Y2K NEWS CENTRE: January 22nd and January 23rd Y2K-related news stories now up...

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[The Y2K-related news stories for the 22nd and 23rd January are now up on the Y2K NEWS CENTRE page. The summaries are shown below. You'll find full newspaper links for each story on that web page]

JANUARY 23rd, 2000:

SUNDAY TIMES [London]: "The Lord isn't PC in the year 2000CE" - 'The Home Office has raised the prospect of scrapping the phrase Anno Domini (AD) in favour of the politically correct Common Era. Outraged churchmen are already mustering to frustrate the advocates of change, led by academics and civil servants who feel that AD is inappropriate in a multi-faith country. In Whitehall, where the Latin phrase meaning "in the year of our Lord" has been used for 400 years, civil servants are taking soundings that will appear in a consultation paper. Officials in the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade and Industry have found "some merit" in the idea, say Whitehall sources. Common Era, usually abbreviated to CE, maintains the same chronology based on the birth of Jesus Christ, but removes the messiah from the equation. This year would be CE2000 rather than AD2000 and the Romans would have first invaded Britain in BCE55 (Before Common Era 55). A senior official at the Home Office, which sets government policy on time-related matters such as the decision to launch the new millennium this January rather than next, said a new dating system might first appear in legal agreements with non-Christian countries or overseas companies. "It is very new Labour," said the official last week. "Pressure is growing for the change." Churchmen disagree. John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, said: "It would be pathetic to try to bury the birth date of Christ in some fashionable change." ' [This article is in the news section for 'Britain']

SUNDAY TIMES [London]: "Opera house glitches may force shutdown" - 'Backstage chaos at the Royal Opera House, blamed for the abandonment of 12 performances in seven weeks, may now force it to close.'...'The "mini-trucks" to be used for moving sets were not ready by the initial deadline of October and 170 motors used to drive them had to be repaired. The central computer, meant to control the stage-moving machinery, is not working and lies abandoned on a wooden pallet in the wings. One of the stage crew has to use a hand-held computer to co-ordinate set movements. "The trouble with that is that when something goes wrong, you have no idea what it is because it is not sophisticated enough to tell you. If even the most minor thing goes wrong, there's chaos," said one contractor. The designers did create scenery wagons for emergencies: last week, after yet another computer failure, Kaiser joined stage hands moving scenery for a tribute to the choreographer Kenneth MacMillan...' [This article is in the news section for 'Britain']

AFRICA ONLINE: "URA Disowns Y2k Glitches [from 'New Vision', Kampala] - 'Kampala - Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has disclaimed responsibility for the computer breakdown at the Nakawa Inland Port at the start of the year URA spokesman, Odrek Rwaboogo, said Monday, the revenue body had detected a possible hitch in the computer system when they took over the facility last year, but found it was too late to do anything about it. The computer billing system stopped working because of suspected Y2K (Year 2000) complications. All five computers in the department were down when employees reported back to office Monday January 3 after the New Year's holiday break. Recent reports from the Kampala port say the computer system packed up at the start of the year, and staff there now rely on manual entries into ledger books to bill customers...'

SUN-SENTINEL [Florida] "Bug delays business at clerk of court's office" - 'A glitch in the Palm Beach County Clerk of Circuit Court computer network is causing mortgage, deed and other files to disappear from the system's index, the clerk's office said on Friday. The problem was making it impossible for local title companies and other investigators to conduct their business. Technicians were working around the clock to identify and repair the problem, and expect to have it solved soon, said Linda Scarlett, chief deputy clerk in Clerk Dorothy Wilken's office. In the meantime, those who rely on the records are left to wonder when the system again willbe fully functional, and whether records already used by telemarketers, banks and others were accurate. "The main problem is that everyone in the title industry, real estate and anyone who uses the computers is affected by this," said Janie Campbell, owner of Costal Title & Research Services. "It might be two months or two years from now that somebody says, 'Where did you get this?' " The clerk's office in November spent $194,000 to upgrade its computer indexing equipment, replacing a black and white character-based system with a Windows-type network. Customers used the new system daily until nearly two weeks ago when a researcher complained about a file that was not appearing on the network index. Employees investigated and found the problem spread beyond that file. Technicians were called in after the Jan. 11 discovery, and the records division shut down public viewing Jan. 12 and Jan. 13. Operators continue to enter data into the system while experts try to fix the index problem. Documents have not vanished, Scarlett said, just the computer's listing of them. Clerk's employees have corrected 642 listings so far, and technicians are setting the system to automatically repair other errors, she said. Until a resolution is found, it is impossible to say how many listings are missing. Only files entered or altered since November are subject to the glitch. "We know their business depends on us having a reliable system, and when we didn't have an immediate solution, we felt they should know," Scarlett said. "We're absolutely committed to maintaining the quality and accuracy of our records and we're doing whatever is possible to restore that. Unfortunately, it's not in our control." Businesses depending on the information worry that real estate and other transactions already may have been made using inaccurate listings. Others, like Donna M. Perez, are anxious for the system to get back to full speed. Normally, records appear electronically within a day of being filed, but the glitch has slowed production. As of Friday, it was stalled at 10 days behind. For Perez, who makes more than half of her income from selling information daily to telemarketers, a day with no data means a day with no pay. "I get paid on delivery," said Perez, who runs her own document and information service. "I don't deliver, I don't get paid." '

