Y2K NEWS CENTRE: The early January 24th Y2K-related news stories are now up, plus a bonus story on RCMP detention plans for 'subversives'...

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

[The early Y2K-related news stories for January 24th are now up on the Y2K News Center page. Summaries are below; you'll find full newspaper links for each story on that web page]

JANUARY 24th, 2000:

THE REGISTER: "Inland Revenue screws up on Y2K, taxpayers hurt" - 'A Welsh branch of the UK's income tax assessment and collection agency has screwed up by sending thousands of tax demands to individuals dated January 1900. Accountant trade title Accountancy Age reported the cock up at the end of last week, and said over 4,000 tax returns bearing the date 4 January 1900 were sent out to would-be taxpayers. Inland Revenue sent out the false notices from its Wrexham regional office, just a week before UK tax punters are due to get a #100 fine if they don't get their returns back on time. The Accy Age news story does not take into account thousands of self-assessment notices sent out, in duplicate, triplicate or even quintuplicate to punters across the nation. While the UK government will not say exactly which computer systems are used to calculate and send out notices, we understand that many tax records are now held out of the country, in the USA. Those changes happened in the dog days of the Tory Party. And just to show that sometimes these problems affect even innocent hacks like ourselves, one Register staffer received a form from Inland Revenue telling him that he had until the end of this month to pay what was due. The direct debit form at the bottom showed that absolutely nothing was due. Penalties for people who have waited 100 years to file their tax returns are likely to be swingeing. For the last week and a half, Inland Revenue has run a series of adverts on British TV warning UK tax payers that they will have to stump up #100 in fines if they don't stump up what they're due to pay.'

MODESTO BEE: "Buggy Web dates" - 'The computer world's brightest minds may have licked the Y2K bug, but 17-year-old Matt Ashburn thinks the nation's nerds shouldn't get too cocky. On his new Web page (www.y2kmistakes.com) the high school senior from Virginia has documented more than a hundred Web sites that succumbed to the millennium bug, usually in the form of screwy dates. Some of the glitches are downright embarrassing. The Auckland International Airport boasted "No Y2K problems have been experienced" on its New Year's Day homepage. Too bad the site was stamped 1 Jan 100. Apple, Microsoft, ETrade and the New York Times had bizarre dates on their Web sites. So did watchmaker Swatch and the ultra-precise U.S. Naval Observatory, which on Jan. 2 declared there were "59,958,168,524 seconds" left until the year 2000.'

OS OPINION: "Is the computer just a ticking Time Bomb?"
- 'The Computer:
To some: just a machine that can do things.
To others: something too hard to comprehend.
And to the rest (including me): Our homes, Our lives, Our very reason for being alive.
As the computer progresses, we progress. As the computer learns, we learn. As the computer dies, we will surely die. I remember not long ago when I thought that the computer's sole purpose was for games. Now, It controls the world and the people in it. As the computer becomes more used, its danger increases. We, the people must see that the computer that seems to keep the world spinning will be what kills it. The world of computers is speeding along at an incredible pace and there are now many people that can say that they are a computer "expert." The computer is now part of our lives. That means that more and more people will become these experts and more and more people will see how the computer can be used for EVIL. Back in the day, a computer virus could only be written by someone who is incredibly talented. Now, an 8 year old who knows how to use Visual Basic or C++ can create a virus that can kill a system. How do I know that? My nephew who is only 8, developed one and put it in my system. Although it wasn't the most dangerous virus that I came upon, It still was very impressive. What was more impressive was that an 8 year old created it. I'm sure that there are a bazillion people that can create a virus. How do I know? Almost every computer that I know has Norton Antivirus or McAfee. Sure, people can argue and say that for every virus, there is an antivirus but we must understand that the complexity and dangers of a virus increase more and more everyday. A virus for Windows 2000 which hasn't been released to the public was already found. We are living in a world where dangers increase more and more everyday. We must prevent this from happening. People laugh at the Y2K bug now but remember how much hype was produced by it? The world was ready for the Y2K bug. But what if a bug or virus emerges that we just weren't ready for? What if the computers just die on us one day? We live in a time when the computer runs just about everything. Imagine what it would do in the Future...'

