August 21, 2003
BLAME 'NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF DEREGULATION'
** "Liberalization in
the energy industry" caused the blackout.
** A "desolate"
and "fragile" public infrastructure should give an
"arrogant" U.S. pause.
** Modern technology
everywhere "is doomed to experience weaknesses or failures."
** The outage may signal
terrorists that the U.S.' energy industry is its "weak point."
Energy is 'too serious...to be entrusted to business'-- "Liberalization without strict
regulations" led to the blackout.
Russia's reformist Vremya Novostey declared, "The government
must keep its systems under rigid control," while Belgium's independent De
Morgen alleged that the "private sector cannot afford to invest...in
the maintenance of a network."
Bucking the anti-liberalization trend, Germany's Nuermberger
Nachtrichten termed the blackout the "rotten fruit" of
"insufficient deregulation." A
Czech daily held that both energy costs and the "pressure for conservation"
are "too low" in the U.S.
Commentary on the 'shameful situation' included an element of
schadenfreude-- German, Belgian and Arab
writers concluded the "U.S. has made a fool of itself." Germany's center-right Neue Osnabruecker
Zeitung stated that "such economic backwardness...is in crass contrast
to the self-confident, partly arrogant attitude" of U.S. officials. Belgium's conservative Het Laatste Nieuws
was one of many outlets to call the U.S.' power network no "better than
that of any Third World country."
Lebanon's nationalist As-Safir hoped the blackout would make
Americans "lose a lot of reasons for being arrogant and haughty towards
others." Conversely, the U.S.'
"capacity to deal with this type of emergency" impressed Russia's
centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which praised how "Americans showed
themselves to be a true civil society" by the lack of unrest during the
The blackout is 'a lesson to the industrialized world'-- The outage highlighted the "enormous
vulnerability affecting modern societies" and the need "to invest,
without delay, in infrastructure."
Turkey's mass-appeal Hurriyet marveled at the "total
collapse of the technologically modern society." Singapore's pro-government Straits Times
urged global "infrastructure...be beefed up, backed up and
protected." Latin papers stressed
that insufficient investment "may rapidly damage any large electric
system." Panama's independent La
Prensa concluded, "Tomorrow's world cannot be built on yesterday's
The energy industry's fragility means 'power plants may become the
next target'-- Asian and German
observers cautioned it "would be a surprise if the blackout did not give
terrorist groups ideas" as "such a fragile network is a clear target
for sabotage." Pro-PRC Macau
Daily News predicted that "global terrorist groups will be encouraged
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis was based on 36 reports from 17 countries over 16 - 20 August
2003. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
Ursula von Weidenfeld judged in centrist Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (8/18): "There is hardly
anything that hits an economy more brutally than a total blackout.... In this situation it is surprising how
relaxed the United States and Canada dealt with the enormous blackout. U.S. companies invested last year on the
average 800 million U.S. dollars, a similar investment as in England, even
though the power network in the United States is fifteen times as large as in
Britain. These investments are not even
big enough to maintain the current network, let alone to expand
capacities. What is even worse: the
regional utilities do not show any willingness to link the various
regions. As long as the networks are
linked by a few power lines only, inefficient power stations are protected from
"Like In The Third World"
Wolfgang Koydl filed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (8/18): "The reasons for the
problem are at least as old as the power lines: energy in the U.S. is too
cheap. That is why demand is rising,
that it why there is hardly a human job that could not be done with energy in
the United States--ranging from brushing one's teeth to walking around with the
monstrous Sedgway roller. In addition,
there is the awareness of living in an incredibly large country with an
inexhaustible resource of water, air, and energy. It is not so that Americans would not be
willing to save energy--if they are convinced of the need to do so. But the Americans do not get any incentive
from their representatives and governments to save energy. For years, Congress, for instance, has been
debating an energy bill that would promise improvements."
Verena Lueken maintained in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(8/16): "If evidence were necessary
to show how vulnerable the United States and New York are despite 'blackout
plans,' then this blackout produced it.
