INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from the Daily Post
Today, hidden from public view and situated underground, they are the secret bunkers of another age.
But while they may largely be forgotten by the public, they have all played a vital role in the nation's history.
For buried deep under the North Wales soil, far from the UK's major cities, they have protected the nation's treasures and its deadliest secrets.
From the hiding of the Crown Jewels and Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces to storing the bouncing bomb and the development of nuclear weapons they formed a protective shield from prying eyes and devastating bombs.
So we have taken a look inside these sites of huge historical interest to look back at some of the UK government’s best kept secrets.
Beyond Manod Quary’s grey slabs of slate is a fascinating story of how millions of pounds worth of British historic masterpieces were kept safe deep underground at the height of World War II.
Across Europe treasured art was looted, bombed and burnt during the war so efforts to protect the country’s most artworks from the Nazi bombs were made by Churchill as soon as war was declared in 1939.
Among the items hidden deep in this Snowdonia mine were 19 Rembrandts, Van Dykes, Leonardo da Vincis and Gainsboroughs, as well as the Crown Jewels.
All the royal pictures from the palaces, the Tate and the National Gallery were also transported to the quarry - disguised in delivery vans for a chocolate company.
As soon as they arrived, purpose-designed squat brick “houses” were built inside the vast chambers to preserve the paintings in air-conditioned and heated safety.
Narrow gauge tracks were extended and specially designed wagons were built to carry the nation’s treasures up the steep hill from Blaenau to the mine.
Two years before the war ended, a rock fall slightly damaged five paintings, resulting in the rapid evacuation of 700 other from that part of the quarry.
After that it was regularly inspected by engineers.
The whole operation was kept top secret until it was eventually revealed after the Government’s lease on the quarry expired.
The masterpieces were returned to the walls in London as soon as peace was declared in 1945.
Manod proved to be so successful that, in the 1950s, it was the planned destination for Britain’s art treasures in the event of a third world war.
Tunnels that housed thousands of mustard gas shell during the height of production in the war years will soon be open to the public for the first time.
These former top secret tunnels at Rhydymwyn Valley Works housed thousands of mustard gas shells during the height of production during the war.
The Valley Works, which now sit in the heart of a nature reserve near Mold, were converted into a mustard gas factory by ICI on the orders of Winston Churchill.
Historians believe workers made up to 40,000 shells a week at the secret plant.
Partially due to its location near dense woodland, Rhydymwyn is the only site of its kind not discovered by the Nazi intelligence and therefore was not a target for German bombers.
But it’s role in Britain’s secret history did not end there. Amateur historians from the Rhydymwyn Valley History Society unearthed proof that the miles of tunnels also served as home to the developers of the first atomic bomb.
The site, now part of a nature reserve, finally closed in 1994 and today, it is considered historically important.
Ten years ago next summer, some of the uninspiring brick buildings were given protected status by Welsh heritage society, CADW.
Rhydymwyn tunnel tours will open to the public in 2018 for five special tours in April, May, June, July and September.
Booking is required. Visit rhydymwynvalleyhistory.co.uk to book.
As soon as World War II was declared, the dissused Glyn Rhonwy slate quarry in the heart of Snowdonia became home to a secret munitions store.
The quarry pits, equivalent to the size of two football pitches, stored around 18,000 tonnes of weapons for the duration of the war.
When an RAF airbase needed ammunition for its planes, an order would be sent through to Glyn Rhonwy and be delivered by road or by rail.
The site consisted of a number of deep open pits, linked together by tunnels.
Narrow gauge railway lines entered the lower level of the depot. It also had an underground depot and was adapted to produce a store with two floors throughout, with electric lifts transporting bombs to the upper floor.
In January 1942, two-thirds of the structure collapsed, burying 14,000 tons of bombs. The majority were recovered and although the remaining tunnels were eventually cleared of debris, no ammunition was ever stored underground at Llanberis again.
Some 30 years later in the 1970s, the site was used to dispose of old and surplus bombs, bullets and grenades.
It was confirmed that 70,000 German tabun nerve agent shells seized following World War II were held at the Llanberis quarry for a short time before they were moved to another facility near Caernarfon, and eventually dumped at sea.
A £100m hydro-electric power plant has recently been given the go head on the site, that has been disused for years.
The scheme will generate electricity by releasing water from a reservoir on higher ground to a second, lower reservoir.
Building work could begin in 2018..
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Reposted from ASIS Online
Elizabeth is a seasoned security officer. She is on her third foot patrol of the night, inspecting the fence line, when she catches her shoe in a wire and falls into a ditch, breaking her wrist. John is on his second day of training when his instructor receives a report of a fight in the lunch room. During the security team’s response, John slips on a drink spilled during the ruckus, falls to the floor, and throws out his back.