BBC: "Energy crisis in Ukraine" - 'The Ukrainian authorities say a state of emergency may have to be introduced as early as next week to combat a major energy crisis. In an interview with the BBC, the Ukrainian deputy prime-minister Yulia Timoshenko, who holds the energy and fuel portfolio, said there were now interruptions in electricity supplies of up to twelve hours a day. Miss Timoshenko said fuel supplies were dwindling, only a third of the country's oil refineries were in operation and Ukraine's debt to Russia for energy supplies was escalating -- partly because Ukraine had been illegally siphoning off ten million dollars worth of Russian gas a day.'

BANGOR DAILY NEWS: "Heating oil prices leaping in cold" - 'Recent cold weather and a decrease in oil supply from the Middle East have sent fuel prices spiraling upward in Maine. Some fuels were in short supply in the state Friday. Heating oil prices have risen by more than 25 cents per gallon in the last week, while kerosene prices have increased by nearly 50 cents a gallon. Automobile gasoline prices have also gone up, but not as dramatically. The Dead River Co., for example, was charging $1.469 a gallon for heating oil Friday. On Monday, the price was only $1.179 per gallon. Some fuel terminals in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are completely out of kerosene, and others are running short of heating oil. In southern Maine, some fuel dealers were traveling to Boston to obtain kerosene for their customers. About 8 percent of Maine residents heat their homes with kerosene. It is also added to diesel fuel in the winter to ensure that the diesel does not thicken in cold temperatures. The Maine Oil Dealers Association, however, stressed Friday that this is an extremely temporary situation and urged people not to feel compelled to rush out and top off their fuel tanks, which would create a real problem. Wayne Mitchell, a spokesman for the association, said he expected the states kerosene supply to be replenished within a few days. After that, prices will stabilize and eventually decline, he said. The price of crude oil, which is refined into other products such as heating oil, gasoline and kerosene, has more than doubled in the past 12 months, reaching its highest level in nine years on Friday. Bitter cold temperatures in the Northeast spurred investors to bid up the price on the New York Mercantile Exchange based on expectations that demand for oil products will remain strong while the supply is not expected to increase. Weather forecasts call for continued cold temperatures in the region. On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has cut back its oil production over the last year and a half. OPEC has held back oil from the world markets in order to keep prices high. Oil prices are at their highest level since the Gulf War. Although more than 60 percent of Maines oil supply comes from U.S. sources, oil prices around the world are affected by OPEC. In addition, some U.S. companies have been shipping oil to Europe, which experienced a cold snap of its own recently. It will take a while for replacement supplies for that oil to be directed back to U.S. customers. Mike Shea, the senior vice president for supply and marketing at Webber Energy Fuels in Bangor, said that although some companies have run out of kerosene, his is not one of them. We dont have any shortage of anything, he said. The companys cargo of home heating oil is due to arrive as scheduled at its terminal next week. Webber has a couple of weeks worth of kerosene on hand, but, Shea said, replenishing that supply could be a problem if more of the fuel is not shipped to regional suppliers. The wholesale price of heating oil has increased 30 cents since last Friday, Shea said. Robert Cort, the vice president of Maine Energy Inc., said his company has enough fuel to serve its customers but is concerned about having enough diesel fuel to keep its delivery trucks running. In the last four days, the companys retail price for home heating oil has increased 26 cents per gallon to $1.459. The price of kerosene has jumped 49 cents during the same time to $1.849 a gallon. At gas stations in the Bangor area, prices have risen about 10 cents per gallon this week. Citing rising oil prices, U.S. Rep. John Baldacci on Friday issued a press release calling upon President Clinton to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program in the administrations 2001 budget. Although heating oil and kerosene prices have increased dramatically, state fuel assistance benefits for low-income families will not be increased, a representatives of the Penquis Community Action Program said Friday. The assistance program is not set up to accommodate fluctuations in fuel prices.'

BOSTON GLOBE: "Hartford-area supplier running low on oil" - 'The area's heating oil supply has dropped with the mercury. East Hartford Fire Department officials want residents to lower their thermostats because the main oil supplier to several local dealers is reporting unusually low levels of oil. The company, Motiva Enterprises LLC, isn't scheduled to get another delivery until Jan. 29. The company told East Hartford officials that at the current rate of usage, they could run out of oil by midweek...'

