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CPSR Newsletter - Vol. 17, No. 1 Kurland
CPSR Newsletter

Winter 1999
Vol. 17, No. 1


Marsha Woodbury
Y2K: The Broad View

CPSR-Y2K Working Group Web Pages

Arthur C. Clarke
The Century Syndrome, from The Ghost from the Grand Banks

Anthony Ralston
Y2K and Social Responsibility

Peter Neumann
A Perspective on Y2K

Gary Chapman
Now For Another Daunting Y2K Task: Educating America's Masses

Lenny Siegel
OOPs 2000: The Y2K Bug and the Threat of Catastrophic Chemical Releases

Norman Kurland
How Y2K Will Impact the New York Times

Y2K and Nuclear Weapons

  • Letters Seeking Help on Nuclear Weapons Issues from
    Michael Kraig
    Alan Phillips

  • Four Prominent Scientists on Nuclear Weapons Concerns:
    Khursch Ahmed
    David Parnas
    Barbara Simons
    Terry Winograd

  • Gary Chapman
    A Moral Project for the 21st Century: Stop Creating Better Weapons


    Y2K Humor from the Internet and Beyond

    Cartoon (may crash older browsers)

    CPSR News:

    Aki Namioka
    A Letter from CPSR's President

    Netiva Caftori
    Chapter News

    Return to the Index.

  • How Y2K Will Impact
    the New York Times

    by Norman Kurland
    of the CPSR-Y2K Working Group

    On June 13, 1998 a number of people involved in Y2k wrote a joint letter to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the New York Times. The letter urged Sulzberger to use the powerful influence of the Times "to arouse the nation to the seriousness of situation."

    The letter said,

      "It is imperative that we use the few remaining months until December 31, 1999, to fix what still can be fixed and to prepare the public for the disruptions that will affect the safety, health and security of everyone."

    We explained why this is such a crucial issue and concluded:

      "Because of the urgency action must begin immediately. We are, therefore, calling on you to speak out now. In the attachment [included below] we suggest a number of things you can do. In addition, many of us have very concrete proposals, including ways to assure that systems essential for the safety, health< and security of the nation are fixed in time. We would be pleased to share these with you."

    (See also the full text of the original letter.)

    Following is the response received from Mr. Sulzberger on June 22nd:

    "Thank you for your letter. As the chairman of a company that publishes dozens of newspapers, let me assure you I am very aware of the Y2k problem. The New York Times newspaper will continue to cover this issue thoroughly--for all our sakes.

    [handwritten signature]

    On July 21st, we sent a response to the Times' response.

    Here is the portion of the original letter entitled How Y2K Will Impact the New York Times, written by Norman Kurland of the CPSR-Y2K Working Group:

    Of the thousands of facts that we could supply to show you the seriousness of the problem, consider just these few.

    The electric power companies, including those serving New York City, have embedded controls throughout their production and distribution systems that have not yet all passed Y2K readiness tests. Moreover, 40 percent of power in the Northeast comes from nuclear generation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said it will not let plants operate if they cannot guarantee security. Electrical power. What will it mean for your operations if there are extended disruptions of electrical power?

    The telecommunications industry has not yet given assurances that their highly computer-dependent systems will all function after the rollover to 00. The recent Galaxy 4 satellite failure was a reminder of how dependent on telecommunications we have become. While the quick recovery was welcome, the situation will be very different if many systems go out simultaneously. As a company now heavily dependent on reliable telecommunications, questions about the safety of the telecommunications infrastructure must concern you.

    Railroads and other transportation systems are at risk because routing and switching is now almost fully automated. Consider just the availability of paper supplies if the transportation system is disrupted.

    Most large corporations are working to solve their problems and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the work. As just one example, General Motors reports that it will spend over $360 million. While the major corporations are now aware of the problem and working diligently on it, thousands of smaller firms, which together are critical to the economic health of the nation, are either only in the early stages of remediation or not even aware of how much they will be affected. Many of them are your advertisers or will affect your advertisers' economic viability in 2000.

    We are not claiming that any or all of these situations will occur. As Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said, "We do not know or cannot really realistically make an evaluation of what the economic impact is as a consequence of the breakdowns that may occur."

    What we do know is that the impacts will be serious and, most important, we know that every day that massive action to address the problem is delayed the probability increases that breakdowns in key sectors of the economy will occur. Given the interconnectedness of modern systems, such disruptions will rapidly spread throughout the economy.

    What the New York Times Can Do

    Acknowledge that it is extremely difficult to believe that the Y2K problem could be serious but that you now recognize that it is a matter that will have grave consequences for everyone if adequate measures are not taken in the remaining 18 months until the year 2000.

    Urge President Clinton to join you in this recognition. Propose that he appoint someone with appropriate credibility and credentials to head a massive national effort to prepare the nation for the transition to the new millennium.

    Urge the business, academic, and political leadership of the country to enlist in a national effort to use the time remaining to correct what can be corrected and to make provision for mitigating the impact of failures and disruptions that cannot be prevented.

    Call on the other media to follow your lead and help prepare the nation to understand and cope with the problem. You in the media will play a critical role in avoiding the panic and civil unrest that will be inevitable if the public only discovers what Y2K will mean to them when it is too late to avert major disasters.

    Finally, urge the leadership of the rest of the world to follow our lead and join with us in addressing this problem on the global scale it requires.

    The following people have also authorized me to add their names as signatories:

    Cynthia Beal
    Grocer and Moderator
    Year 2000 Regional Preparedness Forum
    Pacific Northwest
    Eugene, Oregon

    Pastor Daniel Cormier
    Montreal Downtown Church
    Y2K Water Discussion Moderator
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Peter de Jager
    de Jager & Company Limited
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada

    David Eddy
    Software Sales Group, Inc.
    Babson Park, Massachusetts

    Reynolds Griffith
    Professor of Finance
    Stephen F. Austin State University
    Nacogdoches, Texas

    Gary Allan Halonen
    Y2K Policy Analyst
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Roleigh Martin
    Software Engineer Consultant
    Edina, Minnesota

    Dick Mills
    Technology Consultant
    Albany, New York

    Victor Porlier
    Executive Director
    Center for Civic Renewal
    New York, New York

    Alan H. Russell, Ph.D., C.C.P.
    Lead I.T. Specialist
    Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
    Allentown, Pennsylvania

    Don "Doc" Taylor
    Hampton Roads 2000
    Newport News, Virginia

    Robert Theobald
    Author, speaker, and consultant in transformational change
    Spokane, Washington

    Marsha Woodbury
    Visiting Assistant Professor
    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Urbana, Illinois

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