Most companies would respond to these injuries by implementing generally accepted preventive measures. They would install extra lighting along the fence. They would issue slip-resistant boots. They would then be satisfied that the safety issues were addressed. But they would be wrong. Unless management proactively works to change the overall culture, the stop-gap measures won’t stick.
Reacting to safety incidents by improving safety policies and procedures is only part of the safety equation. For initiatives to be truly effective, security values must be woven into the fabric of the company’s operations through a safety culture.
A safety culture creates an environment that gives priority to protecting the well-being of employees, customers, and the public, regardless of profit, schedules, or market share. This approach has to start at the CEO’s desk and spread through relationships with senior leadership, human resources, and throughout the management hierarchy.
Management’s level of commitment to the safety culture directly affects the results. In addition, the message that safety is a priority must be pervasive and the safety culture concept must be reinforced through practices and supported through an awards and incentives system.
This is not just theory. I have seen firsthand how such a program can succeed at a large organization with hundreds of offices worldwide and thousands of employees. This priority on safety has been proven to enhance performance and site security at my company. One measure of the results is that our insurance rating has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2004. Also, no employee has missed time from work as the result of a job-related injury for almost six years.
Any company of any size can benefit from these same practices.
Make Safety a Priority
The goal is to have zero incidents. To achieve that objective, safety management must be integrated into the daily operating methodology of every employee at every level. Companies can do this by raising employee’s awareness to ensure that they maintain a proactive attitude towards safety.
Managers throughout the company can raise awareness about safety by holding open meetings on safety topics to address timely issues, such as winter weather hazards or safe lifting techniques. Field managers should conduct a short safety briefing before each shift, reiterating that safe working conditions are the team’s first priority.
In addition, the organization should have posters everywhere with slogans such as “Zero incidents is our goal.” These serve as constant reminders. When delivered correctly, these reminders help motivate the team to achieve zero accidents.
Training is the next plank in a safety culture’s platform. The goal is to equip the entire staff with the knowledge to make smart decisions that keep them, their coworkers, and the assets they are protecting safe.
Safety education and training should start on the first day of the job as a part of orientation, and it should continue for the duration of an employee’s tenure.
During orientation, safety should be the first topic discussed. By giving it priority, the company stresses how important safety is to the corporate ethos.
The employee handbook should prominently cover company safety information, policies, and procedures. Companies should put this section at the front of the publication for the same reason that they should put the topic first on the orientation agenda.
Employees should also be asked to sign a “safety commitment letter” which confirms that they have read and that they understand the handbook’s safety chapter. The letter should commit them to abide by all regulations, identify and correct unsafe practices they encounter, and encourage others to follow the rules.
Videos should be used to demonstrate basic safety scenarios and illustrate how they should be handled. When done properly, this type of presentation grabs the attention of employees and memorably communicates a lot of information in a short period of time.
Initial instruction must be supplemented continuously and enforced constantly to keep lessons fresh in employees’ minds and current with industry developments. Regularly scheduled training updates by in-house safety experts or guest lecturers is a useful tactic.
In any training exercise about procedures and how to use equipment, safety should be a focus of the discussion. The Point is not just to teach employees how to use a piece of machinery or which type of footwear is the best. Rather, the objective is to have safety on the minds of all workers at all times.
The risk of not following procedures should also be highlighted. The more that employees understand about the risks associated with each task, the more they will understand the importance of safety.
Another way to get the message of safety across is to develop a library of one-page safety case studies to reinforce training. These briefs should include a specific safety scenario and provide suggested solutions for handling it. As each new case study is written up, it should be distributed. Management should try to circulate one such document weekly or monthly. Employees should be required to read, sign, and return them.
Once the case studies have been distributed, they should be kept in a central location—in hard copy or electronically on a computer depending on the working environment—so that employees can access them when needed. The signed copies should be retained in employees’ files to document this facet of their awareness training.
Get Site Audits
For employees who work outside the main office, such as security officers, training must be reinforced on location. If the location is a new client site, it should be surveyed for hazards and unsafe or unhealthy conditions. In addition, if the security team is going to a remote office or a client site, it is essential to make sure that those in charge at that site are on the same page when it comes to safety.
The officer should proceed with the assignment only if it is deemed safe—even if that means turning down business in the case of contracted workers. The key point here is that for safety to become a core value, it must trump monetary gains within the corporate culture.
Security officers face potentially unsafe conditions in some of the least expected places. For example, my company provides service in one location where there is a significant amount of truck traffic going through an entry control gate. The physical setup of the gate area was originally configured so that personnel were forced to walk in front of moving vehicles as they approached the gate.