BOSTON GLOBE: "Spike in prices may take big bite out of budget" - 'The price of heating oil rose in Connecticut almost as steeply as temperatures plunged this week." - 'An unprecedented wholesale spike heating oil increased more than 30 cents Friday could result in some customers playing $2 or more a gallon beginning this weekend. ''I've been in this business for 25 years and even during the Persian Gulf War, prices never escalated to this point. We went up this week 40 cents a gallon,'' said Donald J. Schmidt, president of East Coast Petroleum in Waterbury, a distributor of transportation fuels. The increase caught the attention of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He said Friday his office is examining the higher prices to make sure no illegal price gouging is taking place. ''The combination of dramatic price increases with drastic drops in temperature certainly sounds an alarm,'' Blumenthal said. ''The increases in spot prices along with the very significant reductions in OPEC supply and world inventories may well be a factor. The question is whether that is enough to explain the entire phenomenon.'' Both state and regional fuel oil associations have asked President Clinton to tap into the nation's strategic oil reserve for the first time since 1990...'

HOSTON CHRONICLE: "Energy Agency predicts oil spot shortages possible by summer" - 'As a trio of OPEC members talked tough on Friday about holding production cutbacks all the way to September, beyond the previous March 31 goal, dire predictions about oil shortages are starting to appear. An alarming report this week by the International Energy Agency said world inventories are being drawn down to the extent that shortages are possible by this summer. From Houston, energy research director Nizam Sharief of Hornsby & Co. has predicted that worldwide crude inventories will decline by 3.4 million barrels per day in the first quarter and 2 million barrels per day in the second quarter. "We believe that with these accelerated inventory decline rates, world inventories will decline below 1996 levels," Sharif wrote in his latest review. "Such action should result in spot shortages. It should also be mentioned that there were spot shortages in the United States in the first quarter of 1996." These shortages of refined products should develop by late in the first quarter, predicts Hornsby & Co. At that point, Sharief predicts OPEC will signal an increase in production which will force crude oil prices down to about $22 per barrel. The word "shortage" brings to mind people waiting in line, hoping the pumps don't quit before it is their turn. "I'm not sure I would use that word for the next few months," said Stephen A. Smith of Houston, an analyst with Dain Rauscher Wessels. In a free market there are no shortages, he said. You just have to pay more to get what you want. Assuming OPEC production is 2 millions barrels per day short of what is needed, projecting that to the end of September indicates a 540 million barrel shortfall. "This is unprecedented," said Smith. Inventories would be 7 or 8 percent below the seasonal norm, which he calls a massive shortfall. In early 1996, the most recent period of strong prices, there was a 4 percent deviation from the norm and it caused $25 oil, he said. Even the shortfall by the end of the first quarter, when demand tends to bunch up, promises to be unprecedented, said Smith. The market is in the process of bidding up prices in anticipation of short supplies. "We haven't seen trade and volatility on the oil market like this in non-wartime conditions for 15 years," Peter Gignous of Salomon Smith Barney told Reuters on Friday...'

SUNDAY TIMES [London]: "Oil loses power to drive boom off course" - 'Observers are having a hard time figuring out what to make of it all. The American economy continues to power ahead, with the latest survey by the Federal Reserve showing strong growth in almost every region of the country. Yet inflation remains at unthreatening levels, despite a leap in oil prices of a magnitude that it was once thought would wreak havoc with the country's economy. The price of crude oil has more than doubled since last March and this has, of course, had its effects. As petrol prices have risen, trucking companies have had to raise transport charges, and airlines are complaining that the rise in jet fuel prices from about 50 cents a gallon last year to about 65 cents now is eating into profits or, in the case of Continental Airlines, driving it into the red. And a cold snap in the northeast of the country has made it expensive for New Englanders to keep their homes toasty warm. More important, rising oil prices are starting to affect the headline rate of inflation. Not to worry, say some: the key indicator is the core inflation rate, which excludes so-called volatile items such as oil. But if oil is likely to remain at the present price of $26, or move to the $30-$40 range, as some are predicting, it cannot be excluded from central bankers' considerations when they sit down to decide by how much to raise interest rates...' [go to 'American Account' in the 'Business' section for this column]

