NHNE Y2K Report 25
Sunday, May 9, 1999
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"
NHNE Y2K Report 25
Sunday, May 9, 1999
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WHAT DO THEY KNOW THAT WE DON'T?
"Analyzing government reports, sifting through public relations press
releases, reviewing the media's amazingly inadequate coverage, and reading
the lips of our politicians will not help us determine who is telling
the truth. I wouldn't go as far as to suggest that they are lying to
us. Heavens, our government, lie to us? Surely not! What I am suggesting
is that perhaps what some of these computer programmers know that the
rest of us don't is the truth. Some of them are buying wood burning
stoves and some are in classes learning preparedness and survival training.
Shouldn't you be?"
--- Westergaard Columnist Susan Conniry, "What Do They Know That The
Rest Of Us Don't?," [For a more detailed account of Conniry's May
3, 1999 essay, see the article in the Stories Section of this report.]
Many Fortune 1000 Companies Lagging Dangerously In Y2K Fixes
U.S.-Russia Y2K Cooperation Is Still on Hold
Republicans Blast Agencies' Y2K Spending
Back to the Tower of Babel
French Candid About Y2K Risks to Nuclear Plants
Microsoft Kept Windows 95 Y2K Fix from Users
Nation-Wide Y2K Test of Payroll Processing Program Successful
Star Alliance: All Systems Go for Y2K
Comdex: Y2L Interest Beginning to Ebb
USIA: Stockpile A Month's Worth of Supplies
A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Our First Auction
NHNE Y2K VisionQuest Update
Credit Card Company: Please Disregard the $5,000 Error In Your Bill
The Leap Year Threat
The Next Headache: Millennium Viruses
Y2K Glitch Deletes Hundreds of Student Records
Federal Agencies & Military Prepare to Handle Civil Unrest
Two Views of NERC & the Power Industry
Web Coverage of the April 9 NERC Drill Poor
Journalism By Press Release
What Do They Know That We Don't?
North: Y2K Fever Is Like Syphilis
Making Meaning: A Challenge for the New Century
Millennium Medical Kit
Simple Water Filter
The Minimum Solar Box Cooker
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
Y2K X 2 = Jacko!
Doin' the "Milly" In the Windy City
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES
MANY FORTUNE 1000 COMPANIES LAGGING DANGEROUSLY IN Y2K FIXES
(Source: Barnaby J. Feder, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5/6/1999)
According to a recent survey of Year 2000 progress in Fortune 1000 companies,
"Many of these large companies have made great progress, but too many
laggards appear to be in serious jeopardy." The study was based on formal
reports filed with the SEC between January and April 1999. Of the 647
companies surveyed by TRIAXSYS RESEARCH, a research and analysis company,
241 have made only 41 percent to 60 percent progress, and 175 companies
are below 41 percent. The average Fortune 1000 company has made 56 percent
progress toward completion, compared to 43 percent at the end of the
third quarter of 1998 and 27 percent at the end of the first quarter
of 1998. "The so-called conventional wisdom lately is that all large
U.S. companies have the Year 2000 problem under control," stated Steve
Hock, Triaxsys President. "That kind of generalization is not only inaccurate
but overly complacent....The bad news is that a significant number of
companies in every industry sector started late, and too much work remains
for them to finish in 1999. Some are just not going to make it in time
and will be forced to rely heavily on contingency plans and crisis management
to avoid serious business disruptions." (JG)
U.S.-RUSSIA Y2K COOPERATION IS STILL ON HOLD
(Source: Nick Oredson, TIME, 5/3/1999)
The specter of a Y2K-induced nuclear apocalypse is so terrifying, that
earlier this year Russia appealed to the U.S. and the INTERNATIONAL
MONETARY FUND (IMF) for help in controlling its arsenal through the
turn of the millennium (Y2K Report 16). The U.S. formed a delegation
of technicians to send to Russia, but before work could begin, the war
in the Balkans stalled all activity (Y2K Report 20). On April 19, the
DEFENSE DEPARTMENT announced that Russia and the U.S. had resumed cooperating
in their joint Y2K effort. But according to a recent report from Time's
Moscow correspondent, Andrew Meier, there is no hard evidence from Russia
that this has actually begun: "The April 19 announcement was damage
control by the U.S. Any real progress in the Y2K cooperation agreement
would have been much more highly publicized, and they would have mentioned
something about when the technical teams could begin their work....As
far as we can tell, the cooperation is on hold." (JG)
REPUBLICANS BLAST AGENCIES' Y2K SPENDING
(Sources: Brian Friel, GOVEXEC.COM, 5/5/1999; May 3, 1999; House Majority
Leader, Dick Armey, Website, 5/3/1999)
According to House Republicans, Federal agencies are not properly tracking
the money they're spending to solve the Year 2000 computer problem.
The charge was in response to the findings of the latest GENERAL ACCOUNTING
OFFICE (GAO) report which criticized the way agencies account for Y2K
costs. The federal government estimates it will spend a total of $7.5
billion on solving the Y2K problem from 1996 to 2000. Much of the information
GAO received was overly vague and unacceptably incomplete: only seven
of the 24 largest federal departments and agencies tracked actual costs
for Y2K work; five agencies tracked some actual costs and estimated
the rest of their Y2K spending; nine agencies only estimated spending;
and three -- AGRICULTURE, STATE and TREASURY -- did not provide GAO
with any spending information whatsoever. "When the hard-earned dollars
of American taxpayers are designated for a specific purpose, guesses
are not good enough," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas),
Steve Horn (R-Calif.), and Connie Morella (R-Md.), in a combined statement.
