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lots of juicy y2k news
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Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 13:41:51 -0700
From: Bill Mee <[email protected]>
Subject: Y2K Alert - San Francisco blackout - Pentagon way behind schedul
The following is a free Y2K alert + analysis from Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM.
SAN FRANCISCO BLACKOUT!
Guess what, folks: the power system *is* vulnerable to a
domino-effect failure. Earlier today (Tuesday), over one million
residents of San Francisco lost power. According to this WIRED
story (link below), here's what happened (as described by the
"An electrical power substation about 20 miles south of San
Francisco failed shortly after 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, causing a chain
reaction that tripped the two main power generators in San
Francisco and knocked out power to 375,000 utility customers in a
49-mile square area. Pacific Gas and Electric estimated that 938,
000 people were affected by the outage."
The story quotes Peter Neumann, author of "Computer Related
Risks," as saying, "The entire power generation, transmission,
and distribution problem is suffering, because there is very
little spare power anymore."
The cause of the problem? According to the power company, "The
cause of the outage was simple human error, which then triggered
a complex sequence of events."
That's frightening. If "simple human error" can cause this, what
might complex human error (i.e. Y2K) cause?
The power outage caused massive problems. The SFO airport
suffered a total power failure and was running on generators, and
BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, lost 17 of its 57 trains.
Elevators were stuck mid-floor and the morning commute was a
THE SAN FRANCISCO REMINDER
This event is a reminder of what can happen when Y2K hits, and
it alerts us to the fallibility of the power services. This was
ONE little glitch. What happens when the Y2K rollover causes a
hundred such problems? Or a thousand? And then you combine those
little glitches with other little glitches from the phone system,
the 911 system, the transportation infrastructure and the banks.
What do you get then?
By the way, this little incident is also going to deplete
inventories of generators in the Bay Area as people finally get
it: Hey, we could lose power! If you live in San Fran and you've
been *thinking* about getting a generator, you're now TOO LATE.
But it's not too late to move out of the city altogether, which
is probably the safest option, considering what might happen if
the power stays off for DAYS instead of hours.
In this case, power was restored within hours to most customers,
but that might not be the case when Y2K hits. Y2KNEWSWIRE
encourages people to stock a 30-day supply of food, water,
medicine, cash and heating supplies in case a much longer power
outage occurs during the 1/1/2000 rollover. Or better yet,
distance yourself from any high-density population center.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE POWER PROBLEM
* There are few backup power supplies available, so some
failures that used to have backups no longer do
* Failures DO cascade throughout the system. In this case, one
small substation caused a power loss to one million people
* Power failures almost immediately bring a city to its knees.
All transportation is immediately threatened, and few businesses
have enough fuel to run generators longer than 24 hours.
* All it takes is one simple little human mistake to cause one
million people to lose power. What might a complex, unpredictable
problem like Y2K cause to happen?
* Demands on the power system are higher than ever, and extra
power bandwidth is almost non-existent. There is very little
"extra" to go around if power stations start to fail.
Read the WIRED story at:
Or, an earlier report at:
Fox News reports on it, too, at:
PENTAGON WAY BEHIND ON Y2K REPAIRS
This Union Tribune story (link below) describes the unimpressive
status of the Pentagon's Y2K repairs, stating, "...a recent
Pentagon report states that the Defense Department is behind its
own schedule for rewriting computer software to work after 1999.
While 52 percent of the military's mission-critical weapons and
computers meet Y2K standards, the Pentagon schedule calls for 100
percent compliance by the end of this month."
There's another deadline that won't be met. It's the old
December 31, 1998 milestone, remember?
So what's going on here, really?
"Y2K is taking longer than expected," says John Pike, a military
analyst for the Federation of American Scientists. The Army and
Air Force are 70% behind schedule and 30% of the Navy's systems
are behind schedule. Yet, somehow, the Air Force is promising to
have 85% of its systems compliant in the "coming weeks."
