US govt notifies 21 states of poll hacking

The US federal government has told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election.

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The notification came roughly a year after US Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia.

The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The AP contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. While not all responded immediately, the others confirming they had been targets were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington.

It does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or results were changed. Hackers targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house checking for unlocked doors and windows.

Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the yearlong lag time in notification from Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers.

For many states, the Friday calls were the first official confirmation of whether their states were on the list – even though state election officials across the country have been calling for months for the federal government to share information about any hacks, as have members of Congress.

US Senator Mark Warner, of Virginia, the top Democrat on a committee that’s investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election, has been pushing the department for months to reveal the identities of the targeted states. He said states need such information in real time so they can strengthen their cyber defences.

“We have to do better in the future,” he said.

Homeland Security said it recognises that state and local officials should be kept informed about cybersecurity risks to election infrastructure.

“We are working with them to refine our processes for sharing this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners,” it said in a statement.

The government did not say who was behind the hacking attempts or provide details about what had been sought. But election officials in several states said the attempts were linked to Russia.

The Wisconsin Election Commission, for example, said the state’s systems were targeted by “Russian government cyber actors.” Alaska Elections Division Director Josie Bahnke said computers in Russia were scanning election systems looking for vulnerabilities.

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State said the group has requested a list of the states where there were hacking efforts. In most cases, states said they were told the systems were not breached.

Federal officials said that in most of the 21 states the targeting was preparatory activity such as scanning computer systems.

The targets included voter registration systems but not vote tallying software. Officials said there were some attempts to compromise networks but most were unsuccessful.

Cronk given chance for farewell fairytale

Cooper Cronk has a chance to depart Melbourne with a fairytale NRL premiership but club skipper Cameron Smith has warned life doesn’t always work out like that.

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Cronk will play his final game in a purple jersey during next Sunday’s season decider in what promises to be an emotion-charged game for the club as they farewell one of their greatest servants.

The champion No.7 is still keeping his cards close to his chest and wouldn’t reveal whether he will retire or move to a Sydney-based club next year.

While he said he doesn’t expect to make a decision until after the grand final, his departure has given the side plenty of motivation heading into their second successive grand final.

“Not at the moment,” Cronk said when asked if the desire to retire had struck him.

“There’s been occasions when you’re walking through the hallways or the locker room thinking ‘Aww, is this the last time I do it?’

“I’ve really been cold-hearted and non-emotional about it.

“Whenever I do it, I slap myself over the back of the head and say ‘What’s my job? What’s my role? How can I get better?’

“When it’s all done and dusted, no matter the result, I’ll probably fall in a heap.”

Cronk played his last game in front of his home crowd in the Storm’s 30-0 rout of Brisbane in Friday’s preliminary final and in typical fashion he refused to be chaired off the ground.

While being able to send out Cronk, arguably one of the game’s greatest-ever halfbacks, as a title-winner would be fitting, Smith warned his side not to get swept up in the emotion.

“I’m glad we get another opportunity to play together, one more game,” Smith said.

“It’d be nice to send him out a winner. That’d be ideal.

“You talk about fairytales and that would be one – but unfortunately fairtytales don’t happen all the time. We’ve got to make it happen.”

Australia need to defy history to win ODIs

Australia’s dire start to their Indian tour has left them trailing 2-0, a position from which they have never won a bilateral one-day international series.

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The last time Australia saved an ODI series from 2-0 down was in 1994 when they fought back to draw after eight matches in South Africa.

They also salvaged a tied series with New Zealand in 1986 after losing the first two of four games.

Despite the history, in-from fast bowler Pat Cummins believes they can mount a comeback in Indore on Sunday.

“There’s still three games left. We can still win the series,” Cummins said.

While Cummins has battled stifling heat to bowl with excellent pace and control, Australia’s gallant efforts with the ball have been undermined by brittle performances with the bat.

Skipper Steve Smith said their tendency for collapse was unacceptable after slumping to a 50-run defeat in Kolkata.

Cummins took 1-34 off his 10 overs only for Australia to lose 6-63 while batting, with his dismissal completing a Kuldeep Yadav hat-trick which sealed an Indian victory

“As a player and a teammate it’s always frustrating when it’s out of our control,” Cummins said of Australia’s woes with the bat.

“I thought we got in a position in both games where we could have taken the game away from India.

“We’ve just got to try and find a way to fix that up.”

Aside from recovering mentally from two comprehensive defeats, Australia also have to bounce back quickly from sapping conditions.

“That’s the hottest one-day game anyone said they’ve played. 50 overs felt like it was about 200,” Cummins said.

Cummins hasn’t been the only quick to impress, with Nathan Coulter-Nile’s first two international appearances for more than a year yielding six wickets.

The bowlers toiled to keep India to 252 in Kolkata, but the Australian batsman failed for a second successive chase.