The situation became so severe that the company confronted the client. After discussing the problem, the client reconfigured the gate area. While the client was initially reluctant to do this, causing some friction in the relationship, our managers, through persistence and with supporting data, helped them understand the potential hazards the gate presented. In the end, everyone benefited, including the employees of the client company.
The safety status of a site is not a static phenomenon. Weather conditions, wildlife, and people can quickly change a location’s safety conditions for the worse. To ensure that no new issues have developed at a site, officers should conduct a location audit before each shift. This is an obvious, yet often neglected, practice. As a part of the audit, officers should go through a checklist of items that must be in place before work begins. This could include placing traffic cones at certain spots, salting roadways when icy, and checking the working order of receiving gates. Reviewing this checklist at the start of every shift programs employees to identify the state of their environment and take action to ensure that all areas are safe.
Officers must be taught to stay on alert for more than just security threats. They have to be on the lookout for changes in the environment throughout their shift. When they identify an unsafe condition, they must be empowered to make immediate decisions that neutralize the threat.
For example, if an officer is patrolling a perimeter on foot in the rain and suddenly sees lightning, he should feel free to immediately call his manager and tell him that he needs to find cover and delay the patrol until the storm passes. Though this seems like common sense, an officer told to adhere strictly to the rules may choose to continue the patrol rather than face an irate manager.
Even more importantly, officers must feel free to question conditions, procedures, and requirements that strike them as unsafe. They must be able to offer ideas for corrective actions. These freedoms motivate officers to assume leadership roles in maintaining safety and becoming safety advocates in the process.
Companies can enhance safety by making job-hazard analysis part of the daily routine. This process encourages officers to notify each other of unsafe conditions or habits they observe. In the earlier case of John, who slipped on a wet floor during a skirmish, a coworker might have prevented John’s fall if the coworker had been encouraged to keep an eye on fellow officers and had subsequently suggested that John wear anti-slip boots when on duty.
Peer support can also include a buddy system. Managers can pair two officers and make each responsible for the team being equipped with proper safety gear before their shift. Together, these techniques instill situational awareness and reinforce responsibility.
An essential component of an effective safety culture is fostering an open, honest environment. Executives must be kept abreast of problems and how officers and managers are solving them or failing to respond. People must be accountable not only for making mistakes but also for failing to report mistakes they observe.
Officers must be required to report to their supervisor the safety status of their site as well as any injuries sustained in the field. Reporting “near misses” is as important as reporting actual accidents, because by examining the underlying cause and implementing a fix, the company may prevent the next accident.
For example, in the prior case of the poorly configured gate, the company used the reported “near misses” to prove that the area was dangerous. It did not wait for a fatality to show that safety was a real concern.
In another instance, officers were required to manually open a gate for incoming and outgoing traffic. This procedure required that the officer swing the gate open and closed. As we continued our efforts to raise awareness about safety, the officers at this site began reporting “near miss” incidents. Each time they closed the gate, their fingers came very close to being crushed between the gate and the post that held the gate closed.
Site supervisors examined the problem and verified that someone could have their fingers severely damaged by the gate if they did not remove their hand quickly enough. The client agreed to fix the problem. Until then, supervisors instructed all personnel on the proper technique for closing the gate. The gate was reconfigured shortly after to ensure that there was no way that anyone could be injured while opening or closing the gate.
As another way to further communication, field managers should provide updates for safety directors and executive leadership. Monthly conference calls are an easy way to do this. Managers can provide briefs on the safety status of their locations, including injuries sustained, challenges encountered, solutions developed, and lessons learned. They can also encourage discussion and solicit ideas to deal with unresolved problems.
Ideally, a representative from the company’s workers’ compensation office should participate in these calls. He or she can discuss costs related to injuries, report on safety trends, and note any location that is incurring higher rates of injuries. The team can then discuss how these trends are affecting the company, and formulate actions to address them.
Another simple, yet highly effective tool is a 24-hour, toll-free safety hotline. This gives officers a direct route by which to report safety concerns and violations to senior management. The hotline provides officers with a way to give reports anonymously, thus simultaneously addressing safety issues and issues with managers who are not listening to their officers.
An awards and incentives program can be instrumental in cultivating a companywide safety culture and keeping people interested in it. Incentives need not be expensive or extravagant. Small recognitions are often enough to maintain employee interest.
One idea is a company-sponsored luncheon for people who work accident-free for some period of time. The time period should be long enough to make the achievement worthwhile but not so long that officers forget the reward exists. A financial quarter or six months is a good length of time. Locations that are incident-free for a year can be honored with a dinner and a plaque.