Most outrageously, GAO discovered that some funds were spent on non-Y2K
activities. For example, GAO reported that: "included in Treasury's
$253 million was $92 million for non-Y2K information technology investments."
That may explain why Treasury was one of the agencies which ignored
the GAO's request for Y2K spending information. (JG)
GAO Report (Part 1): http://freedom.gov/y2k/gao/cost/report1.asp
GAO Report (Part 2): http://freedom.gov/y2k/gao/cost/report2.asp
BACK TO THE TOWER OF BABEL
(Source: Amy Steinberg, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/4/1999)
Speaking at the 11th annual SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE sponsored
by the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Chairman of
the Senate's SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE YEAR 2000 TECHNOLOGY PROBLEM,
warned that the Year 2000 computer bug could cause chaos. "The world
speaks a common language called digital code. If the connection gets
broken, we're back to the Tower of Babel where we cannot talk to each
other. We can't trade securities. We can't change currency. We can't
exchange information. Everything shuts down." For the military, the
implications are "staggering," Bennett said. Since so much of the world
relies on computers, bringing military computers up-to-date while maintaining
security will be a major challenge. The time will come when "an enemy's
infrastructure can be destroyed in a matter of nanoseconds with a few
keystrokes," he said. That means that while Y2K might not be the end
of the world as we know it, things will never be the way they were before
the information age. "It's a different kind of warfare, but it's not
Buck Rogers....The technology is there." (JG)
FRENCH CANDID ABOUT Y2K RISKS TO NUCLEAR PLANTS
(Source: Reuters, 5/4/1999)
According to a report by the French INSTITUTE OF NUCLEAR SAFETY (IPSN),
nuclear power stations in France are threatened not just by possible
failures from their own internal computer systems, but also by the prospect
of problems with the general French electricity grid. Research shows
that between 45 and 80 percent of internal systems "could be sensitive"
to the arrival of the Year 2000. "Malfunctions of certain computer and
automated systems at the power stations could weaken safety levels,"
says the report. France relies more than any other nation on nuclear
power and also supplies many of its neighbors with electricity. Many
people consider a generalized failure across electricity networks in
a number of countries is plausible with the Y2K bug. "Such a general
breakdown would not directly mean risk of a nuclear accident, but it
would lead ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE either to make the reactors function
or shut down in unusual conditions, which could eventually cause safety
problems," says the IPSN. The French nuclear safety authority (DSIN),
a technical body which reports to the DSIN, said in March that it would
switch off power stations if it thought their security was threatened.
MICROSOFT KEPT WINDOWS 95 Y2K FIX FROM USERS
(Source: Julia King, CNN, 5/3/1999)
Don Jones, Year 2000 Product Manager at MICROSOFT, has confirmed that
for almost a year, MICROSOFT withheld information from its 125 million
corporate users of Windows 95 that a software patch was in the works
to make the desktop operating system fully Year 2000 compliant. "Until
I'm 100 percent sure that we're going to provide an update or fix, I
don't want to tell anybody," Jones explained. "The last thing I want
to do is spread fear, uncertainty and doubt in their minds." Jones'
comments are the latest in a series of clarifications, memos and statements
to emerge from Microsoft since a plan by ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS (EDS)
to migrate 100,000-plus desktops from Windows 95 to 98 was made public
by COMPUTERWEEKLY on March 29 (Y2K Report 24). EDS had intended to stick
with Windows 95, but it changed its strategy based on advice from Microsoft
that Windows 95 would never be Year 2000 compliant, according to an
internal memo by former CIO Gary Rudin, who abruptly resigned from EDS.
Microsoft officials insist they never advised EDS or any other corporate
customer to upgrade to Windows 98 for Year 2000 readiness reasons. "We
do recommend that people go to the latest versions of our operating
system, but not for Year 2000 reasons." (JG)
NATION-WIDE Y2K TEST OF PAYROLL PROCESSING PROGRAM SUCCESSFUL
(Source: BUSINESS WIRE, 5/3/1999)
AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING (ADP), the world's largest provider of payroll
and related services, has successfully completed testing for the following
four critical dates:
- December 31, 1999 - the crossing of the new year.
- January 10, 2000 - the first date to require a seven-digit field.
- February 29, 2000 - leap year.
- October 10, 2000 - the first date to require an eight-digit field.
ADP created its Year 2000 end-to-end payroll processing program, "Keep
America Paid," to ensure successful transmission of payroll data between
ADP and participating financial institutions, starting from data input
through check and direct deposit postings. Keep America Paid was launched
in January 1999 following a directive from the FEDERAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
EXAMINATION COUNCIL (FFIEC), an interagency body that oversees Y2K progress
for more than 20,000 member banks, requiring regulated financial institutions
to prove their Y2K readiness with third-party providers by spring 1999.
ADP was the first payroll service provider to respond to the Y2K testing
effort nationwide. Currently, every participant has been able to transmit
payroll, receive download files and validate paychecks. In addition,
all participating banks have successfully processed direct deposits
for these dates. Completion of Keep America Paid is expected by mid-May.