It is part of the many contradictions of the United States that, in
parallel to the technical high-tech arms of the country, considerable sectors
of the public elementary service--in addition to the energy sector there is
also the health sector--have the level of a Third World country. It must deeply worry the Americans that
almost the entire country depends on an energy supply system whose power lines
collapse without facing any extraordinary burden. For one day, America demonstrated how
vulnerable it is. Such a fragile network
is a clear target for sabotage acts.
Thus far, the government has not shown how it wants to react to it. There is no hundred percent protection from
terrorist acts, but this should be possible for blackouts"
Center-right Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung argued (8/16): "With this dark day from New York, the
United States has made a fool of itself.
A country that claims the right to wage global campaigns for democracy
and prosperity cannot allow its domestic infrastructure to become
run-down. Such economic backwardness
destroys its own credibility. It is in
crass contrast to the self-confident, partly arrogant attitude of U.S.
politicians and military officials. That
is why it should become more difficult for the United States in the future to
maintain or even increase its influence in the Arab region, for instance. Those who sit in the dark at home cannot be
an illuminating example for others, irrespective of whether they are
sabre-rattling at the same time."
An editorial that appeared in center-right General-Anzeiger
of Bonn, right-of-center Stuttgarter Nachrichten and right-of-center Hannoversche
Allgemeine Zeitung read (8/16):
"A technical flaw, causing a chain reaction and allowing the
electricity network to collapse in wide areas can probably happen all over the
world. But it is probably no coincidence
that it happened in the northeastern part of the United States and in the
Canadian-U.S. border region. In this area, population density, but also energy
consumption is very high....
Traditionally low energy prices and an insufficient awareness of environmental
problems contribute to the uninhibited consumption of energy. The air conditioning runs incessantly and
possibly this has led to the collapse of electricity, since the day of the
blackout was the hottest day of the year in New York and other cities in the
northeastern part of the United States.
In addition, America's infrastructure is in a desolate condition. The financial shortage of the state caused by
low taxes, mountains of debt, and growing budget deficits have lead to a
permanent cut of public investments.
Further dark times will follow the blackout from Thursday."
"Third World Standards"
Left-of-center Nuremberger Nachrichten contended
(8/16): "[President George W. Bush]
must have known these uncomfortable truths, which have been revealed on this
darkest day of the country. The U.S.
superpower has, as Bill Clinton's former energy secretary formulated, a power
network that has the standard of the Third World. The United States has not learned its lesson
from the problems that were revealed in California in 2000. In addition, there are the rotten fruit of an
insufficient deregulation policy in the energy sector, which aimed mainly at
the popular goal...of low energy prices.
But the politically responsible people forgot that, in view of the price
war for market shares, no company sees an incentive to invest in an obsolete
and antiquated infrastructure if this investment does not pay off."
ITALY: “Too Many Crises,
Support For Bush Goes Down”
Anna Guaita contended in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero
(8/19): “George Bush made one of the
biggest mistakes in his political career when he showed a feeling of jealousy
against Arnold Schwarzenegger and the coverage all media are devoting to
him.... Indeed, the President’s irritation
hides a sense of insecurity...and the polls show that his popularity is going
down.... Indeed, on the blackout George
Bush was shining by his absence, while America was in the dark.... As to unemployment, Bush risks being
remembered in modern history as the only President to witness a negative growth
in jobs.... As to the 2004 elections, at
the moment, the Democrats do not create too many problems for him as they are
divided.... As for Iraq, not even those
who opposed the war doubt that Bush was absolutely convinced that the Iraqi
people would have taken the streets to welcome America.... Now only 43 per cent of Americans believe the
U.S. troops have the situation under control.”
“The Front Of The Dark”
Maurizio Molinari observed in centrist, influential La Stampa
(8/18): “The failing alarm system on the
transmission lines in Ohio...forces President Bush to deal with an old national
electricity network that makes any citizen fear the dark much more than a
terrorist act.... At the national level,
it is happening what already happened in California in the 2001 summer. And
this is not good news for Bush.... On
that occasion, Bush was on the front line in criticizing Davis, now he is on
the dock. It is very difficult for any politician to deal with the negative
consequences of deregulation, as it means to touch a mixture of different
interests...and it is not by chance that, after the blackout, the White House
and the Republican representatives did not talk with only one voice.... After the black out, Bush will try to
convince Congress to...pass the energy plan. But the road is uphill.”