“To keep them to 250-odd on a really good batting wicket and batting conditions in the afternoon I thought was a great job,” Cummins said.

After two matches the pressure is mounting on stop-gap opener Hilton Cartwright (one and one), as well as wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (two and nine).

Aaron Finch could regain his spot at the top of the order as his recovery from a calf complaint continues.

Wade has now failed to make double figures in his last five ODI innings, with part-time gloveman Peter Handscomb in the squad as a potential replacement.

Sloane expects to play in AFL grand final

Rory Sloane’s teammates have defended him for the bump that floored Patrick Dangerfield, saying it was simply two committed players going for the ball.

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The Adelaide vice-captain will most likely come under match review panel scrutiny for the incident during Friday night’s AFL preliminary final win over Geelong, given there was high contact.

But the collison happened as Dangerfield was handballing and Sloane had no time to avoid or lessen the impact.

Asked if Sloane is now preparing for the grand final, Crows captain Taylor Walker told Triple M: “Why wouldn’t he be? … I loved it (the bump). That’s what footy is about.”

Adelaide key forward Tom Lynch also doubts there will be any trouble.

“They both went for the ball and they just ran into each other,” Lynch said.

Dangerfield had to leave the ground after the bump late in the second quarter, but played out the match.

Sloane returned to the team on Friday night after missing their qualifying final because he needed his appendix removed.

He told SEN that he had not given any thought to Monday’s MRP deliberations.

“I suppose it was just a big hit, a collision,” he said.

“I haven’t thought about it really. It’s something that’s out of my control now, we’ll see what happens.”

Sloane initially thought he could tackle Dangerfield, before realising that would not work.

“Once he handballed I just tried to intercept the handball, basically, and then we just collided,” Sloane said.

“I don’t really remember too much … My face, my neck, my chest is all a bit sore.

“You definitely know when you hit Patty, he’s an absolute bull.”

Muted global launch for Apple’s iPhone 8

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 8 has kicked off with less fanfare than new models in previous years in the US, Australia, Asia and Britain, as fans held out for the premium iPhone X, due out in early November.

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In San Francisco’s Union Square, 80km from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, just 80 people were lined up at the company’s flagship store, a sharp contrast to years past when lines stretched for blocks when new products were released.

In Australia, hundreds of people usually gather at Apple’s Sydney city store, with queues winding down George Street in the central business district. But there were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened on Friday.

Apple’s flagship store in London’s Regent Street also experienced a slim turnout, according to several British newspapers.

The weak turnout for the latest iPhone has partly been due to poor reviews.

Mazen Kourouche, who was first in queue in Sydney so he could buy and review the product on YouTube, said there were modest refinements.

“(It) is pretty similar to the iPhone 7 but it shoots 4k 60 frames per second and it’s got a new glass back instead of the metal which is apparently more durable,” he sais. “There aren’t too many new features to this one.”

In China, a loyal Apple customer said the improved camera was one of the reasons she had bought the new device.

In San Francisco, customers waiting in line were evenly split between those interested in the iPhone 8 and those looking to buy the Apple Watch Series 3. The latest watch includes standalone cellular data connectivity for the first time, meaning it can be used to make phone calls without an iPhone nearby.

Chayce O’Neal, 27, said he had come to buy the new watch and wasn’t discouraged by reviews that mentioned connectivity problems. But he was skipping the iPhone 8 and holding out for the iPhone X.

“I like being on top of the cutting edge of technology,” he said.

Indifferent reviews of the iPhone 8, which comes 10 years after Apple released the first version of the revolutionary phone, drove down shares of the company to near two-month lows of $US152.75 on Thursday, as investors worried pre-orders for the device had come in well below previous launches.

The iPhone 8 will only cater to those who want a new version but do not want to pay a hefty $US999 ($A1,254) for the iPhone X, said iTWire南京夜生活,’s technology editor Alex Zaharov-Reutt.

Speaking to CNBC, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the Apple Watch with cellular data service is “sold out in so many places around the world” and iPhone 8 models were also sold out. He did not specify the locations he was referring to.

Tempers fray after Mexico earthquake

Tempers frayed in Mexico City as the search for survivors amidst twisted rubble of collapsed buildings began to wind down three days after the country’s most deadly earthquake in a generation.

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The 7.1 magnitude quake levelled 52 buildings in the sprawling Mexican capital at lunchtime on Tuesday, leaving thousands homeless and close to 300 people dead. Apartment blocks, offices, a school and a textile factory were among the structures that were destroyed.

Across the city, thousands of rescue workers and special teams using sniffer dogs and heat sensors combed wreckage, while the massive outpouring of support from volunteers sparked global praise for Mexico’s spirit.

Efforts were not fast enough, though, for some family members waiting outside an office building that collapsed in the fashionable Roma neighbourhood.

