Media coverage of the latest Senate Report : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

There's quite a bit of (mainstream) media coverage on this so far, and it's mostly predictable.

Senate Reports on Y2K Effects (Jim Abrams, Yahoo! News/AP) was linked to on another thread. It's relatively balanced.

CNN says -- Senate Report: U.S. Makes 'Remarkable Progress' Against Y2K Problems and is cautious.

Cory already mentioned the Wash Post's piece, A Glitch That Won't Steal New Year's? Big Corporations, U.S. Agencies Predict Y2K Disruptions Will Be Limited and Local

" specialists, industry executives and government officials alike now are increasingly confident that ordinary Americans will enter the new year with few electronic disruptions in crucial public services, including electric power, water, telecommunications, transportation, banking, food distribution and important government operations.

The primary remaining doubt concerns one element technicians can't fix: human nature. A rush to withdraw large amounts of cash or to fill cars with gasoline or pantries with food could temporarily deplete grocery-store shelves, automated teller machines, pharmacies and gas stations..."

The Wall Street Journal tells us that U.S. Report Says Health-Care Facilities, Schools, State Offices Lack Y2K Plans

"A Senate committee expressed deep concerns about the lack of preparedness to fend off year-2000 computer problems at U.S. health-care facilities, state and local government operations, schools and small businesses...

The committee doesn't foresee nationwide Y2K calamities, such as breakdowns in power grids or telecommunications networks. "The Y2K problem is not going to happen across the country, it's going to happen across the street," said Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah), special committee chairman. "If you have problems, they're going to be local."

State and local governments, perpetually under financial constraints, also are woefully behind on Y2K planning. As of July, only a quarter of all U.S. counties, two major cities, and just three states had reported full Y2K readiness.

Perhaps most alarming, the report cites public-safety concerns surrounding "Y2K hype, large millennial celebrations, and potential malicious attacks." To wit: Only 37% of 911 emergency-call centers were Y2K compliant as of June...

The panel also criticizes nuclear-power facilities and oil-and-gas companies for their "dangerously late" Y2K remediation deadlines. For example, the report said 500 of the nation's 8,000 oil-and-gas companies, and 30 of its 103 nuclear-power plants have Y2K-remediation completion dates after Sept. 30..."

This piece says nothing about the international situation.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says -- Many Sectors of U.S. Society Found Vulnerable to Y2K Woes...

"With only 100 days to go until 1999 ends, large sectors of U.S. society remain vulnerable to possible disruption by the Year 2000 computer bug, and the threat of serious breakdowns that could rattle the global economy is far graver overseas...

Inadequate Y2K preparations are much more worrisome overseas, particularly in China, Russia, Italy, and several countries the United States depends on for oil...

"Severe long- and short-term disruptions to supply chains are likely to occur," (the report) says. "Such disruptions may cause a low-to-moderate downturn in the economy, particularly in those industries that depend upon foreign supplies..."

Still, the findings are sobering..."

My "favorite" piece, however, is from Bloomberg -- Concern Over Y2K Bug Begins to Subside 100 Days Before January 1, 2000

"The Year 2000 countdown enters its final 100 days Wednesday with increasingly rosy forecasts from analysts, governments and companies that predict the millennium will dawn without widespread or catastrophic computer failures.

Most U.S businesses in critical industries such as banking, telecommunications, power and air traffic control, expect few problems, government and private agencies monitoring the issue say. U.S. investors keep pushing up stock prices, economic growth continues at a robust pace and polls show fewer people are concerned about Y2K problems...

(It then mentions Greenspan's comments last week, and the obligatory two paragraphs explaining what Y2K is.)

"I still believe there is a 70 percent chance of a global recession next year" caused by Y2K disruptions, Edward Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and one of the most vocal Y2K pessimists, wrote to clients earlier this month.

U.S. investors, however, say there's growing evidence Y2K won't bring widespread economic problems.

Analysts were predicting that companies would flood the corporate bond market with new issues this month because of concern investor demand would dry up as Y2K approached.

Not so...

Outside the U.S., more disruptions are likely to occur, analysts say. Russia, India and China remain among the countries at the highest risk, according to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem..."

