US probes whether AT&T outage was cyber attack – National & International News – THU 22Feb2024

US probes whether AT&T outage was cyber attack.

AL clinics pause IVF services after court rules embryos are children.

US intel: “Low confidence” in Israel’s terror accusations against UNRWA.



US probes whether AT&T outage was cyber attack

This morning, tens of thousands of AT&T customers across the country reported mobile phone and internet service outages. At the height of the outage, more than 70,000 customers were unable to make or receive calls on their cell phones or access mobile networks. By late morning, AT&T reported that they had successfully restored service to 75% of their network. As of now, fewer than 1,500 customers are still reporting outages according to

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are reportedly investigating whether the outage was the result of a malfunction or a cyber attack. A memo from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is part of DHS, stated that there are no indications at this time that any malicious actor is involved. 

On Wednesday, an IT company that processes prescriptions for pharmacies all over the US reported a cyber security threat that forced it to shut down its systems to protect patient information. The IT company, Change Healthcare, counts nationwide chain CVS among its customers. The outage prevented pharmacies from submitting claims to patients’ insurance companies and pharmacies urged customers to be patient. Some customers who could not wait had to pay full-price for their meds out-of-pocket. A statement today from UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare’s parent company, blamed the attack on a “nation-state” actor.

The AT&T outage and the Change Healthcare outage aren’t related. However, both cases demonstrate the vulnerabilities of the US cyber infrastructure to disruptions that can affect many aspects of daily life.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).


Alabama hospitals, clinics pause IVF services after court rules embryos are children

The University of Alabama-Birmingham health system, one of Alabama’s largest healthcare providers, has paused in-vitro fertilization treatments after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that embryos are children. The decision came after three couples sued their IVF clinic after a a container containing their embryos was accidentally dropped, destroying them. The couples sought to sue the clinic under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, which previously covered fetuses but not embryos.

A concurring opinion by the court’s Chief Justice Tom Parker raised eyeballs for its overtly religious language. “Even before birth”, Parker wrote, “all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory”.

Reproductive rights advocates and health professionals raised fears that the decision could impact fertility services for couples in the state. UAB’s statement announcing the interruption of its in-vitro services said, “We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF. But we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments”.

Shortly after UAB paused its services, two other clinics followed suit. One of them was Alabama Fertility, the state’s largest fertility clinic. In a statement, Alabama Fertility’s Dr. Mamie McLean said, “If an embryo is considered a child, the legal ramifications are too far-reaching and scary. We cannot put our practice or our embryology team at the risk of significant legal penalty or even jail time. And unfortunately, our patients are bearing the burden of this misguided ruling”.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



US intel: “Low confidence” in Israel’s terror accusations against UNRWA

A leaked US intelligence assessment shows “low confidence” in accusations by Israel that a dozen employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were involved in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas last year. In late January, the US and over a dozen other donor countries paused donations to UNRWA on the basis of these accusations. As a result, UNRWA’s services in Gaza are on the verge of collapse.

Since 1949, UNRWA has been responsible for the well-being of Palestinian refugees who were displaced by Israeli terrorists in 1948. Today, UNRWA serves about 6 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Gaza and the West Bank) as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Earlier this month, several press organizations pointed to a lack of evidence to support Israel’s claims. Despite being Israel’s closest intelligence and security partner, US intelligence is similarly in the dark when it comes to the facts. The intelligence report notes that Israel has not “shared the raw intelligence behind its assessments with the US”.

Israel’s anti-UNRWA agenda

Israel has long been hostile to UNRWA because the organization’s work allows Palestinian refugees to remain close to their homeland and preserve their right of return in the event of a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict, in accordance with international law. UNRWA has also been a key reporter of Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians. Statements from UNRWA head Phillipe Lazzarini featured prominently in the January 25 decision by the International Court of Justice finding that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US intelligence report makes note of this hostility and how Israel’s hostility towards UNRWA colored its assessments. A source familiar with the report told the Wall Street Journal that “there is a specific section that mentions how Israeli bias serves to mischaracterize much of their assessments on UNRWA and says this has resulted in distortions”.

Reports of rape of Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers

A panel of UN experts has found “credible” evidence of rapes of Palestinian women and girls in Israeli detention by Israeli soldiers. There have been at least two reported rapes and numerous instances of threats of rape and of sexual humiliation. There have been several instances of Israeli soldiers taking degrading photos female Palestinian detainees and uploading them to the internet.

The UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls says that sex crimes against Palestinian women and girls are likely vastly underreported due to fear of reprisals against victims. Back in December, Palestinians newly released from Israeli jails detailed widespread sexual abuse of both male and female prisoners by their Israeli jailers

This report comes as Israel is accusing Hamas militants of mass rapes and sexual assaults against Israeli civilians on Oct. 7. However, Israel has not provided any corroborating evidence that these rapes occurred either to international press organizations or impartial international investigators. Israel has refused to cooperate with UN investigators or provide evidence, even while demanding the UN act on their accusations.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.