RUSSIA: "Life Gets
More Comfy, Risky"
Oleg Moroz held in literary weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta
(8/20): "Even though the accident
in America, thank God, has had no serious consequences, it is another warning
for all of us. With the world
increasingly dependent on technology, life is becoming not only more
comfortable but also more risky. As the
'baby' grows up, it may get out of hand and become an arbitrary ruler of our
"A True Civil Society"
Yevgeniy Verlin commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(8/19): "Overall, America has
emerged from August's 'eclipse,' unharmed.
With all the work done in anticipation of a major terrorist act, New
York City is ready to tackle any emergency. This blackout is no match for the one in 1977
with its looting rampage, which was the worst in underprivileged areas in New
York's suburbs. This time the cases of
looting were quite few.... The police
did a good job, of course, guarding shops and eating places that stood
vulnerable during the power outage.
Residents of the poor quarters in the suburbs--most of them immigrants
who have settled there in the past few decades--were willing to maintain peace
and calm in their neighborhoods, acting as 100-percent citizens, eager to
integrate in U.S. society. Overall, the Americans, barring a few negative
instances, have showed themselves to be a true civil society. As we criticize the Americans for one thing
or another, we need to learn from them how to act in a crisis or
"Reform Affects Safety"
Paulina Siluyanova wrote in reformist Gazeta (8/18): "The United States is one of the
countries where liberalization in the energy industry has been complete and
borne fruit. A couple of years ago
screwed-up reform caused a cascade of power shutoffs in California. The states that have been affected by the
latest blackout are among the 'liberalized,' too. Some experts fear that restructuring Russia's
energy systems will detract from its reliability."
"Blackout Unites And Divides People"
Melor Sturua declared in reformist youth-oriented Moskovskiy
Komsomolets (8/18): "The true
cause of the worst blackout in U.S. history is still unknown. Many experts believe that it lies in the
energy industry being unmanageable.
Electric energy, they say, is too serious a matter to be entrusted to
business.... The blackout united and
divided Americans all at the same time.
In New York, the lit blocks alternated with the dark ones, making the
city look like a chessboard. Street
clocks showed different time, with streets themselves looking like giant
"Third Blackout In America"
Yuri Shafranik, Russia's former Fuel and Energy Minister, said in
reformist Vremya Novostey (8/18): "It is not something out of the
ordinary. It happened twice before. With all due respect...the Americans have
stepped in it again. Amazingly, the
reason, the same in all three cases, has to do with the free market. The Americans might have avoided the problem
if they had invested in automatic protection systems. Whatever the economy, market or supermarket,
the government must keep its systems under rigid control."
“Light And Shadow”
Clemens Rosenkranz held in liberal Der
Standard (8/19): "It has become
popular to make the liberalization of the electricity market responsible for
the largest blackout in the history of North America – however, this is
incorrect, just as it is incorrect to say that the opening of the market is a
pure blessing that automatically brings cheaper electricity to the consumer. In
order to make the price reductions that were promised to become reality, the
grid operators first have to massively lower the line charges.... The reality of liberalization has made the
grid operators come to the following conclusion, for them a logical one: If you
can’t make any money out of transporting energy, investments must be stopped.
In the medium-term, this attitude threatens the reliability and quality of the
power supply.... California had imposed
an asymmetrical opening of the market: The wholesale trade of energy was made
fully subject to market forces, with a maximum limit for household tariffs. As
the energy providers were no longer making money this way, some of them went
bankrupt. None of them invested anything in the grid. This should teach us an
important lesson: Liberalization without strict regulations brings more shadow
than light, and entails a much higher risk of blackouts.”
BELGIUM: "Power Outage
In The U.S."
Deputy Chief Editor Bart Sturtewagen wrote in independent
Christian-Democrat De Standaard (8/18): "The gigantic power failure in the U.S.
and--perhaps even more--the long time it took to restore power are a shame for
a country that behaves on the world scene as a superpower that is accountable
to no one.... How can a country with
such enormous structural shortcomings be so powerful, successful and rich? In fact, it should founder because of its
internal contrasts and absurd methods.