GLOBE AND MAIL [Toronto]: "Heating, crude oil prices climb during cold snap" - 'Heating oil prices surged 8 per cent yesterday [ the 21st], pulling crude oil to its ninth consecutive gain, as frigid weather in the northeastern United States boosted demand for heating fuel at a time when oil exporters are restricting supplies. Futures prices are up 44 per cent since Jan. 10, and for a time during yesterday's rally heating oil had its biggest gain since the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when Middle East supplies were at risk. "This is out of control," said Robert Cirillo, a principal at Wilco Energy, a New York-based heating oil retailer. "Consumers haven't felt it yet because it's only just gone up in the last couple of days. There'll be an uproar." "I haven't seen anything like this since the war -- this is panic buying," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago. Potential profits from refiners' heating oil sales have tripled in the past week. The price difference between a barrel of heating oil and a barrel of crude oil surged to $11 (U.S.) yesterday, up from $3 last Friday, based on Nymex futures prices. Wholesalers are now changing their prices several times a day, Mr. Cirillo said. "It's unprecedented to have a 45-cent jump in two days." Heating demand over the next seven days will probably be 31 per cent above normal in New York and 29 per cent higher in Boston, according to Weather Derivatives in Belton, Mo. That comes as U.S.-wide heating oil inventories held by major oil companies are 31 per cent lower than a year ago, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Underpinning the recent gains -- and fuelling last year's doubling of oil prices -- are output cutbacks from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Oil ministers from Iran, Algeria and Libya, meeting yesterday in Tripoli, said their nations want to keep current production levels in place until September, well past their planned March expiration. The three OPEC members are participating in an output cutback program among world producers aimed at reducing daily supply by about 7 per cent to eliminate a global surplus. Analysts cautioned that this week's unusually rapid rise in heating oil prices could lead to a similar decline. "Prices will go down," said Mordechai Abir, senior strategist at Schroder & Co. in New York. "There will be an instantaneous reaction when the weather in the Northeast changes." '

FINANCIAL POST: "Soaring oil prices raise spectre of inflation" - 'A sharp and unexpected jump in the inflation rate -- to 2.6% in December from 2.2% in November -- is raising concerns the economy, now in its eighth year of expansion, may be heading for a slowdown. To counter the spike and prevent inflation from taking seed in the economy, the Bank of Canada is widely expected to raise interest rates, matching hikes expected in the United States. But, those in the trucking and food industries, where inflationary pressures are felt earliest and most keenly, believe the initial price shock from oil and gas price increases is already filtering through the economy. Rising oil and gas prices are the main culprits behind the surge in inflation...'

BOSTON GLOBE: "EDITORIAL: Oil's slippery economic role" - 'Another surge in the price of oil has reawakened concern about potential economic ripple effects, even though there has been little indication so far of the kind of dislocations that accompanied past price spikes. Consumers - individuals and businesses alike - will do well to keep up their conservation efforts, which have already helped insulate the economy from damage by high prices. Crude oil in recent weeks has reached levels not seen since the early 1990s. The rise has been particularly dramatic in contrast with prices just a year ago. Last week, for example, some crude oil traded above $29 a barrel; little more than a year ago the price was less than $9. The effect of oil on the American economy has diminished over the past decade. A recent survey by The Wall Street Journal pointed out that oil represents only about 3 percent of gross domestic output, compared with 8.5 percent in 1981. Oil is being used much more efficiently than at the time of the first oil price shock in 1973, as shown by the automobile. The average fuel economy for all cars then was 14 miles per gallon. Today the average mileage is a tad above 20, even given the popularity of sport utility vehicles and larger pickups. The rebound in prices is directly traceable to the success of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in curbing oil production, which glutted the market in 1998. The rise in prices has made it easier for OPEC to maintain the discipline of quotas, since the flow of money has risen while output has fallen. But in the long run it is not in OPEC's interests to pursue price increases so large that they would disrupt the economies of its customers, who would then buy less oil, which in turn would reduce prices and weaken OPEC's discipline on quotas. Americans have been given a practical demonstration of the usefulness of conservation in preserving stability in the face of aggressive supply and price policies by OPEC and other producers. The United States should seek even greater efficiencies in the future.'

BOSTON GLOBE: "Booming US economy may contain concerns for G-7. Finance ministers stress balance" - 'The Group of Seven finance ministers, long used to a diet of Asian crisis, Latin meltdown and Russian chaos, faced a much different problem at their meeting here yesterday: what to do with a US economy and stock market that won't say uncle. It's not that the world's top financiers have anything against success. Rather they fear that the economic health of the globe might be far too dependent on a handful of overvalued US dotcom stocks. Their concern: A sudden reversal of fortune on Wall Street could lead to a sharp contraction heard round the world. ''The challenge remains to secure a more balanced pattern of growth among our economies,'' finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven nations said in a joint communique yesterday. Analysts agreed. ''You're seeing a swing away from worrying about the laggards to worrying about the leader,'' said Chris Calderwood, chief economist with Jardine Fleming Securities Asia. ''The other six want to hear from the horse's mouth that the US isn't going to blow it.''...'

