty good idea of what the real dangers are, and how few Americans are needed to destroy the world just because they think Russia is attacking them, or vice versa.
I should close by telling you that I, too, am more concerned about the aging and ill-funded nuclear plants than about the threat of nuclear war, but the link is far more than simply that the two are both linked by the nuclear waste they leave (recalling, as you have clearly forgotten, that a nuclear war against America is sure to result in nuclear meltdowns as well, as would one with Russia).
Thank you, again, for writing.
----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----
I'm beginning to suspect that in the Peace Corps, they teach you that the lesser of two evils is a good thing. (That's that business about whether you see the cup as half empty or half full, turned upside down, I guess.) But in fact, the lesser of two evils is still evil. Nuclear power is an unnecessary evil. -- rdh
*** (3) Assassination as a tool of democracy (add'l commentaries):
----- INCOMING EMAIL FROM BILL SMIRNOW: -----
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 07:04:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Gerald Bull, Assassinations, War Criminals
Hi Marvin & Russell,
Re Gerald Bull, I believe [not positive] that he was assassinated in his hotel room in Brussels in March 1990. I found your debate re assassinations interesting & think you came to the right conclusion, the debate can go on indefinitely. A fun intellectual exercise but Y2K & focusing on the nuclear industrial enemy need all our attention.
As a last resort I'm in favor of certain assassinations. Obviously one has to do a real balancing act re morality, national & international law, & political/economic reality. "Beauty" is in the eye of the beholder.Hitler definitely worthwhile if he [or any of these political, military, business butchers] could be assassinated. Basically the human race has to grow up enough so that these things won't be happening & if they are, an objective, equal handed approach is applied and they can be brought before an international tribunal and tried for their alleged crime[s]. Easier said than done.
Chomsky [& many others] are absolutely right in pointing out that every US president this century, probably ever, should have been brought before an international tribunal. Their politiacl allies, corporate backers & military & intelligence agencies, too. Talking strictly of US presidents of recent times the following should have been arrested & tried at an international tribunal for their crimes against humanity:
1. FDR about his backing for Samosa dictatorial regime in Nicaragua FDR said, "He may be a son of a bitch but he's our SOB." Carpet bombing & fire bombing of civial populations in Germany & Japan.
FDR did have the courage/morality to want to try bankers & industrialists at Nuremberg (too bad he died before this could happen)
2. Truman His use of "Atomic Diplomacy" aimed against the USSR on mostly civilian Japanese cities. His use of Biological Warfare against Koreans during Korean war. More bombing of civilian populations in Korea. Militarization of the US economy, maybe not a war crime but maybe it was. Definitely an anti-Democratic move. Backing of numerous dictatorships internationally. Initial US backing of apartheid in S Africa.
3.Eisenhower- CIA initiated coups against Iran [Operation Ajax] in 1953 and Guatemala[Operation Success]in 1954 and the installation of murderous regimes which slaughtered, threatened,& continued the impoverishment of their own citizens. Backing of many dictators all over Earth. Initiation of "Atoms for Peace" program in December 1953 to try showing American people that nuclear had a good face after atmospheric fallout opposition. Successfully crushed Lamumba's attempt at Democracy in Congo. In his place mass murderer & cleptocrat Mabutu installed for first time with CIA help.
4.JFK- Helped bring the world to the brink with Jupiter nuclear tipped missiles installed in Turkey [not sure if he
initiated this or it preceded him] to threaten USSR, which Soviets understandably [but stupidly] felt gave them the right to return the favor in Cuba. Both sides sucked. Thank God we got through this one. More backing of dictators internationally, Latin America especially. Greatly expanded death squad activity through Latin America. Bombed South Vietnam in 1961-1962 killing 75,000 to 100,000 human beings. War on Cuban people [even though Casro is a dictator].
5. LBJ- More backing internationally of dictatorial regimes. Phillipines, Indonesia [1965-1966 coup kills 500,00 to
1,000,000] installs the cleptocrat Suharto.Latin America continues to get the worst of it aside from S.E. Asia. Significant percentage of 5-6 million people killed in SE Asian wars. In 1999 US War Secretary McNamara gives a death total of 3 and one half million Vietnamese killed. About one million Laotins and one million Cambodians killed. Mabutu installed for second time in 1965 with more CIA help, reigns blood & poverty over his people until 1997. War on Cuban people [even though Castro is a dictator].
6.Nixon- Racist [against blacks], anti-Semite, compiler of enemies list domestically. More of LBJ. Slaughter in SE Asia continues.Only massive public opposition & courageous Vietnamese fighters drive him to dump the war but not before more US GIs are killed than under LBJ. Marcos, Suharto, Mabutu, Apartheid, Latin America, etc., etc., etc.
7.Ford- Should have stuck to football.More of the same,it's getting boring now. East Timor invasion & mass killings OKed with Kissinger. Slaughter/Dictator Kissinger suggested in Angola approved & backed by Ford
8.Carter- East Timorese herded into concentration camps & starved to death in 1977-1979. Cold Warrior in Carter really comes out in late 1979 with USSR attack of Afghanistan. Phony human rights PR waged. US surrogate Israel trains & finances death squads in Guatemala & El Salvador. Resemblance to Nazi Einsatzgruppen conveniently overlooked. Backed by Carter.Carter & Rickover cover up 3 Mile Island Accident dangers to American & world public. Carter cuddles up to brutal Shah. His NationalSecurity Advisor Brezhinski encourages Shah to machine gun Democratic Iranian protestors-at least Carter discourages that. More Marcos, Suharto, Mabutu,Apartheid,Latin America, Saddam, etc.
