International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 21, 2003

August 21, 2003





**  "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 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 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 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 blackout.


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 " 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 infrastructure."


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 and inspired."   


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.




GERMANY:  "Late Inspiration"


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 competition."


"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."


"America's Vulnerability"


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"


"Dark Day"


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."


"Insufficient Awareness"


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 destinies."  


"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 contingency."


"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 unkempt flophouses."


"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."


AUSTRIA:  “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 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 a shameful situation by any standards.” 


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 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 Canada"


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 lifelines--public utilities."


"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 swiftly?"


"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." 


SINGAPORE:  "Blackout Jitters" 


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 Blackout”


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 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 distribution."


PANAMA:   “A Politics At Dark”


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.”


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