REUTERS: "Two percent of UK companies report Y2K problems" - 'Only two percent of British companies reported problems with the millennium date change last week, the Office for National Statics said on Friday. A similar survey conducted for the first week of the new year showed showed seven percent of firms had found their business adversely affected. The ONS said 98 percent of the 1,127 companies it contacted last week reported no problems. Of the 31 firms that were hit, 13 cited problems with their computer systems while the same amount blamed other factors, particularly low consumer demand. Hotels and restaurants continued to be most negatively affected. About one percent of the total said they had laid off staff and only one percent expected any negative impact to last into this week.'

MICHAEL HYATT.COM: "Y2K EDITORIAL: So You Think Y2K Was Just a Hoax?' - 'January 1 has come and gone. Many are saying that it was all a hoax. Was it? If not, then where are we?' - 'Are we there yet? And if so, why are we still talking about this? Oh, I see! You have not been talking about it. And you are probably one of those who never gave it any thought anyway. Right? And Ill bet you are now joining the leagues that say it was all a hoax from the beginning, and that the whole world did not have to spend all those hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure all the computers in the world would continue to work when 2000 got here. Ill bet you also didnt do any preparations of any kind, because you just knew nothing was going to happen. No extra food or water, and no extra cash? You werent worried about your electricity going off and having no heat? You werent worried that some computer foul-up might just cause some major life threatening situation of some kind, or that business breakdowns could cause supply shortages or even a recession? And you didnt believe there would be lots of lawsuits filed because of this? No worries at all about what the rollover from 1999 to 2000 would bring? I thought so. Why not? Why werent you worried like the rest of us?...'

REUTERS: "Taiwan CPC To Restart No.3 Cracker On Jan 25" - 'Taiwan's state-owned Chinese Petroleum Corp said on Wednesday it planned to restart its No.3 naphtha cracker on January 25 following a 40-day shutdown for maintenance. One official reached at the southern Kaohsiung plant who declined to be identified by name said the plant will gradually begin partial test runs and formally enter into full production on January 25. In Taipei, CPC spokesman Liao Tsang-lung declined to confirm or deny the restarting date. "It's our company policy not to comment on such reports as they might affect prices of downtream petrochemical products," Liao said. The Kaohsiung official said the No.3 cracker had shut down for some 30 days during May and June to check and replace computer systems to ensure the plant operates smoothly through the transition to 2000 from 1999 - thereby avoiding the feared Y2K "millennium bug". The No.3 cracker has an annual production capacity of 230,000 tons of ethylene. Chinese Petroleum's maintenance shutdowns are closely watched in Asia's petrochemical market. Experts say Asia's petrochemical feedstock suppliers often raise prices during CPC closures. Executives have said Chinese Petroleum is able to meet 80-90 percent of demand normally served by the No.3 cracker by turning to its No.4 and No.5 crackers and stockpiles during the shutdown. Chinese Petroleum's No.4 naphtha cracker, in Kaohsiung adjacent to the No.3 facility, can produce 385,000 tons a year and is linked to a score of affiliated petrochemical facilities. The No.5 cracker, nearby in CPC's Kaohsiung refinery, has an annual production capacity of 400,000 tons of ethylene. Chinese Petroleum's No.1 and No.2 crackers are no longer in service. Chinese Petroleum is no longer a monopoly ethylene producer now that Formosa Plastics , Taiwan's top industrial enterprise, has begun output from a 450,000 tons-per-year ethylene line at Mailiao in west-central Yunlin county. Trial production began in December and the plant now is operating at or near full capacity, though Formosa has said that, for now, it would deliver all production to its own downstream affiliates rather than offering it on the open market.'

BANKOK POST: - "Banharn demands a remedy. Economic ministers discuss policy today" - 'The government must find a way to lessen the burden on the public caused by rising fuel prices, Banharn Silpa-archa, the Chart Thai leader, said yesterday. The coalition partner acknowledged he and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of the Democrat Party had different approaches to dealing with the oil price issue. Mr Banharn said the premier supported a floating oil price, but he felt that if prices went too high the government should intervene to help the people. "You cannot say this is a problem for any one particular group of people. You have to see how much hardship it is causing the people. If it is really affecting them the government must move to solve the problem as quickly as possible," Mr Banharn said...'