AFRICA ONLINE: "Additional Budget next week [from 'The Namibian']" - '...Almost half of the N$360 million in the additional Budget was allocated to the Ministry of Defence. The rest was allocated mainly for Government's housing scheme and the Y2K programme to prepare for the millennium computer bug...'

STAR-TRIBUNE: "Pirated software is no bargain" - 'The potential gales of Y2K have passed us by quite uneventfully, taking the wind out of the sails of millennium meltdown alarmists everywhere. However, I urge those of you who purchase computer software not to get too complacent, as plenty of pirates still are out there, floating fraud on the waves of commerce and taking dangerous advantage of unsuspecting consumers.'...'Concern about potential Y2K computer problems helped fight software piracy last year. During assessments for Y2K compliance, many companies discovered they'd unwittingly purchased pirated software. This not only has brought to light unknown pirated software issues at individual companies, but it has helped people to understand the larger challenge of software piracy worldwide and how it can affect consumers and businesses negatively....'

AP: "Peanut consumption increases for the fourth straight year" - 'When Americans stocked up on essentials to carry them through the uncertainties of Y2K, one thing they apparently reached for was peanut butter. Peanut butter sales climbed 2 to 3 percent in October and November, a period when grocers usually see a 5 percent drop, said Mitch Head, executive director of the Peanut Advisory Board, which represents peanut growers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. "We don't really know it was related (to Y2K stockpiling), but there was nothing else going on in the marketplace," Head said. "Retailers across the country told us they were seeing increases in the sales of bottled water, peanut butter, bread and batteries."...'

JOURNAL SENTINEL: "Possibility of a second snafu involving 262 area code. When friends call Milwaukee woman, they're billed for dialing Newburg" - 'Sometime last month, Donna Loomis moved from her Milwaukee condominium to Newburg. She just didn't know it until Saturday. That's when many of her friends and relatives got their phone bills. "They all called and wanted to know what was up," she said. "We compared times and dates when we talked, and every one of their calls to me were listed as long-distance calls to Newburg." Although the cause of the billing errors could not be determined Saturday, the mistakes raised the possibility of a second snafu involving the new 262 area code, which was introduced in September. One friend of Loomis', Pasch Shaffer, said, "Newburg is a nice little town." But - despite what his Ameritech bill indicates - Shaffer said he didn't phone anybody who lives in the village, which spills over from Washington County into neighboring Ozaukee County. Still, when Shaffer, who lives in Glendale, opened his phone bill Saturday, there were charges to Newburg at times and days when he had called his friend. Don Loomis, who lives across the street from Shaffer, got an even bigger surprise. He and his former wife, Donna Loomis, often talk on the phone. "My bill was $92.67," he said, "and I didn't think I was making any long-distance calls." Donna Loomis heard from a lot of similarly mystified friends and relatives, all of whom live no farther away than the suburbs in Milwaukee County. Her own bill contained no such surprises, she said. It was not clear Saturday how widespread the problem was. Rich Maganini, a spokesman for Ameritech, said that because billing offices were closed Saturday, it was impossible to determine what had happened. Starting Sept. 25, parts of southeastern Wisconsin were phased into the new 262 area code, but all of them were supposed to be outside Milwaukee County, according to Ameritech, which announced the change. Moreover, Ameritech representatives said, although customers might have to dial 11 digits between area codes, any call that used to be a local call before the change would remain a local call. owever, glitches in the change began to show up almost immediately. By Oct. 8, Ameritech was blaming bad billing software for mistaken charges that raised some local bills from $16 to $454. Bad software was also the culprit, Ameritech spokesmen said, when 11,000 customers received per-minute charges for local calls. In the second case, Ameritech caught and corrected the mistake before the bills were mailed.'