As storm clouds gathered over the city, families worried that rain could slow the pace of rescue efforts.

Protesters held signs addressed to President Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

“Mancera and EPN: We demand results” read one sign. “They are still alive. Don’t kill them” and “We don’t want machines” read others, referring to rumours that the military would use bulldozers to hasten removal of rubble deemed unlikely to harbour survivors.

Many sites had already been cleared of rubble by Friday afternoon and chances were dimming of finding anyone else alive.

US rescue workers went to work Friday in the collapsed office building, looking for six people who were still missing.

Mexican soldiers and volunteers, supported by teams from as far afield as Israel and Japan, have so far rescued at least 60 people from the ruins in Mexico City and surrounding towns.

For many the search was highly personal.

Firefighter Teresa Ramirez Flores, 40, was helping search an office building in Mexico City’s Roma neighbourhood where her cousin Carolina Muniz, a 43-year-old accountant, was on the second floor when the building collapsed.

“We want to be superheroes so that our country doesn’t suffer,” she said at a site where volunteers brought a wheelbarrow filled with candy for the rescue teams.

After three days though, rescuers were finding more dead bodies than survivors and frustration was increasingly evident.

Luis Ruiz, a 39-year old carpenter, complained that the police would not let him enter the ruins where his sister and two of her children were buried in the rubble. “I felt powerless to be unable to get my family, unable to do anything,” he said.

Across the city of 20 million people, many whose dwellings had become uninhabitable sought a place to call home, raising the spectre of a housing shortage. Senior officials said there could be 20,000 badly damaged homes in the states of Morelos and Puebla.

Plibersek urges for an Australian economy ‘that works for everyone’

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek says Australian society is less equal than it’s ever been in the past 75 years.

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Ms Plibersek will deliver the annual Light on the Hill speech, honouring former prime minister Ben Chifley, in the NSW regional city of Bathurst on Saturday night.

After 25 years of continuous economic growth, there are still 2.9 million people living below the poverty line and 1.8 million either unemployed or underemployed.

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“Australians are working harder than ever, but they are not getting ahead,” Ms Plibersek will say.

Low wages and insecure work mean lower aggregate demand, leading to weaker overall economic growth.

“People who are worried about paying the electricity bill, or whether they will have a job next week, don’t buy that coffee on the way to work.

“They don’t take the kids to the movies on Friday night.

“They keep their money in their pockets, they don’t create work for others.”

Ms Plibersek called for a national plan for “inclusive prosperity”.

“We need a new growth story, a new plan for inclusive prosperity, a new way to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”

She compared the leadership styles of Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull, saying the Labor leader was “someone who has dedicated his life to standing up for ordinary Australians”.

“Ben Chifley was a plain speaker – so let me put it bluntly: Give me a union leader over an investment banker any day.”

Chifley was born in Bathurst on September 22, 1885.

0:00 Equality Rights Alliance reacts to Budget 2017 Share Equality Rights Alliance reacts to Budget 2017

A space agency: Australia’s final frontier

Australia’s lack of a co-ordinated approach to the multibillion-dollar space industry will come into sharp focus as global leaders in the sector come together in Adelaide.

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The latest plans to have humans leave the earth, including the concept of villages on the moon and the colonisation of Mars, will be part of the discussion at the 68th International Astronautical Congress which has attracted about 3500 delegates.

But an overarching theme will be the potential and growing value of the $330 billion space industry and just how to manage and develop current and emerging commercial opportunities.

The heads of the world’s leading space agencies will take part in a forum that will ask what should take the lead in such circumstances, business or science.

The debate comes amid growing criticism that there is no Australian space agency to ensure local companies can share in the spoils and also properly contribute in developments that are far more wide reaching and far more immediate than travelling to distant planets.

Without a space industry, and more particularly space data, there would be no smartphones, no GPS in cars, no internet, no movie streaming or the like.

The banking, finance and agriculture sectors would be severely affected as would weather forecasting.

Possibly most significantly, the defence force would be critically impacted with the loss of communications and intelligence.

The Australian space sector already has an annual revenue of more than $3 billion and employs up to 11,500 people.

But it captures just 0.8 per cent of the global space economy.

A commitment to establish a national space agency could help grow that five-fold to around four per cent in 20 years, according to the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA)

The federal government has launched a review of the nation’s space capabilities, and there’s speculation the government will make an announcement to set up an agency at this week’s congress.

Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos said recently it was hoped the review would also lead to new businesses and new jobs by building on the country’s existing strengths and finding new areas where it could be world-beating.

But he said it was also important to consider the best way to bring the policy together.

“Is it through a space agency, a national space office, and what does that mean in practice?” he said.

The South Australian government has no doubts and is leading the charge for a space agency, even threatening to go it alone or with the co-operation of the ACT and the Northern Territory.