-- pshannon (, September 22, 1999


You know, *IF* TSHTF at rollover, there are going to be a BUNCH of people with egg on their faces. AND I think it doubtful that the people will EVER believe ANYTHING the gov't says again. (Those that are left alive, that is...)


-- Dennis (, September 22, 1999.

I agree Dennis. But did you really expect anything different? Last thing I expect to see is this headline "Kospinem admits everyone lied about readiness, US in deep do-do."

They have gone too far with all the 3 day storm crap. They will look like idiots if/when they have to admit they were wrong. No doubt they are setting up to pass the blame off to terrorists, and local govts that interconnect, etc. It's a shame that those who trust TPTB will be the ones to suffer the most.

I can see it now, "we said we were Y2K ready, not compliant. We are using our contingency plans, see the pads of paper and pencils, that's what we meant by ready! Now get back in line, here's your number, 1409. Now serving number 6, number 6 come forward please."

-- Bill (, September 22, 1999.

It's a shame that those who trust TPTB will be the ones to suffer the most.

WHY??? Actually, it seems kinda like poetic justice.

-- WHY? (, September 22, 1999.


WHY do you use words like poetic and justice to describe the suffering of trusting innocents? Do you also include children? Elderly? Disabled? Have you NO SENSE of tragedy? How can you be so calleous? Did I also see a smile on your face? You have much in common with Hitler...May you be chessmates eternally in H**l.

-- Leslie (***@***.net), September 22, 1999.

Lloyd has quite dramatically debunked the "3-Day Storm" idiocy.

Taiwan Quake will dismantle the "We'll fix JIT in 3 Days" blabber.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 22, 1999.

Unusual take for the Merc. Almost sounds doomish.

Like this one... ``Do not depend on the U.S. Senate to solve this problem for you.''


Published Wednesday, September 22, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News

2000 reasons to worry

It'll be worse overseas, but many areas of U.S. not ready for Jan. 1

Mercury News Washington Bureau y2kready22.htm

WASHINGTON -- With only 100 days to go until Jan. 1, large sectors of U.S. society remain vulnerable to possible disruption by the year 2000 computer problem, and the threat of serious breakdowns that could rattle the global economy is far graver overseas.

While large corporations and the federal government have worked hard to fix the Y2K bug in their computer systems, many institutions vital to American life have not. Among them: many doctors' offices, rural and inner-city hospitals, 911 emergency phone lines, 30 of the nation's 103 nuclear power plants, most school districts, colleges and universities and about half of all small and medium-size businesses.

Inadequate Y2K preparations are much more worrisome overseas, particularly in China, Russia, Italy and several countries the United States depends on for oil.

Those are the primary conclusions of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, which will release a report today summarizing findings from more than 30 hearings on the problem since April 1998. A copy of the report's executive summary was obtained by Knight Ridder News Service.

``Severe long- and short-term disruptions to supply chains are likely to occur. Such disruptions may cause a low to moderate downturn in the economy, particularly in those industries that depend upon foreign supplies,'' the report says.

The Y2K computer threat stems from some software codes that record the year by only the last two digits. Computers may misread the year 2000 as 1900, resulting in malfunctions and even system shutdowns.

The Senate panel takes pains to avoid inflaming undue alarm, warning that ``sensationalists'' who ``fuel rumors of massive Y2K failures and government conspiracies'' are off base. The committee is ``increasingly confident'' about U.S. Y2K preparedness overall, and believes the problem ``will cause more inconveniences than tragedies.''

Even so, the findings are sobering.

``Many organizations and industries remain unprepared. The Y2K problem still has the potential to be very disruptive,'' the report states.

``The committee . . . still cannot conclusively determine how extensive Y2K disruptions will be. However, the committee has no data to suggest that the U.S. will experience nationwide social or economic collapse. Nonetheless, disruptions will occur and in some cases those disruptions will be significant. The international situation will certainly be more tumultuous,'' the summary concludes.

Be informed

Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, the panel's chairman, stresses that people must push institutions in their communities for information on their Y2K preparations to find out if their lives are likely to be disrupted.

``The power grid overall is going to work. That will be of small comfort to you if it fails where you live,'' Bennett said during a lecture last Friday at the Freedom Forum, a news-media research center.

