"Last-Minute Y2K Precautions Taken" (AP)

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-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 31, 1999


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Thursday December 30 7:40 PM ET

Last-Minute Y2K Precautions Taken

By TED BRIDIS Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - While most Americans appeared unfazed by possible Y2K failures, the government took further precautions Thursday, repairing a last-minute bug in a key air traffic computer and announcing closing of seaports for the New Year's weekend on both coasts.

The State Department evacuated 350 diplomatic workers and family members who asked to leave Russia and three other countries where Y2K problems are widely anticipated.

The last-minute preparations in Washington, a day before the world welcomed a new millennium, contrasted with a public that chose not to rush to withdraw cash or hoard groceries.

``Banks, many of whom have made provisions for extra cash, now have a lot of extra cash sitting around,'' President Clinton's top Y2K expert, John Koskinen, said from the government's $50 million command center. He also cited normal sales by the nation's grocers, pharmacies and gasoline stations.

Preparations were evident elsewhere, though officials cautioned again they expect no national failures in the United States.

Some of the largest freight railroads indicated they plan slight delays near midnight Friday during the critical date rollover. Union Pacific Corp (NYSE:UNP - news). said it will shut down all rail service at 6 p.m. Friday.

The Transportation Department said dozens of U.S. and foreign seaports will remain closed during parts of the weekend. It described the closures largely as a precaution against possible Y2K problems but also the result of light traffic expected during the holidays.

``Some are closing ... for a relatively short period of time of a few minutes before or after midnight, some are closing for a matter of several hours,'' Koskinen said.

The Coast Guard also disclosed Thursday that about two dozen of the world's 16,000 cargo ships have been ``red-flagged'' and will be barred from American ports during the New Year's weekend because they were unable to convince officials they could operate safely.

``They will not be allowed to enter our ports,'' Coast Guard Rear Adm. George Naccara said. He declined to identify the ships or the countries whose flags they fly.

West Coast ports will suspend operations voluntarily from midnight Friday until midnight Saturday, the Transportation Department said. Ports from Portland, Maine, to Baltimore will close until Sunday, as will ports further down the Eastern seaboard from Norfolk, Va., to Miami.

Dozens of ports overseas, including some major oil terminals, also will be closed during the weekend, from Angola to the United Arab Emirates. China banned foreign shipping from Thursday until Saturday.

The administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, said Thursday that a late software patch was applied to her agency's critical ``HOCSR'' computers, which process flight plan and radar data for controllers. The repair was completed early in the day.

Garvey said the problem, which she described as minor, turned up during continued testing of the agency's systems, which were declared Y2K-ready in June.

``We're continuing to test right up to the last moment. We erred on the side of caution,'' Garvey said. ``The patch is in. It's been fixed. It's a very, very minor issue.''

But the union representing FAA employees, the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, charged that the bug could have caused air traffic controllers to lose data from their screens and endanger passenger lives. The union, which is in negotiations, first disclosed the repairs.

``Once again, the FAA took shortcuts and nearly put passenger safety in jeopardy,'' said Tom Demske, a regional union vice president. ``After bragging about compliance, the agency has to scramble at the last minute to meet its responsibilities.''

Also Thursday, the Agriculture Department became the latest federal agency to take down some of its World Wide Web sites through the New Year's weekend to deter hackers. Some Defense Department sites and the government's personnel agency previously said they will shut down Web sites.

The Agricultural Marketing Service said its site will be unavailable until early Monday ``due to heightened security risks.''

A minor Y2K-related problem appeared in Louisville, Ky., when some cable TV subscribers received invoices for bills due in the year 100 - almost 19 centuries ago.

And in the small town of Doerun, Ga., Mayor Wade Ethridge said the community's six police officers will be on duty this weekend, but the town already has an emergency plan if police can't make their regular patrols.

``We'll catch a mule, saddle him up and put out a mounted patrol,'' said Ethridge, who owns about 25 mules and donkeys. 


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), December 31, 1999.

A very, very minor issue......SURE and the check is in the mail and I won't ........... and so on. These liars are pathetic, all of the bugs showing up now are being downplayed, if this was minor, why risk screwing up the system like Duetsche Bank? Since when is putting a bug fix in at the last minute erring on the side of caution unless it was more than a minor issue. It seems the controllers are calling her a liar.

I wonder how these people that act as apologists are able to convince themselves that what they are saying won't come back to them. Does she really believe that was the last bug? Is she that naive or just practicing for the flood of excuses that will be needed in less than 24 hours now.

-- Willy Boy (Willy@home.in.bed), December 31, 1999.

I've just wanted to say you are an excellent linkmeister.


-- Rob Carroll (flyingred@montana.com), December 31, 1999.

"last-minute bug in a key air traffic computer"

We're 100% compliant!


Now we're 100% compliant!

Hang on...

NOW we're 100% compliant!


How many times now? Six? Seven?

-- Servant (_@_._), December 31, 1999.

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