But, that is not the case. It
goes through gigantic crises and, each time, it achieves a spectacular
recovery. Is that because it tolerates a
reprehensible gap between the poor and the rich and lays its hands on a
non-proportional share of the world’s wealth?
Is it because of the fact that it has acquired military supremacy and is
able to impose its will on other nations?
Or, is it because all the water flows to the sea in a capitalistic
system? All of that, undoubtedly. Like the fall of other empires in world history,
the fall of the U.S. empire has been predicted many times. And, maybe, it will happen some time. In the meantime, however, it makes sense to
try to understand what the origin is of the superiority of that questionable
system. Indeed, behind all those
excesses there must be a stimulating power and an inspiration from which we
Europeans and the rest of the world can learn something.”
"No Such Thing As Free Power"
Independent De Morgen held (8/16): “Electric power is more and more becoming a
private sector business. A lot of money
is earned with all those kilowatts and wars are being waged for it: Iraqi oil
is to feed American power plants. But,
the absence of the government also holds risks.... The private sector cannot afford to invest
many billions in the maintenance of a network.
All the providers of electric power use that increasingly obsolete
network. Above all, they want to buy and
sell cheap electricity. However, when
the network, in which nobody is willing to invest, crashes everybody winds up
without power. In that case,
everyone--and the voters in the first place--hold the authorities
responsible.... Beyond all ideological discussion the free market and the
government should conduct a thorough debate about who is the best to carry out
certain tasks. If the administration has
to maintain the network, it will cost money and the free market must pay the
right price for it. The taxpayers, too,
must be aware that there is no such thing as free electric power.”
"Modesty Lacking In The U.S."
Conservative Het Laatste Nieuws stated (8/16): “When Osama bin Laden does not paralyze
America, the Americans themselves do it.
It is a rude remark, but the fact that a superpower like the U.S. does
not have a decent electric power network is an equally rude thing.... America is a splendid country often with
extraordinary people who are right to be proud of fantastic performances and
qualities. Unfortunately, modesty is not
one of them. They like to pretend that
they are the top of the world, but those who are familiar with their
ineffective social security system know better.
Technically they do not always excel either. People who have tried to use cell phones in the
United States know that.... Any Japanese
car is better than American cars. These
are only details now that it is clear that their electric power network is not
any better than that of any Third World country, as former Energy Secretary
Richardson said. The man is a bit
hypocritical: he should have done something about it in the past. This time, Bush cannot blame others. Unfortunately for him, al-Qaeda has nothing
to do with it. But, let’s not exaggerate
and act as if it cannot happen in Europe.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Perhaps, we should try to find out whether solar panels on our roofs
aren’t a good option.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "In
One’s Own Energy Trap"
Martin Denemark commented in business-oriented Hospodarske
noviny (8/18): "The likelihood
of blackouts similar to the one in the U.S. and Canada happening also in the
future almost reaches certainty. There
are too many factors that can cause them to be all eliminated.... However, the Western civilization lifestyle
represents [in this respect] greater danger than terrorists...and the Americans
provide a typical example.... In the
U.S., energy costs are low and so is the pressure for conservation.... Most U.S. politicians are tied to the
short-term election cycle and forget to think strategically.... [For instance, for the Bush Administration,]
signing the Kyoto Protocol would mean generating pressure on the energy
industry [that finances a lot of the Republicans’ election campaigns] to invest
into technologies that will not bring immediate pay off.... The energy-providing industry is...a primary
strategic sector.... [Accidents] show
that pressure for energy savings are well substantiated...just like the effort
to create a varied choice of energy sources that would be compatible and, in
time of a crisis, replaceable."
IRELAND: "Rawness Of Humanity In A City That Can Sleep"
The center-left Irish Times commented (8/16): "The administration on Thursday night
chose to blame the Canadian power system--if anything is clear from American
politics in recent times it's that there always has to be a foreign enemy. But another thing is clear also--the ordinary
American doesn't really believe much of the tripe that is shoved their
way. They have become weary of the
politician too quick to jump to conclusions.
There is no soundbite here, no easy answer. Most people are weary of cliches, political
and otherwise, that are directed their way."
