Power/Gas in Germany - 40+% from Russia - YET "Germany ""CONFIDENT""...

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Y2K - Germany Confident Problem Under Control

www.capitolhillblue.com 4-22-99

BONN, Germany (Reuters) -- The German government is confident that millennium celebrations on January 1, 2000 should pass uninterrupted as preparations for dealing with the millennium bug computer problem were well advanced.

Economics Minister Werner Mueller and Interior Minister Otto Schily told a joint news conference on Wednesday that public services and key infrastructure would take any Y2K-related problems in their stride.

However, Mueller said he could not rule out problems in the private sector, depending on the size of the companies involved.

"Large companies look set to meet their Y2K requirements in good time, according to the experts. But evidence still seems to point to a lack of preparation by small and medium sized firms," Mueller said.

The millennium bug, or Y2K, problem arises because many older computers record dates using only the last two digits of the year. If left uncorrected, systems could read the year 2000 as 1900, generating errors or crashes.

Schily said the German government had been criticised abroad for not making sufficient preparation for January 1, 2000, but these criticisms were unfair.

"On the one hand the yardsticks for Y2K problems are so varied. Also Germany's federal structure means that responsibility lies not with the central government, but on various levels," he said.

Utility companies, including those running nuclear plants, had tackled the issue well in advance but some glitches may arise in the supply of oil and gas from abroad.

"Energy providers have practically ruled out any chance of a breakdown in energy provision at this stage," Mueller said.

He pointed out how oil companies and other energy sector firms had long considered it prudent to draw up or update contingency plans in order to be covered in the event of a disruption to the international supply chain.

The telecommunications sector -- also viewed as susceptible to Y2K-related ills -- had also made advances and no breakdowns were expected.

The two ministers disagreed on when the millennium would actually begin, with Mueller plumping for January 1 next year and Schily for the same date the following year.

Some government officials around the world have said they will ensure they are in the air on January 1, 2000 to demonstrate the safety of aviation systems.

Mueller said that he too planned to be airborne around New Year's Day, on his way back to the Ruhr valley.

This was not so much a sign of confidence as a wish to enjoy his first holiday at this time for many years, he said.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 23, 1999


I haven't figured this illogic out either.....either they don't it, don't think it matters, know it but haven't thought about, or know it, thought about it, but don't want to talk about it.

Or it could be simple incompetence.

Or, to give the Poly's their credit, we might be wrong - Russia will be fine, their gas and oil distribution and infrastructure will be okay with no problems, or, then again, Germany (Europe) won't miss losing 50% of their gas supply.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), April 25, 1999.


take a read on the piece on Russia today by an American visitor.

quite chilling...

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 25, 1999.

I think this may be of general interest ...

I'm a computer scientist by training and historically somewhat of a y2k skeptic. However, I'm reconsidering my position. Why? See below.

I was in Moscow last week, meeting with two of our partners (doing contract software work). They have lots of contacts with various utilities and agencies in the Moscow and Tver region, so I got a chance to really see a broad range of Russian software systems, as well as get a sense of overall work in progress.

Let me tell you: you have no idea how bad it is in Russia. Take what you've heard and multiply in by 10. Banks are closed, money is worthless, factories are shut down, people are unemployed, crimials run amok while the good people suffer. It's a testimony to the Russian people that they somehow survive, they're a resilient lot. I think most Americans would have given up in similar situation. We've got it so soft and easy over here I sometimes fear it's gone to our heads.

Anyway, here is the scary thing. Russia is heading towards an absolute y2k meltdown. I'm convinced of this. I saw their systems. They're antique, both standalone and embedded. Exactly the systems that have the most y2k problems. And - nothing is being done about y2k! Nothing! It's not simple denial (although they've got plenty of that), it's simple defeatism. No one cares, no one takes responsibility. They're too busy trying to keep the lights on right now to worry about Jan 1. I found the whole thing incredible, but I am not overstating the case. The Russians are doing zip.

So what? you might ask. Well, remember Russia is "Bangladesh with nuclear missiles". Thank God Bush and Clinton negotiated some nuclear arms reductions, but the fact is still 8000 warheads are pointing right at us (forget about the "detargeting" prograganda - missiles can be automatically set back to original targets in seconds). I got a chance to talk with two former Red Army men (one on retirement, one retired but working for Tver nuclear agency). The systems I saw commercially, they told me, reflect what you find in Russian nuclear weapons and command-and-control. According to them, it is simply not the case that the military systems are of higher grade. (They have things like shock, EMP and overall hardening, but it is still the same type of equipment). Worse, they tell me the situation in the military is even worse than in the civilian sector. Even in the SRF (Strategic Rocket Forces - the Russian elite), morale is low, enlisted men are going hungry, and they certainly aren't fixing y2k problems. Both of these men - a major and a colonel - are expecting something "disastrous, if not catastrophic" to happen. Exact quote.

The Russian military system is completely rotted out, but so far has remained standing. Y2K will be the event that pushes it over the edge. After seeing their systems and talking with the Russians, I came away convinced that this is *the* issue that might actually make the y2k doomsday scenarios a possibility. (A single 1-megaton hit on any major US city would forever alter this country).

To be clear, I don't for a minute think the Russians would attack the US. What I'm worried about is a technical failure with unforseeable side-effects, aggravated by an overall command system that has completely broken down.

In some ways I feel like the Russians. Just bury my head in the sand and hope for the best. But I know this isn't right. So I'm making some rather dramatic personal plans.

Well, this is what I learned. Best to you all.

-- Christopher Talekov (ctalekov@noemailplease.com), April 25, 1999

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 25, 1999.


-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), April 26, 1999.

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