STAR ALLIANCE: ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR Y2K
(Source: Richard Pullin, REUTERS, 5/3/1999)
The STAR ALLIANCE global airline grouping, representing AIR CANADA,
LUFTHANSA, SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES, THAI AIRWAYS INTERNATIONAL, UNITED
AIRLINES, ANSETT AUSTRALIA, AIR NEW ZEALAND and VARIG BRAZILIAN AIRLINES,
has declared its planes free of any Year 2000 dangers. Star said all
information technology used by its airlines had been assessed for its
ability to handle dates in the new millennium. Where there was concern,
critical technology have been replaced, converted or repaired, a process
which is still in progress. "Up to now, we have not identified any problem
which would compromise safety of operation of our aircraft," stated
Lufthansa Chairman Juergen Weber. The Star Alliance currently covers
110 countries and serves more than 200 million passengers a year. JG)
COMDEX: Y2K INTEREST BEGINNING TO EBB
(Source: David Hayes & Finn Bullers, KANSAS CITY STAR, 4/30/1999)
Interest in Y2K at this year's COMDEX, the nation's top technology trade
show, appears to be waning. Fewer than 20 of the estimated 80,000 attendees
showed up to hear an expert from California talk about Y2K contingency
planning. The story was much the same on the second day of the show
when those who showed up for the panel discussion about Y2K legal issues
wouldn't have filled one row in a room that could hold 200. (JG)
USIA: STOCKPILE A MONTH'S WORTH OF SUPPLIES
(Source: Anita Santos, USIA, 4/30/1999)
The U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY (USIA) recently reported the following news
"In an April 28 [Y2K] panel discussion sponsored by GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY,...community leaders cited the low level of interest on the
subject as one of their main problems. Because even the experts are
not certain of what is going to happen to computer systems, and consequently
to all sorts of services that depend on them...the public becomes confused
on what to expect and often chooses to ignore the problem. Jim Crawford,
Director of a Southern Maryland action committee on Y2K and one of the
panelists, advised the common citizen to do at least two things: be
preventive and stockpile necessary consumer items for at least a month,
and ask questions at work about what their company is doing do deal
with Y2K problems."
The news story prompted Y2K analyst Gary North to comment: "Here's a
man-bites-dog story: the foreign propaganda arm of the U.S. government
indirectly recommends stockpiling goods for a month. So, foreigners
who listen to the USIA are getting better information than Americans
are. I wish the USIA were the domestic propaganda arm of the U.S. government."
A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
OUR FIRST AUCTION
NHNE's first online auction was a resounding success! We raised approximately
$2800 and are now within $1700 of our current fundraising goal of $7,500
set out in February. We'd like to graciously thank those of you who
contributed items for the auction as well as those that participated
online. Special thanks to WizCity (http://www.wizcity.com/) for suggesting
the idea and holding our hand through the process and Millennium III
Foods (http://www.millennium3foods.com/) for their extremely generous
A special thanks also to NHNE's Linda Becker who coordinated the effort
with her usual light-hearted efficiency!
NHNE Y2K VISIONQUEST UPDATE
The NHNE Y2K VisionQuest ListServe presently has a group of 37 people
discussing various aspects of Y2K, visionquesting, and the turbulent
times in which we live. We had planned to embark upon our visionquest
over the May 8th weekend, but ended up postponing it so we could have
more time to get to know one another, explore the visionquest process
in more depth, and give those you who may want to participate another
chance to join in.
If you are interested in sharing the adventure with us, I encourage
you to swing by the VQ ListServe Archive. The posts archived here will
give you a clear idea what we've been up to. Many of the messages posted
to this list have also been quite inspiring and informative:
If after browsing the archive you feel the inner nudge to join us, the
sign up process is easy enough: simply send a blank message to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
And that's it for now. I hope all is well in your part of the world
and send you all my best.
With Love & Best Wishes,
Y2K GLITCH WATCH:
CREDIT CARD COMPANY: PLEASE DISREGARD THE $5,000 ERROR IN YOUR BILL
(Source: Nancy Ferris, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE, Jan. 1999)
When Rear Adm. George N. Naccara, Chief Information Officer with the
U.S. COAST GUARD, opened his personal credit card statement recently,
he got an unpleasant surprise -- the total was $5,000 more than he had
charged. When Naccara called to complain, the credit card company told
him to disregard that $5,000 bill. It was just a Year 2000 error, the
company representative said. (JG)
THE LEAP YEAR THREAT
(Source: VANITY FAIR, Jan. 1999, thanks to Tom McDowell)
In a once-every-400-years exception within the Gregorian calendar; 2000,
unlike 1900, 1800, and 1700, is a leap year -- a fact many programmers
have neglected to tell their electronic charges. Some companies have
already learned about the dangers of leap years the hard way: In 1996,
when the computer operating a New Zealand minerals-processing plant
discovered an unplanned-for leap day, it stopped the production lines.
The liquids set in the pipes, and nearly three quarters of a million
dollars in damage occurred. Halfway around the world, a similar glitch
turned away 50,000 people who wanted to play the Arizona State Lottery.
THE NEXT HEADACHE: MILLENNIUM VIRUSES
(Sources: THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK), 5/2/1999; Kevin Sullivan, WASHINGTON
On April 26, the "Chernobyl Virus" struck more than 600,000 computers
around the world, with particularly severe impact in South Korea and
Turkey, causing damage estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars
in wrecked equipment and lost business. The virus is believed to have
originated in Taiwan and attacked Windows 95 and Windows 98 files. It
was designed to strike on the 13th anniversary of the explosion at the
Chernobyl nuclear plant in the then-Soviet Union, one of the worst technological
failures in history. In affected computers, the virus erased the hard
drives and wrote gibberish into the computers' system settings, preventing
the machines from being restarted. Victims of the bug said they had
been unaware of its existence or were inadequately prepared to prevent
it. Companies that specialized in retrieving lost data from damaged
hard drives were inundated with calls.
In the wake of the Chernobyl Virus, computer experts are now warning
to be vigilant against the next impending threat: Year 2000 viruses.
