Houthi missile attack on Riyadh a ‘reaction to Saudi aggression’ – Iran’s Rouhani

The recent missile attack near the Saudi Arabian capital’s airport was a legitimate response by the Yemeni people to Saudi bombings, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said. Earlier, the Saudis called Iran’s support for the Houthi in Yemen an act of war.

“How should the Yemeni people react to the bombardment of their country? So they are not allowed to use their own weapons? You stop the bombardment first and see if the Yemenis would not do the same,” Rouhani said on Wednesday, as quoted by Tasnim news agency.

Rouhani was apparently commenting on Riyadh’s Monday statement claiming Iran was responsible for the attack that involved a ballistic missile launched from Yemen. The missile, intercepted by the kingdom’s air force on Saturday, reportedly targeted Riyadh Airport. Houthi rebels have been accused of carrying out the attack.

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A still image taken from a video distributed by Yemen's pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station on November 5, 2017, shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh's King Khaled Airport on Saturday © Houthi Military Media Unit

Rouhani added that the Saudis had made a strategic mistake considering the US and Israel’s “Zionist regime” as friends, and Iran as enemy.

“Great powers and the West have always sought to create gaps and differences among nations and countries of the [Middle Eastern] region,” Rouhani said. He added that he hopes “rulers in certain countries of the region will understand the reality.”

He also accused Saudi leaders of meddling in Syria’s and Iraq’s domestic affairs, as well as of “strengthening Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS].”

In a statement on Monday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) laid the blame for the missile attack directly on Tehran. It said that “Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally.”

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Damascus vows to ‘deal with any illegal invader force’ to restore peace across Syria

Damascus will continue to battle terrorists until it regains full control of Syrian territory and re-establishes security, President Bashar Assad has said. His top adviser, has meanwhile branded all foreign troops present in Syria without authorization as “illegal invaders.”

The war in Syria will continue until full “recovery of security and stability to all Syrian lands,” Assad said Tuesday after talks with Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Assad said the Syrian Arab Army (SAR) is engaging not only terrorists but also those who seek to “divide and weaken states.” The Syrian president was apparently referring to the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the American-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which are battling Damascus to control parts of Syria.

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Turkish soldiers stand near armoured vehicles during a demonstration in support of the Turkish army's Idlib operation near the Turkey-Syria border near Reyhanli, Hatay, on October 10, 2017 © Ilyas Akengin

Assad’s comments on Tuesday followed a statement made by Velayati on Friday, who said the Syrian Army will soon challenge the SDF for Raqqa which Damascus still considers to be under occupation. “We will witness in the near future the advance of government and popular forces in Syria and east of the Euphrates, and the liberation of Raqqa city,” Velayati said

US and Turkish troops and advisers are “illegal invader” forces, Bouthaina Shaaban, Assad’s senior advisor told the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen news. Shaaban underlined that Damascus would never allow the partition of Syria, advising Kurds, which form the backbone of the American led SDF, to embrace the national unity dialogue process.

“Everything is up to the Syrians and to discussions between Syrians, and there cannot be a discussion on the division or cutting up of a part of the country or on so-called federalism,” Shaaban said, according to Reuters. “I don’t think any government can discuss with any group when it comes to the topic of the country’s unity.”

Afrin’s next? Erdogan declares Idlib op largely completed, threatens Syrian Kurdish ‘terrorists’

As for the Turkish presence in the country, Assad’s advisor noted that the actions of the Turks in the north of Syria violate the Astana agreement. “Turkey today is a colonizer country, its forces on our soil are illegal, just as the American forces are on our soil illegally,” Shaaban said. “We will deal with this issue as we deal with any illegal invader force on our lands.”

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FILE PHOTO: US troops sit atop an armoured vehicle on a road near the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa © Delil Souleiman

In October, Ankara deployed its military to Syria’s Idlib province to monitor one of four de-escalations zones in the war-torn country. The proposal to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, championed by Russia, was finalized during the September round of the Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, with Idlib becoming the fourth zone created under the deal. Amid the deployment of troops into Syria, Turkey made it clear that it would also take measures to secure its borders from the “Kurdish threat” by supporting the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Turkey has long been anxious about the autonomous ambitions of the Kurds as Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD) with the help of American-led airstrikes, continue to capture vast territories in northern Syria. That area borders Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey, where Ankara continues to suppress the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

To achieve its objectives, the Turkish units set up observation posts along the border of Idlib and Afrin, which is part of the Aleppo Governorate and which also has a dominant Kurdish presence. Ankara views such incursions outside the de-escalation zone as an invasion and a violation of the Astana agreement.

