U.S. Agency Tells Americans Not To Panic Over Y2K

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Monday March 22 2:44 PM ET

U.S. Agency Tells Americans Not To Panic Over Y2K

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government's Federal Emergency Management Agency told Congress Monday that the year 2000 computer bug posed little risk to property or lives, and urged the American public not to panic.

FEMA's Deputy Director Mike Walker told a House of Representatives committee that the so-called millennium bug could temporarily disrupt traffic, communications and power systems in parts of the United States.

But Walker also said, ``There is no need to hoard. There is no need to take money out of banks. There's no need to head for the hills. In fact, those kinds of extreme reactions could actually cause a disaster that otherwise would not happen.''

Other U.S. government experts also played down the risk of widespread computer problems within the United States next Jan. 1, while saying the millennium bug could cause dangerous accidents in other countries, particularly in the former Soviet states.

In a joint statement, Republican Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah and Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said nuclear reactors throughout the former Soviet Union were vulnerable to year 2000 computer-related failures because their systems were antiquated and poorly maintained.

The senators, who chair a special committee on the computer glitch, urged Vice President Al Gore to address the issue when he meets with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov later this week.

The millennium problem, commonly referred to as Y2K for the year 2000, arises because many older computers record dates using only the last two digits of the year. If left uncorrected, such systems could treat the year 2000 as the year 1900, generating errors or system crashes next Jan. 1.

In testimony before the House subcommittee on government management, information and technology, Walker said there was little chance of widespread electric power problems due to the computer glitch.

``It is difficult to imagine a Y2K scenario that would trigger widespread physical consequences that threaten lives and property,'' he said.

But Walker said there was a risk of ``localized'' disruptions, particularly in rural areas in northern and western U.S. states because Y2K problems could strike during the winter storm season.

``A Y2K scenario could cause scattered disruptions in critical systems such as traffic control, communications, or power, which would complicate local, state and federal efforts to provide disaster response,'' Walker said.

In their letter to Gore, Bennett and Dodd said 14 Chernobyl-style nuclear reactors in former Soviet republics could experience Y2K failures, leading to power outages and even nuclear accidents.

``It is believed that a Y2K-related failure at these plants could pose serious safety risks and cause regional instability in Eastern Europe,'' the letter said.


-- Norm (nwo@hotmail.com), March 22, 1999


Then why the hell are they condcting Y2K community preparedness meetings and workshops across this country?

-- This (doesn'tmakesense@all.com), March 22, 1999.

Boy, do I feel a lot safer and more at easy now that FEMA has spoken !!!

Now for 2 serious points:

1. >There's no need to head for the hills. In fact, those kinds of extreme reactions could actually cause a disaster that otherwise would not happen.''

Witness the creation and identification of a group to vilify when things happen outside the narrow band that FEMA predicts. This villification will continue. We (those preparing) are likely to be singled out as the villians who caused all the panic.

Get used to it. More will follow.

2. >``It is difficult to imagine a Y2K scenario that would trigger widespread physical consequences that threaten lives and property,'' he said.

What a doof. With an imagination like that it is a wonder that the gut can find his way to work.

Of course I know it's just spin. But what a stupid way to spin.

--Greybear, villian extrodinaire

-Got Black Hats?

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), March 22, 1999.

Yes Norm, please explain why the Red Cross came to the school where my wife works to talk about shelter planning?

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), March 22, 1999.

I feel so much better. Thank you, FEMA.

Btw, I was in Russia last fall. What a mess, I feel sorry for those people. If anyone thinks Russia is going to fix a single y2k bug, then they are living in fantasy land.

We can only hope that there is a miracle. Or that the prevailing winds keep the radiation out of my area.

-- Faithful Loyal Taxpayer (noway@iamnotcrazy.gov), March 22, 1999.

Sounds like another case of...The Disconnect Effect. Isn't FEMA itself making Y2K contingency plans?


The Disconnect Effect

By E. L. Core

March 15, 1999

The report of the US Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem hit the news big, even before it was released on March 2, 1999. A Reuters news story by Adam Entous, "Americans Urged To Stock Up Before Y2K Strikes," for instance, appeared on at least four news websites on Feb. 28 and March 1: Capitol Hill Blue, Excite, NewsPage and Yahoo. (The article is entitled "Senators urge Americans to hoard for Y2K" at Capitol Hill Blue.)