While none has yet been spotted yet, the significant date is expected
be too tempting for rogue programmers to resist. Email containing Year
2000 greetings cards and fabulous millennium offers are likely to be
the culprits in spreading the viruses.
The latest trick for virus writers is to gain access to an email user's
address book, pilfer the names and addresses, and send rogue programs
so that the recipients believe they have received something from a trusted
friend. This method was used to spread the infamous "Melissa Virus"
as well as the lesser-known "Happy99 Virus." The latter looks as though
it is a greeting card from a friend -- when the program runs, a message
appears alongside fireworks wishing the user a "Happy 1999". However,
at the same time, a virus infects the program files.
According to Paul Ducklin, a security expert with the anti-virus software
company SOPHOS, that is just a taste of what is to come. "If that's
what happened with an insignificant date like 1999, the mind boggles
at what virus writers have got lined up to mark the end of the millennium,"
he says. At the simplest level, a program with a single line of rogue
code could be emailed to computers to wind their clocks forward. Any
computer that is not millennium compliant would fail. However, Ducklin
maintains, the real threat could come from viruses embedded in email
claiming to contain details of irresistible millennium offers.
The best advice to protect yourself against such email threats is not
to open program files marked by an ".exe" suffix, but delete them immediately.
Any offers of fantastic millennium bargains should also be deleted without
being opened. And, of course, installing the latest anti-virus software
to protect against known viruses is highly recommended. (JG)
Symantec Hoax Page:
CIAC Internet Hoaxes:
The Computer Virus Myths Home Page:
Y2K GLITCH DELETES HUNDREDS OF STUDENT RECORDS
(Source: Nancy Ferris, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE, Jan. 1999)
In January 1997, the U.S. COAST GUARD encountered a Y2K bug at the COAST
GUARD INSTITUTE in Oklahoma City: the first time the system that generates
notices to people enrolled in a correspondence course had to process
dates in 2000, it malfunctioned and deleted hundreds of student records.
"The staff of the institute required two weeks to correct the problem,"
said Chief Information Officer, Rear Adm. George N. Naccara. "It was
a sobering wake-up call." (JG)
FEDERAL AGENCIES & MILITARY PREPARE TO HANDLE CIVIL UNREST
(Sources: DRUDGE REPORT, 5/5/1999; Jack Anderson & Jan Moller, DESERT
NEWS ARCHIVES, 5/3/1999, thanks to Ron Cornish)
The U.S. Marines are denying that civil unrest exercises are being carried
out at Quantico Marine Corps base outside Washington, even though THE
POTOMAC NEWS ran a front-page story in February accompanied by a picture
of one of the exercises. According to the photo/journalist, Dave Ellis,
"They told me what the exercise was about and then asked me not to report
it. [The Marines] were worried that people would think they
were painting helicopters black and training for a huge government crackdown
at the millennium."
Despite the denial of the Marines, Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Chair
of a special Y2K Technology Problem Committee, has confirmed that the
U.S. military is quietly planning a sophisticated social-response network
in case civil unrest should erupt. "There is simply not sufficient time
to understand where all the problems are going to surface, so we must
be practical and prepare for the worst." In the worst-case scenario,
public alarm spreads rapidly as vital services such as health care,
public safety and utilities are temporarily disrupted by computer breakdowns.
Thomas Barnett, Director of the Y2K security project, says his team
has been coaching every branch of the military since last fall, planning
drills and simulating Y2K breakdowns. Barnett plans to take some military
and FBI people to the World Trade Center to develop possible responses
to a stock market crash. Later in May, the FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
AGENCY (FEMA) will hold a national simulated scenario drill which will
pull together all emergency and military resources. FEMA, along with
the NATIONAL GUARD, will coordinate state and local responses to Y2K
problems while the STATE DEPARTMENT will cover international social
But what may come as a surprise to many people, is the existence of
the NATIONAL DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS OFFICE (NDPO), a small agency recently
created within the FBI by Attorney General Janet Reno to be the federal
authority for any national Y2K repercussions. According to its mission
statement, the mandate of the NDPO is "to coordinate all Federal efforts,
including those of the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
AGENCY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY,
and THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, to assist State and local first
responders with planning, training, equipment, and exercise necessary
to respond to a conventional or non-conventional weapon of mass destruction
incident." The agency is already up and running, despite the fact that
Congress has not yet approved its budget. (JG)
National Domestic Preparedness Office Website:
General (202) 324-8186
Training (202) 324-0265
Exercises (202) 324-0299
Equipment (202) 324-0220
Planning (202) 324-0276
Fax (202) 324-8686
General Information: email@example.com
TWO VIEWS OF NERC & THE POWER INDUSTRY
(Sources: Rick Cowles, LUSENET, 4/22/1999; GARY NORTH'S Y2K LINKS AND
The NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL (NERC) is in charge
of coordinating the entire U.S. power industry's Y2K repairs, despite
the fact that it has no official authority to get people to do anything
and it is a small organization funded by power companies. On a regular
basis, it releases what Y2K analyst Gary North calls "happy-face reports."
Here are some of North's edited comments about the latest NERC report
dated April 30:
"NERC reports are based on self-reported data submitted by the power
companies. Data submitted by almost half the bulk electricity providers
are not verified by independent contractors."
"We are told that remediation and testing are 75 percent complete. But
an organization cannot run final testing until remediation is 100 percent
complete, so, what does the 75 percent figure really mean?"