READ MORE: US-led coalition celebrates Raqqa ‘liberation’ over the bodies of their victims – Damascus

The latest cross-border operation by the Turkish military has become the second campaign officially undertaken by Ankara in Syria. During Operation Euphrates Shield, launched in August last year and which ended in March, Ankara together with Turkey-aligned Syrian opposition groups liberated several IS-held areas such as Jarablus, Dabiq, al-Rai, and al-Bab.

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NATO wants Europe’s civilian infrastructure ready for war

NATO needs civilian infrastructure in Europe to meet its growing military requirements, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of a meeting in Brussels. This will mean coordination with national governments and the private sector, he added.

Defense ministers from the 29 NATO states arrived in Brussels to begin discussions on a “revision” of the NATO Command Structure. What is envisioned is a new command to protect sea lines between North America and Europe, and another to “improve the movement of troops and equipment within Europe.”

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© Alessandro Garofalo

Stoltenberg believes that a revision of NATO’s structure is necessary to tackle the alleged threat from Russia. Thus, for the purpose of “deterrence and collective defense,” the alliance wants European roads to be ready to handle the rapid mobilization of tanks, artillery and the like.

“This is not only about commands. We also need to ensure that roads and bridges are strong enough to take our largest vehicles, and that rail networks are equipped for the rapid deployment of tanks and heavy equipment,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday at the pre-ministerial press conference. “NATO has military requirements for civilian infrastructure, and we need to update these to ensure that current military needs are taken into account.”

NATO hopes that national governments and the private sector will cooperate to take the measures necessary, emphasizing that the European Union has an “important role to play.”

While troop and equipment movement across Europe will be demarcated, the proposed Atlantic Command, Stoltenberg believes, would strengthen the military bloc’s “ability to protect the sea lines which are so critical for a transatlantic alliance.”

“We have to be able to move forces, troops, across the Atlantic from North America to Europe. And it will include a command which is focused on and responsible for the movement of troops within Europe, which is of course also of a great importance,” Stoltenberg said.

NATO currently has seven commands with a total of some 7,000 personnel, compared with 33 and 22,000 respectively at the height of the Cold War. Stoltenberg argued that the new structure is needed to adapt to NATO’s reality in the present security climate.

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Dutch marines board American Chinook transport helicopters to conduct an air assault during Noble Jump 2017 © Corporal Jasper Verolme / Mediacentrum Defensie

“We have been very focused on out-of-area expeditionary military operations, now we have to continue to be focused on expeditionary operations but at the same time increase the focus on collective defense in Europe, and that’s the reason why we are adopting the command structure,” Stoltenberg explained.

It is also hoped that there will be the possibility of integrating into the cyber domain. “In every military operation, in any foreseeable possible military mission or operation of NATO, there will be a cyber component, so cyber is more and more integrated into everything we do and therefore we will also discuss how we can strengthen… the cyber element” the secretary general said.

Russia has yet to comment on the proposed changes. Moscow, though, has repeatedly voiced concerns over NATO’s buildup on Russia’s borders, which has accelerated in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. Late last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Moscow needs to be mindful of its western borders.

“We’re implementing a set of measures to neutralize the emerging challenges and threats,” Shoigu said. He added that the Western Military District will receive more than 1,800 pieces of new and modernized hardware by the end of this year.

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Send nudes: Facebook asks users for naked photos to combat ‘revenge porn’

Facebook is teaming up with four countries to test a preemptive system to detect and defend against “revenge porn.” Users are being asked to upload nude photos of themselves to Messenger.

The Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner announced they were partnering with the social media giant last week on a pilot scheme that will allow anyone to report sensitive images being shared online without their permission.

The eSafety office, which works primarily to prevent the online abuse of minors, asked any Australian who fears that intimate images of themselves may be online to send a nude photo of themselves via Messenger. They will then notify Facebook, who will use image matching technology to stop those images from being uploaded to Facebook, Messenger, Facebook Groups or Instagram.