9. Reagan- Need I say anything? His obvious alzheimers only publicly admitted to years later.
10. Bush- Backs dictators but there's less death aquad activities as many wars wind down
12. Clinton- Helps wire up the world for corporations. GATT, NAFTA, "Free trade." Continues to pump obscene amounts of $ into Pentagon & other corporate welfare. Contemptuous of Democracy both at home & abroad. Talks a good game,American people allow him to get away with it. Had a real chance to Democratize the USA- blew it. We allowed him to.
----- END OF INCOMING EMAIL FROM BILL SMIRNOW -----
----- MY RESPONSE: -----
[None. This conversation will be continued some time after Y2K, assuming no one decides to assassinate any of the participants. This writer remains of the belief that assassination is abhorrent and unwise in essentially all circumstances (in other words, I can't think of an exception).]
----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----
We thank Bill and others for their comments. -- rdh
*** (4) Can you please sum up 245 issues of the newsletter in one paragraph?:
----- INCOMING EMAIL FROM A LONG-TIME SUBSCRIBER: -----
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1999 11:59:28 EST
Perhaps it is because I have not read all the newsletters, but could you sum
up in a paragraph the core of what you stand for (not the reasons) -- e.g.,
No nuclear power of any kind for space use. E.g., No nuclear power of any
kind for use on Earth. E.g., nuclear power for this (e.g., medical use), but
not for that (e.g., power, digging tunnels)? E.g., no nuclear weapons, no
I suppose a second level of question might be:
-- If one opposes all use of nuclear power on Earth, what is being
proposed for power a century from now (two centuries, if you prefer) when
population will have more than doubled and oil and gas (and probably coal)
reserves will have been virtually exhausted?
-- If one opposes the use of nuclear weapons at any time, what substitute
weapons are proposed for deterrence and/or (if necessary) use?
----- END OF INCOMING EMAIL (ORIGINALLY SENT IN EARLY DECEMBER, 1999; RESENT DEC. 26TH, 1999) -----
----- MY RESPONSE: -----
My apologies for not answering directly sooner, but in fact I DID answer your letter, in the newsletters which followed, in comments to other people. Had you been reading the newsletters more carefully, I would have thought you'd recognize those remarks as being answers to your questions.
Indeed, I would have thought that the answers to such questions as you've posed would in fact be quite clear from the details in the newsletters, prior to your having sent the letter the first time. You are ignoring renewable energy solutions, ignoring the dangers from nuclear operations, ignoring the lies that have allowed nuclear energy solutions to propagate, ignoring the billions of dollars wasted on that industry -- in short, you've missed the point entirely. As for nuclear weapons specifically, if you have one good reason they should exist, please offer it in all its gory details. I can't think of one.
I'm sorry you didn't discern all the answers amongst the other data in the stream. There is clearly a lot you've missed since originally subscribing, and I'm sorry it's not breaking through. Perhaps if you explained where you are coming from, and what views you currently hold yourself, it would be easier to answer your questions, but short answers at this point to your little barrage of questions, 245 issues into the STOP CASSINI newsletter, would really be rather pointless. I'm sorry you don't get it, but no, I'm not worried that without nukes, coal and oil supplies will disappear in 200 years and I find such a question preposterous. I *am* worried that without proper use of renewables that will happen. However, nukes are not the solution and your questions are frankly, more indicative of your own myopia than anything else I can think of.
----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----
(5) Tell Clinton how you feel -- Official government contact points:
To contact the top government officials:
President Bill Clinton
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20500
Phone -- (202) 456-1111 Fax -- (202) 456-2461
e-mail -- email@example.com
Vice President Albert Gore (same address)
Phone -- (202) 456-1414 Fax -- (202) 456-2461
e-mail -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary William Cohen
Washington D.C. 20301
Phone -- (703) 695-6352 Fax -- (703) 695-1149
Secretary Bill Richardson
Department of Energy (DoE)
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20585
Phone -- (202) 586-6210 Fax -- (202) 586-4403
To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini and its 72.3 pounds of plutonium in 1997, ask them for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission, and all subsequent documentation. At the same time, be sure to ask them for ANY and ALL documentation available on future uses of plutonium in space, including MILITARY, CIVILIAN, or "OTHER" (just in case they make a new category somehow!). To get this information, contact:
Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or (818) 354-6478
Here's NASA's "comments" email address:
Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address:
Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT NASA IS DOING TO YOUR HEALTH.
NASA should never have been allowed to launch monstrosities like Cassini and Galileo, but the next breed -- such as Europa Orbiter and Pluto-Kuiper Express are not much better and the policy is being set for greatly increased rates of missions! The danger continues! To complain to NASA about their future nuclear space probes, here are two addresses you can use:
For Europa Orbiter:
"Europa Orbiter comments" email@example.com
For Pluto-Kuiper Express:
"Pluto-Kuiper Express comments" firstname.lastname@example.org
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, because otherwise they will throw it out unread, or hand it directly to their police force to try to identify the author. (Thus, nothing good will come of it.) Also, ALWAYS include a personal message of some sort, indicating YOUR OWN VIEWS, even if you include a lot of material written by other people (me, for instance).
(6) Newsletter subscription information:
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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
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The opinions expressed are those of the individual authors.
Please distribute these newsletters EVERYWHERE!
Written in the United States of America.
(7) Newsletter Authorship notes and additional URLs:
Russell D. Hoffman, Carlsbad, California, Peace Activist, Environmentalist, High Tech Guru:
Hoffman's Y2K Preparedness Information:
Learn about The Effects of Nuclear War here:
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