"On page 11, we learn that over 14 percent of the firms that responded
to NERC's forms have yet to complete a written Y2K plan, and 2 percent
do not plan to. Yet on page 12, we read: 'The use of a written project
plan is critical.' On page 15, we read: 'This first graphic shows about
two thirds of reporting entities having completed the initial assessment
phase.' This means that one-third of the bulk suppliers in the U.S.
have not completed their assessments."
"On page 16, we learn: 'Progress has improved substantially since the
previous report. The heavy line in the graph below indicates a March
31, 1999 target of 78 percent complete. This is an expected progress
level assuming a linear pace from the 28 percent reported in August
1998 to 100 percent completion by the end of June 1999.' There is nothing
like a precise figure to inspire confidence, including a precise percentage
of an unknown number."
"How many plants are compliant/tested? None is reported. But NERC is
happy, happy, happy: 'As described previously in this report, electric
systems in North America are not expected to experience interruptions
of service caused by Y2K.' Pay close attention to what NERC reports
next July about the June 30 deadline."
The U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) also conducts regular surveys
of the nation's electricity producers based on information provided
by NERC and the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE). While the GAO takes the
self-reported data at face value, it still has the benefit of providing
an independent and unbiased view of the industry. The following are
some edited excerpts from an detailed analysis by energy expert Rick
Cowles of the latest GAO report (note that at the time of the writing
of the report, data from November 1998 was the most recent available
to the GAO):
"According to EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE, there are approximately 7,300
companies that either make, transmit, distribute, or market power in
the U.S. The GAO report did not consider the impact of independent power
producers (IPP) on the overall health of the North American electric
network. IPPs are non-regulated power generating companies, and are
not subject to any regulatory oversight. In 1998, IPPs supplied around
10 percent of the net electric power generation in the U.S. NERC expressed
concern in their January report that IPPs were generally not reporting
readiness information to NERC. When you consider that a company such
as U.S. GENERATING CO., the second largest power generator in New England,
is an IPP and there's no oversight or regulation of their Y2K effort,
it's concerning that the GAO report did not cover IPPs."
"The GAO focused almost exclusively on computer control systems and
embedded systems that are susceptible to Year 2000 failures [and]
completely ignored the business necessity of back office IT systems,
[some of which] are also mission critical [such as]
customer service and dispatch. In a risk assessment of embedded systems,
GAO focused almost exclusively on SCADA (supervisory control and data
acquisition systems), which is certainly important to daily operations,
but not absolutely critical. What they missed about SCADA is important:
the site uniqueness of each installed system that makes a "cookie cutter"
industry level analysis impossible; and the critical need for 'clean
management' of the platforms and software once thoroughly tested and
"The suggested actions [in the report] are certainly important,
but there is no direction or suggestion on how to implement them. The
recommendations also ignore the harsh reality of advance planning and
scheduling for plant outages within the electric industry. And it is
interesting that, even though the report was prepared two months ago,
as of April 21, a public utility commission contact of mine was unaware
of any initiative by DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, GAO, or NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
OF REGULATORY UTILITY COMMISSIONERS to 'encourage state regulatory utility
commissions to require a full public disclosure of Year 2000 readiness
"In reviewing the appendices to the report, most concerning to me is
the statement on Page 30: 'The readiness of a large percentage of the
distributors [municipal power agencies and rural electric co-ops]
is uncertain because about 73 percent of the municipal and about 23
percent of the cooperative distributors did not report their status.'
Is it lost on anyone that almost 1,500 munis and 200 co-ops didn't report
"By the GAO numbers, government power agencies are a basket case. But
interestingly, when prodded by GAO, all of a sudden these agencies are
committed to bettering the schedules that they've previously published.
Think about this for a minute: GAO holds a great deal of power over
these agencies, and suddenly, they're feeling the heat. So, of course
TVA, BoR, and BPA are going to 'commit' that they can meet enhanced
deadlines. Going from a 4th quarter completion date to a 2nd quarter
completion with the stroke of a pen is PFM (I'm not going to explain
that acronym). GAO says it will be so. Thus, it is so."
"Page 38 was certainly an eye opener for me: 'TVA officials explained
that five fossil plants will not meet the industry target date for readiness
because they will not make the Year 2000 renovations at these plants
until the next scheduled outages for maintenance and repair in November
and December 1999. Because these fossil fuel facilities represent about
26 percent of TVA's electricity capacity, Year 2000 failures could have
had a significant impact. In response to our concern with the risks
associated with this schedule, TVA officials examined the incremental
costs of rescheduling the outages for these plants and decided to move
the scheduled outage to June 1999 for three plants, including two with
the highest generation capacity.' Prior to GAO intervention, 26 percent
of TVA's capacity was not due to undergo Y2K remediation until NOVEMBER
AND DECEMBER of this year!"
"Is there any reason to be encouraged? At the beginning of the report,
GAO states: 'While the electric power industry has reported that it
has made substantial progress in making its equipment and systems ready
to continue operations into the Year 2000, significant risks remain.'"
[Rick Cowles is considered the leading expert on Y2K and power utilities
in the U.S. He has testified before Congressional subcommittees, speaks
frequently on the subject, and is the author of the book "Electric Utilities
and Y2K." Cowles also maintains the Internet's most important power-related
website: "Electric Utilities & Year 2000." In January, Cowles predicted
a power failure bell curve of 15-70-15 (15 percent of U.S. power companies
would fail, 70 percent would experience problems, 15 percent would become
Y2K compliant (Y2K Report 19)). When asked for a timeline, Cowles responded,
"I'd say two weeks after 01/01/2000, and then you'll see a slow recovery
for 15 or 30 days to some kind of equilibrium where you've at least
got some degree of reliability just about everywhere."]