Facebook’s Head of Global Safety, Antigone Davis, said that the “industry-first” pilot will use “cutting-edge technology to prevent the re-sharing of images on its platforms.”

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© Stoyan Nenov

The Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said that revenge porn or “image-based abuse” (IBA) can be an “incredibly devastating experience” for the victims.

The victims of revenge porn often give initial consent to sharing their photos with one other person, only to find out later that the images have fallen in the hands of a stranger. Sexually explicit photos, and the threat of publishing them for the world to see, can then be used for blackmail.

A recent study found that one in five Australians have been victims of revenge porn. Both men and women were found to be victims, but those in marginalized groups were found to be at the greatest risk.

“This lets the victim take control and be proactive in their own safety, when so often the burden is on the victim to report to multiple platforms and trace where the image has been. Our vision is that these images could be taken down from every website simultaneously,” Inman Grant told the Australian Financial Review.

Inman Grant said that sharing your nudes with Facebook is safe. Users are told to get in contact with the eSafety Commissioner, who will tell them to send the images to themselves via Messenger. Once the image is sent, Facebook will “hash” it, creating a digital fingerprint which is used to prevent the image from being uploaded in the future.

The user is then told to delete the image from their Facebook Messenger.

“They’re not storing the image; they’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies. So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded,” Inman Grant told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.  

However, it has been demonstrated that machine vision systems can be easily tricked by slight changes that would be virtually indistinguishable to the human eye. A team of Google researchers were able to show how making “imperceptibly small perturbations” to the pixels of an image would cause a neural network to no longer classify that image correctly.

If the pilot goes as planned, the images will never show up on Facebook, even if someone tries to upload them. The US, UK and Canada will also participate in the pilot with Facebook.

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Soviet children in 1967 dreamt of space travel, free ice-cream & robots doing homework in 2017

Letters from a time capsule opened in the Russian city of Novorossiysk have revealed that Soviet students in 1967 believed their peers in 50 years time would be living on other planets and eating ice cream for free, while their homework will be done by machines.

Hundreds of time capsules were laid across the USSR in 1967 as the country celebrated half a century since the Russian Revolution, which eventually led to the creation of the Soviet state. Those messages, containing the accounts of Soviet people’s lives and their messages to descendants, are being opened in Russia this year, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the events of 1917.

READ MORE: Cruiser Aurora fires at Winter Palace 100 years ago, signals peak of Russian Revolution

One of the most impressive time capsule efforts was undertaken in the port city of Novorossiysk by the members of the youth literary-patriotic club ‘Shkhuna rovesnikov’ (The schooner of peers). The massive container they placed on the bottom of the Black Sea had 144 letters, magnetic tapes, photos, drawings and even a bobbin with a popular movie inside.

When the capsule was recovered in September, its contents were in perfect condition, providing a unique insight into the dreams of Soviet children about the future.

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In turns out that the children of 1967 had no doubts that in 50 years time, their peers would be living under Communism, a fair and prosperous system, in which money is annulled and people willingly work for the benefit of the society, and being handed everything they need for free. Back then, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev promised that Communism would be built in the country by 1980.

“Dear descendants, you are so lucky – you live under Communism; fly to the moon! And it was us, who laid foundation of this future for you,” a typical beginning of many of the letters read. Those, who laid the capsule half a century ago, told Rossiyska Gazeta that the messages to the future were uncensored and contained the genuine thoughts and aspirations of kids from that period.

“We dream of Communism, of the time when we’ll be able to eat ice cream and go to the movies free of charge, when our homework will be made by machines and patient robots will be our teachers,” fifth-grader Olga Shvydkova wrote in her letter.

The girl’s foresight deserves admiration as computers now play an important part in the education process, while some schools around the globe begin to experiment with robot-teachers. However, Communism along with the USSR collapsed in 1991, and ice cream prices only rising compared to 1967.

The forecast of another schoolgirl, Olga Pupko, was even more optimistic as she wrote, addressing her descendants: “I envy you because you will live in the time when our great country celebrates its 100th anniversary. You will already witness mass interplanetary space flight; you’ll be living on some other planet, but you will always remember your native planet (Earth).”