This article deserves scrutiny. As an example of what I call The Disconnect Effect, it is unexcelled. When a news story quotes individuals expressing opinions and offering advice, though independent analysis of the facts presented in the article would lead one to quite different opinions and conclusions -- that's The Disconnect Effect (TDE).


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans should prepare for the Year 2000 computer bug like they would a hurricane, by stocking up on canned food and bottled water in case vital services are cut off, senators leading a congressional study of the problem said Sunday. Global trade could also be disrupted because major U.S. trading partners, including Japan and oil producers Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, may not be able to address the computer glitch in time, Utah Republican Sen. Robert Bennett and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd said.

Blammo. The Disconnect Effect exhibits itself already. We are told that global trade could be disrupted -- including trade with major oil producers -- but what advice are we given? To prepare for Y2K as we would prepare for a hurricane. How much sense does that make? I will return to this idea repeatedly below.

"This problem is real," Bennett, chairman of the Senate's special committee on the so-called Y2K Problem, told CBS's Face the Nation. "This will not be the end of the world as we know it. But we have to stay on top of it".... According to a draft copy of the report, the nation's airports started preparations too late, and shipments of goods and services by sea could be disrupted because the maritime industry was running behind.

Airports "started preparations too late" and the maritime industry is "running behind." In other words, vital links in trade are at risk -- the trade that provides raw materials and finished goods and fuel and foodstuffs for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Eighty percent of the raw materials used in the U.S. for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, for instance, is imported, as is seventy percent of the U.S. insulin supply. (It is Senator Dodd who says so.) But what are we advised to do? To prepare as we would prepare for a hurricane, "by stocking up on canned food and bottled water."

"It's not unwise for people to do a little stockpiling," Dodd told NBC's Meet the Press.

What, exactly, are we supposed to think a "little" stockpiling means? How much is "a little?" Hold on a moment...

He said people should buy bottled water, canned goods and other essentials as they might to prepare for a "good storm, a hurricane" that would last two to three days.

Now, I am not among those who ridicule the idea of telling people to stock up for two to three days because everybody already has enough to get through two or three days -- for that apparently is not the case. The Escambia County (Florida) Emergency Management Office, for instance, has a Hurricane Preparation web site that sees fit to advise likewise for Disaster Supplies.

But if this is the answer to my question above -- "How much is a little?" -- then it's no answer. Enough food and water to tide one through a long weekend -- I mean, really, how can anybody call that "stockpiling" and keep a straight face?

Dodd said people should also keep copies of their financial records in case banks run into unforeseen problems. But he said that banking problems were unlikely.

You bet he said that. Of course he said that. Of course he did. You bet he did. (There is no lack of advice about what should be said about Y2K and the banks. See, for example, what a psychologist tells the banking industry about Y2K and anxiety and ten effective ways to respond to it.)

There was no need for people to buy electricity generators or stockpile propane because a prolonged nationwide blackout was unlikely, Bennett said...

Weasel words like "unlikely" bother me. It seems to me that "unlikely" does not fit well here with the absolute admonition, "no need." The absolute word "impossible" would fit much better with "no need," don't you think?

But this paragraph is polluted with more weasel words: "prolonged nationwide blackout." What kind of monkey business is this? Are we supposed to believe that only a "prolonged nationwide blackout" would necessitate generators? What about a short nationwide blackout? What about prolonged local or regional blackouts? Neither senator asserts that such conditions are impossible. How could they -- how could anybody -- when so much power generation depends upon availability of fuel, and trade with major oil-production nations is at risk? (Did you think that power generation will depend solely on the Y2K compliance of electrical utilities? Think again.)

Besides, how long is prolonged? Were that question to be asked during a power outage in January, the answer would depend a lot, I bet, upon the ambient temperature of one's dwelling.

The draft report concluded that more serious problems could strike other countries, including some major U.S. trading partners far behind in Y2K readiness.

Who cares, right? Serious problems in other countries: that's irrelevant to the USA, right? I mean, if U.S. trading partners aren't ready, it will have absolutely no effect on life in the USA, right? If it would, then two senators studying the problem wouldn't be advising us to just stock up for a really bad long weekend -- right?

