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The problem stems from older computers and programs that use two digits for years in dates. Unable to distinguish between 2000 and 1900, the concern is that they will malfunction or shut down, affecting vital services such as electric and water utilities, air travel, and banking.
Rep. Stephen Horn (R) of California, the House Y2K watchdog, gave 24 federal agencies a B minus grade for preparedness. He found the National Weather Service and Social Security Administration ready for next year and pronounced the government "in pretty good shape." But there's still work to do.
The 46 states and several local governments that began their fiscal year 2000 on July 1 met with few problems processing bills and payrolls for the new year.
US and Canadian airlines announced last week they are 95 percent prepared for 2000 and will be completely ready by the end of summer. The Federal Aviation Administration said it had repaired and tested its air-traffic computers by June 30. Government auditors are verifying. The situation at airports, whether in the US or abroad, is less clear. The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization is collecting airport and airline data. The State Department may begin issuing travel warnings this fall for areas to avoid.
Prudence, not panic, is the order of the day. Citizens should insist that local governments address the problem, and they should be sure their home computers and software are Y2K compliant. But other than preparing as one would for a bad winter storm or a hurricane, and printing out hard copies of personal and financial records, no drastic action is called for.
Bank regulators reported in early August 99 percent of the nation's federally insured banks, thrifts and credit unions have completed testing for the Year 2000 computer glitch.
Studies have prompted confidence among Y2K planners. ``For the most part, the fears are unfounded,'' said Bruce McConnell, director of the International Y2K Cooperation Center, a clearinghouse established by the United Nations and the World Bank. ``I'm not saying there won't be problems, but the kind of problems will really be a blip.''
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said 9-7-99 that 28 nuclear power reactors in the U.S. need to upgrade their computers to avoid possible Y2K computer problems, though none of the work still to be done involves computer safety systems
Russia, lagging far behind in its efforts to fix potential Year 2000 problems that threaten its command and control systems and nuclear warhead storage facilities, has decide that "due to time constraints" it will go directly to 'live' testing of systems to locate Year 2000 errors in the 100 systems they have identified as mission-critical.
The United States and Russia will sign an agreement for their military officers to jointly staff a center in Colorado as the new year dawns to watch for false warnings of missile attacks sparked by year 2000 computer bugs. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev will sign the agreement to set up the temporary center. The official, who asked not to be identified, said up to 20 Russian officers would be assigned to the ``Center for Strategic Stability and Y2K'' between late December and early January at U.S. Space Command headquarters at Colorado Springs. The confidence-building operation will use U.S. early-warning satellites and advanced computers, and could reassure Moscow if Y2K computer problems in Russia mistakenly signaled a missile launch somewhere in the world.
The United States advised its citizens 9-9-14 that they could run into Year 2000 computer problems in countries including Brazil, China, India, Russia and Ukraine. In updating travel advice for 196 countries and territories, however, the State Department stopped short of saying any particular country might be unsafe to visit. ``At this point there is no indication for any country in the world that leads us to put out a travel warning,'' said the department's citizen services director, Kevin Herbert. Nevertheless, some of the consular information sheets anticipated widespread problems in some destinations.
Environmentalists and arms control activists call it a modest proposal -- a kind of Year 2000 insurance policy for the world. Power down the 433 nuclear reactors worldwide. De-alert the 5,000 nuclear-tipped missiles that the United States and Russia keep on hair-trigger status. In a word, observe a year-end, 48-hour atomic ``holiday'' to avoid the remote possibility of nuclear disaster during the technology-challenging year 2000 rollover.
With 100 days left until Jan. 1, 2000, the Senate's Y2K panel says health-care systems, local governments and small businesses remain vulnerable, but computer breakdowns probably will ``cause more inconveniences than tragedies.'' The situation is more serious outside the country
Fact 15 10-25-99
The New York Clearing House Association, the electronic link between banks and business that allows fund transfers and direct payrolls deposits, said Monday a three-day Year 2000 test had so far yielded ``prefect'' results. The system handles 95 percent of all international U.S.- dollar transactions worldwide, which amounts to $1.2 trillion and $2 trillion per day, according to the clearing house.
Fact 16 10-30-99
An FBI report prepared for the nation's law enforcement officials says the threat of violence by extremists to mark the new millennium is ``very real,'' The Washington Post reported. ``The threat posed by extremists as a result of perceived events associated with the Year 2000 is very real,'' the Post quoted the report as saying. ``The volatile mix of apocalyptic religious and (New World Order) conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed at precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible.''
Fact 17 11-16-99
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reassured concerned lawmakers on Tuesday that the nation's 103 nuclear power plants will see no disruptions as a result of the millennium rollover.
Fact 18 12-4-99
Federal agents have arrested two anti-government militia members in connection with a plan to blow up a massive propane installation in Elk Grove, Cal. a newspaper reported Saturday. Authorities believe the alleged plan was designed to exploit Y2K fears among the nation's hate groups.
Fact 19 12-11-99
Americans around the world were warned Saturday by the State Department that there is "credible evidence" terrorists could strike at large holiday gatherings. A worldwide caution issued by the department told U.S. citizens abroad to avoid large crowds and gatherings and to keep a low profile.
Fact 20 12-13-99
The 2000 computer glitch will cause many errors in automated systems worldwide but their combined damage will be "moderate," a United Nations-created information clearing house said
Fact 21 12-15-99
U.S. officials are preparing for the possibility that the much-heralded Year 2000 computer bogy may turn out to be the least of their problems on New Year's weekend -- overshadowed by political, cult or racial violence. As officials grow more confident that U.S. infrastructure will emerge relatively glitch-free, they appear increasingly concerned about those who might try to wind up the century with a kind of bloody exclamation point. The chairman of a Senate panel that studied the Year 2000 technology challenge, Robert Bennett, said the United States and its allies should be on guard for both physical and computer-generated attacks timed to coincide with the new year. "We think there may be terrorist groups planning to ride in on the Y2K wave," the Utah Republican, who receives intelligence briefings, told Reuters. "There is the potential for these groups to commit acts that may be mistakenly attributed to Y2K." Apart from any risk from overseas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned local police of the danger of violence by cults seeking to spark an apocalyptic battle and by those fearing a supposed conspiracy to impose world government.
A likely nationwide rush to the pumps to top off before New Year's Eve has Year 2000 computer-problem experts really worried. "Gasoline is the one thing you can't stock up on." The expected rush will occur the final two days of the 1000 millennium. There's no gasoline shortage, but . . .The problem will come in delivering all that additional tonnage of gasoline to meet the year-end, century-end, millennium-end abnormal demand. In anticipation of Hurricane Floyd, drivers sucked dry nearly half the gas stations along the Atlantic Coast. It's possible something like that might happen nationwide, experts fear.