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Seamen of the Baltic Fleet, members of the Winter Palace assault operation in Petrograd (present-day St. Petersburg) in October 1917. © Sputnik

“It is possible that during the years of your life the question of immortality will be solved, people will learn how to turn a person into an eternally living being,” she added. Well, in 2017, Earth remains the only planet inhabited by humans who only briefly visited the moon, and who are still years away from the first expedition to Mars. Immortality it also seems, remain just as a fantastical thought for modern science as it was 50 years ago.

Ninth grade student, Yury Zambrovsky, expressed hope that people will treat each other better in 2017 and such phenomena as hooliganism will be eradicated. “In 50 years the system of coexistence will change for the better, people will be sensitive and kind in relations,” he wrote.

The messages in the Novorossiysk capsule weren’t only written by local children, but gathered from people of different ages across the USSR, including celebrities, such as famous radio announcer Yuri Levitan. “Dear comrades, descendants, please remember our generation with a kind word… And we are sure that you will honorably carry the banner of peace, good and communism and pass this banner into reliable hands of other generations,” Levitan said in his iconic voice in a taped message recorded five decades ago.

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Woman suffers severe burns & dies after Mexico fireworks factory explosion (VIDEO)

A woman has died after an explosion at a house that served as a fireworks factory in San Cristobal de las Casas in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Shortly after the blast, dramatic footage began to circulate online, with San Cristobal resident Luis Alberto Garcia posting his own astonishing video of the incident on Facebook. Speaking to RT.com, the 29-year-old said he was passing through the area when he heard the first explosion.

“The first explosion was what made me record. Fortunately I was able to record the most impressive part.” he said. “I thought the houses were falling. It seemed like a war zone.”

The footage shows smoke rising into the air before a quick succession of explosions precedes a larger one that sends a plume of black smoke and fire skywards.

The explosion happened at around 2:30pm local time in the Los Pinos neighbourhood, near the premises of the state’s Ministry of Security and Civil Protection as well as a Department of Defense military facility. Residents were evacuated as Civil Protection officers were concerned that there was a chance they might be exposed to chemicals released into the air, according to El Diario.

A local woman suffered burns to more than 90 percent of her body, Vortice reports. The victim, named as Guadalupe Velazco Hernandez, 31, was transferred to the Hospital of Cultures in San Cristobal where she suffered respiratory arrest and died.  

READ MORE: Giant Weinstein effigy goes up in flames in Guy Fawkes celebrations (VIDEO)

Garcia, a veterinary doctor, said the house had been used to store gunpowder for fireworks for 10 years. He also claimed that neighbours had gone to police with concerns over the safety of the operation but their fears fell on deaf ears. “Unfortunately, that accident happened yesterday and left a lady dead,” he said.

The San Cristobal explosion follows a number of similar incidents in Mexico in recent times.

In May, an explosion at a fireworks warehouse killed at least 14 people, all but three of them children, in a rural area of central Puebla state. In December 2016, 42 people were killed and 70 injured after a series of explosions at the country’s largest fireworks market in the town of Tultepec outside Mexico City.

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‘Full of systemic deficiencies’: Russia slams OPCW report on Idlib chemical attack at UNSC

The OPCW-UN investigation into the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province is littered with “systemic deficiencies,” Russia’s deputy UN envoy has told the UN Security Council, reiterating that Moscow maintains that the April 4 incident was staged.

On October 26, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) issued a report in which it pinned blame for the Khan Shaykhun incident on Damascus. With JIM’s mandate set to expire on November 16, Russia criticized the methodology of the UN fact-finding mission, casting doubt on the mandate’s extension.

“Without a comprehensive change it will become a tool to settle accounts with the Syrian authorities,” Russian deputy representative to the United Nations, Vladimir Safronkov, told the Security Council.

America’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, meanwhile tried to rally other members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to renew JIM’s mandate. “Anyone who prevents us from achieving this goal is aiding and abetting those who have been using chemical weapons,” she said.

“They are helping to ensure, not just that more women and children will die, but that those women and children will die in one of the cruelest, most painful ways possible.”

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FILE PHOTO © Lucas Jackson

After carefully reviewing the “deeply disappointing” conclusions of the probe, Moscow blasted the report which it believes is full of “systemic deficiencies” and speculation, and drawn from statements by questionable sources. Noting that JIM’s report cannot withstand any “serious criticism,” the Russian diplomat said the UN team did not even consider Moscow’s version of events, according to which the entire incident was “choreographed.”

