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Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram suffer worldwide outage
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The massive global outage that plunged Facebook, its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms and many people who rely heavily on these services — including Facebook’s own workforce — into chaos Monday is gradually dissipating.

Facebook said late Monday that it’s been working to restore access to its services and is “happy to report they are coming back online now.” The company apologized and thanked its users for bearing with it. But fixing it wasn’t as simple as flipping a proverbial switch. For some users, WhatsApp was working for a time, then not. For others, Instagram was working but not Facebook, and so on.

Facebook did not say what might have caused the outage, which began around 11:40 a.m. ET and was still not fixed more than six hours later.

“This is epic,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for Kentik Inc, a network monitoring and intelligence company. The last major internet outage, which knocked many of the world’s top websites offline in June, lasted less than an hour. The stricken content-delivery company in that case, Fastly, blamed it on a software bug triggered by a customer who changed a setting.

For hours, Facebook’s only public comment was a tweet in which it acknowledged that “some people are having trouble accessing (the) Facebook app” and said it was working on restoring access. Regarding the internal failures, Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted that it feels like a “snow day.”

Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s outgoing chief technology officer, later tweeted “sincere apologies” to everyone impacted by the outage. He blamed “networking issues” and said teams are “working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”

There was no evidence as of Monday afternoon that malicious activity was involved. Matthew Prince, CEO of the internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare, tweeted that “nothing we’re seeing related to the Facebook services outage suggests it was an attack.” Prince said the most likely explanation was that Facebook mistakenly knocked itself off the internet during maintenance.

Facebook did not respond to messages for comment about the attack or the possibility of malicious activity.

While much of Facebook’s workforce is still working remotely, there were reports that employees at work on the company’s Menlo Park, California, campus had trouble entering buildings because the outage had rendered their security badges useless.

But the impact was far worse for multitudes of Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users, showing just how much the world has come to rely on it and its properties — to run businesses, connect with online communities, log on to multiple other websites and even order food.

It also showed that despite the presence of Twitter, Telegram, Signal, TikTok, Snapchat and a bevy of other platforms, nothing can easily replace the social network that over the past 17 years has effectively evolved into critical infrastructure. The outage came the same day Facebook asked a federal judge that a revised antitrust complaint against it by the Federal Trade Commission be dismissed because it faces vigorous competition from other services.

There are certainly other online services for posting selfies, connecting with fans or reaching out to elected officials, But those who rely on Facebook to run their business or communicate with friends and family in far-flung places saw this as little consolation.

Kendall Ross, owner of a knitwear brand called Knit That in Oklahoma City, said he has 32,000 followers on his Instagram business page @id.knit.that. Almost all of his website traffic comes directly from Instagram. He posted a product photo about an hour before Instagram went out. He said he tends to sell about two hand-knit pieces after posting a product photo for about $300 to $400.

“The outage today is frustrating financially,” he said. “It’s also a huge awakening that social media controls so much of my success in business.”

The cause of the outage remains unclear. Madory said Facebook appears to have deleted basic data that tells the rest of the internet how to communicate with its properties. Such data is part of the internet’s Domain Name System, a central component that directs its traffic. Without Facebook broadcasting its location on the public internet, apps and web addresses simple could not locate it.

London-based internet monitoring firm Netblocks noted that Facebook’s plans to merge its platforms — announced in 2019 — had raised concerns about the risks of such a move. While such centralization “gives the company a unified view of users’ internet usage habits,” it also makes the services vulnerable to single points of failure, Netblocks said.

So many people are reliant on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram as primary modes of communication that losing access for so long can make them vulnerable to criminals taking advantage of the outage, said Rachel Tobac, a hacker and CEO of SocialProof Security.

“They don’t know how to contact the people in their lives without it,” she said. “They’re more susceptible to social engineering because they’re so desperate to communicate.” Tobac said during previous outages, some people have received emails promising to restore their social media account by clicking on a malicious link that can expose their personal data.