STAR-TRIBUNE: "Post-Y2K, back to regularly scheduled spending" - 'Companies spent so much time and money fixing their Y2K problems last year that they put off spending money on e-commerce, developing Web sites and other information technology projects. But now that the computer kinks brought on by the dawning of the new century are largely behind us, companies probably will free up those millions of dollars to get up to date on the technology to boost their productivity and efficiency. The shift to non-Y2K projects should probably happen in the next couple of months, said Tony Pannagl, managing partner of IS&T Staffing Group in Houston. Pannagl said requests for employees during the past three to four months have been slow, but the pace should quicken soon. PanCanadian Energy Services, for example, already has begun the process of shifting gears. While the energy trading company in Houston didn't have to spend a lot on Y2K efforts -- only about $25,000 because so many of its systems were already Y2K compatible -- it can spend the money it didn't use for Y2K on projects that will improve the company's productivity...'

FOSTERS: "Having conquered Y2K, automakers ready for full production" - 'Major U.S. automakers resumed production Sunday at various assembly and parts plants as proof their Y2K preparedness paid off. General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor Co. planned to ramp up full production globally as scheduled Monday, coming off their traditional holiday shutdowns and a weekend free of reported Y2K computer bug snafus. At DaimlerChryslers Jefferson North Assembly Plant, company and union heads were celebratory in firing up the sites assembly lines to make as many as 250 Jeep Grand Cherokees  just to show alls well after Y2K...'

DENTON RECORD-CHRONICLE: "Y2K woes may not be gone yet" - 'When the clocks struck midnight Jan. 1 and none of the anticipated Y2K horrors were evident, some people breathed a sigh of relief. A University of North Texas professor says that celebration may have been premature. Leon Kappelman, the dean of the UNT College of Business, is a Y2K expert who has testified before Congress about the millennium bug. He said that instead of solving the problem of computers recognizing "00" as 1900 rather than 2000, technicians "tricked" many computers into accepting the double-zero date as 2000. Dr. Kappelman said that when companies were trying to head off the Y2K bug, at least three-quarters of them did not expand the year figure to four digits. Instead, they taught the computers assumptions about how to interpret two digits. While those approaches work well in most cases, he said, problems occur when one computer needs to "talk" with another computer that was not programmed with the same assumptions. Dr. Kappelman said the risk for potential problems with utilities was greatest in the first few days following Jan. 1. While those risks apparently have passed, others remain. Hundreds of retail stores didn't have the newest version of point-of-sale scanning for their cash registers, he said. That led to some consumers' credit cards being charged daily for a single purchase, he said. A major insurance company couldn't process a claim if a car was a 2000 model, Dr. Kappelman said. More Y2K glitches are reported on the Internet at www.ciaosystems.com/glitchcentral.htm. Despite the problems, Dr. Kappelman said, companies have done a good job of managing the move into the 2000s. What were enormous risks have been managed well, he said. However, he said, a lot of people have been left in the dark about the Y2K problem and what they can do. He said that during the next 12 to 15 months, businesses should closely examine their quarterly reports, adding there is potential for errors in all areas. Consumers should examine all their statements, including bank and credit card statements, and also their credit reports if they plan to borrow money to make a major purchase. Dr. Kappelman said he hopes the Y2K experience will help people understand "how very dependent we are on technology and how dependent we are on each other, all over the world." He hopes what people have learned will help them better manage technology as well as their resources and their lives. "That's the real silver lining of Y2K," he said.'

SEATTLE TIMES: "A new beginning"

