Global Outage Hits UK Government Website, CNN, Others

 

Major media and government websites, including the White House, New York Times, Reddit and Amazon were temporarily down on Tuesday after being hit by a global outage blamed on a glitch from cloud computing services provider, Fastly.

The widespread outages around 1000 GMT also hit the UK government website, CNN and the BBC before resuming services more than an hour later.

“Error 503 Service Unavailable” and “connection failure” messages appeared on several websites, later blamed on a problem at San Francisco-based firm Fastly, which scrambled to restore sites.

The company offers a service to websites around the world to speed up loading time for websites.

It competes with rivals such as Akamai and Cloudflare, which handle hundreds of billions of requests every day, playing a key role in global internet access.

Fastly’s clients span the globe, and include Deliveroo, Pinterest and Shazam, with a turnover of $291 million last year alone.

The firm said in a tweet after the outages that “the issue has been identified and a fix has been applied. Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return.”

It later confirmed “our global network is coming back online”, as service was restored on most sites.

‘Huge’ Impact

A slew of sites around the world were hit, including major media such as The Guardian, the Financial Times, France’s Le Monde newspaper, Italy’s Corriere delle Serra and Spanish daily El Mundo.

Social and entertainment site Reddit was hit, along with the White House and gov.uk websites plus a number of web pages in the Nordic region and the Swedish social security service Forsakringskassan.

“The impact is huge. It’s gone and affected millions of web pages and thousands of companies that rely on their services,” Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET, told AFP.

He added that since so few companies offer services similar to Fastly’s, any service disruptions can have widespread impact.

“If they go down, then of course we then see lots of companies fall over and panic,” he said.

Analyst Corinne Cath-Speth echoed the sentiment.

“Almost all internet websites use content delivery networks and cloud services,” said the researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute.

“So when those @fastly services fail or falter — it has major ramifications for everyone’s internet experience,” she said on Twitter.

“This in turn–raises major questions about the dangers of (power) consolidation in the cloud market & the unquestioned influence these often invisible actors have over access to information.”

Trump Paid Just $750 In Federal Income Tax In 2016- Report

A file photo of US President, Donald Trump. Pete Marovich/Getty Images/AFP

 

US President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the election, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing tax return data extending more than 20 years.

It added that he also paid only $750 in his first year in the White House, and he had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing much more money than he made.

Trump immediately dismissed the report as “totally fake news.”

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances, but everyone since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to release his returns, fighting a long battle in the courts and fueling speculation about what they might contain.

His tax returns, a key talking point in the 2016 election, have been a constant presence during his presidency and ahead of the November 3 election, when Trump is seeking a second term.

The New York Times said the tax data that it had seen “provides a road map of revelations, from write-offs for the cost of a criminal defence lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.”

The records “reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image,” it added.

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the paper in response that “over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015.”

AFP

Trump Says ‘I’m Not A Racist’

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on prison reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

President Donald Trump insisted on Sunday that he is “not a racist,” after his reported denunciation of immigration from “shithole” countries triggered a global firestorm of criticism.

Trump on Friday tweeted a convoluted denial about the comments, which were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times and confirmed by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting at which they were said to have been spoken.

“I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was having dinner with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The alleged expletive came during a Thursday meeting between Trump and legislators about immigration reform.

After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” rather than — for instance — wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.

Trump also turned to the immigration issue on Twitter Sunday, reiterating his opposition to the visa lottery.

“I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST,” he tweeted.

– Upbeat on North Korea –

In Florida, Trump also sounded upbeat on North Korea, after confusion emerged over whether he had suggested in an interview that he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The president said he was misquoted, which recordings appear to corroborate.

“We’ll see what happens with North Korea. We have great talks going on. The Olympics you know about. A lot of things can happen,” he said.

Trump said he was trying to clinch an immigration deal, but that his Democratic rivals were unhelpful.

“We’re ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA,” Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

“I don’t think Democrats want to make a deal. The folks from DACA should know the Democrats are the ones that aren’t going to make a deal.”

Trump announced in September he was scrapping the program, but with a six-month lag — meaning those covered by DACA would be subject to deportation starting March.

Democratic lawmakers “don’t want security at the border,” Trump said.

“You got people pouring in. They don’t want to stop drugs. and they want to take money away from our military, which we cannot do.”

Analysts and businesses say the economy could lose $215 billion in GDP if the 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” leave the labor pool, at a time when many firms are finding it hard to fill open positions.

A US judge this week ordered the federal government to reinstate DACA pending final judgement on the justification for overturning it.

That would allow Dreamers to apply to renew their status under the program implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, unless overturned by a higher court.

