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Automatic Self-Driving Cars can be used as Terrorist Weapons, Warns Australia

Driverless vehicles could be exploited by criminals, including terrorists, to be pre-programmed to carry out criminal acts

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Google self-driving car. Flickr

Canberra, November 8, 2016: Automatic self-driving cars could be used as dangerous weapons of terrorism, the Australian authorities have warned.

Ramzi Jabbour, deputy commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), warned that the cars, being developed by companies such as Google and Tesla, could be easily exploited by criminals and terrorists to wreak havoc, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Jabbour said that law enforcement worldwide would face significant challenges when the driverless cars became available.

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Police fear that terrorists could acquire a driverless vehicle, pack it with explosives then remotely drive it towards a specific target and detonate the explosives from the other side of the world.

“While advances in technology will present significant opportunities and revolutionize aspects of our everyday lives, it will also present significant challenges to police,” Jabbour said on Tuesday.

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Graham Ashton, chief commissioner for Victoria Police, said he believed driverless cars would ultimately save more lives than they would cost.

“In the world of transport we are already seeing trials of the driverless car and this will continue to develop,” Ashton said.

“If this concept becomes reality it would significantly improve safety on our roads, because most road trauma is currently a result of driver error or impairment.”

Ashton said even using devices such as laptops or mobile phones while riding in a driverless car was a concept that excited Victoria Police.

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“These devices will continue to be part of the vehicle integration, so you will have all the transport data you need at your voice command,” he said.

“In policing we are excited by the driverless concept because we can see the potential for reducing road trauma.” (IANS)

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Study: 9/11 Survivors May Face the Risk of Developing Increased Heart, Lung Diseases Years Later

The monumental terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11 have managed to leave behind scars that are much more than just skin-deep

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9/11
The 9/11 attacks. wikimedia
  • A recent study shows that the survivors may be at an increased long-term risk of asthma, other similar respiratory diseases, and heart attack
  • The findings indicate that intense exposure on a single day – the first day of the disaster – contributes substantially to the risk of developing chronic conditions
  • The authors used data from the WTC Health Registry cohort to examine the long term health effects of acute exposure to the dust cloud or physical injury caused by the terrorist attack

Washington, July 18, 2017: The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, have made the accident a historical event, having left behind scars that are much more than just skin-deep. A recent study shows that the survivors may be at an increased long-term risk of asthma, other similar respiratory diseases, and heart attack.

The association between physical injury or acute exposure to the dust cloud on the morning of September 11, 2001, and chronic diseases up to ten to eleven years later (2010-2012) were examined and analyzed by researchers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

According to the corresponding author Robert Brackbill, the findings indicate that intense exposure on a single day – the first day of the disaster – contributes substantially to the risk of developing chronic conditions. He also mentioned, “Continued monitoring of people who were present in the vicinity of the World Trade Centre on 11th September by medical providers is warranted for the foreseeable future.”

The researchers observed that the number of types of injuries, such as fractures, head injuries, or sprains, a person sustained on 11th September 2001 was associated with an increased risk of angina or heart attack in a dose-dependent manner. This means that the risk of having angina or a heart attack went up with every additional injury type.

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According to ANI, exposure to dust, PTSD and being a rescue worker, as well as current smoking were associated with a higher risk of non-neoplastic lung disease (lung conditions not involving tumors) other than just asthma. Dust exposure, on its own, was associated with an increased risk of asthma. But none of these risk factors were associated with a higher risk of diabetes.

Out of the total number of 8,701 people who were a part of this study, 41% had been intensely exposed to the dust cloud, 10% had a single injury, 2% had two types of injury and 1% had three or more.

In the survey, the researchers also noticed 92 incident cases of heart disease, 327 new cases of diabetes, 308 cases of asthma, and 297 cases of non-neoplastic lung disease among 7,503 area workers, 249 rescue workers, 131 residents and 818 bystanders – the most heavily exposed groups.

The authors used data from the WTC Health Registry cohort to examine the long term health effects of acute exposure to the dust cloud, or physical injury caused by the terrorist attack. The WTC Health Registry is responsible for monitoring the physical and mental health of 71,431 persons exposed to the 9/11 attacks.

In the study, a lack of specific information on the severity, location, and treatment of injuries, as well as on the circumstances in which they were sustained meant that the number of types of injuries was used as a proxy measure of injury severity. However, the authors mentioned that it has been shown by previous researchers that more than one type of injury can be associated with increased risk of death and longer stays in the hospital.

The study has been published in the Injury Epidemiology journal.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter @dubumerang

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Muslim Assassins Receive More Media Coverage in The US Than Their Non-Muslim Counterparts

Muslims carry out only 12.4 percent of the attacks in the US but comprise of 41.4 percent of media coverage

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Terror attacks receive massive media coverage
Media coverage. Pixabay.
  • Terror attacks by Muslims receive more attention by media
  • Attacks committed by white men are not given much importance
  • People are increasingly becoming fearful of Muslims

New Delhi, July 5, 2017: As per an academic study, the terror attacks committed by Muslims receive greater than approximately five times media coverage as compared to those performed by non-Muslims in America. According to the researchers from Georgia State University, there existed a 449 percent growth in media presentation when the assassin was a Muslim as per the analysis of terrorist attacks in the US between 2011 and 2015.

A survey found that even though Muslims carry out only 12.4 percent of attacks during the period of study, they get 41.4 percent of the news coverage which suggests that the media disproportionately scares people of the Muslim terrorists which builds up an avoidable hatred for Muslims. One way to overcome and prevent this is by covering news more evenly and proportionately as their fears are highly misplaced.

Scientists considered US newspaper coverage of all terrorist attacks in America and computed the articles committed to each attack. It was found that the Boston Marathon bombing which took place in 2013 committed by two Muslim attackers and killed three people, comprised of almost 20 percent of all the news coverage relating to terror attacks in the US during a period of five years. In a sharp contrast to this, a massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 that killed six people and was undertaken by a white man received only 3.8 percent of coverage.

Also read: Unless Pakistan Curbs “high-profile terrorist attack” towards India, ties will Worsen: US

A mass shooting carried out by Dylan Roof who is a white man, at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine people dead got it hands on just 7.4 per cent of media coverage. Moreover, an attack by Frazier Glenn Miller in 2014 on a Kansas synagogue killed three but received a share in just 3.3 percent of reports.

The claim made by President Donald Trump in February that the attacks committed by Muslims receive less coverage is unsupported but he was right in saying that the media fails to provide enough coverage to some terrorist attacks.

Prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter: @Hkaur1025

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)