EUSKIRCHEN, Germany | DMN — A World War Two bomb has exploded at a construction site near a west German town, killing a man and injuring eight others, police say. The explosion occurred after a digger accidentally struck the device during excavation work in Euskirchen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The machine’s operator died on the spot. Two of those hurt were critically wounded, the dpa news agency reports. Police said the blast impact could be felt a kilometre (0.6miles) away.
The incident took place around 13.30 local time (12.30 GMT) in an industrial park on the edge of town. The bomb blew up when it was disturbed by the digger, as the machine lifted up earth and debris. The blast damaged nearby office buildings and cars. Police say the explosion also smashed the windows of some local shops and homes. Bombs are still regularly being discovered in Germany, particularly in the industrial north-west of the country. In the 1940s, allied bombers tried to cripple the Nazi war effort by bombing factories there. Officials say it is rare that anyone is killed or injured by a device going off unexpectedly.
More than 2,100 explosives dating back to the World War II era were uncovered in a small town in central Germany over in 2008. The bombs, which were of German origin, were found in the area surrounding Koethen, a town about 70 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Leipzig in the central German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Koethen, which was home to nearly 30,000 people during World War Two, was heavily bombed in July and August of 1944. While most of the bombs discovered weighed less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds), a few also weighed in at more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds). Neighborhoods are often evacuated for bomb removal with most finds being defused without causing any damage. Construction crews are trained to contact bomb removal specialists when they suspect they’ve come across unexploded ordnance.
As we get ready for another significant snow storm across the Midwest and Northeast, what is more troubling perhaps are the brutally cold temperatures forecast for early next week. It is, without question, a dangerous forecast. This is a good time to remember that exposure to very cold temperatures can cause serious, even life-threatening, health consequences. During the winter months, a prolonged exposure to the cold without the proper attire can result in frostbite or hypothermia. While everyone out in the cold is at risk for developing injuries infants are at a greater risk due to their inability to make enough of their own body heat by shivering. The elderly also have a greater chance because of their slower metabolisms.
WHAT IS FROSTBITE?
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing, which results in a loss of feeling and color. It is most likely to affect the face, fingers, or toes, and can cause permanent damage. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation of the affected areas. The first signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.
WHAT IS HYPOTHERMIA?
Hypothermia occurs when the body is exposed to cold temperatures and loses heat faster than it can be produced. When a person’s core body temperature drops below 95 degrees, the situation is urgent. This condition can occur at cooler temperatures too, specifically when a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or cold water. The warning signs for hypothermia include, shivering, confusion, memory loss and drowsiness.
If one suspects frostbite or hypothermia medical attention should be sought after immediately. However, if medical aid is unavailable then the tips below should be followed until medical help becomes an option.
What to do if Medical Help is Not an Option:
1. Seek warm shelter
2. Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes (if possible)
3. Immerse affected areas in warm water
4. Do not massage or rub affected area with snow
5. Warm the area using body heat
6. Do not use heating pads, heat lamps, etc.
7. Seek medical attention as soon as possible
During a winter weather outbreak, it is imperative to know the differences between watches and warnings in order to properly prepare or take the appropriate actions and stay safe. Before any sort of wintry weather, a winter storm survival kit should be kept in a secure place in case of emergency. These kits should contain everything from blankets to flashlights with extra batteries, non-perishable food, waterproof matches, a shovel and windshield scraper, a tool kit, jumper cables, a water container, road maps and flares.
WINTER STORM WATCH
A winter storm watch is issued when wintry weather conditions are expected in the next 12 to 36 hours. In order for this type of watch to be announced snowfall is expected to exceed six inches in 24 hours or less, winds are anticipated to gust up to at least 35 mph and visibilities are presumed to be less than a quarter mile.
To stay safe during this winter storm situation it is important that the necessary precautions are taken prior to the storm’s arrival. See the lists below, ordered by possible locations, to make sure your adequately prepared.
At Home or Work:
1. Working flashlight
2. Battery powered radio or television
3. Extra food, water and medicine
4. First Aid Supplies
5. Heating fuel
6. Emergency heating source
7. Fire extinguishers
8. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
On a Farm:
1. Move all animals to an enclosed shelter
2. Bring extra feed to nearby feeding areas
3. Have an extra water supply easily available
In a Vehicle:
1. Full or near full gas tank
2. Let a friend or relative know your predicted arrival time
3. A charged cell phone
4. Extra food and water
5. Extra gasoline for emergency fuel
WINTER STORM WARNING
A winter storm warning is more timely than just a watch. While the classifications for the snowfall, wind and visibility conditions are the same as a winter storm watch, a warning means that these conditions are expected within the next 12 hours or sooner.
When a winter storm warning is issued there is little or no time for preparations and as a result, safety is harder to ensure. See the tips below on what to do depending on your location during the warning.
At Home or in a Building:
1. Stay inside
2. Close off unneeded rooms to save heat
3. Stuff towels or rags in cracks underneath doors to conserve heat
4. Cover the windows at night
5. Eat and drink to prevent dehydration
6. Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight and warm clothing
If Caught Outside:
1. Find a dry shelter immediately
2. Cover all exposed body parts
If Caught Outdoors Without Shelter:
1. Prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow-cave for protection against the wind
2. Build a fire for heat and attention purposes
3. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect the heat
4. Do not eat snow straight off the ground, melt it first.
If Stranded in a Vehicle:
1. Stay inside your vehicle
2. Run the motor for ten minutes each hour
3. Crack the windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
4. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
5. Tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door
6. Raise the hood after the snow stops falling
7. Exercise to keep warm and keep your blood flowing
When the temperatures drop each year, there is of course the need to heat your home. There are a variety of ways to heat your home, but some carry more risks than others. Just a few of these risks include carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a fairly common risk. The best way to combat this risk is two-fold. The first thing you can do is install a carbon monoxide detector. You should also have a professional inspect your home heating system and make sure it is clean-burning and there are no leaks in the ventilation system.