AFP

Monetizing Articles On Social Media

Social media, instant articles, FacebookFacebook has now decided to be a part of the online publishing revolution with the launch of its own social media rival platform ‘instant articles’.

This is after the rise of online publishing over the last decade has been made popular by Google through its platform Blogger, and its monetization system Google ad-sense.

This new feature is already being adopted by organizations such as National Geographic, Mashable and the New York Times.

A Social Media Expert, John Obidi, answers questions on how Nigerian publishers and content creators can maximize this trend.

Bill Cosby Admits Sex Allegations

Bill cosbyAmerican comedian, Bill Cosby, who is facing accusations of sex abuse, has admitted trying to pay women to keep quiet after having sex with them, New York Times says.

According to the report, Mr Cosby admitted to all of the offences and more over four days of intense questioning a decade ago at a Philadelphia hotel.

Mr Cosby had defended himself in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a young woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her.

The case was brought by Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University the Philadelphia College with which Mr Cosby was once closely associated.

The accusations against the 78-year-old Cosby have left the career of the once-beloved comedian in tatters.

Cosby has never been criminally charged and most of the allegations exceed the statute of limitations.

However, in January, Cosby’s long time onscreen wife, Phylicia Rashad, came out swinging against the sexual assault allegations dogging her former co-star, saying they are part of an “orchestrated” smear campaign to keep the comedian off television.

She said: “Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,” she told the Showbiz 411 website. “And it’s worked. All his contracts have been cancelled.”

Boston Marathon Bomber Apologises, Gets Death Sentence

boston marathonBoston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on Wednesday apologized for the deadly 2013 attack at a hearing before a U.S. judge formally sentenced him to death for killing four people and injuring 264 in the bombing and its aftermath.

The 21-year-old ethnic Chechen, who had not testified during his trial, referred to Allah and admitted that he and his now-dead older brother carried out one of the highest-profile attacks on U.S. soil, in a courtroom packed with survivors of the April 15, 2013 bombing.

“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage I have done, irreparable damage,” said Tsarnaev, who had sat in silence, his head cast down as two survivors and family members of victims described the attacks’ heavy toll on their lives.

“In case there is any doubt, I am guilty of this attack, along with my brother,” Tsarnaev said, standing at the defense table.

Tsarnaev had been found guilty killing three people and injuring 264 in the bombing near the finish line of the world-renowned race, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later. The same federal jury that convicted him in April voted for death by lethal injection in May.

As he handed down that sentence, U.S. District Judge, George O’Toole, condemned Tsarnaev for falling under the spell of militant Islamists, including American-born al Qaeda figure Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in a 2011 drone strike.

“It is tragic … that you succumbed to their demonic siren song,” O’Toole said. “As long as your name is mentioned, what will be remembered is the evil you’ve done.”

Before the judge pronounced the sentence, Rebekah Gregory, who lost her left leg on that blood-soaked April day, addressed Tsarnaev directly.

“Terrorists like you do two things in this world. One, they create mass destruction, but the second is quite interesting,” Gregory said. “Because do you know what mass destruction really does? It brings people together. We are Boston strong and we are America strong, and choosing to mess with us was a terrible idea.”

The man accused of bombing the Boston Marathon in 2013 has been found guilty of all 30 charges that he faced, many of which carry the death penalty.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty in April after the jury deliberated for just over 12 hours spread over two days.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers maintained he played a role in the attacks but said his older brother was the driving force. A police officer was killed in the days following the attack as Tsarnaev and his brother, who also died, attempted to flee.

Iran Says Plane At Airport Leased To Ghana After U.S.-Flagged Plane Sighting

Iran says that a plane which landed in Tehran airport flying the American flag was leased to Ghana’s presidential office and carrying a business delegation from the West African nation.iran-explains-why-an-american-plane-was-spotted-at-tehran-airport

The New York Times reported on Thursday that a plane owned by the Bank of Utah was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran on Tuesday.

Its presence was noteworthy as the United States and Iran have been at loggerheads for decades and the Islamic Republic is subject to economic sanctions. A State Department spokeswoman said on Friday these sanctions “generally prohibit” U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran.

State news agency IRNA on Friday night quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying that the plane was transporting the brother of Ghana’s president and a mining delegation.

“The plane is on lease to Ghana’s presidential office, and its passengers were Ghanaian senior officials led by the president’s brother. None of its crew members were American,” Afkham was quoted as saying.

The Ghanaian delegation was in Iran to follow up on agreements reached between the two countries two years ago, she said, adding that it departed on Thursday.