The story also reports how the NSA (National Security Agency)
has only 19% of its systems ready, and some fixes aren't even
scheduled to be done until October of 1999. And that's if they're
DENIAL IN ACTION
With all this in mind, this story reports that John Hamre, the
Pentagon's No. 2 civilian says, "The Department of Defense will
be able to defend the United States of America on the 1st of
January 2000, no question about it." Then another Pentagon
official (unnamed) says *other* countries are still in denial.
THE ACCIDENTAL NUKE LAUNCH THEORY
The nuke launch theory resurfaces in this story, too, with the
"Hobbled by a flat-line economy and deteriorating military,
Russia's nuclear weapons systems are susceptible to the Y2K Bug,
says analyst Kraig. Or, he says, computer glitches in American
early-warning systems might falsely indicate a Russian missile
launch. He suggests that the United States, Russia and other
nations with nuclear weapons stand down their missiles until
potential Y2K problems are resolved."
BUT CAN MISSILES REALLY LAUNCH ON THEIR OWN?
Yep. South Korea proved it just last Friday. Read this story:
CIRCUITRY GLITCH LAUNCHES MISSILE IN SOUTH KOREA
While the world debates whether nuclear missiles might be
accidentally launched by a Y2K-related computer glitch, last
Friday saw a fully-armed anti-aircraft missile *accidentally*
fired in South Korea. It killed three people from the raining
This Reuters story reports: "The Korean air force said in a
statement that a circuitry defect occurred as soldiers turned on
a switch which signified that all was ready for inspection.
'Normally the missile cannot be launched with this switch,' the
statement said. 'A circuitry problem, not human error, was the
cause of the accident,' it added."
Obviously, nuclear missile have far more robust safeguards
against accidental launch than an anti-aircraft missile, but the
comparisons are inevitable. At the very least, this incident
proves once and for all that problems with the circuitry
(embedded systems) can cause missiles to accidentally launch.
Read the story at:
(Sorry about the extra-long URL link. You might have to reattach
the two halves if your e-mail program 'wrapped' it.)
WILL GOD PROVIDE?
It's fascinating. Here at Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM, we receive about ten
remove requests each week stating, essentially, "Take me off this
list. I don't need to prepare. God will provide for me."
We're guessing these people forgot about the story of Noah. God
helps those people who prepare, not those who ignore all the
warnings and think of God as some kind of giant FEMA service.
Whether or not you think God will help you through this crisis,
you *still* need to prepare. Don't let your faith in God be an
excuse to do nothing.
The people *best* prepared for Y2K, it seems, are those who are
spiritually, mentally and physically prepared.
MORE DETAILS ON FDIC'S CUSTOMER PROFILING PLAN
We've been called frauds and hoaxers for mentioning the FDIC's
new "Big Brother" plans that would have banks tracking and
monitoring all your private banking behavior and reporting to the
"authorities" any time your behavior veers from what's considered,
Some of you didn't believe this was real. You were skeptical.
So today we're posting the actual link on the FDIC's site that
spells it out. Read it yourself and wake up: the banks and the
FDIC are going to play hardball on this Y2K issue. They'll do
everything in their power to discourage cash withdrawals while
putting a positive spin on it (notice the tame name, the "Know
Your Customer" program!). Why? Because they're fighting for
survival. Here's some of the text from the FDIC site (link below):
"SUMMARY: The FDIC is proposing to issue a regulation requiring
insured nonmember banks to develop and maintain "Know Your
Customer'' programs. As proposed, the regulation would require
each nonmember bank to develop a program designed to determine
the identity of its customers; determine its customers' sources
of funds; determine the normal and expected transactions of its
customers; monitor account activity for transactions that are
inconsistent with those normal[[Page 67530]]and expected
transactions; and report any transactions of its customers that
are determined to be suspicious, in accordance with the FDIC's
existing suspicious activity reporting regulation."
Notice the words being used here: ...determine the identify...
determine customers' sources of funds...monitor account activity..
.report any transactions determined to be suspicious...
suspicious activity reporting regulation.
These are not the ideas that should be promoted in a free
society. These phrases belong in the realm of a Police State,
where every person is monitored in order to "root out the
criminals." Or, in this case, to root out people wanting cash for
What happened to the idea of privacy for American citizens? If
this FDIC regulation passes, you can forget about it. Not only
will federal authorities have the right to dig through your bank
records at their leisure, the people working at the bank will be
legally *required* to snoop on you.