``The best antidote to panic is to get your own information and not depend on us. Check your own pharmacist to assure that the drugs you need will be there. Check your own bank to assure that the cash is going to be there,'' Bennett counseled. ``Do not depend on the U.S. Senate to solve this problem for you.''

Uncertainty about the severity of possible Y2K breakdowns remains pervasive despite his panel's extensive investigation, Bennett emphasized. One problem is that virtually all industry information on Y2K preparations relies on self-reporting, ``which is analogous to letting students grade their own tests,'' the report observes.

``Yes, there will be a problem,'' Bennett said. ``Where? I don't know. How severe? I don't know. How long will it take to fix? I don't know. An enormous amount of work has been done, particularly in this country, and most Americans will go through it without noticing there's a problem. But there will be problems in some places.''

Capsule reviews

Bennett's panel reported its findings on U.S. Y2K preparations on a sector-by-sector basis. Highlights included:

 UTILITIES. ``A prolonged, nationwide blackout will almost certainly not occur; that is, the power grid will work.'' However, local and regional outages ``remain a distinct possibility'' since there are some 3,000 utilities whose readiness varies.

Of 8,000 oil and gas companies, about 500 report their Y2K preparations will not be final until after Sept. 30. The same is true of 30 of the nation's 103 nuclear power plants. They ``are not leaving sufficient time to address unexpected problems.''

Water systems generally appear well-prepared, but may experience ``isolated malfunctions'' and ``interruptions in service'' that ``should be limited in scale and of short duration.''

 HEALTH CARE. ``Rural and inner-city hospitals, nursing homes and physicians' offices have particularly high Y2K risk exposure.''

In addition, ``the committee remains concerned about the hundreds of different types of electronic biomedical devices used by all health care providers.'' Difficulty in testing them and limited money to replace them ``raises serious patient safety questions.''

``On a positive note,'' the panel says, the federal Medicare payments system should be fine.

Separately, however, the federal Health Care Financing Administration reported last Friday that 32 states face medium to high risks of Y2K disruption in their systems to dispense Medicaid, the health-insurance program for the poor. The federal government finances most of Medicaid, but state governments administer it.

 TELECOMMUNICATIONS. The industry reports itself 98 percent Y2K- ready and projects ``minimal service disruptions'' domestically.

``Internationally, however, there could be problems in completing calls to some high-risk countries.'' Moreover, no one knows what will happen when fixed systems interact with flawed ones.

Also, ``the lagging Y2K readiness of small and medium-sized domestic carriers could impact services in rural communities.''

 TRANSPORTATION. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that air traffic control systems are ready.

But ``it appears that some of the nation's 670 domestic airports remain at risk in areas such as jetway security systems and runway lighting.''

(The FAA has surveyed U.S. airport Y2K preparations and has prepared a summary report, but has no plans to disclose it to the public because the information was given confidentially, an FAA spokesman said.)

Maritime shipping ``has not moved aggressively'' to prepare, ``leading to the likelihood of disruptions in global trade.''

``Many public transit systems have also failed'' to prepare, ``which makes service disruptions likely for some transit systems.''

 FINANCIAL SERVICES. This sector ``will be prepared.'' Automated teller machines ``are expected to function correctly'' and banks should have adequate cash. Banks and securities brokers have prepared well overall.

 GOVERNMENT. The federal government spent $8 billion fixing its Y2K systems and reports itself 97 percent ready.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is planning for how to handle both major and minor Y2K disruptions nationwide.

But ``state and local government readiness remains a concern. . . . There is wide variation in the Y2K readiness of the nation's 50 states, 3,066 counties, and 87,000 local jurisdictions.. . . Ten states are not prepared to deliver such critical services as unemployment insurance and other benefit payments.''

In addition, ``only 25 percent of counties reported being ready as of June 1999. Of greatest concern at the local level is the readiness of 911'' emergency systems.

 BUSINESS. Big companies have fixed their systems, but many smaller ones have not. One survey showed that 28 percent of small businesses do not plan to take any action.

Heavily regulated industries are the best-prepared, including insurance, investment services and banking. ``Lagging behind'' are oil, education, agriculture, food processing and construction.

``The cost to regain lost operational capacity for any mission- critical failure will range from $20,000 to $3.5 million, with an average of 3-15 days necessary to regain lost functions.''

-- Diane J. Squire (, September 23, 1999.

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