Moscow questioned the validity of biomedical and other samples that were obtained at the scene of the alleged attack. JIM’s report, which is “full of omissions, inconsistencies and contradictions is very mediocre,” Safronkov said. “They did not comply with the basic principle of the chain of custody of the material evidence.”

Russia also accused JIM of implementing their mandate “very selectively without the use of the whole range of methods,” which requires first and foremost “collecting samples, questioning witnesses and gathering evidence directly at the site of the incident.”

The JIM mission never actually visited the site of the alleged attack, Russia pointed out, saying the experts relied on evidence collected by the militant groups controlling the area. The investigation also failed to properly inspect the Shayrat Airbase, Moscow said, explaining that while the experts visited the Syrian airfield, they did not collect ground samples there.

“OPCW worked under the assumption that sarin gas was delivered by a plane, despite failing to gather samples at the Shayrat Airbase site, after finally consenting to visit the strip,” the Russian diplomat said, emphasizing that gathering samples at the base was “crucial to determine the attribution of responsibility.”

READ MORE: Chemical attacks in Syria must be investigated, but current probe unprofessional – Moscow

Some of the evidence gathered by the UN team, Safronkov said, came from highly questionable sources, particularly the White Helmets group that has ties to extremists in Syria.

“OPCW’s mission was not able to obtain key material evidence. All conclusions of their work were based on indirect testimonies, most of which was provided by the opposition and by NGOs that have no credibility, such as the White Helmets which are closely associated with Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists. So to take at face value the information by White Helmets is at very least in not very good taste,” Safronkov told members of the UNSC.

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A Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun following an attack on April 4, 2017. © OMAR HAJ KADOUR

The report also failed to properly explain the delivery of sarin gas to the site in Idlib, Safronkov stated, adding, that the traces left by the explosion, and the lack of fragments, suggest the bomb was placed on the ground. Safronkov pointed out that the crater in Khan Shaykhun was rectangular which is characteristic of a detonation from “a horizontal static position,” while an air dropped bomb would have left an elliptical crater.

The possibility of a staged attack is also “confirmed by the traces of burning at the surface of the cement,” the diplomat said, noting that the “edges of the crater are not turned outward [as would have been the case with the aerial bomb], and there is no ground dispersed around it.” The fact that the impact crater was filled with cement “very soon after the incident,” points to “someone really trying to destroy evidence.”

JIM’s findings, however, contradict Russia’s analysis. Presenting the conclusion of the investigation, the head of the panel, Edmond Mulet, said the experts established that sarin was dropped by a Syrian air strike, claiming the chemical used in Idlib matched those samples previously found in Syrian stockpiles. Such a composition “would be very difficult to replicate,” Mulet said.

Safronkov swiftly challenged that assumption, saying, “the chemicals could have been produced anywhere to intentionally compromise” Syrian authorities. “Admixtures found in the samples cannot be considered as unique markers which are found in the characteristic only for Syrian binary technology for producing sarin,” he elaborated further.

Safronkov also questioned some of the visual evidence referenced in the UN report, noting that the White Helmets apparently knew about the attack even before the Syrian airplane left the Shayrat Airbase. The White Helmets video at the site of the incident shows them wearing respirators and cotton gloves which cannot serve as protective gear against sarin exposure. Thus it is likely that “first an explosion was conducted, then the White Helmets made this video, and only afterward did they drop sarin,” the Russian representative pointed out.

Syrian Idlib chemical incident ‘likely staged,’ requires real investigation – Moscow

An estimated 74-100 or more civilians were killed and hundreds were injured in the April 4 attack, according to various reports. Washington then rushed to blame Damascus based on open-source intelligence, while the Syrian government strongly denied responsibility for the incident.

On April 7, US President Donald Trump authorized the firing of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Shayrat, from where US intelligence said the chemical attack was launched.

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Humans will turn Earth into ‘sizzling ball of fire’ by 2600, Stephen Hawking warns

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has offered another apocalyptic prediction for Earth – this time warning that the planet will become a “sizzling ball of fire” in less than 600 years.

Hawking made the grim forecast via videolink to the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing, declaring humans will have to “boldly go where no one has gone before,” if they want humankind to survive for another million years.