"Planes will not fall out of the sky, but disruption of flights and global trade between some areas and countries may occur," the draft report said.

There it is, the Premier Y2K Shibboleth, the Big Red Herring, the Great Distraction: "Planes will not fall out of the sky." I am unaware of anybody who has seriously suggested that planes might "fall out of the sky" -- certainly not any serious commentator. As Y2K author Bruce Webster remarks, "I'd love to see this phrase eliminated from all future Y2K reporting; I know of no credible Y2K analyst who has ever used it except in the negative, yet even now news articles and reports still use it to open a Y2K story."

When it is admitted that "the nation's airports started preparations too late," the senators should be addressing questions like, "Will airplanes be able to take off?" And, considering the concerns about insurance, "Will airplanes be allowed to take off?" And "What effect might disruption in air transportation have on our economy and, consequently, on our way of life?" (If you are thinking that air transportation involves only the movement of people, then try to think about "USPS," "FedEx," and "UPS," too.)

The committee singled out major oil producers Venezuela and Saudi Arabia for failing to prepare for the computer glitch.

Venezuela and Saudi Arabia together provide thirty percent of U.S. oil imports. Those two countries aren't preparing for Y2K. And global trade may be disrupted.

And we are advised just to prepare for one really bad long weekend.

Japan and Mexico were also at serious risk, along with France, Germany, Brazil, Italy and Spain, according to the report.

"Made in Japan." NAFTA. "Made in China." GATT. "Made in Malaysia." Enough said.

Bennett and Dodd said the U.S. nuclear arsenal appeared to be safe, but the computer bug could cause weapons systems in other countries to malfunction. Dodd said it was critical that Russia, Pakistan, India, China and other nations work together on the problem.

The mind reels.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal "appeared" to be "safe." "Appeared?" "Appeared?" I don't have to remind the Y2K-savvy that the U.S. military has been caught lying about its Y2K preparations.

And "weapons systems" in other countries might "malfunction." That will have no effect whatever on the USA, right? Malfunction of weapons systems in Russia and China won't affect the USA, right? Even the malfunction of weapons systems in India and Pakistan won't really affect anybody, right? It will have no effect on international politics or international trade, right? The malfunction of weapons systems will have no effect whatever around the world where peace prevails and age-old animosities have died and rapacious jealousies have been eliminated and power-hungry tyrants are no more. Otherwise, we would not be advised by senators investigating Y2K that all we need to prepare for is one really bad long weekend, right?

The mind -- the mind awake, the mind engaged, the mind thinking -- reels.

But both senators said there was no way to tell how serious the disruptions would be.

That didn't stop them, though, from telling us just to stock up for one really bad long weekend, did it?

"When we get to New Year's Eve, everybody, no matter how informed we think we are, is going to be holding his breath," Bennett said.

See how is a false dichotomy presented throughout the article? Y2K "will not be the end of the world as we know it," according to Senator Bennett, and "planes will not fall out of the sky;" but, "it's not unwise for people to do a little stockpiling," says Senator Dodd, as one might for a storm "that would last two to three days." As if these two extremes are the only possibilities.

Bruce Webster can say, though, of the Senate report itself, "It is also the first official government document to establish (in considerable detail) the existence and likelihood of Y2K consequences between the two oft-cited extremes of 'a bump in the road' and 'the end of the world as we know it'."


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), March 22, 1999.

Found this at the FEMA site ...

Y2K Testimony Given Before Congressional Subcommittee

Washington, March 22, 1999 -- Mike Walker, Deputy Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, testified today before a House subcommittee looking into the Y2K computer problem. ...

http://www.fema.gov/ y2k/walker320.htm

... "To those who would wait and see or those who are downplaying Y2K, let us say: The Y2K problem does not fix itself."

(for Norm).


See also Leska's post ...

~7~ It's Officially Crept Up To 7 Days

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 000dfI

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 22, 1999.

That FEMA quote reminds me of the John Belushi scene in the moving "1942" involving the artillery piece.

The y2k adaptation: "Let's see, do not, do not, um, I've got it! Do not hoard food! Next step, do not, do not, Oh! Come On! I know I can remember! Oh, Yeah!, do not take all my money out of the bank! One last thing! Oh, what WAS it! Oh, right! Do not head for the hills! Quick, Honey!, Crank up the Suburban while I look for that map of the Ozarks."