In the past week the state government also announced the establishment of the nation’s first dedicated centre to grow the local space economy.

“Many people think space is about astronauts and rockets,” Premier Jay Weatherill said, echoing the thoughts of many in the industry.

“It’s so much more than that, it has become part of our everyday lives from our daily weather forecasts to using our mobile phones.”

“As an industry, space is growing at more than three times the world annual GDP.

“The potential is enormous and opportunities abundant.”

In a recent white paper the SIAA described a national space program, to be implemented by an internationally-recognised space agency, as critical in any national strategy for the transition of the Australian economy.

“It is impossible to imagine a prosperous high-tech future for Australia that does not include a government plan for the accelerated development of our space industry,” the association said.

And if that’s not enough, Australia’s only astronaut Andy Thomas is also on board.

He said the idea of a national agency was a “no-brainer”, and only partisan politics was getting in the way.

“It is time to make a space agency here in Australia which can decide national policy, strategies and help develop the infrastructure for space,” Mr Thomas said.

“Because space is the modern form of infrastructure. It is as important to this country as railways were in the early development.”

Julie Bishop slams North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in UN speech

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has used her address to the United Nations General Assembly to call out North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and keep up pressure on China and Russia to enforce sanctions on the rogue nation.

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Ms Bishop’s harsh words on Friday in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions came after Mr Kim described US President Donald Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard” and his foreign minister suggested the regime could test a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Trump responded on Twitter by saying Mr Kim was “obviously a madman”.

Ms Bishop said North Korea has challenged, undermined and ignored the authority of the UN Security Council and she called on the council’s five permanent members – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the United States – to ensure sanctions against the regime are enforced.

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“It is crucial that all United Nations member states and especially the permanent five, who have a particular responsibility, strictly implement these sanctions to compel North Korea to abandon its illegal programs,” Ms Bishop told the General Assembly in New York.

“The authority of the council must be defended and upheld.

“Australia will play our part in helping to resolve this crisis.”

Ms Bishop said Australia would consider strengthening its sanctions on North Korea if the regime continued its flagrant disregard for the international community and the Security Council.

The UN’s 193 member states each have an opportunity to address the General Assembly this week, with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho scheduled to speak later on Friday (11.30am Saturday AEST).

Outside the UN, he told reporters North Korea could react to Mr Trump’s stiff new sanctions and personal barbs at Mr Kim with “the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean”.

0:00 North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean Share North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean

Ms Bishop also used her speech to talk up Australia’s bid for a 2018-2020 seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Australia would help empower women, girls and indigenous groups to reach their full potential if elected.

“Australia is proud to be home to the world’s oldest continuous culture and will strive to advance the human rights of indigenous peoples around the globe,” she said.

Ms Bishop, who has led Australia’s delegation at this week’s General Assembly after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull chose not to make the trip, made special mention of the “inspiring work” of Australian businessman and philanthropist Andrew Forrest, his wife Nicola and daughter Grace with their anti-slavery Walk Free Foundation.

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Crows ready to fly in AFL grand final hype

Adelaide’s players and coaching staff are at the extremes when it comes to AFL grand-final experience.

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The Crows’ list this season features no players who have played off for an AFL flag.

But there will be plenty of advice close at hand if the Adelaide players want to ask about the week ahead.

Coach Don Pyke is a two-time West Coast premiership player and his assistants also are loaded with experience at the business end of the season.

Ryan O’Keefe, who coaches the Crows’ SANFL team, is a two-time Sydney premiership player.

James Podsiadly won a flag in his playing days at Geelong and Scott Camporeale did the same at Carlton.

“These guys have been to the big dance, so I’m sure some guys will pick their brains,” said Crows forward Tom Lynch.

“But at the same time, everyone is different … we’ll be ready to go.”

Lynch also dismissed their lack of grand-final experience as a potential factor.

“You don’t just win grand finals on the day – it’s the whole year, the whole journey,” he said.

“We’ve built the brand to get us to this point.

“You don’t just fall into ‘grannies’.”

Likewise, Lynch does not expect their lack of games at the MCG will count against them.

The Crows have played at the ground three times a year for the past three seasons, for six wins and a draw.

“There are four goalposts at each end and we feel like the brand we play, the footy we play, stands up in finals,” he said.

What is definitely in Adelaide’s favour is that they are proven performers in front of a big crowd.

Friday night’s preliminary final win over Geelong featured a record Adelaide Oval crowd of 53,817.

Commentators at the top of the western stand felt the floor shaking, such was the noise at the final siren.

“It was electric – we’re so lucky that we get to play in front of 50,000, or near capacity, every single week at the oval,” Lynch said.

“That definitely was a good experience for the boys … last night, it was louder than I’ve ever heard it.”