Field managers can also give “spot awards” to officers when they observe them going above and beyond their safety duties. These might include a monetary reward or promotional gift item.
Another good option is using the company’s annual meeting to applaud safety performance. Giving the employees who have excelled at safety a chance to share the stage with top executives can boost morale and confidence.
Company newsletters, e-mail feeds, and blogs can also provide good ways to recognize individuals and teams that have performed exceptionally well. These vehicles can be used to pass on advice and lessons learned from real-world situations.
Contract security officers should be included in the incentives program. For example, they can be given plaques to honor a month, a quarter, or a year without a lost-time incident.
Activities that foster critical thinking about safety and also include a reward should be encouraged. For example, in my company, managers often hold a “two-minute drill.” When officers arrive on site, they fill out a form that asks, “What’s the worst-case safety scenario that could happen to you and others here in the next two minutes?” Field managers collect the forms and review them at the end of the month. Officers with the most creative, yet plausible, responses receive a reward.
Filling out the form puts officers in the safety mind-set, while the incentive encourages them to take the question seriously. They’re motivated to think about their safety and the safety of others and to keep safety top-of-mind as they start the day.
Send It Home
A safety culture should not start and end at the workplace. When safety is part of employees’ personal lives, they are more receptive to practicing safety at work. Management, therefore, should encourage employees to be safe wherever they are, whether at home, traveling, or at work.
Toward this end, the company should incorporate home-safety education into workplace training. This can be done by having a brief discussion of a home-safety topic during company meetings. Possible topics include how to prepare your family to evacuate the home in a fire, how to secure your home against burglary, and what to do about carbon monoxide detection and radon testing.
The company can disseminate this safety information through all standard communication vehicle, such as flyers and newsletters.
My company uses all of these methods and the proof of the safety culture’s effectiveness is in the numbers. Last year, the security department reached a milestone of more than 34 million hours worked without an employee losing time from work due to an incident.
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Reposted from Reuters
Southern California’s Getty Center, one of the world’s wealthiest art institutions, said it had survived a wildfire tearing through Los Angeles thanks to a disaster plan that has it ready for earthquakes as well.
Fires that have chased almost 200,000 Californians from their homes covered the Getty’s hillside location in smoke this week. Perched above the busy 405 freeway, an artery of California’s traffic system, the Getty is among the most visited U.S. museums and reopened after two days closed.
The Getty’s design, and a plan developed with insurers eager to keep the valuable collection safe, helped shield from damage art including Edouard Manet’s “Spring,” for which it paid more than $65 million in 2014.
More than 5,700 firefighters have battled six large wind-stoked fires and several smaller ones that erupted since Monday. More than 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
As gray clouds swept onto the campus earlier in the week, a high-tech air filtration system pushed air out of buildings, making it harder for smoke to seep inside, said Linda Somerville, assistant director of insurance and risk management for the J. Paul Getty Trust, which oversees the Getty Center and has nearly $12 billion in assets, including art.
The museum has its own water tanks and has landscaped the complex in order to keep flames at bay.
“By putting all these bells and whistles in, we are able to wet down our hillsides, close intake valves and keep smoke and debris out,” Somerville said.
Getty representatives meet quarterly with U.S. commercial property insurer FM Global, the Getty’s insurer, to review everything from brush on the property to sprinkler system design, Somerville said.
The Getty, which opened in 1997, also works year-round at preventing potential earthquake damage, Somerville said.
Art and display cases throughout the museum sit atop systems that absorb the energy of earthquake vibrations, known as base isolators. And experts who repair art and artifacts in the Getty’s conservation labs must secure the items to stable surfaces in case an earthquake hits.
“Everything is latched down at all times,” Somerville said.
Reposted from Campus Safety Magazine
On the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, here’s a brief review of active shooter prevention and response best practices.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook school active shooter attack. Most of us can probably remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we learned that a deranged gunman had opened fire on the campus, killing 20 6- and 7-year-old students and six adults.
Since then, the body count of U.S. active shooter attacks has escalated. The lethality of some of these recent attacks and their frequency is so significant that the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting that killed 13 people is no longer among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in history.
Although this trend is terrifying, there is some good news to report. More schools, universities and hospitals are taking steps to protect their campuses from active shooters.
Case in point, the gunman responsible for the Nov. 14 rampage that killed five in Northern California was thwarted from killing anyone at Rancho Tehama Elementary School because staff quickly locked down the campus and had everyone shelter in place when they heard the gunfire. Surveillance video shows the shooter trying unsuccessfully to enter the campus, although he did fire many shots at the building, injuring a student who was hiding under a desk. The quick actions of school personnel undoubtedly saved lives.