Jake Williams, chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm BreachQuest, said that while foul play cannot be completely ruled out, chances were good that the outage is “an operational issue” caused by human error.

“What it boils down to: running a LARGE, even by Internet standards, distributed system is very hard, even for the very best,” tweeted Columbia University computer scientist Steven Bellovin.

Facebook was already in the throes of a separate major crisis after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, provided The Wall Street Journal with internal documents that exposed the company’s awareness of harms caused by its products and decisions. Haugen went public on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program Sunday and is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday.

Haugen had also anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement alleging Facebook’s own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation and leads to increased polarization. It also showed that the company was aware that Instagram can harm teenage girls’ mental health.

The Journal’s stories, called “The Facebook Files,” painted a picture of a company focused on growth and its own interests over the public good. Facebook has tried to play down the research. Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of policy and public affairs, wrote to Facebook employees in a memo Friday that “social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out.”

Twitter, meanwhile, chimed in from the company’s main account on its service, posting “hello literally everyone” as jokes and memes about the Facebook outage flooded the platform. Later, as an unverified screenshot suggesting that the facebook.com address was for sale circulated, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “how much?”

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AP business writer Mae Anderson in New York and AP technology writer Matt O’Brien in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.


Area_news
featured top story
In new book, Gary Tison's sister talks about overcoming family's troubled past
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CASA GRANDE — Life hasn’t always been easy for Casa Grande resident Lynda Williams.

And with her new book, “A Lost Childhood,” she talks about the abuse she suffered as a child and growing up in a family known for criminal activity.

She hopes her story helps others overcome trauma and hardship.

“Writing this book is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s something I feel I had to do,” she said.

Williams grew up in Casa Grande and has lived in the area much of her life. But she said that while many people knew she was the daughter of R.C. Tison and the sister of Gary Tison, most didn’t realize the extent of the abuse and trauma she experienced at home as a child.

“I don’t talk much about my childhood,” she said. “Even people I’ve known all my life don’t know what my life was like.”

Books have been written and movies made about Gary Tison’s crime spree. When the latest movie, “The Last Rampage,” was released in 2017, Williams said she felt it was time to write a book.

“I decided it was time to tell my story, the story of what it was like for a young girl to grow up in such a dysfunctional, criminal environment,” she said.

Williams was in her 30s and a young mother when, in 1978, her brother Gary, who was serving a life sentence for killing a prison guard, enlisted his three sons to help him and fellow prisoner Randy Greenawalt break out of Arizona State Prison in Florence. While on the run, the group killed several people, including a Yuma Marine and his family.

At the end of their 11-day escape, the group crashed through a sheriff’s roadblock south of Casa Grande on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The oldest son, Donald Tison, was killed in a shootout with police. Greenawalt and two brothers, Rick and Raymond Tison, were apprehended. Gary Tison escaped into the desert and was found dead 11 days later.

“That was a devastating time for our family,” Williams said. “I told my kids that our relationship to Gary doesn’t make us guilty of his crimes.”

In her book, Williams tells about growing up in poverty in Casa Grande and in the shadow of her father and brothers’ criminal activity.

“Most of my young life was spent feeling as though I was in the deep end of a swimming pool, with a leg cramp and nobody to help me. I knew as a young girl, there was a way out, and I fought to get there,” she said. “My family and I suffered tremendous humiliation over the years due to my three brothers’ and father’s criminal activities.”

The cycle of abuse lingered into adulthood and led to an abusive first marriage, she said. And although therapy, love and faith in God helped her overcome her past, some traumas from her childhood still haunt her in unusual ways.

She’s still claustrophobic, she said, a lingering result of being forced into a closet.

“My father and brothers robbed a store and when the police came to the house, my mother put us in a closet to hide us from the police,” she said. “We were put into the closet many times. By the grace of God did I survive and become the person I am today.”

As an adult, Williams dedicated her life to helping abused children and others.