AP: "Letter had warned the state of long lines at inspection stations The firm hired to manage the $400 million auto-emissions testing contract had been criticized by Gov. Whitman for "sanitizing" reports." - 'The state was directly warned that long waiting lines were likely at New Jersey motor vehicle inspection stations once a private company began a tougher emissions test, and that this would prompt "extreme public criticism," according to an October letter from a consultant hired to manage the $400 million contract. The project manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff, yesterday denied charges leveled by Gov. Whitman and Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein that it had "sanitized" a series of reports from a subcontractor that correctly predicted disaster at inspection stations. A letter to the state from Parsons Brinckerhoff in October - two months before the enhanced inspection tests began - raised several concerns about the project. In many cases, the letter includes word-for-word warnings made in an earlier memo by its subcontractor, Sierra Research of Pasadena, Calif.'...'The letter also noted that "time is running out" on making sure the computer system was glitch-free. It warned that Parsons Infrastructure needed to be "fully prepared" to respond to equipment failures, including those caused by bad weather. Problems with staffing, computer glitches and freezing equipment have dogged the system...'

JANUARY 22nd, 2000:

FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEK: "Y2K global glitch list complete" - 'The International Y2K Cooperation Center will release Monday a global scorecard on what it terms the "minor" impact of bad year 2000 date code had on computer systems worldwide. Computer and computer systems worldwide generally fared far better than pessimists expected, but the report from the center makes it clear that some key systems did experience minor problems, which it will highlight in what it internally calls a "glitch list." The center identified failures that ranged from critical --- such as hiccups at two nuclear power reactors in Spain and faulty credit card transactions in the U.S. -- to minor problems with systems some people probably viewed as annoying and definitely noncritical, such as the "minor problems" reported by the Hong Kong government with breath-analyzer machines used for testing states of intoxication. Below are the preliminary results of the worldwide report the International Y2K Center plans to release next Monday:..'

AP: "Oil closes in on $30 US a barrel, but U.S. economy barely flinching -- yet" - 'As crude oil prices roared toward $30 US a barrel this week, reaching levels last seen on the brink of the Persian Gulf War, airlines were adding surcharges to ticket prices and consumers were worrying about heating bills. Yet inflation remains tame and the U.S. economy has barely blinked. The reason: Oil simply doesn't lubricate the new, tech-savvy economy the way it once did. "Oil's overall impact on the economy is vastly reduced" from years past, said William Cheney, chief economist for John Hancock Financial Services. "That's due to the increased energy efficiency of companies that use oil heavily and the increased importance of industries that are not heavily dependent on it." Prices for crude have jumped nearly $5 a barrel in the last week. Heating oil, spurred not only by oil's surge but a Northeastern cold snap, has risen 50 per cent in two weeks. But even with energy products pushing to a series of new nine-year highs, many American and Canadian consumers keep shelling out undaunted for gasoline and other petroleum products. "It doesn't deter me," motorist Chip Tuttle said at a Boston gas station Friday as he paid $43 to fill his sport-utility vehicle, despite gas prices that are the highest they've been there since Christmas 1990. "The economy is good."...'

REUTERS: "Northeastern U.S. Shivers in Winter's Grip" - 'A cold snap gripped much of the East Coast of the United States on Friday, sending commuters scurrying for cover, while forecasts for more of the same pushed heating fuel prices to record highs. A day after the Middle Atlantic States were hit by their first major snow of the season, commuters in Boston, New York, Washington and points between struggled with unusually frigid temperatures and strong winds. The National Weather Service said colder-than-normal temperatures reached as far south as North Carolina on Friday and were likely to linger through next week as the storm worked its way out over the Atlantic and was replaced by a blast of frigid arctic air. Forecasts, which call for temperatures of 8 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit below normal across most of the Eastern United States and heavy snowfalls in the Northeast and Middle West, were likely to continue to keep the demand for heating oil -- and its price -- high...'