Interestingly, the proposed FDIC Big Brother regulation may
actually accelerate the cash demand as people try to beat the
"Know Your Customer" deadline and get their cash out early. The
FDIC may actually cause its own worst nightmare.
Read the text yourself at:
Want to comment on the FDIC's Big Brother plan? Here's the
information given by the FDIC:
DATES: Comments must be received by March 8, 1999. ADDRESSES:
Comments should be directed to: Robert E. Feldman, Executive
Secretary, Attention: Comments/OES, Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation, 550 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20429.
Comments may be hand-delivered to the guard station at the rear
of the 550 17th Street Building (located on F Street), on
business days between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. In addition, comments may
be sent by fax to (202) 898-3838, or by electronic mail to
[email protected] Comments may be inspected and photocopied in
the FDIC Public Information Center, Room 100, 801 17th Street, NW,
Washington, D.C., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., on business days.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol A. Mesheske, Special
Activities Section, Division of Supervision, (202) 898-6750, or
Karen L. Main, Counsel, Legal Division (202) 898-8838.
But wait! The FDIC e-mail address given here *doesn't even work!
* It appears the FDIC doesn't really want your comments. We dug
up the right address:
Don't ya love these Year 2000 "compliance statements" put out by
banks? Here's one sent in by a reader. It shows *lots* of wiggle
"California Federal Bank has already anticipated these problems.
Our Year 2000 Project Team has conducted a comprehensive review
to determine the changes we need to make to our systems. Some of
the modifications are currently being made, and we expect to test
and have the majority of the modifications functioning by
December 31, 1998. I hope that I have been able to address all of
your concerns. If you have any further questions, written
inquiries may be mailed to our Year 2000 Project Team..."
With this kind of statement, even missing the December 31
deadline means you're still "on track" because you can claim that
you never promised ALL the systems would be done on time. Here's
our favorite phrase: "comprehensive review." If you've ever been
part of any committee, you're fully aware of the meaningless of
RIGHT ON TIME, CNN USES THE WORD, 'HOARDING'
Just as Y2KNEWSWIRE warned, some media outlets are going to
start bashing those who are smart enough to prepare for Y2K.
Right on cue, CNN publishes this AP story entitled, "Worry over
Y2K sparks hoarding of dried foods."
See it at:
WATCH CAREFULLY! Watch for the gerund "hoarding" to metamorph
into a plural noun: "hoarders!" It will happen, and when it does,
that's a sign that the mainstream is beginning the attack on
those who prepare. We predicted it months ago, and you'll see it
soon enough, because the people who waited until the last minute
are going to be angry when they can't find the supplies they want.
And who will they blame? Those who prepared early, of course.
That is, unless the folks in Washington show some leadership and
actually encourage people to take some common-sense, basic
preparations. In fact, just today, Y2KNEWSWIRE issues a
nationwide press release urging John Koskinen to take some action
on this. Read our statement at:
DETAILS ON THE POSTAL SERVICE?
There's one government agency we haven't heard much from on Y2K
yet: the postal service. If you work for the USPS and you'd like
to tell us what you know about its Y2K preparedness, give us a
shout at [email protected]
We'll keep you anonymous, of course, so you don't get fired.
MISSOURI DEPT. OF HEALTH DEMANDS DOCTORS PROVE THEIR COMPLIANCE
The Missouri Dept of Health is getting Missouri doctors hot
under the collar. A recent letter sent to all Missouri-based
health practitioners commands them to present detailed
descriptions of the steps they've taken to make their computers
Y2K-compliant. These must be returned by December 24th of this
year, and those who are late will receive stiff penalties.
Our guess is the Mo. Dept. of Health isn't even compliant yet.
More importantly, this brings up a critical Y2K point: you can't
just DEMAND everything be fixed on time. That doesn't mean it
will be fixed. China is trying this right now, threatening
criminal sentencing for companies that don't get compliant in
time. (Wow, neat trick.) The state of Florida is trying something
similar, although probably without the China-style imprisonment.