The Nov. 14 rampage serves as another reminder that we must continue to incorporate into our protective measures the lessons from the Sandy Hook mass shooting, not to mention the lessons from the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy.
Here’s a list of some of the promising practices, in no particular order, that we’ve gleaned over the years. Hopefully, your campus has already implemented all or at least many of these steps.
This list is not complete and each item is multifaceted. That being said, sometimes we need to go back to the basics. This is especially true for folks who are new to the field of school, hospital and university security, but it’s also true for those of us who might have forgotten.
I urge you to never forget the lessons we learned from Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and other campus tragedies. Otherwise, we’ll need to be reminded, and that reminder could be deadly.
Reposted from 9 News Australia
A Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece which was valued just over $100m ten years ago is now being touted as the first painting in the world that could fetch $1bn at auction.
The staggering 10-figure price tag is viewed in art circles as entirely possible, following last month's sale of Leonardo's Salvator Mundi for a world record $591m.
Of the 20 Leonardo Da Vinci paintings thought to be in existence, all except two are held by the world's most famous and powerful art museums.
One of those works, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, painted by Leonardo in the early 16th century, is privately owned by one of Britain's wealthiest aristocrats - Richard Scott, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch.
The art world is now wondering if the duke, who is Scotland's largest landowner, will be tempted to put his prized treasure on the auction block.
The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, a small 48cm x 37cm canvas featuring a seated Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, has been a possession in the duke's family for around 250 years.
However, in 2003 the painting went missing for four years, after two men armed with a knife and axe stole it from the duke's Drumlanrig castle, near Dumfries. Drumlanrig Castle was used as a set in the popular British-American television drama series, Outlander.
The two men had posed as tourists wanting to see the duke's collection of paintings, which is thought to be the UK's most valuable private holding.
Alison Russell, an 18-year-old tour guide, described how the art thieves had been waiting outside the castle for the doors to open, one morning in August 2003.
The pair ignored all the other paintings and galleries inside the castle, and instead rushed Ms Russell towards the room where the duke's prized centrepiece was hung.
Once there, one of the men grabbed her and held a knife to her throat. The other stood guard by the painting with an axe, warning Ms Russell's co-workers to stay away.
They removed the Leonardo painting from the wall, and escaped out a window.
The biggest art theft in British history remained an unsolved mystery until 2007 when a man named Marshall Ronald contacted the duke, saying he knew where the Leonardo was and could arrange its return for a fee of almost $10m.
That led to two undercover police, who posed as an art expert and the duke's representative, meeting with Ronald, an English lawyer.
It was agreed the Leonardo would be taken to a law firm in Glasgow, where a second meeting was raided by police and the painting returned to the Duke of Buccleuch.
The Madonna of the Yarnwinder is currently on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Jaynie Anderson, a professor of fine arts at the University of Melbourne, said Leonardo's Madonna of the Yarnwinder was a "much more beautiful painting" than the Salvator Mundi.
The Salvator Mundi, showing Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes holding a crystal sphere, was significantly damaged, and it had required extensive restoration work at a New York City studio.
"I'm amazed at the price the Salvator Mundi went for," Prof Anderson said.
"The face is very damaged. And I think the fact that the face of Christ is damaged sort of inhibits you really liking the picture."
Some art critics had also doubted the authenticity of Salvator Mundi in the lead up to last month's Christie's auction. In contrast, Prof Anderson said the provenance of Leonardo's Madonna of the Yarnwinder was "impeccable".
"It is an important composition and a very interesting proposition for auction," Prof Anderson said.
"If it went up for sale I think it could go for much more than the Salvator Mundi. It is a much more beautiful painting, a far more sexy painting."
An auction would inevitably attract big money bidders from Chinese billionaires, Russian oligrachs and Middle East royals. However, such is the rarity and allure of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, Prof Anderson believed American billionaires and museums could also be prompted into action.
"There is competition between elite museums to make the best acquisitions," Prof Anderson said.
"The fact it is now on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland might mean that the Duke of Buccleuch intends to gift it to them when he dies. But that is an awful lot of money, so he is probably thinking about it. And if he isn't, the big auction houses like Christie's most certainly will be."
As well as the scarcity of Leonardo's works, Prof Anderson said the Italian artist, who was born in 1452, had never gone out of fashion – unlike other famous painters.
"Leonardo is very sympathetic. Everybody is fascinated with him as a personality," Prof Anderson said.
Prof Anderson, an expert in Italian Renaissance art, described Leonardo as a melancholic, neurotic and beautiful man, and likened his appeal to Shakespeare's Hamlet.
"When he walked down the street his contemporaries said you couldn't stop staring at him."