REUTERS: "OPEC-Inspired Panic Propels Oil Higher" - 'U.S. oil prices spiraled higher again on Friday as buyers scrambled to buy insurance against the prospect of a deepening shortage of supply on the world petroleum market. Oil buyers are taking no chances that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries might relent and ease the output limits which have forced oil prices to nine-year highs. Slammed by a lengthening cold snap across the U.S. Northeast, New York home heating oil costs have borne the brunt of the worries that oil supplies are running short. ``On the heating oil side in particular there is an element of hysteria,'' said commodity analyst Tim Evans of Pegasus Econometrics, of Friday's trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In near panic scenes reminiscent of the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis, NYMEX business heating oil rocketed 10 cents a gallon in morning business. Profit taking left the contract to settle up 7.04 cents at 93.50 cents a gallon for a 44 percent gain since early last week. The Journal of Commerce said Friday's New York harbor barge wholesale prices for heating oil of $1.10-$1.37 a gallon were the highest on record...'

THE TIMES: "Oil prices rise to new records" - 'Oil prices jumped to new nine-year records yesterday in frantic futures buying after aggressive signals from members of the Opec cartel. In London the March Brent crude contract rose a full dollar to $27.11 before falling back as dealers reacted to hints that tight control on Opec exports will remain for most of the year. Oil prices have risen by 17 per cent in just 11 days. Libya's Energy Minister is reported to have agreed with his Iranian and Algerian counterparts to push for an extension of last year's supply cuts until September. Renewed signs of Opec resolve to maintain the tight market follow news of a sharp fall in stocks of crude..'

SACRAMENTO BEE: "Teen-ager concedes evidence against him in killing of friend's parents is daunting" - '...A month before they were killed, Jose and Elena Najera had withdrawn $66,000 from their bank account and put the cash in a safe-deposit box because they feared Y2K computer problems. It was unclear if any of that money was taken...'

NEWSDAY: "Wind chill keeps New Jerseyans bundled up" - '...The storm that brought the season's first significant snowfall Thursday dragged a lot of Arctic air into the region, said meteorologist Joe Hasko in Mount Holly. "Everyone wants to get the hell out of Ocean County," said Landy Lamonea, who owns Adventures in Travel in Brick Township. "They want Mickey Mouse, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, the Bahamas, anyplace cheap and warm." Her business picked up considerably when temperatures plummeted and Y2K fears subsided. But last-minute travelers who hadn't booked 21 days in advance weren't finding any bargain airfares, Lamonea said...'

BOSTON GLOBE: "Pets Win Our Vote" - '... A full 79 percent of pet owners did not make Y2K contingency plans for their pets. What would that have been anyway? A bunker with a three-month supply of Snausages? Filling the tub to the brim with catnip before midnight strikes?...'

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL: "Justices: Language No Barrier for Jury Duty " - '...Riedel said providing translators for all non-English speaking prospective jurors could be cumbersome for the courts. "We're now dealing with a potential juror who speaks Mandarin Chinese," Riedel said. "Where does it stop? ... It's not only going to affect criminal cases, it's going to affect civil cases." But Reeves told the justices that Riedel was speculating about "fear of the unknown." "You all remember something called Y2K," Reeves said. "We all heard that something bad might happen. Nonetheless, nothing bad happened around the globe."...'


[You'll find full newspaper links for each story on the >[Y2K NEWS CENTRE web page]

-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 23, 2000


John, great service, thanks--more people talk about how great than actually post and thank you.

Now about that Boston Globe article: "Pets Win Our Vote" - '... A full 79 percent of pet owners did not make Y2K contingency plans for their pets. What would that have been anyway? A bunker with a three-month supply of Snausages? Filling the tub to the brim with catnip before midnight strikes?...'

As one of that 21 percent, I can tell them that it meant enough canned and dry catfood for six months, 6 months of special kidney diet food and pills for the 18-year old despot, and various OTC pet meds from a vet catalogue. But the most important stash item (after the prescription med) was scoopable cat litter. I have catnip plants and usually dry a lot anyway, so bathtub catnip was not an item. In any case, we wanted to keep the bathtub free in case it was needed for gin. . .

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), January 23, 2000.

OG, Right on. We had extra scratch post for Kitty, extra catnip bunny, dry food, wet food, and lots of litter. He would never have noticed Y2K at all. And he still doesn't know the calendar has changed. He thinks it's 1999.

-- Mara (MaraWayne@aol.com), January 23, 2000.

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