She became a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care and converted her ranch into a place for equine therapy.

“It was my strong desire to help others find their path and escape the suffering of abuse in their homes,” she said.

She also founded the nonprofit organization Pinal Council for CASA/Foster Inc., which raises money to support foster children and the people who advocate for them.

A recent conversation with “Last Rampage” author James Clarke made her realize there was still an interest in the family’s story and the Tison case.

“I started writing the book years ago when my late husband and I had a 40-foot ocean cruiser in the San Diego Harbor. The aft deck was a wonderful and peaceful place to write,” she said.

But writing the book was paused for several years while she stayed busy with her ranch and other activities. A few years ago, she sold her ranch and moved to a home in the Mission Royale subdivision. When COVID hit, she had the time to dedicate to finishing her book.

“I still had the beginnings of the book saved on a floppy disk,” she said.

She took about a year and a half to finish the book.

“I am thankful for the gift of love and determination that survived in my heart and my desire for the truth. My past made me the person I am today, and I hope my story helps others,” she said.

“A Lost Childhood” will be available on Amazon.com soon.


Arizona_news
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Arizonans hopeful that focus on missing Indigenous persons may pay off
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — Duane Garvais-Lawrence pulled into Washington, D.C., Friday, ending his second annual coast-to-coast trip to bring attention to the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women — a trip he hopes he does not have to make again.

“The blood on this RV … is on America’s conscience,” Garvais-Lawrence said of the red names of victims written on the side of the vehicle. “Enough is enough.”

Garvais-Lawrence left Washington state on July 18 and has spent the months since driving from reservation to reservation as part of his MMIW Bike Run USA. At each stop along the way, he and others who joined him on the trek would bike, run and pray to raise awareness of the issue — and at each stop, they would add names of victims to the side of the motor home in red ink.

Included in those names were Dande S. Parks and Tashing Shepherd of Arizona.

“There are probably few American Indians that haven’t been touched by MMIW,” said Patricia Hibbeler, chief executive officer for the Phoenix Indian Center and a member of the state’s Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“If it’s not somebody in our family, we know of someone — or relative of someone — that sadly has been murdered or missing,” she said.

The committee Hibbeler served on was created by lawmakers in 2019 to “conduct a comprehensive study to determine how this state can reduce and end violence against indigenous women and girls.” It painted a grim picture of the situation.

More than 80% of Native American women, or more than 1.5 million people, have experienced violence in their lifetimes and 56% suffered sexual violence, the report said. One in three had experienced violence in the past three years.

Indigenous women were 1.2 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to experience violence in their lifetimes and 1.7 times more likely to have experienced it in the previous year.

But the first problem for advocates is that no one is exactly sure how large the problem is.

“There are a lot of problems with the data,” said Hibbeler, adding that missing indigenous people are underrepresented and underreported by law enforcement and government agencies across the country.

Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, said part of the problem is that police do not always identify victims as Native American — or are reluctant to ask.

“We don’t have an exact number because there’s racial misclassification in the databases,” that law enforcement agencies keep, said Jermaine, who chaired the study committee.

The report also found that more than half of family members and survivors did not think law enforcement agencies across the board — federal, state, local or tribal — were helpful in their cases. Hibbeler said racism plays a large role in how aggressively police respond to MMIW cases.

Police response is a concern for Raymond Cavanaugh, a member of the Spirit Lake Nation in South Dakota, who joined Garvais-Lawrence a couple of weeks ago, biking and running in several Indian reservations before arriving in D.C.

“Officers are shorthanded on the reservation,” Cavanaugh said Friday. “There’s usually only one officer responsible for the safety of thousands of people.”

Cavanaugh, Garvais-Lawrence and others met Friday with Bryan Newland, the assistant secretary for Indian affairs at Interior, to discuss ideas to support the MMIW movement. Those ideas ranged from law enforcement accreditation and increased resources for tribal police, to policy changes that would not count losses in MMIW cases against an attorney’s prosecutorial record.

