Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Space activism flashback: Opposition to 1997 Cassini plutonium launch news conference

 

This video covers a news conference held in 1997 at the National Press Club in Washington opposing the launch of the Cassini space probe and was covered by CSPAN on cable TV. The news conference was organized by the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice where I worked for 15 years.  The Florida Coalition was one of the founding members of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in 1992.

Our anti-Cassini campaign lasted for three years and it became a rousing international effort.  Alan Kohn (one of the speakers in the news conference and former head of NASA's emergency preparedness operation) told us after the launch of Cassini that a friend of his working in the White House informed him that they received more communications opposing the Cassini launch than any other issue in the history of the White House. 


Groups in England, Germany, Australia and from throughout the US sent cards, letters, emails and faxes to then President Clinton calling for the halt of plans to launch the deadly mission.  One of my favorite stories at the time was about citizens from Tasmania, Australia who set up a fax machine one Saturday in front of their capital building and sent 1,000 faxes to the White House opposing the launch.

 

Well over 1,000 citizens marched to the front gates of the Cape Canaveral space launch base in 1997 just days before NASA launched the Cassini space probe that carried 72 pounds of deadly plutonium-238. Many climbed over the fence in an effort to sit on the rocket launch pad and were arrested.

Another favorite story was the restaurant waitress from Detroit that saw a small story in her local paper and called the office to ask how she could help.

Also speaking in the news conference is world renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and journalism professor Karl Grossman, one of the founding members of the Global Network.

You can see an example of the news coverage we got at the time from the Orlando Sentinel newspaper here. My favorite line in the article was:

Even NASA is impressed.

"It's getting more publicity, and they're very organized," NASA spokesman George Diller said.
Now-a-days it is harder to get this kind of media coverage of our work on space issues due to corporate consolidation and their control over the media. 

That is why it is good to reflect on our efforts over the years.

Bruce

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