Burns can be another risk if you heat your home using a wood or coal stove. Curious children in your home may touch a heat surface of a wood stove or other heat providing device that can be hot to the touch. The threat of fire is a major problem as well, especially with open fireplaces. According to the Home Safety Council, in January and February, fires caused by heating systems surpass cooking fires as the main cause of home fires. One way to prevent fires is to burn only hardwoods like oak or maple in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Never burn trash, paper or cardboard. Make sure your flue is open and it is professionally cleaned, and that the liner of your chimney is properly installed before the winter to prevent chimney fires.
If you need to use a portable heater, make sure your electrical system can handle the extra stress on it and the cord does not get too hot, and there are no electrical shortages. It is also important to make sure that there is nothing that can fall on it, there are no objects near it and that the heater will not tip over. During extremely cold weather, another common issue is bursting or freezing pipes. The best way to prevent this is to winterize your pipes by insulating them. If you can’t do this or it is too late, you can use a portable heater on the pipe and let water drip or flow slowly out of the faucet to keep water in the pipes moving so it does not freeze.
Yet another threat during the cold of winter is of course the weight of ice and snow on your roof. Be sure that ice or snow does not build up too much on the roof–depending on the age and condition of your roof, build up of snow or ice can cause a roof collapse. Not only that, but falling icicles or heavy snow from the roof can also cause injuries or worse. Icicles can also weigh down gutters and eaves. Heavy snow or ice build-up on branches over your home could cause them to break and fall onto your house, car or other property and cause serious damage.
The National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world according to a report in today’s edition of The Washington Post. According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets. Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated about whether the NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs. Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.
“It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The NSA appears to regard itself as running neck and neck with quantum computing labs sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government, with steady progress but little prospect of an immediate breakthrough. “The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,” one NSA document states.
Seth Lloyd, an MIT professor of quantum mechanical engineering, said the NSA’s focus is not misplaced. “The E.U. and Switzerland have made significant advances over the last decade and have caught up to the U.S. in quantum computing technology,” he said. The NSA declined to comment for this story. The documents, however, indicate that the agency carries out some of its research in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out. Those, according to one brief description, are required “to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.”
A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer. In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.
A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer. Quantum computers have many applications for today’s scientific community, including the creation of artificial intelligence. But the NSA fears the implications for national security. “The application of quantum technologies to encryption algorithms threatens to dramatically impact the US government’s ability to both protect its communications and eavesdrop on the communications of foreign governments,” according to an internal document provided by Snowden.
Experts are not sure how soon a quantum computer would be feasible. A decade ago, some experts said that developing a large quantum computer was likely 10 to 100 years in the future. Five years ago, Lloyd said the goal was at least 10 years away. Last year, Jeff Forshaw, a professor at the University of Manchester, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “It is probably too soon to speculate on when the first full-scale quantum computer will be built but recent progress indicates that there is every reason to be optimistic.” “I don’t think we’re likely to have the type of quantum computer the NSA wants within at least five years, in the absence of a significant breakthrough maybe much longer,” Lloyd told The Washington Post in a recent interview.
Some companies, however, claim to already be producing small quantum computers. A Canadian firm, D-Wave Systems , says it has been making quantum computers since 2009. In 2012, it sold a $10 million version to Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, according to news reports. That quantum computer, however, would never be useful for breaking public key encryption like RSA. “Even if everything they’re claiming is correct, that computer, by its design, cannot runShor’s algorithm,” said Matthew Green, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, referring to the algorithm that could be used to break encryption like RSA.
The budget for the National Intelligence Program, commonly referred to as the “black budget,” details the “Penetrating Hard Targets” project and noted that this step “will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.” Another project, called “Owning the Net,” is using quantum research to support the creation of quantum-based attacks on encryptions like RSA, documents show. “The irony of quantum computing is that if you can imagine someone building a quantum computer that can break encryption a few decades into the future, then you need to be worried right now,” Lidar said.
Idaho’s governor says the corrections department will take over operation of the largest privately run prison in the state after more than a decade of mismanagement and other problems at the facility. Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America has contracted with the state to run the prison since it was built in 1997. Taxpayers currently pay CCA $29m per year to operate the 2,080-bed prison south of Boise.
Governor C L “Butch” Otter made the announcement Friday at a preview of the upcoming legislative session. For years, Otter has been a champion of privatizing certain sectors of government, including prisons. In 2008, he floated legislation to change state laws to allow private companies to build and operate prisons in Idaho and import out-of-state inmates. In 2008, he suggested privatizing the 500-bed state-run Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino. The CCA prison has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging rampant violence, understaffing, gang activity and contract fraud by CCA.
CCA acknowledged last year that falsified staffing reports were given to the state showing thousands of hours were staffed by CCA workers when the positions were actually vacant. And the Idaho state police is investigating the operation of the facility for possible criminal activity. A federal judge also has held CCA in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement agreement reached with inmates in a lawsuit claiming high rates of violence and chronic understaffing at the prison. Meanwhile, Idaho prison officials, led by IDOC director Brent Reinke, have lobbied to allow the agency to put together its own proposal and cost analysis for running the prison. Each time, however, Reinke and his staff have been rebuffed by the state board of correction. Recently, board chairwoman Robin Sandy said she opposed the idea because she didn’t want to grow state government.