The planet will be overcrowded by 2600 and increased power consumption will turn Earth into a sizzling fireball, according to the Cambridge mastermind.

Hawking offered some hope however via his Breakthrough Starshot project. The $ 100m research programme backed by Russian Internet billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg aims to reach the closest star outside of our solar system, in the hope that a livable planet might be orbiting it.

READ MORE: Hawking & Milner to send interstellar craft to Alpha Centauri ‘within a generation’

The intention is to send tiny spaceships propelled by beams of light to Alpha Centauri – one of the closest star systems to ours, 4.3 light-years away. “Such a system could reach Mars in less than an hour, or reach Pluto in days, pass Voyager in under a week and reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years,” Hawking said.

“Maybe if all goes well, sometime a little after the middle of the century, we’ll have our first picture of another planet that may be life-bearing orbiting the nearest star,” said Pete Worden, Breakthrough Starshot’s director and former head at NASA’s Ames Research Center who also spoke at the China summit.

READ MORE: Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis posted online, crashes Cambridge website

Hawking also reiterated his AI fears this week. He told the Web Summit in Lisbon Monday that it may be the “worst event in the history of our civilisation,” and could conceivable destroy mankind.

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Robots are getting alarmingly better at human tasks (VIDEOS)

Robots are upping their game when it comes to performing basic human tasks. However, if test footage is anything to go by, it’s still a long way before we see the doomsday AI scenario mooted by some experts.

Recent video from the Robotics Systems Lab shows its robot, ANYmal, summoning an elevator – the latest achievement from the four legged bot that has been under development for more than a year now.

Anymal uses one of its legs to reach the elevator button and then trots right in. The button is localized with help of a QR tag.

The lab is continuing research into the use of the robot’s legs for simple manipulation tasks. Previously, Anymal slowly mastered climbing stairs and traversing through wet outdoor conditions.

The Robotics and Mechatronics Center in Germany recently released a demo of its anthropomorphic DIY robot David drilling into a block of concrete.

The company has also tested robots working collaboratively with humans. In September, its humanoid robot, Rollin’ Justin, worked with an ESA astronaut in space to service a simulated Martian solar farm on Earth.

Earlier this year, Boston Dynamics showed off its parkour robot Handle, demonstrating some impressive jumps and also showing it could be put to practical use moving boxes.

READ MORE: Japanese robot enrolls in high school

While the bots are proving themselves in mechanical tasks that require precision and repetition, researchers say it could be some forty years before machines succeed in more complex challenges. A study from Oxford and Yale University, based on responses from more than 300 AI experts, said that by 2053, AI could automate all human tasks.


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Divine intervention: Quadcopter & Virgin Mary deployed to end village’s crime spike

What do you do when your village has a serious crime problem and the local police can’t solve it? You hire a drone bearing the image of the Virgin Mary and fly it over town, that’s what.

The village of Prilimanskoe in Ukraine’s Odessa Region was seeing “somebody robbed or beaten up every month,” local business woman Natalya told the Dumskaya website. “Every day I pray for God’s grace to touch our village.”

Sometimes, however, even prayer needs a helping hand – and that’s where a top-of-the-range quadcopter came in handy. Residents literally and metaphorically looked to the heavens for salvation in the face of a crime spike and “inaction from the police.”

Natalya hired a drone to fly the Orthodox icon of the Virgin Mary above the village, which is home to 4,000 people. The sacred image was chosen because it’s believed to provide help in the most dire of circumstances.

The boss of the local aerial photography firm, Vyacheslav Gruby, said it was the strangest order he ever received, but didn’t hesitate to answer the call. “There have been requests to deliver wedding rings from the sky,” he admitted. “We even flew a portrait of a candidate before an election – but when a whole village asks you to take an icon into the air – it’s both difficult and onerous task.”

READ MORE: Candy-dispersing drone crashes into crowd, injuring 6 people (VIDEO)

The UAV performed its flight and, perhaps fittingly, it concluded with a small miracle. “At the very end of the flight, the lace holding the icon was cut off and wound around one of the propellers,” said Gruby. “By all rights the drone should have crashed – but somehow it landed routinely.”

Coincidence? Not likely. There’s been no update on the crime rate in Prilimanskoe just yet – but it’s still early days.

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