POLAND: “One Click And The
Lights Are Off”
Marek Ostrowski opined in center-left weekly Polityka
(8/20): “The huge power failure
paralyzed the lives of 50 million people in the U.S. and Canada. It laid bare
problems hardly anyone cares to think about everyday. The United States, a
high-tech leader in the First World, has a Third World energy system.... But the power of America does not amount to
technological supremacy.... Americans
proved they are a strong and resilient nation. When energy is gone, it comes to
light how important social energy is.”
“Global Reality Incident”
Bronislaw Wildstein stated in centrist Rzeczpospolita
(8/16): “To say that we live in an
increasingly interconnected world is banal. This is what we call
globalization.... That the world is
becoming increasingly cooperative and interrelated also means that failure can
be much more serious than with small-scale integration, and a domino effect can
result.... This, however, does not mean
that an inevitable catastrophe is looming. Those who threaten us with
alienation...do not take into account that, even though the whole can’t be
controlled, the individual parts of it can be. At this level inevitable
disasters can be avoided.”
TURKEY: “Power Blackout”
Hadi Uluengin wrote in mass-appeal Hurriyet (8/19): “The blackout brought the world’s most
technologically advanced nation to a halt.
It was like one of the chaos scenes in a science fiction movie. No public transportation, no
telecommunication. Moreover, money even
did not matter since credit cards were useless too. It was a total collapse of the
technologically modern society.... The
U.S. blackout should remind us of the fact that modern technology is doomed to
experience weaknesses or failures.
Technology is a very complex structure and human beings should not take
everything for granted in order not to live through a New York-alike chaos once
again.... It does not necessarily
require living in a primitive manner, but it does require a revision of the
relation between people and technology.”
EGYPT: “Separating Lines”
Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya declared
(8/17): “Americans achieved decisive victory in Afghanistan and in Iraq but
this is not because of the brilliance of their leaders. Circumstances helped them a great deal. Afghanistan had no state and was run
exclusively by closed-minded young men.
In Iraq, Saddam was ignorant of politics and military strategy.... Americans are easily exposed during
crises. Because of their excessive
self-confidence and their fascination with the power in their hands, they
failed to make a sound and accurate assessments of matters. They did not question those who dragged their
country [into crises] and those who threatened their nation. If September 11 occurred in another
country...the director of intelligence would have been tried
immediately.... For New York and other
cities to drown in total darkness for 29 hours...is a shameful situation by any
LEBANON: “The Last Stop”
Sateh Noureddine contended in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(8/16): “The Lebanese laughed a lot, the
Iraqis cried more at the news of power cuts in New York and most major cities
in East America and Canada. The only
super power in the world drowns in darkness and stands helpless before a simple
technical failure in one of the simplest basic services it offers to its
citizens. The Lebanese exchanged jokes
at the common state of affairs that joined them with millions of Americans and
Canadians who spent their night in darkness without knowing the sources of
failure, or squander or corruption that hit their power network, which is supposed
to be the most developed in the world....
The darkness millions of Americans lived last night is the worst in the
history of the United States. But it put
them on equal grounds with the other peoples of the world. It also made them lose a lot of reasons for
being arrogant and haughty towards others.
It drew the attention again to the fact they were not as protected and
relaxed as they may seem to be. Such a
conclusion enhances the sense of humor among Lebanese and the sense of fear
among Iraqis who have been waiting impatiently for four months for the American
occupying authority to restore regular power to their houses and offices...to
find that the curse has fallen on the Americans in their own land.”
SYRIA: "Clear Policy
And Comprehensive Vision"
Mufid Khansa commented in government-owned Al-Thawra
(8/16): "The feelings of fear,
alarm, anxiety, and panic that gripped the citizens of New York because of the
power outage in the city made people intrinsically sympathize with New
Yorkers.... One can then imagine the
situation in our brotherly Iraq, where people spend their days and nights under
occupation, chaos, and killing. And one can imagine the situation in occupied
Palestine, whose people are suffering from endless Israeli crimes.... Is it true that the images of fear, alarm,
and lack of security in Iraq and Palestine do not move American citizens? Don't
the people of New York, toward whom we felt instant sympathy on Thursday night,
sense that people in Iraq and Palestine sleep and awaken to the sounds of
explosions, killing, and destruction under the shadow of the bitter occupation?