``Y2K ... the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st.'' - President Bill Clinton, State of the Union Address. Jan. 19, 1999
Wrong, Mr. President. Y2K was just a dry run for the 21st century. By most reports, we're about to witness the evolution of a world once inconceivable to a 20th century mind: machines as reliable and minute as molecules, computers that are finally smarter than the tinkerers who gave them life, software that solves its own problems. But until we reach the Holy Grail - that is, technology that really works - humans have to live in the here and now: computers that crash, software that quits unexpectedly, networks that stop speaking to one another. And as the globe becomes one giant Web-based, e-commercial, Java-scripted, real-time, virtual community, we also become more vulnerable to our own - and everyone else's - technological incompetence. A boneheaded mistake somewhere becomes a boneheaded mistake everywhere. The Y2K doomsayers were right, in a way. The year 2000 computer problem was, in fact, The End of the World As We Know It. But rather than plunging the entire planet into a Dark Ages gloom, Y2K cast an astonishing light on the world's technology. It illuminated the fragile footings upon which we have spent 50 years erecting history's first computerized civilization: PCs are lashed to mainframes. DOS is painted over with a thick coat of Windows. Networks are tethered by wires and phone jacks. Databases are duct-taped together by college dropouts writing programs in languages as distant and dead as Sumerian. It wasn't bad work for amateurs. But by the end of the century, the structure had grown so precarious that a simple logic problem - the inability of many computers to process "00" as 2000 instead of 1900 - threatened to topple much of what we had hammered together...'

OTTAWA CITIZEN "Perth shuts off water after main line breaks in cold Residents forced to haul water from filtration plant" - 'Perth homes and businesses went dry yesterday after the area's severe temperatures caused a break in a main water line. Perth Mayor Lana March called a state of emergency at 11:35 a.m. after the break in the water line from the water filtration plant started to drain the town's water tower, causing a low water flow to the town's 6,000 residents. Town employees and volunteer firefighters handed out warning notices that the town's water supply would be shut off at 1 p.m. Police Chief Earl Johns said no health problems were anticipated but Ontario Ministry of Health officials were called in to advise of potential problems if the water shortage were to continue. He said the town's hospital had a substantial reserve of water and does not expect to have problems. The town brought in a number of portable toilets and placed them in a warm garage at the police and fire building. Water was brought in from several locations, including the South Sherbrooke Fire Department which had extra water on hand as a precaution in case of Y2K problems. The Loeb grocery store on Wilson Street in Perth was sold out of four-litre bottles of water by 4 p.m., despite having 300 bottles on hand for sale. That amount would normally last a week said manager Nancy DeBernardi...'

LOS ANGELES TIMES: "A Bet With Your Mother Is a Losing Proposition" - 'Readers of this column know that I would never use it to extract money from an 83-year-old widow living on a fixed income--unless I had a darned good reason for doing so. Here it is. Months ago, my mother and I made a friendly $10 bet. I said that Y2K would amount to a great big zero. My mother took the opposite position. Like many other New Yorkers, she has a great fondness for the opposite position, regardless of the subject at hand. If we had been discussing the Earth revolving around the sun, she would have bet that the sun revolves around the Earth. If the subject had been "God Bless America," she would have insisted there was no way it had been written by Irving Berlin. And if I had dug up a biography of Irving Berlin and read over the phone a chapter about how he had gotten the idea for "God Bless America" and what that stirring song meant to him and what it meant to the entire country, she would have retorted: "So, you're in Ventura County--what do you know, anyway?" In any event, my mother predicted that Y2K would trigger a catastrophe--a huge catastrophe, as I recall--somewhere in the U.S. in the first 10 days of January. Nonevents proved me right. Y2K was, of course, a bust, a dud, a fizzle, the Edsel of all cataclysms. I won. At least, I thought I did...'

FINANCIAL POST: "Alan Greenspan and the e-Fed" - '...In recent months, his services to Nasdaq have been so devoted and caring that one must wonder whether he was afraid his tenure would not be renewed, so he would have to slather the e-index with enough love and money to carry it through the reign of some less solicitous successor. During the fourth quarter, when there were fears that Y2K would crash the world's computers, thereby crashing Nasdaq and other markets, Mr. Greenspan and his e-minions grew M-3 (broad money) at a 16% annual rate. They did this by force-feeding the growth of the monetary base (narrowest money) at a 35% annual rate. (Both those aggregates' normal growth rate is in the 7% to 8% range.) The banks eagerly absorbed all this liquidity to re-lend to stock investors: Margin debt rose at a 100% annual rate in the quarter. Should one be concerned about such ardent borrowing? Not at all, at all. Nasdaq was up at a slightly faster rate than the growth in margin debt, so why worry? Some readers may be astonished to learn that the Fed has been stuffing the system with money...'