NERC's April 30 Report (requires Acrobat Reader):
Full GAO report (requires Acrobat Reader): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/newtitle.htm
Cowles' Electric Utilities & Year 2000 Website: http://www.euy2k.com
WEB COVERAGE OF THE APRIL 9 NERC DRILL POOR
(Source: E. L. Core. WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 5/6/1999)
As expected, the NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL's much
heralded electrical utility industry-wide drill, April 9, 1999 generated
a flurry of news coverage on the Web: three NERC press releases and
at least 46 articles were published between April 7 and April 12, 1999.
Y2K analyst E.L. Core performed an in-depth analysis of the coverage.
Here are edited excerpts from his report (with his comments on specific
headlines in round brackets):
"The NERC press releases were very straight forward. But the news headlines
were, at best, a mixed bag with more bad apples than good. Most of them,
for instance, were much more generous in quoting power-industry officials
than they were in quoting critics. In a manner of speaking, the news
media got the denotation right, but it skewed the connotation. Given
that the judgment must be to some degree subjective, it was much easier
for me to find nominations for bad (that is, misleading) headlines than
for good headlines. And, many of the headlines conveyed a mixed message:
that some kind of drill was going on (which is true), and that some
kind of Y2K testing was also going on (which is false)."
The most informative, accurate and precise headlines:
- "Plants Conducting Y2K Power Drill: Operators test backup plans in
case telephone lines go down" (That's it in a nutshell.)
- "Power Drill Will Test Y2K Readiness: Utilities to pretend they have
lost usual ways of communication"
- "National Y2K Drill Friday Tests Communication Alternatives"
The least informative, most inaccurate, misleading, and prejudicial
- "The Lights Will Stay On" (What a shame it's from an information-technology
- "ComEd Survives Y2K Test"
- "Power System Survives Y2K Drill" (In no way was the system's survival
in jeopardy that day.)
- "Utilities Test For Y2k Problems" (No, they did not.)
Of the 46 articles, only three had headlines that even attempted to
indicate that there might be any negative side to the situation:
- "Power Utilities Prepare Wide-Scale Drill: Y2K compliance not expected
on June 30 deadline"
- "Electricity Providers Successful In Y2K Communications Test: One
observer noted, however, that the procedure had nothing to do with making
power, only with utilities' ability to talk with one another"
- "Power Industry Says Y2K Drill A Success; Skeptics Unsure"
"While analyzing these news articles, I wondered if perchance the folks
at NERC figured they could count on the media to mumble and stumble
and fumble the April 9 event. Then I read "The Ultimate Hustle" by Ed
Meagher [which concluded]: 'Journalism by press release [is]...news
management at its best and journalism at its worst. The 'powers that
be' know that the vast majority of Americans who read newspapers usually
only read the headline and first paragraph....They know that, if they
control the headline and first paragraph, they control the news.' Enough
JOURNALISM BY PRESS RELEASE
(Source: Ed Meagher, Y2KTODAY, 4/19/99)
Y2K analyst Ed Meagher sees a pattern emerging lately in the reporting
of "happy talk" pronouncements by various government agency officials
and spokespersons for large companies and industry trade associations.
The articles are typically entitled something like: "No Problems Forseen
for Industry/Agency ABC." The article starts off quoting official XYZ
as being very confident that Industry/Agency ABC will be ready for Y2K.
The story then usually goes on to state how much progress has been accomplished
in the last year: "With 75 percent of their mission-critical systems
completed, Industry/Agency ABC is confident of meeting their June 30,
1999 deadline." After several more optimistic quotes, the reporter usually
inserts the obligatory Y2K chestnut, explaining the problem in a line
or two. Then the article concludes with whatever counterpoint the reporter
has turned up, in compliance with his Journalism 101 training.
Here are a few edited excerpts from Meagher's recent essay:
"Journalism by press release is news management at its best and journalism
at its worst. The 'powers that be' know that, if they control the headline
and first paragraph, they control the news. These news managers are
aided and abetted by lazy journalists. I have asked dozens of them why
haven't done a better job of reporting on this issue. Their responses
are all the same:
1. 'We have done several stories over the years.'
2. 'It is a boring story about a possible future event.
3. It has no sizzle, just talking nerd heads.'
4. 'There are more important issues that we are covering.'"
"The crux of the matter is that most journalists are satisfied with
taking a press release and simply rewriting it. They uniformly scoff
at the notion of investigative journalism around this issue. They are
afraid to ask tough, probing questions because they don't understand
the subject matter."
"This sorry situation has been going on now for several months, and
it is having its desired effect. I have been approached by several people
recently with some comment such as, 'It looks like they finally have
a handle on this Y2K thing,' or 'Aren't you relieved that things aren't
going to be as bad as you thought they were?' This has been discouraging
enough, but recently I have noticed an even more disturbing twist. Whole
stories have surfaced and paragraphs have been inserted in 'happy talk'
articles that now say everything is going to be all right with Y2K,
as long as people don't become panicked by the 'doomsayers.' The very
folks who dismissed Y2K as a non-problem for years, who took little
or no action until forced, and who have continued to treat Y2K as a
minor technical glitch, are now trying to set up as the fall guys the
folks who refuse to go along with the spin management. If there is a
problem, it won't be because of their mismanagement of the most serious
business challenge of the last decade of the 20th century -- it will
be caused by the folks who are trying to point out the danger. I believe
that this subtle campaign may be behind the recent 'change of heart'
of a few folks who have been vocal critics up until now."