Or is it that the Americans do not get the full picture because of the hegemony
of the Zionist media, which hide facts and mislead the Americans?.... Syria, which declared its unequivocal support
for the brotherly Iraqi people before the war on Iraq, renews its position with
the same clarity: it is against the American occupation and it is for the
unity, stability, and prosperity of Iraq."
CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SARS): "Review The Blackout In U.S. And
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(8/19): "The power supply is back
to normal and the magnificent night view at New York's Times Square has
returned. However, is the latest crisis
become history?.... Or should it be
treated as a warning for developed countries and those rapidly developing
countries around the world?.... From the
security strategy angle, the blackout rather than the terrorist attacks on
September 11, 2001, exposed the fact that the militarily strong and warlike
America is not a nation that can stand the test of war or terrorist
attacks. It would not be difficult to
create a similar blackout, which would result in chaos. If the blackout were coupled with a suicide
attack or an attack on other public utilities, the consequences would be too
horrible to contemplate. There is reason
to believe that global terrorist groups will be encouraged and inspired by the blackout
in the U.S. and Canada. They may study
new modes and means of attacks. Military
experts in all countries should take appropriate measures to adjust and improve
their strategies in combating terrorism.
They should also improve the security measures on their
"The Blackout Is No Trivial Matter"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal
observed (8/16): "In many people's eyes, the U.S. is the sole superpower
in the world. It has military might,
advanced technology and a developed economy.
However, its power facilities are third world. In recent years, the west coast, especially
California, suffered blackouts from time to time.... Now, even the east coast experiences a
large-scale blackout, and the U.S. government can no longer procrastinate on
reviewing its power supply and energy policy.... As a result of the Thursday blackout, the
U.S. government should have a better understanding of the crisis triggered by
an inadequate power infrastructure.
After the power returns to normal, the government should provide
economic benefits to encourage the establishment of new power facilities."
"Lessons From The Power Outage"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News remarked
(8/16): "A massive power outage on
the east coast of North American left New York, Toronto and other metropolises
in darkness. About 50 million people
served by the power grid were affected.
Mainland China is enthusiastic about interconnecting power networks so
that surplus electricity in developed regions can be transmitted to less
developed places, and the SAR government is looking at the possibility of
having Hong Kong Electric's grid and CLP Powers' connected. Both the mainland and Hong Kong should
thoroughly study the power outage in eastern America and draw lessons from
it. However, [they] should not rule out
the idea of grid interconnection because of it.... Grid interconnection has many
advantages. Modern technology is such
that, if back-up capacity is ample and distribution and emergency plans are
satisfactory, power outages...can be averted."
"The United States' Achilles' Heel Has Been Found"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Oriental Daily News
editorialized (8/16): "Human beings
manipulated technology to create industry and civilization. However, because they rely too heavily on
technology, they become its slaves. It
doesn't matter whether the blackout on the east coast of the U.S. was caused by
terrorists or not, it showed the fragility and helplessness of human
beings. Even the capital of the U.S., Washington
D.C., was within the blackout zone. The
Pentagon, in Washington, is the military command center. If there is a power outage there, it is just
like hitting the Achilles' heel of the giant--the U.S. If terrorist groups launched attacks during the
blackout, the U.S.' nuclear bombs, satellites, and missiles all become
useless. Even communications would be
cut. How would the U.S. be able to react
"Blackout In The U.S. And Canada"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News contended
(8/16): "The U.S. has advanced
weapons which are invincible. However, a
blackout has brought the whole metropolis to a standstill. If terrorists discover this weak point of the
U.S., power plants may become the next target.
In fact, terrorists have claimed again and again that they would attack
U.S. nuclear power plants.... The sudden
blackout has broken U.S. records....
Nevertheless, there were no major accidents during the blackout. It shows that the U.S. government and its
people have the capacity to deal with this type of emergency."
"Don't Attribute The Blackout To An Open Policy"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News wrote
(8/16): "It took a long time for
the U.S. and Canada to return to normal after the blackout. The scale of the incident was huge. In western industrial countries, this
incident can be treated as an economic disaster. The global capitalist capital, New York, was
brought to a standstill because of the blackout. Although the stock market opened as normal,
the selling and buying of stocks was greatly affected. U.S. energy policy will have to undergo
massive changes after this incident....