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 22, 1999.

My post is about the FEMA quote in the original post, just to make that clear.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 22, 1999.

Anyone who believes these guys has to be dumber than a box of rocks. I start to get giddy whenever I remember that D.C. is so unprepared.

-- living in geneva (resident@of.geneva), March 22, 1999.

Linkmeister - excellent statement of the obvious that people like Norm steadfastly refuse to acknowledge. The amount of spin, weasel words, and self contadiction around today would make Goebbels blush.

When govt. (or private) agencies start having their speech and their actions consistant with each other, THEN they might be worth listening to. In the meantime when was is said is inconsistant with what actions are being taken, I'll trust the actions, not the words.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), March 22, 1999.

sure,sure...just a bump in the road....when you're 5-year old niece is driving and she just drank wild turkey....and you're trying to shave with a machete!!!

-- diggitydog (hotdog@digit.uni.), March 22, 1999.

ah disinformation...I don't know what's more amusing, the fact that the fedgov still thinks that sane people believe them, or the fact that folks like the Norm troll actually *do* believe them...even when the article points to a direct y2k problem which contradicts the happy face disinformation.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), March 22, 1999.

Lets see. How many Urban Warrior exercises have happened in the last 6 months? Keep posting Norm. I think you are Milne in a DGI clownsuit. You set up easy polly propaganda and let the forum destroy at will. Brilliant.

-- RD. ->H (drherr@erols.com), March 22, 1999.

No comment... Ya'all got this one covered...

How's it going Norm? <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), March 22, 1999.

AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaammennn to all!!!!!!

Gosh, I just love when intelligence is displayed as brilliantly as it has been on this thread. Yes, the blinding light of Truth and Reason burns the shadow of idiocy and confusion into irrelevancy EVERY TIME.

Now only if we can get the other 123.5 million people in this country to stop emoting AND START PREPARING!!!!!

Do it ...for the children.

Got Compassion?

-- INVAR (gundark@aol.com), March 22, 1999.

We have spinners and we have spinners.... Day by Day I am begining to understand why Gary North continues to hold his 10 position. I only wish I could move out of the suburbs (maybe not as bad as the cities).

"Huston we have a problem"

Who is going to get us "home" when TSHTF......

-- helium (heliumavid@yahoo.com), March 22, 1999.

RD's got this one nailed. "Milne in a DGI clown suit." If not Milne, then someone. These Mron posts are the biggest strawmen/hanging curveballs I've ever seen. Why else the "NWO" tag? Does NWO have favorable connotations somewhere in the world? Not that I know of.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), March 22, 1999.

Again - why do they think "rural and far west" areas will be hardest hit - there is no evidence to indicate that any city of any substantial size is ahead of the curve in remediation - and the concentration of population is only a panic "stress riser" - if someone 5 miles from his neighbor gets mad - he has to get in his pickup truck and waste gas just to drive over there and have somebody to yell at. And the rural homeowner has a fireplace, an axe, and a water pump, a generator, and the nerve and energy to use it.

The urban apartmetn dweller has nothing. And can't get anything.

But 1500 people in one apartment building aren't at risk? Surrounded by 500 other apartment buildings, none of which have water, telephones, or heat?

Even if failure is only for 48 hours - how many will panic? It makes no sense........their responses make no sense.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), March 23, 1999.

Why not?

-- Panic? (why@not.now), March 23, 1999.

Robert hit it pretty well: "Why do they say the f=rural and far west will be hit worst?" Maybe in their minds we will be. Maybe we WON"T have constant federal attention and presence, no operating 24hr media outlets and all because there's no power in the rural and far west areas. Hey, I'm prepared to live without power and if it gets me no feds and I don't have to endure Dan, Tom, Peter and the CNN clown posse, it's a great trade in my view.

Of course if there's no power in the rural and far western areas, there's no food production for the urban areas that'll get the power. I wonder what the urban residents will think as the lites stay on but the starve to death? A great trade-off for them?

"If you take away a civilization's cities but leave the farming communities intact, there will again be cities. But if you take away a civilization's farming, then only weeds will live in the cities' streets." - William Jenning Bryan


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), March 23, 1999.

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