"Many of us continue to believe that the best strategy for dealing with
the uncertainties of the Y2K situation is a complete and open discussion
of real facts, and immediate and complete contingency planning at all
levels. We run the risk, however, of being the fall guys if some of
the worst scenarios actually take place." (JG)
WHAT DO THEY KNOW THAT WE DON'T?
(Source: Susan Conniry, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 5/3/1999)
Y2K analyst Susan Conniry teaches wilderness survival. Over the last
18 months, the proportion of programmers taking her courses has swelled
to one in three. Besides programmers, participants include emergency
resources personnel, law enforcement officers, and professional business
people. She wonders what they know that we don't, and decided to take
to the trenches to talk to the "real people" who are involved with dealing
with the bug in some direct way. Here are some edited excerpts of what
"When a computer programmer participating in our wilderness survival
course announced he was in class to learn the skills necessary to survive
Y2K disruptions, he had my attention. He was terribly afraid, he said,
that there wasn't 'time to fix it all.' That was 18 months ago."
"A computer programmer [who] works tirelessly for a local city
in charge of Y2K remediation says simply, 'We just won't find all [the
'When a [Y2K manager of] a pharmaceutical company reported to
his CEO that he would require an additional $1,000,000 to remedy their
Y2K problems, the CEO responded with, 'Forget it.' He then announced
to the investors that they were on 'top of the Year 2000 problem and
hoped to have it fixed way ahead of schedule.'"
"Another computer whiz quit his job and moved to the country, saying
his family was more important than the company he worked for."
"After attending the Poway community preparedness workshop, a Y2K project
manager [tried] to get the videotape of this successful workshop
onto public access television in his own city. but the chain of command
stopped him in his tracks, saying, 'It is not a message that we, the
city, want to perpetuate.'"
Conniry concludes, "What do they know that the rest of us don't? The
computer programmers know a great deal. They know that they are running
out of time. They aren't sure that they have found all the 'bugs.' And,
they have become painfully aware that the problem is much bigger than
originally contemplated. It is not just local -- it is global. These
people are in the trenches still working and hoping against hope that
all will be well. But, they are also hedging their bets. They have considered
the problems that might arise if the disruptions are widespread. They
are preparing for themselves and their families, collecting supplies
and provisions. They attend wilderness survival courses. And, they chomp
at the bit listening to the politically correct statements from the
government agencies, local leadership and the CEOs of some companies
that are nothing but the public relations two-step." (JG)
NORTH: Y2K FEVER IS LIKE SYPHILIS
(Source: Gary North, REALITY CHECK, 5/5/1999)
Y2K fever is like syphilis, according to Y2K analyst, Gary North: "When
the cankers disappear...most victims think the disease has disappeared.
They go back to their old ways, spreading it hither and yon. The public
infection is made worse by the disappearance of the outward personal
signs of sickness." In fact, it is when the cankers disappear, says
North, "that the disease advances to the next stage. The final stage
is dementia. Then the carrier dies."
Here are some edited excerpts from North's comments:
"Ask yourself: What is the most compelling evidence you have seen that
indicates that Y2K has been solved? What industry is compliant? What
electrical power generating plant is compliant? What phone company is
compliant? Has the evidence been verified by an independent third party?"
"It is May. We have no year for final testing. There are no compliant
industries in the U.S. There are none internationally. There is only
the fact that human beings cannot live at a fever pitch for months on
end. They either adjust to the bad conditions, go mad, or go into denial.
Denial is easy. Today, the public is being told what it desperately
wants to hear: 'We have it licked.' It used to be, 'They'll solve it.'
'They' have become 'we.'" (JG)
MAKING MEANING: A CHALLENGE FOR THE NEW CENTURY
(Source: Amanda Butcher, RESILIENT COMMUNITIES, 4/30/1999)
Where do we find the strength to face uncertainties and difficult times?
On May 27, join over 100 communities around the U.S. and Canada to address
this question by participating in the live-interactive Resilient Communities
Videoconference: "Making Meaning: A Challenge for the New Century."
Special guests include author and activist, Vicki Robin; speaker and
author, Robert Theobald; and musician and poet, Rachel Bagby.
"Making Meaning" will explore the need to make and discover deeper meaning
in both individual and community contexts, and is the third videoconference
in a trilogy of satellite broadcasts designed to bring people together
to talk about issues of fundamental change. It is co-produced by NORTHWEST
REGIONAL FACILITATORS, a Spokane, Washington non-profit community organizing
agency, and WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION. The live
satellite feed is May 27th, 1999, 9:00 a.m. through 12 Noon (PT), and
can be accessed through a satellite downlink by anyone at any location
with an adjustable satellite dish.
Theobald, who has worked as a speaker and author in the field of social
change for 40 years, dreamt up this series of programs to provide spaces
around the continent for deep discussion about the directions our culture
is moving. The first program in the series featured a discussion between
Robert Theobald, and Margaret Wheatley, noted Y2K commentator and author
("The Simpler Way," "Leadership and the New Science"). Shifting global
dynamics and new forms of leadership for the new millennium were the
topics. The second program, "Common Sense, Common Ground: Preparing
for Y2K," created a context through which to prepare for possible Y2K
disruptions, and how this catalyst for change provides common ground
to strengthen the vital relationships in our lives.
For more information on finding the closest site to you, or to set up
your own site, visit the Resilient Comunities Website or contact Amanda
Butcher at (509) 484-6733 or "firstname.lastname@example.org". Site fees are $10 per
person; videotapes of each program in the series are available at $27
Resilient Communities Project Website: http://www.resilientcommunities.org.