ISRAEL'S BUSINESS ARENA: "December Combined Index Falls 0.5%; Rises only 2.9% in All 1999" - 'The Combined Index for the economy is pointing to a worrisome retreat in economic activity. The Index fell in December by 0.5%, completing a cumulative fall of 0.9% within three months. This was according to data published today by the Bank of Israel. The development of the Index during the last quarter of last year reflects a braking of economic activity, following a rapid rise of 4% during the summer months. It appears that the 1999 economic retreat was affected by the sharp appreciation of the shekel, accompanied by a certain reduction in imports and industrial output. This was in spite of previous predictions of an increase in economic activity, due to preparation for the Y2K bug in various sectors...'

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: "Y2K Bug Gone With A Whimper" - 'It seems ludicrous now. And it was ludicrous then, except all the media hype gave it an aura of authenticity. I am talking about the Y2K hysteria, all those dire warnings that a computer-date glitch would bring about a recession and a stock-market meltdown. Remember? I still do, because it is hard to forget just exactly how I spent New Year's Eve. I celebrated the arrival of the "New Millennium" by making sure everything was all right with my accounts. Mind you, I do have a life. This was my newspaper's idea, to check whether the dreaded Y2K bug was wreaking havoc with Americans' financial records. It certainly wasn't with mine. By 12:05 a.m., I had verified all my bank and brokerage account balances, either by touch-tone telephone or online. Everything checked out to the penny, including end-of-the-year dividend distributions from my mutual funds. Feeling downright daring by then, I went to my credit-card issuer's Web site and clicked on the online payment box. A few keystrokes and clicks later, I had the money to pay my card balance transferred electronically from my bank checking account...'

PRNewswire: "Huge Oil Price Increases Imminent for Truckers, Airlines, and Homeowners" - 'Oil price increases, that in some cases surpass the hikes seen during the Persian Gulf War, are about to stun homeowners, airlines, and trucking companies, according to OPIS Energy Group. The New Jersey based publishing company reports that many retailers have yet to pass on recent wholesale price hikes of 40-60cts gal that have hit some markets in the wake of record cold temperatures. Wholesale prices for many fuels reached all time record levels in the northeast on Friday, as oil suppliers and marketers scrambled to find oil to deliver to end-users in the region. Wholesale prices for heating oil at supply points in New England, for example, soared to over $1.25 gal, an increase of more than 50cts gal in less than ten days. These prices are four times the value they fetched in markets exactly one year ago. Homeowners and commercial buyers who paid well under $1.00 gal for their heating oil just a month ago now face retail costs of $1.50- $1.75 gal. Heating oil retailers typically have little inventory and must immediately pass wholesale increases on to their customers. The surge isn't limited to heating oil, however. Diesel fuel prices have soared to similar wholesale price levels as suppliers in Winter-ravaged states have opted to put fuel normally sold for over- the-road purposes into the heating oil supply pool...'

Presentation to a House of Commons All-Party Committee, July 7th, 1999: "THE IMMINENT PEAK OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION" [This fascinating presentation to a Committee of the Canadian Parliament is well worth reading!]

OFF TOPIC BUT WORTH NOTING: This revealing item was carried on the CANADIAN PRESS newswire on Sunday, 23rd January, 2000. We reproduce it here in full for the reflective consideration of our readers...

Sunday, January 23, 2000

Mounties had secret plan to intern 'subversives'

By DEAN BEEBY -- Canadian Press

The Mounties planned to round up more than 1,000 "subversives" -- including young children -- at the outbreak of a third world war and place them in internment camps, newly disclosed documents show...

[the rest of this story, together with full newspaper links for the stories above, can be found on the Y2K NEWS CENTER page]


-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 24, 2000


Thank you John! =)

-- Dee (T1Colt556@aol.com), January 24, 2000.

"The existing prison population across the country would be thinned out by freeing non-violent inmates with less than a year left in their sentences. By shuffling the remaining prisoners, the three Alberta and Ontario prisons could be vacated within 10 days to become internment camps. "

So folks found guilty in a court of law would walk so there would be room for adults and children with suspicious thoughts?

Anyone who thinks there aren't lists like this today in the US and Canada is, as KOS would say, a moron.

-- Hokie (Hokie_@hotmail.com), January 24, 2000.

>>>"Sunday, January 23, 2000 Mounties had secret plan to intern 'subversives'

By DEAN BEEBY -- Canadian Press

The Mounties planned to round up more than 1,000 "subversives" -- including young children -- at the outbreak of a third world war and place them in internment camps, newly disclosed documents show...<<<

Interesting tidbit. Looks like Operation Abacus is still twitching in the tiny minds of the Canadian government.

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), January 24, 2000.

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