It's hilarious to see bureaucrats beat their heads against the
wall on this. They're so used to passing laws to change peoples'
behavior, they think it applies to Y2K as well. They think they
can just *regulate* the results of Y2K repairs, actually causing
things to be fixed by simply demanding so.
If anything, Y2K is going to laughingly demonstrate the futility
of over-legislation. If you criminalize "not being compliant,"
you don't solve the problem, you just end up with LOTS of
criminals after 2000.
FCC WORRIED ABOUT PLANES HITTING TOWERS
As often as the Y2K skeptics refer to, "planes falling out of
the sky," they almost never give it the serious thought it
deserves. There are, in fact, a dozen or more ways planes can
actually "fall from the sky," all related to Y2K.
The FCC recently revealed yet another one we haven't thought of
yet: planes hitting unlit radio towers. In fact, this scenario
has the FCC so worried, they recently issued an "Antenna
Structure Lighting Responsibilities" statement. Their summary of
the problem leaves nothing to the imagination. They say,
"Y2K-related problems could cause a structure's light systems to
fail, which will create a hazard to air navigation.
Computer-controlled devices, such as those found in automatic
monitoring and control systems used for antenna structure
lighting, are vulnerable to Y2K-related malfunctions, and may
fail. Commercial electric power sources may also fail, leaving
antenna structures vulnerable to blackouts."
The statement goes further, saying, "The Commission considers
all light outages and malfunctions as extremely serious
situations. We therefore expect antenna structure owners (and
licensees, who are secondarily responsible in the event of
default by the owner) to become aware of the ways in which
Y2K-related problems may affect their light systems, and to be
prepared to promptly report and remedy all outages and
Can you say, "Y2K lawsuit?" We already know that at least *two*
planes are going to be in the sky that night: one carrying Jane
Garvey and the other carrying John Koskinen. Suppose one of these
hits a radio tower (because the lights mysteriously went out).
Major lawsuit time. The FCC has already warned the holders of the
FCC licenses they are, "secondarily responsible" for such events.
In lawyer-speak, that means KA-CHING! Pass the bankroll, buddy,
you just bought yourself a 747.
To review some of the many various ways planes can actually fall
out of the sky:
1) Ground control radar could fail, causing the planes to run
out of fuel.
2) Electronics in the plane itself could fail, causing the pilot
to lose control of the aircraft, resulting in a crash.
3) Navigation electronics could fail, sending the plane into a
mountain or straight into the ground.
4) Faulty air traffic control could result in a mid-air
collision, taking out *two* planes at once.
5) Problems with refueling systems or fuel indicators could make
the ground crew or the pilot think the plane has more fuel than
it does, causing a mid-air depletion of fuel (doesn't seem likely,
but it's one more potential scenario).
Read the FCC details at:
THE Y2KNEWSWIRE MAIL BAG
(Actual e-mail sent from readers.)
"Greetings. I had quite a disturbing reality take place today. I
live in Seattle, WA and I bank with Seafirst, a northwest bank
owned by Bank of America. I went to my local bank with the
intentions of withdrawing my menial savings account of
approximately $3,000. I walked into my bank, filled out a
withdrawal slip, and approached a teller. When the young woman
behind the counter saw the amount that I was trying to withdrawal,
she literally began to panic. She had a brief conference with a
few of her co-workers and then informed me that the bank did not
have the cash to give to me! They were literally "out of money"
as she told me. "You could try and come back later today and we
MIGHT have enough then" she told me. I began to think what a
scary situation we are going to be witnessing when 10 people try
to withdraw just $3,000 each from their accounts!
Y2KNEWSWIRE ASKS FOR YOUR HELP
Have you recently received a notice from your bank designed to
limit your access to your own money? If so, we'd like to hear
about it. One reader sent in this notice:
"In accordance with Federal Reserve Regulation D, [bank name]
continue to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice on the
withdrawal of funds in any money market or savings account."
We suspect banks are quietly taking action to place limits on
your ability to get cash. If you have evidence of this at *your*
bank, you can e-mail us at [email protected]
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