MILLENNIUM MEDICAL KIT
(Source: MILLENNIUM MEDICAL KITS Website)
Next to food, water and shelter, health is a top priority, especially
in an emergency. For those who have not already made preparations in
the emergency medical area, MILLENNIUM MEDICAL KITS offers a comprehensive
medical kit that contains over 250 pieces, making this one of the most
comprehensive first responder/survival/health kits available. One of
the things that sets the kit apart from ordinary first aid kits is the
array of homeopathic and herbal remedies for those preferring natural
methods of healing. The content usage booklet provided with the kit
explains how each item can be used to assist the body's natural healing
The Millennium Medical and Health Kit contains 140 items just in the
"Bandages, Dressings, Absorbent Pads and Tapes" Section alone. The kit
also contains several important skin care products for burns, burn prevention,
cold sores, blisters, rashes, swelling, surface wounds, skin infection
and bites; eight different cleansing products for a variety of applications;
plus candles, penlight, sewing kit, thermal blanket, waterproof matches
and more. The items are new, name-brand, and hospital-quality. The kit
box is made of durable, light-weight plastic, is conveniently sized
and weighs only 13 lbs. The cost is $250.
MILLENNIUM MEDICAL KITS has been supplying hospitals, clinics, law enforcement
agencies, paramedics, in-home nurses and doctors with quality health
care products for over 15 years. (JG)
SIMPLE WATER FILTER
(Source: 911 WATER Website, thanks to Brent Nelson)
The British Berkefeld Emergency and Camping Water Filter system is a
very simple water filter that can produce up to 30 gallons a day with
no water pressure or pumping and has a history dating back to the early
1800s. Constructed of high-grade, polished stainless steel, the upper
chamber is filled with water which gravity feeds through the filters
into the lower chamber. The pore structure of the ceramic filters inside
the unit removes very fine particles and bacteria. The durable ceramic
filters can be cleaned over and over with a soft brush. Prices range
from $199 for the 7-inch model (filters about 12 gallons per day) to
$279 for the new "Big Berkey," which features four nine-inch filters
providing 30 gallons per day. Extra filters can be purchased separately
for $35 (two pack). (JG)
THE MINIMUM SOLAR BOX COOKER
(Source: The MINIMUM SOLAR BOX COOKER Website)
Experiments by SOLAR COOKERS INTERNATIONAL (SCI) in Seattle and Arizona
have lead to a simple construction method that allows a solar cooker
to be built in a few hours for very little money, by anyone with access
to cardboard, foil, glue, and plastic or glass. The following developments
make this design possible:
- Insulation material is not essential in the walls. A foiled airspace
is all that is necessary.
- Aluminum foil can be reduced to just one layer.
- The airspace between the walls can be very small.
- A double layer of plastic film (such as Reynolds Oven Cooking Bags)
works at least as well as a single sheet of glass.
- Shallower ovens cook better since they have less wall area through
which to lose heat -- design the inside of the oven to be just slightly
taller than your biggest pot.
The limiting factor is still the ratio between the mass of the food
and the size of the solar collectors; in general, it is best to make
the collectors as large as is conveniently possible so that the oven
will perform adequately even under marginal conditions.
Solar cookers can also be used to pasteurize drinking water and milk
to kill the common disease-causing organisms. Liquids do not need to
boil to achieve pasteurization, which kills germs and disease-carrying
organisms including bacteria, rotaviruses, enteroviruses, and cysts;
however, pasteurization does not remove chemical contamination such
as pesticides or industrial waste, and pasteurized water is not sterilized
and therefore should not be used for medical procedures. (JG)
Minimum solar box cooker: http://www.accessone.com/~sbcn/minimum.htm
Solar pasteurization: http://www.accessone.com/~sbcn/spasteur.htm
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
Y2K X 2 = JACKO!
(Source: Amy Reiter, SALON PEOPLE, 4/29/1999)
Michael Jackson has announced that he will usher in Y2K in both Sydney,
Australia, and Honolulu, Hawaii. He is able to accomplish the feat because
Sydney and Honolulu are 20 hours apart. "Michael felt he should perform
in Hawaii at the millennium because it's the last chance and place in
the U.S. where an American can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience,"
explained German promoter and producer Marcel Avram. (JG)
DOIN' THE "MILLY" IN THE WINDY CITY
(Source: Gary Washburn, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/2/1999)
In order to celebrate the new millennium, the City of Chicago has commissioned
award-winning Chicago choreographer Harrison McEldowney to invent a
new dance step -- "The Milly." City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois
Weisberg, came up with the idea for the city's official dance, something
on the order of the Macarena inasmuch as "any child or senior citizen"
will be able to do it, she said. "The steps will be simple," she added,
and the Milly song to go along with it will be adaptable to any musical
style, from polka to reggae. McEldowney is expected to deliver the goods
by summer. The new step will be taught at SummerDance, the annual program
for dance enthusiasts that begins July 15 and runs to Sept. 26. The
city also will produce an instructional video that will be aired on
public cable television outlets. Said Weisberg: "We will teach the dance
to everybody in the city so that at midnight on New Year's Eve, everybody
would have a way of doing the same thing." That will fit nicely into
the overarching theme of Chicago's three-year millennial celebration,
which Weisberg described as "bringing a sense of community among...individuals
and neighborhoods, and relationships between us and...the rest of the
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES:
The stories in this week's NHNE Y2K Report were drawn, in part, from
the following news sources:
SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS:
YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER:
GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS:
Sheri Nakken (Y2K NETWORK):
Y2K INFO DIRECT:
Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth
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