World looks to new Millennium with both hope and feargreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Thursday December 30, 1999 8:09 p.m. EST
World Looks to the New Millennium With Both Hope and Fear
From a sprinkle of South Pacific islands to the skyscrapers of the Americas, across the pyramids, the Parthenon and the temples of Angkor Wat, mankind stood on the threshold of a new millennium Friday, linked by satellite technology for the most closely watched midnight in history.
The world celebration was tempered, however, by unease over Earth's vulnerability to terrorism and its dependence on computer technology.
The excitement was typified by the Pacific archipelago nation of Kiribati, so eager to be first to see the millennium that it actually shifted its portion of the international dateline two hours east.
The caution was exemplified by Seattle, which canceled its New Year's party for fear of terrorism. Around the nation, such fears were heightened Thursday when U.S. prosecutors alleged that a man and woman arrested separately at the Canadian border are linked to a violent Algerian group.
FBI agents also fanned out across the nation Thursday and questioned dozens of people to build a broader case against an Algerian caught smuggling explosives into the United States Dec. 14. One man was arrested in New York and charged with being his accomplice.
Fears of sabotage have also prompted tighter security at airports, border crossings, utilities and tunnels in many states.
Around the world, armies of employees had to forgo parties and stay at work in case the Y2K bug attacked computers.
Many people were expected to stay indoors rather than swell the crowds at New Year's landmarks such as Times Square in New York, where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appealed to the public ``not to let the psychology of fear infect the way they act.''
``Otherwise, we have let the terrorist win without anybody striking a blow,'' he said.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged mankind to count its blessings.
``Many of us have much to be thankful for. Most of the world is at peace. Most of us are better educated than our parents or grandparents, and can expect to live longer lives, with greater freedom and a wider range of choices,'' he said.
President Clinton, in a millennium message to the nation, extolled the country's economic boom and said America should be proud that democracy ``still inspires the world and that America continues to serve as a leader in promoting peace and human rights across the globe.''
Technically, the century and millennium do not end until Dec. 31, 2000, but the world has brushed that aside and opted for the moment the calendar reaches 2000.
That calendar, supposedly dating from the year of Christ's birth, was begun in Roman times and fine-tuned by medieval sages. It is used throughout the world to conduct everyday business, but at a historical and religious level it is hardly universal. For Jews, Jan. 1 falls in the year 5760, for Muslims 1,420, and for the Chinese 4698.
In Israel, rabbis banned celebrations because New Year's, which they regard as a Christian festival, coincides with the Jewish Sabbath. It also falls during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and repentance.
``Celebrating the holidays of the infidels is not allowed, even if it's out of courtesy, because they are not holidays that Allah revealed,'' Sheik Abdullah bin Jabrain, a senior Saudi Arabian cleric, warned Muslims this week.
But for much of humanity, the calendar change will present an image of rituals and celebrations rippling across the globe as midnight arrives in each of Earth's 24 time zones.
Kiribati, once the Gilbert and Ellis Islands when colonial empires bestrode the world, renamed one of its islands Millennium Island, hoping to cash in on the honor of being first to greet 2000. The celebrations include song, traditional grass-skirt dances, and an elder and boy bearing a flaming torch westward in a dugout canoe.
As Americans eat breakfast, midnight hits Sydney, Australia, triggering an eruption of fireworks as 18 three-story ``sea creature'' lanterns float past and lights on the Sydney Harbor Bridge spell out ``Eternity.''
Wake Island in the Pacific is the first U.S. territory to reach 2000, while in Guam, worshippers will sing a native Chamorro hymn seeking protection in the new year - including against the Y2K bug.
In Tokyo, a Buddhist monk strikes a temple bell 108 times to dispel the evils of the past year, and a 24-hour pop concert called ``Love Love 2000'' begins.
In Cambodia, thousands will gather at the 800-year-old stone temples of Angkor Wat, one of Asia's greatest architectural wonders, for a show of traditional ballet and fireworks.
As midnight approaches in Russia, crowds will cram Red Square in Moscow to hear church bells. In Bethlehem, 2,000 doves will be released into the floodlit night outside the traditional birthplace of Christ.
The lights will blaze bright from the pyramids in Cairo and the Parthenon in Greece, both of which were already ancient 2,000 years ago, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, symbol of 19th century Western engineering genius.
In Greenwich, the London suburb whose observatory gave birth to Greenwich Mean Time, Queen Elizabeth II will lead 10,000 guests in a dance at the newly built Millennium Dome.
Peruvians will re-enact ancient purification rituals and offerings to the moon at an Incan stone fortress in the Andes. And the United States will officially enter 2000 with the drop of a time ball down the U.S. Naval Observatory mast in Washington.
Times Square in New York will offer fireworks, laser lights, clouds of helium balloons, two tons of confetti and a 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball. Space program veterans will party at Launch Pad 14 in Cape Canaveral, and hundreds of couples will marry in a mass public wedding in Philadelphia. Thousands of dancers and marching band musicians will liven up Los Angeles before the grand finale of fireworks and the lighting-up of the HOLLYWOOD sign.
As the last Times Square revelers straggle home, French Polynesia will just be entering 2000, closing out the world's party with an extravaganza of floats, laser lights and fireworks.
By MARCUS ELIASON, Associated Press Writer
-- Old Git (email@example.com), December 30, 1999
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-- ... (...@...com), December 30, 1999.