It cannot be denied that the opening up of the U.S. power market has cut
the profits of power companies enormously.
It has led to a drop in the standards of the power networks.... If not for the poor standards of U.S. power
companies and the "hands-off" attitude of the U.S. administration,
the blackout would not have caused such havoc."
The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (8/18): "It must have felt like the apocalypse
in North America.... Many wondered if
terrorists had struck again. It is a sign of the times that this was the first
thing that many people thought of....
Yet, it would be a surprise if the blackout did not give terrorist
groups ideas. It took the failure of transmission lines in just one
area--northern Ohio--to shut down every business, home and office, lacking an
emergency generator, in five states....
Whichever it was, it is astounding so many owed so much to just one
power grid; and more astoundingly still, that the richest region in the most
advanced country in the world was so painfully lacking in back-up
systems.... The blackout should serve as
a lesson to the industrialized world that its infrastructure needs to be beefed
up, backed up and protected. Besides water, there is nothing else more
infrastructural to the modern world than electricity. What lightning can do,
men wielding explosives can surely also encompass."
KENYA: “Lessons From The
Independent left-of-center Nation declared (8/20): “Why should the rest of the world heave a
sigh of relief that New York--just one city in faraway America--is back to
'enlightenment' after a few days of total darkness? Because “The Big Apple’s” position is of
special global concern. It is the
financial capital of a country whose interests and activities affect the whole
world.... Has it learned the extreme
danger to the nation’s psychology of depicting 'terrorism' as having permeated
the entire system and is omnipotent and invincible? Was that why the U.S.
authorities were so quick to dispel the initial world fear that last week’s
“blackout” was the work of terrorists?....
The affirmation that terrorists were not involved in last week’s
blackout and the news that the Apple is functioning again are reassuring.”
BRAZIL: "There Is No Confidence In The Dark"
Independent Jornal da Tarde held (8/16): "The chaos
into which New York City plunged during the energy outage and the insecurity
that dominated the population are a portrait of the enormous vulnerability
affecting modern societies. And the
cause was not a terrorist attack or an operational disaster.... Two years ago, the electrical energy system
in California collapsed due to lack of investment. Little more than one year ago, Enron sank in
a swamp of scandalous accounting practices.
Thursday's outage has shown that there are more problems in the sector
than the Americans have been willing to believe. But this has a good side, because it will
demand more immediate responses from the economy."
"Here As There"
Right-of-center O Globo opined (8/16): "No energy supply system is
infallible. Accidents may occur for
instance when the system is operation at full power.... However, the blackout that left over 25
million people in the U.S. and Canada without energy...is more evidence that a
loss of investment may rapidly damage any large electric system. Since several U.S. energy firms were involved
in accounting scandals such as the Enron case, investments in the sector...have
run out of steam in the U.S.... But the
repercussions of another blackout leaving a megalopolis such as New York
without energy for hours will certainly not allow the Bush government to stand
doing nothing, and will make it try to stimulate investments. Although the U.S. electric system is very
different from the Brazilian one, what happened there serves as a warning for
authorities here start seeking to establish as soon as possible regulations
allowing the resumption of investments both in generation and in the
PANAMA: “A Politics At
Betty Brannan wrote in independent La Prensa (8/17): "The lesson learned after this power cut
is that tomorrow’s world cannot be built on yesterday’s infrastructure. The deficiencies in the infrastructure are
less evident in the United States than in Panama, where we live daily with the
consequences of not making the necessary investments to clean the bay, build
sewage treatment, adequate water supply, modern telephone system and
electricity, etc...not done for political reasons.... I can also add that the U.S. electrical
system is also an orphan of the American political system. The Democrats and Republicans have given very
little attention to the electrical system, while fighting over controversial
proposals to conserve energy and extract fuel from Alaska. This is worse in the present Bush
administration, whose interest in the fuel industry goes beyond the
rest.... This U.S. crisis can be called
a “wake-up call” on the need to invest, without delay, in infrastructure.”