Y2K summit consensus-No one totally safe from bug

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03/03 08:33 Y2K summit consensus-No one totally safe from bug

By Abe De Ramos

MANILA, March 3 (Reuters) - A global conference on millennium bug preparedness concluded on Wednesday that no one would be too prepared for the arrival of the year 2000.

"I don't think any country will completely meet the deadline. Even in countries that are the most far along in Y2K readiness, there will be some kind of disruption," said Bruce McConnell, director of the International Y2K Cooperation Centre in New York.

The problem is that many computers now cannot recognise the year 2000. If not repaired they will read "00" as 1900, and that could cause them to crash or malfunction on January 1, 2000.

The summit, with delegates from 18 countries, gave voice to groups who saw Armageddon approaching, and those confident no great economic catastrophe would ensue from the change of date.

"One likely thing that may happen is something like an insurance company will not insure or underwrite planes that go to (non-compliant) countries," said Joe Riley, president of the Technological Information Consultants of Australia.

"Nobody's alarming people or doing alarmist things. It's a reality," Riley said.

But in Washington, a U.S. Senate panel said on Tuesday the millennium bug may set off civil unrest in poor countries, undermine economic growth in Asia, Latin America and Africa, and disrupt global trade in oil and other commodities.

While there was a low probability of an accidental nuclear weapons launch, it said missile systems and high-tech weapons in other countries could malfunction, and terrorists might strike against U.S. targets to take advantage of weakened security.

"I have a nightmare of CNN cameras in villages or cities where there is no power, no telecommunications, the banking system is broken down, widespread rioting," said Utah Republican Robert Bennett, chairman of the Senate's Special Committee on the computer problem.

The Manila summit stressed all sectors of business and society would be affected by the millennium bug, and the most critical of them were water and electricity supply, health care, transportation, telecommunications and social security.

It emphasised the potential cross-border damage that could arise among those thought to be most Y2K ready, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, and those with a long way to go, such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

Michael Fletcher, chief executive officer of the HighSpin Corp of Canada, said international trade might be disputed if any part of the chain that links suppliers to buyers -- whether in the airport's or manufacturer's Y2K readiness -- proves weak.

"It is agreed that the nations and economies of the Asian region will bring their own countries to the highest level of Y2K readiness not only for their own benefit but also to minimise the adverse effects on vital sectors of other countries," the summit declaration said.

McConnell said with less than 10 months to go, government and private sector efforts must focus on contingency measures.

"I think it's important to continue the focus on fixing the problem especially for the first part of this year, but increasingly you'll see everyone turning to business continuity and contingency response and that includes emergency responses."

Riley said Y2K information should be passed on the grassroots level. "At the end of the day, it is the community that will know what to do when water and electricity supply is cut off."

Another consensus was no one must withhold information on how the Y2K problem could be solved and helpful information must be shared on a global scale, the declaration said.

============================ Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 03, 1999


Ray, thanks for posting this sensible article. Why has govt lost all common sense and decency?

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), March 03, 1999.

Leska, government like everything else evolves. I believe that our government is in the late stages of it's evolution and that honesty along with many other admirable traits have slowly disappeared from their daily lives.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), March 03, 1999.

Thanks, Ray. So often it's foreign reporters who give us the most realistic and honest perspective on Y2K. Sometimes I wonder if politicians have become so accustomed to lying that they lie about EVERYthing, they just can't help it any more.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), March 03, 1999.

Old Git, foreign reporters have recognized -- for years -- that our emperor has no clothes. Why else does Clinton call the London Times a 'tabloid?'

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 03, 1999.

I'm glad that we can get some truth out of Manila. It is unfortunate that the lies are starting to reach critical mass in Washington. Slick Clinton, Stiff Gore, and "don't be an extremist" Koskinen are spinning on Y2K more than even on Juanita Broaderick.

Slick must be preparing his martial law executive orders. He thinks that he is a prince of a man, but he would rather be king. If he had been honest about Y2k with the American people at the beginning of 1996, we may have had a chance. Of course, this is a fantasy. Slick is never honest with anyone. He only lies when his lips are moving, except when he does it in writing.

-- Buster (fazz@aol.com), March 03, 1999.

He probably moves his lips while he's writing, just out of habit.

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), March 03, 1999.

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