In Accra, an aide to President John Mahama denied that his president’s brother Ibrahim Mahama – a multi-millionaire and the founder of the country’s leading mining contracting firm Engineers and Planners – was part of the visit.

“He was not in Tehran. His company plane was,” the aide said, asking not to be named because he was not authorized to speak.

“Lots of speculation in there is false,” the aide added.

The New York Times said it had reviewed a confidential document which showed that “the plane is held in a trust by the Bank of Utah and on behalf of the mining company, Engineers and Planners, which is based in Accra”.

It quoted a Bank of Utah executive, Brett King, as saying the company had no idea why the plane was at the airport and it was investigating further.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that the U.S. Treasury Department would look into the matter to determine if there were any violation of sanctions imposed on Iran.

“The Iranian transactions and sanctions regulations prohibit the exportation of goods, services or technology directly or indirectly from the United States or by a U.S. person to Iran and would generally prohibit U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran,” Psaki told reporters at a regular briefing.

But Psaki noted that “there’s a lot of nuance and a lot of different questions here”.

Iran and world powers are engaged in negotiations over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. Some international sanctions imposed over its program have been eased temporarily after a deal was reached last year. Washington has said the lifting of sanctions can only happen “in total” after a comprehensive deal is reached.

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Africa’s number 2 gold producer Ghana last April as part of an effort to expand ties with African countries.

His campaign yielded little in terms of trade and votes at the United Nations against sanctions targeting its nuclear program.

Mahama is an ally of the United States and U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ghana in 2009.

Boston Bombing Suspects Had Planned July 4 For Attack

The two brothers suspected of carrying out the deadly attacks on the Boston Marathon had originally planned to set off their bombs on July 4, a law enforcement official said.

The official said the suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, advanced the date of their attack because they completed building bombs more quickly then they originally anticipated. The official declined to be identified and did not offer more details.
Police say the brothers detonated two bombs made with pressure-cookers in the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and wounded 264.

An attack on Boston’s packed July 4 celebrations would have carried the extra symbolism of disrupting the city’s widely followed Independence Day celebrations.

Citing unnamed officials, The Boston Globe reported on its website that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother who was captured by police four days after the bombing, told investigators the pair discussed detonating their explosives at the city’s famed celebration on its Charles River Esplanade.

News of the alleged July 4 attack plan and other details supplied by Tsarnaev to investigators was earlier reported by The New York Times and other media outlets.

NBC News, also citing unnamed officials, reported Tsarnaev told investigators the bombs were made in the home of his brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police early on April 19.

The Times reported the ethnic Chechen brothers also considered suicide attacks and that they had viewed online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born cleric who was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen in 2011. There is no indication the brothers communicated with Awlaki, however, the newspaper reported on its website.

What, if any, ties the two suspects had with foreign militants is a key question for investigators trying to determine how the pair became radicalized. How they selected their target would also shed light on their mindset.

Mitch Silber, executive managing director at K2 Intelligence and former head of intelligence analysis at the New York City Police Department, said a July 4 attack in Boston might have been more deadly given the fact that greater numbers of people gather for the city’s annual celebration.
Former federal prosecutor Mark Rasch said a July 4 attack would have sent a stronger message.

“The essence of terrorism is all about symbolism,” Rasch said. “The Boston Marathon just does not have as much of a symbolic feeling as the Fourth of July to the United States.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was 26 when he was killed in the shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was wounded in the shootout and captured later that day.

Both are also suspected of killing a university police officer. Another officer was badly wounded in the Watertown confrontation.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with crimes in connection with the bombing that could carry the death penalty if he is convicted, and is being held at a prison medical facility in Devens, Massachusetts.

SUSPECT’S BODY CLAIMED

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s remains were claimed on behalf of his family on Thursday. His body had been kept at a Boston facility for more than a week.

Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts, said a funeral services company retained by the family had claimed the body. Harris declined to provide details including the cause of death or where the body had been taken.

On Tuesday, Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, said through an attorney that she wished his remains to be released to the Tsarnaev family.
Russell’s attorney could not immediately be reached on Thursday.

Investigators have questioned Russell as they seek clues about how the suspects allegedly built the two bombs used in the attack and whether they had help.

The Tsarnaevs’ parents previously lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but have since returned to Russia. Other relatives remain in the United States, including an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland.

Officials said on Thursday that three men who had been charged with interfering with the investigation of the bombing were in custody at a jail in Middleton, Massachusetts, a small town about 20 miles North of Boston.

The three 19-year-olds – Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos – had been transported to the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton on Wednesday after they were charged in Boston. Authorities have described them as college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.