Leonardo was not a prolific painter, but he was constantly drawing and writing, she added.
"Contemporaries describe him working on The Last Supper, and how he spent ages just staring at it and not doing anything."
It was confirmed last week that Salvator Mundi will hang at The Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
There is a second version of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, which is likely the only other Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands.
The identity of the owner is unknown, but it is believed to be an American collector.
Reposted from NewsLetter
The Ulster Museum is taking no risks after putting on display a painting by a Dutch master that has been stolen three times. There was a visible security presence as the museum unveiled The Cornfield by Jacob van Ruisdael which was stolen from the same stately home in Co Wicklow three times between 1974 and 2002 but recovered on each occasion.
Acquired more than a century ago by Sir Otto Beit, the piece joined a considerable collection of Old Master works assembled by his relative, the diamond magnate Alfred Beit. In 1930, the collection passed to his son Sir Alfred Lane Beit – a former British MP – who relocated it some 20 years later to Russborough House where The Cornfield hung in the saloon alongside other Dutch paintings. The painting was stolen from Russborough House for the first time in 1974 by an IRA gang.
The gang broke into the property making off with 19 paintings including the van Ruisdael. All of the stolen paintings were recovered in Co Cork a few weeks later. In 1986, the house was robbed again, this time by the Dublin criminal Martin Cahill nicknamed The General. He took the van Ruisdael as part of a heist of 18 paintings. However, The Cornfield was recovered days after the robbery.
A 1998 film about Cahill’s exploits starred Brendan Gleeson and featured the infamous theft of the paintings from Russborough House. In 2002 The Cornfield was once again stolen from the stately home along with four other paintings. They were recovered three months later. Since then the painting has been acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme and allocated to National Museums Northern Ireland where it was today unveiled in the Ulster Museum. The acceptance of this painting settled tax worth £1million.
Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI, said: “We are thrilled that The Cornfield by Jacob van Ruisdael has been given to National Museums NI for all our visitors to enjoy. “The Ulster Museum holds a small but important collection of 17th century Dutch paintings and the undisputed beauty of The Cornfield, an important work from the Beit collection, will significantly enhance this collection. “I have no doubt that this beautiful painting will captivate visitors to the Ulster Museum.” The Cornfield by Jacob van Ruisdael will be on display in the Life and Light Dutch and Italian Painting exhibition at the Ulster Museum. Admission to the museum is free.
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Reposted from the Evening Standard
The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit, disbanded in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, has been re-formed after fears London was at risk from an increase in the theft and fraud of cultural items.
Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 the entire art crime squad was disbanded and seconded to help with the inquiry.
Now the unit’s detective constables Ray Swan and Sophie Hayes have returned to the department joining new supervisor, detective sergeant Rob Upham. A third detective constable is due to join the team in the next few months.
Upham, speaking to Antiques Trade Gazette said: “We’ve already started instigating investigations, have already yielded one arrest and from another investigation have recovered two paintings, previously reported stolen.”
Upham recently joined from the Met’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command. The art crime squad had been without a lead since Claire Hutcheon left in March 2016.
A Met police spokesman confirmed that the “Met’s Art and Antiques Unit has been reformed” and a third team member will join as soon as possible.
Specialising in tackling the theft and fraud of cultural items, art and antiques, the unit is responsible for the London Stolen Art Database - cataloguing the details of 54,000 stolen works.
The unit has been temporarily closed in the past, for instance following the July 2005 bombings. However, this year there were fears it would be permanently closed due to budgetary pressures on the Met.
Speaking during the summer, former Met Police art crime detective Dick Ellis raised concerns of a "vacuum (being) left in Europe's largest art market".
He said the effective investigation of crimes relating to the “burglary of art and antiques, international cultural property theft, fraud and money laundering” are all directly impacted by the lack of a dedicated police unit. He highlighted that in contrast to the UK, the US had trained 400 officers since 2007 and the FBI has 16 special agents on its art crime team.
Six months on from the fire that claimed 71 lives, the Grenfell inquiry began a two day hearing this week to examine issues such as witness statements and timetables. The hearing of evidence will begin next year.
Reposted from Computer Weekly
The new generation of cyber criminals increasingly resembles traditional mafia organizations, requiring a new approach to dealing with it, according to a report by security firm Malwarebytes.
Cyber criminals have the same professional organization as mafia gangs of the 1930s, but they also share a willingness to intimidate and paralyze victims, the report shows.
Malwarebytes’ analysis also shows that, in spite of acknowledging the severe reputational and financial risks of cyber crime, many business leaders greatly underestimate their vulnerability to such attacks.
