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Facebook blames internal glitch for outage

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 27, 2015 - 6:20am

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Facebook said the outage that made its social media sites inaccessible worldwide for about an hour Tuesday was self-inflicted.

Users of PCs and Facebook's mobile app reported they lost access in Asia, the United States, Australia and the U.K. Facebook-owned Instagram was also inaccessible.

Facebook said the disruption was caused by a technical change and wasn't a cyberattack. "This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems," its statement said.

The temporary loss of service may be Facebook's biggest outage since Sept. 24, 2010, when it was down for about 2.5 hours.

On its website for developers, Facebook said the "major outage" lasted one hour.

The outage occurred at midday in Asia, and after Facebook was restored, some users reported that the site was loading slowly or not functioning fully.

Lizard Squad, a group notorious for attention-seeking antics online, claimed responsibility on Twitter for the outages.

Guillermo Lafuente, security consultant at MWR InfoSecurity, said a technical fault was more plausible. A denial-of-service attack would have made the sites unreachable rather than accessible with an error message displayed, he said. Facebook's use of multiple data centers also meant an attack on one would have affected one region, while this outage was worldwide.

Also, restoring service would be a matter of reversing the technical changes, which matched with the brevity of the outage, LaFuente said.

Facebook has about 1.35 billion active users and Instagram has some 300 million. The outage came a day ahead of Facebook reporting its quarterly earnings.

Lizard Squad on Monday claimed it had defaced the Malaysia Airlines website and would release data from the airline. Its previous hacking claims have been mostly aimed at gaming or media companies.

Photographing the Border: The Landscape Behind the Politics

New York Times - California News - January 27, 2015 - 6:17am
The Southwest is not just a place for border security and fences. It is also now, and has been for centuries, a landscape of harsh beauty.

Ventura residents look closer at survey results

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 27, 2015 - 5:14am
The Ventura City Council on Monday directed staff to take a closer look at the results of a residents survey to determine how better to serve the community.   Mayor Cheryl Heitmann said the results showed the city was doing a good job, but there was room for improvement.  “What is the need,” she said. “What would it really take to do what we need to do.”   The city hired a public opinion polling firm to do the survey, designed to get a sense of how residents felt about living in Ventura, their feelings toward government and their top priorities and concerns.   Between Nov. 6-10, the firm polled 400 registered voters, randomly selected.   Residents were overall happy with life in Ventura, and 74 percent approved of the direction the city was taking, the poll showed.   Respondents also expressed strong satisfaction with city staff, with 72 percent feeling employees were willing to help, and 77 percent feeling employees were both courteous and knowledgeable.   Consistently, respondents pointed to homelessness as one of the biggest challenges facing the city.

It’s a “major issue in your community,” said Richard Bernard, partner and vice president of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. “Not everyone speaks of homelessness in the same way.”   That’s one of the reasons Heitmann wants staff to take a closer look at the results.   Some respondents likely felt the city needed more services for homeless people, while others probably wanted more done to get them out of the community, Heitmann said.   Bernard said not everyone understands how homelessness works, and how jurisdiction over the issue extends beyond city limits. It was up to the city to communicate that, he said.   The drought, drugs and drug abuse, the condition of streets and pollution that flows into the city’s waterways were also top concerns among residents.   Also Monday, the council voted to take over Montalvo’s sewage services.   Montalvo, east of Victoria Avenue and west of Johnson Drive, was annexed into the city in 2012. The Montalvo Community Services District runs the small sewer district, which serves roughly 600 properties.   Under the agreement approved 7-0, the district’s plant will be shut down and the city will start treating the sewage at its plant.   As that takes place over the course of the next few years, Montalvo customers will see their rates rise from the current $294 a year to $608 in 2018, the same rate Ventura residents will be paying.     Letting the city absorb the district was the cheapest of several alternatives examined, said the district’s General Manager Richard Hajas.   Staying independent would have brought the bills to $756, because the district has to replace its 50-year-old treatment plant and other aging infrastructure.    To make the deal happen, the district gave its land to the developers of a planned Olivas Park commercial development. In turn, the Olivas Park developers will give the city more than $4 million to be used to hook up to Ventura’s sewer system.    Adding the Montalvo customers will not impact fees for existing Ventura residents, and the fees collected, along with some one-time funds, will pay for the sewer lines, the staff report notes.


Generation of Long-Lasting Mideast Rulers Produced Stability---and a Mess

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 27, 2015 - 4:57am
Capital Journal: Washington Bureau Chief Gerald F. Seib examines the legacy of Mideast autocrats who ruled for decades and kept a lid on extremism but leave behind a cauldron of instability.
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