Jeff Stiffarm, a tribal council member from the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana, said another possible solution would be to lift the 48-hour waiting period before a person can be reported missing.

“Law enforcement waits 48 hours before they consider someone missing,” Stiffarm said. “But a lot can happen in those 48 hours and that’s why they’re never caught.”

Jermaine said that change came to Arizona this week, with a new law that does away with the 48-hour waiting period when it comes to missing children — of any race, gender or ethnicity.

Under the legislation, police who receive a missing child report are required to file it to state and national databases within two hours, and follow it within 30 days with more detailed information, including recent photos and dental records, when possible. Authorities are not allowed to remove the information from any database until the child is found or the case is closed.

“This is a significant shift in how these cases have been approached in the past,” Jermaine said. “The waiting period can play into cases going cold.”

She said there have been other recent breakthroughs. On Thursday, Jermaine said, police in Fort Worth, Texas, arrested a suspect in the disappearance of Tanya Begay, who was last seen on the Navajo Nation in 2017. For years, law enforcement had no leads in her disappearance.

Hibbeler said there are other hopeful signs, if for no other reason than people are now paying attention to the issue. In addition to the study group, she said, the Phoenix Indian Center offers awareness sessions throughout the year and classes on making red-ribbon dresses in remembrance of missing women.

Garvais-Lawrence created a GoFundMe account to raise funds to help families and groups that he met along the way. He said he supports other awareness efforts, because the issue is so important.

Too important, Cavanaugh said, to stop pushing on the issue.

“You wouldn’t want your body wrapped and dumped somewhere,” he said. “These families want justice and we must get it.”


Area_news
top story
Aldosary's competency to be examined again after courtroom outburst
  • Updated

FLORENCE — The mental capacity of a Coolidge man to stand trial for the 2012 death of a Casa Grande man is being questioned again.

Abdullatif Aldosary, 56, is accused of killing Orlando Requena, 26, from Casa Grande in Maricopa on Nov. 27, 2012. He is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and misconduct with weapons. He was also charged with the bombing of the Casa Grande Social Security office a few days after the death of Requena; those charges have been dismissed.

Attorneys for Aldosary requested that Aldosary’s mental competency be re-evaluated in early September.

As he was being led into the courtroom for a hearing on the matter, Aldosary yelled an obscenity at Pinal County Superior Court Judge Delia Neal and called her derogatory names several times before being immediately led out of the courtroom by Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies.

Neal agreed to allow two doctors to re-evaluate Aldosary’s mental competency over the next couple of weeks with the hope that they would have a report finished before the start of Aldosary’s trial on Nov. 30.

Aldosary’s attorney stated that she wasn’t able to tell the court if he wanted to attend his trial in-person or by video or if he wanted to testify in his trial or if he was even aware that his trial had been set for Nov. 30. She hasn’t been able to discuss the case with him because he has been refusing to meet with her in-person or over video while he has been in the county jail and he has refused all of his mail.

She also stated she would be filing several motions in limine in the case, after reviewing some of the material in the bombing case and several witness interviews. A motion in limine determines whether certain evidence in a case will be presented to the jury during a trial.

Pinal County prosecutors objected to any suggestion of the possibility of moving the trial date, pointing to the age of the case and the fact that there are victims who have been waiting for a resolution.

Aldosary’s mental capacity to aid his attorneys in his defense during a trial has been called into question several times before. He was found incompetent to stand trial in 2017 and sent to the Arizona State Hospital in an attempt to restore his mental capacity. The charges against him for the death of Requena and the bombing of the Social Security office in Casa Grande were dropped at the time. He was determined competent to stand trial in February 2018.

A grand jury handed down a new indictment against Aldosary for the death of Requena in 2019. The new indictment did not include any charges involving Aldosary’s involvement with the bombing of the Casa Grande Social Security building in 2012. No one was injured in the bombing.


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