The report calls for businesses and consumers to fight back by acting as “vigilantes” through greater collective awareness, knowledge sharing and proactive defenses. This includes a shift from shaming businesses that have been hacked to engaging with them and working together to fix the problem.
Businesses must also heighten their awareness of cyber crime, and take a realistic view towards the likelihood of attack. The vast impacts of these attacks, the report said, mean that cyber crime must be elevated from a tech issue to a business-critical consideration.
Malwarebytes’ data demonstrates the urgent need for such a shift in approach by highlighting the capacity of these fast-maturing gangs to inflict greater damage on businesses.
The new cyber mafia, the report said, is accelerating the volume of attacks, with the average monthly volume of attacks in 2017, up 23% compared with 2016. In the UK, the report said 28% of businesses had experienced a “serious” cyber attack in the past 12 months.
Ransomware attacks detected by Malwarebytes show that the number of attacks in 2017 from January to October was 62% greater than the total for 2016.
In addition, detections are up 1,989% since 2015, reaching hundreds of thousands of detections in September 2017, compared with fewer than 16,000 in September 2015. In 2017, ransomware detections rose from 90,351 in January to 333,871 in October.
“The new mafia, identified by our report, is characterized by the emergence of four distinct groups of cyber criminals: traditional gangs, state-sponsored attackers, ideological hackers and hackers-for-hire,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes.
“Through greater vigilance and a comprehensive understanding of the cyber crime landscape, businesses can support the efforts of legislators and law enforcement, while also taking matters into their own hands.”
Crime comes ‘full circle’
Malwarebytes argues that the growth of cyber crime and a lack of clarity over how best to police it is damaging victim confidence, with those affected by cyber crime often too embarrassed to speak out.
This is true for consumers and businesses alike, the report said, and can have dangerous ramifications as firms bury their heads in the sand instead of working to reduce future incidents.
The report suggests that the answer lies in engaging and educating the C-suite so that CEOs are as likely as IT departments to recognize the signs of an attack and be able to respond appropriately.
“The most damaging cyber attacks to businesses are the ones that go undetected for long stretches of time. In spite of high-profile occurrences over the past year, this report shows that many business executives may still have some knowledge gaps to fill,” said Kleczynski.
“CEOs will soon have little choice but to elevate cyber crime from a technology issue to a business-critical consideration,” he said.
The report concludes by looking at the future of cyber crime, arguing that the internet of things (IoT) will enable crime to come full circle, so that rather than a downtown shooting, executions can be enacted digitally – for instance, by hacking an internet-enabled pacemaker.
However, Malwarebytes believes that if such attacks can be foreseen, governments should be able to legislate against them.
The report concludes that knowledge, awareness and intelligence are the best weapons against the new gangs of cyber crime, and that individuals and businesses have to play an important role alongside law enforcement agencies governments and other bodies.
“Rather than sit back and minimize the blow from cyber crime, individuals and businesses must take the same actions that previous generations of vigilantes once did against the fearsome syndicates of their day: fight back,” the report said.
The report, The new mafia: gangs and vigilantes – a guide to cybercrime for CEOs, features original data and insight taken from a global panel of experts from a variety of disciplines including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Leeds University, University of Sussex, the Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling in India and the University of North Carolina.
Reposted from Mail & Guardian
The national museum of the Central African Republic has seen better days.
Located on one of the diagonal dirt roads that bisect the boulevards in Bangui, the museum is housed in a ramshackle double-storey building that used to be the residence of Barthélemy Boganda, the country’s first president.
Today, the building is falling apart. The walls are cracking, the window frames are warped, and the cream and mud-brown paint job is peeling off. Worst of all, the roof leaks, endangering thousands of priceless historical artifacts.
It’s Abel Kotton’s job to preserve and, eventually, display those artifacts. He is the director of the museum, with a mandate to catalogue the collection, and turn the museum once again into a proud showcase of Central African history.
It is a daunting task. “This museum is the country’s ancestral heritage. It’s meant to bring the country together. But right now, it’s closed,” he said.
His office is on the ground floor, his simple wooden desk perched in front of a stone wall. The wall itself, patterned to resemble leopard print, is a relic of an altogether more ostentatious era.
Opened in 1966, the museum brought together items of artistic, cultural or archaeological significance from all 16 of the country’s provinces. But in 2014, as civil war broke out — an ongoing conflict — the exhibits were hastily boxed up to prevent looting or damage. The museum was shuttered and has yet to reopen its doors, despite the fading sign outside that proclaims that opening hours are from 9am to 3.30pm.
Kotton has a lot of work to do. “First, we have to fix the leaks. Then secure the windows. Eventually, we want to build a new foyer to welcome visitors, maybe a coffee shop for refreshments and a souvenir shop so you can buy something on your way out.
