Microsoft says fresh Russian hacking attacked Republicans ahead of US midterm elections

The Independent

Microsoft says Russians are attacking US political groups ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. Fake websites that were meant to look like two American conservative organisations and the US Senate have been created by a hacking group linked to the Russian government, Microsoft said. But they don't appear to be focused on promoting specific parties, unlike the Trump-supporting hacks prior to the presidential election. Instead, they seem intent on undermining democracy as a whole, experts said. Microsoft didn't say what the pages looked like.

Al Qaeda bomb maker killed in Yemen drone strike last year, US official confirms

FOX News

Ibrahim al-Asiri is seen in these images supplied to Yemeni police as part of a terror suspect handbook. A top Al Qaeda bomb maker who masterminded a plot to bring down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year, a senior U.S. official told Fox News Monday. The Associated Press previously reported that Ibrahim al-Asiri was dead, citing a tribal leader and an Al Qaeda-linked source who said that he was killed in the governate of Marib in eastern Yemen. The tribal leader said that al-Asiri was struck by the drone, along with two or four of his associates, as he stood beside his car. Al Qaeda itself has remained silent about its top bomb maker.

Colombia Tests Drones to Kill Plants Used for Cocaine WSJD - Technology

BOGOTÁ, Colombia--With drug crops booming, Colombia's police are busily testing whether drones carrying defoliants can efficiently kill the leaf used to make cocaine and win the support of Trump administration officials concerned about this country's growing capacity to supply drugs to American consumers. Antidrug officials here say that in recent weeks they have deployed 10 drones, each weighing 50 pounds when loaded with herbicide, in southwest Nariño province. The small, remotely guided aircraft destroyed hundreds of acres of coca in a first round of tests, said police and the company contracted by the government to supply the drones. Colombia's new president, Iván Duque, said that he wants some kind of aerial fumigation of coca fields, which expanded 160% to 516,000 acres from 2012 to 2017, the White House reported in June. But he prefers drones over planes to drop the herbicide, which would mitigate damage to legal crops growing adjacent to coca fields.

Agriculture law issues include AI, blockchains and robotics


Artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics are all powerful new technologies that are not only making changes in agriculture, but are also plowing up new legal issues for attorneys, state governments and producers, presenters said during a national ag tech and law conference. The first-of-its-kind conference, Ag Technology and the Law: Advancing American Agriculture, was held this week at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The conference, which drew representatives from 35 states, was sponsored by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the National Agricultural Law Center and the National Association of Attorneys General. Rutledge welcomed participants on Wednesday by reinforcing the importance of agriculture. "Meeting with Arkansans face-to-face each year, including more than 400 farmers, I have heard first-hand about issues with feral hogs, dicamba drift, black-headed buzzards, Waters of the U.S. and many other issues," said Rutledge.

Here's why the feds are freaked out about a drone attack


U.S. officials sent out a warning after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was attacked with explosive drones in a failed assassination attempt. The Aug. 4 attack targeted Maduro while he was giving a speech in Caracas. He was unharmed but seven soldiers were hurt. It raised concerns worldwide that commercial drones could be used to harm people. ABC News obtained a bulletin from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Center officials detailing that concern.

Al-Qaida bomb master killed in US strike, officials say

FOX News

CAIRO – Al-Qaida's chief bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was behind the 2009 Christmas Day plot to down an airliner over Detroit and other foiled aviation-related terror attacks, was killed in a U.S. drone strike, Yemeni officials and a tribal leader said Friday. The killing of al-Asiri deals a heavy blow to the group's capabilities in striking western targets and piles pressure on the group that already lost some of its top cadres over the past years in similar drone strikes. A Yemeni security official said that al-Asiri is dead; a tribal leader and an al-Qaida-linked source also said that he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the eastern Yemeni governorate of Marib. The tribal leader said that al-Asiri was struck, along with two or four of his associates, as he stood beside his car. He added that al-Asiri's wife, who hails from the well-known al-Awaleq tribe in the southern governorate of Shabwa, was briefly held months ago by the UAE-backed forces and later released.

Video Friday: Teaching a Robot to Pick Up a Knife, and More

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. Researchers at the Human Robot Interaction Laboratory at Tufts are teaching their PR2 to pick up objects by giving the robot instructions using natural language. Pretty cool project, but do they have to use a...knife?

Pentagon's artificial intelligence programs get huge boost in defense budget


On Monday, President Trump signed the the $717 billion annual National Defense Authorization Act, which was easily passed by Congress in weeks prior. Much attention has understandably been placed on big-ticket items like $7.6 billion for acquiring 77 F-35 fighters, $21.9 billion for the nuclear weapons program, and $1.56 billion for three littoral combat ships--despite the fact that the Navy requested only one in the budget. What has gotten less attention is how the bill cements artificial intelligence programs in the Defense Department and lays the groundwork for a new national-level policy and strategy in the form of an artificial intelligence commission. As artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are integrated into defense technology, spending on these technologies is only going to increase in years to come. While spending for many AI programs in the NDAA is in the tens of millions at present, one budget for a project that did not go through the normal appropriations process could have a total cost of $1.75 billion over the next seven years.

Alex Jones radio channel taken offline – but not because of his conspiracy theories or controversies

The Independent

Alex Jones's flagship radio channel is now silent – but not for the same reason as everyone else took him offline. The Federal Communications Commission has taken down Jones's flagship radio station, Liberty Radio, according to reports. It was taken offline because it was operating as a pirate radio station, the Association Press said. The lawsuit filed against those behind the station claimed that Liberty Radio had been broadcasting since at least 2013. It was doing so without a license, apparently from an apartment in Austin, Texas.

NASA picks three winners in Freelancer robotic arm contest


NASA has announced three winners in a crowdsourced contest to design an arm for a space robot named Astrobee. The contest, which is being run through job site, is one of several crowdsourcing campaigns the space agency is running to bring in novel engineering ideas from around the world. Astrobee is a NASA-designed ruggedized cube that will float around the International Space Station and perform routine tasks, such as system inspections, basic housekeeping, and serving as on-call camera-bot. Like terrestrial robots, Astrobee will rely on specialized equipment to interact with the environment around it. NASA has been drawing up plans for a lightweight articulated arm that folds into a compartment inside the robot's body, but it has also been running a crowdsourcing contest to solicit outside designs for various mechanisms and components that will make up the arm.