“And we need a website. Museums must be virtual these days. Have you ever heard of a museum without a website?”
Kotton estimates that the complete overhaul will cost 70‑million CFA francs ($126 440). “We’re looking for partners who can help us rehabilitate the museum,” he says.
The crates in which the collection was so hastily stored are upstairs. They look like oversized wooden coffins, and there are dozens and dozens of them. Many of the pieces inside have lost their labels; it will be difficult, if not impossible, to catalogue them again.
The few that have been unpacked, however, reveal an extraordinary wealth of history.
The artifacts include Puehl milk containers, traditional handmade rifles, a collection of cooking utensils from the marginalized Pygmy community and all kinds of traditional jewelry. There are one-of-a-kind tools, decorations and souvenirs from all over the country, and from each of its many ethnicities, all gathering dust and in danger of decay from being exposed to rain and humidity.
In one corner, a taxidermied gorilla stands tall; in another, the official imperial emblem of Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa leans casually against the wall.
“That’s why I won’t authorize you to take photographs up here,” says Kotton. “To have the imperial emblem on the floor like that strips the emperor of his dignity. We are working here to restore the dignity of our history.”
Outside, in the museum’s unkempt, untended garden, Kotton dares to imagines what his museum could become. “In time, this will be a proper museum,” he says. “People will be coming here from all over the country. Muslims, Christians — it doesn’t matter; they will come here to learn.”
But now, with so much work still to be done, Kotton’s vision feels far from reality. “The museum itself is a display case,” he says. “A display case for a country.”
As it stands, the national museum’s display is disorganized, damaged and in grave danger of further deterioration. It’s an all-too-apt metaphor for the country itself.
Reposted from St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A cybersecurity audit of five major St. Louis cultural institutions announced last year is facing delays due to, well, security concerns.
The board of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District approved moving forward with the plan in August 2016. It would test the vulnerability of each member institution — the Missouri Botanical Garden, the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Science Center — to cyberattacks by would-be hackers.
Private and public institutions globally are increasingly focused on the threat of cyberattacks, but testing their defenses presents its own security issues. Missouri Botanical Garden spokeswoman Katie O’Sullivan said information about deficiencies in an institution’s security systems “is highly confidential and could subject the Garden to hacking of our systems if generally distributed.”
The audit would evaluate the institutions’ information technology systems, the software already in place and current safety policies. But doing so would require a consultant to access information and systems that the institutions say could make them vulnerable if not handled properly.
“We’re happy to help and support this idea, but these are complex organizations,” St. Louis Science Center President and CEO Bert Vescolani said. “We just want to make sure we’re protecting everyone’s privacy in the appropriate way and doing all due diligence to get everything done that needs to get done.”
That includes protecting information on donors that the institutions wouldn’t want leaked, as well as information on the strengths and vulnerabilities of each of their cybersecurity systems. These and other issues have led to roughly a year of talks with consultant BDO USA, the five institutions and the ZMD Board, which divides $70 million in St. Louis city and county property tax money among the five institutions annually.
A final contract hasn’t been hammered out, but Zoo Museum District board chairman Thomas Campbell said it could be done before the end of December. On-site visits by the consultant would be made in the first months of 2018 and reports might be finished by midyear, Campbell said.
Some of the terms requested by the member institutions include limiting who has access to the results of each audit and terminating the consultant’s contract immediately once the work is finished. Representatives say these changes would cut the risk of leaks.
“We requested that the deliverables only be supplied to us so we can ensure they remain confidential,” Missouri History Museum spokeswoman Leigh Walters said. “Information related to our cybersecurity could be misused. If they present the information in a ZMD meeting, we asked that it go into closed session.”
O’Sullivan and Walters said Zoo Museum District staff informed the Botanical Garden and the History Museum that their requested changes were acceptable.
“We are awaiting a revised copy of the agreement from the ZMD which we plan to sign,” O’Sullivan said.
Most of the institutions already do their own cybersecurity assessments at least once a year, those interviewed said. Zoo spokesman Billy Brennan said the organization has cyber consultants testing their systems “on a regular basis.”
Brennan said the zoo is concerned about whether the ZMD audit unnecessarily duplicates services the zoo now gets from its consultants , but did not elaborate.
“We’re currently working with the ZMD to negotiate this agreement and since that’s where it’s currently at, it would be premature to talk about any details at this time,” Brennan said.
The St. Louis Art Museum would only provide one sentence in response to questions about its concerns with the cybersecurity audit: “The Museum regularly monitors its systems and is continually working to ensure the security of its data.”
Campbell said he expects the final contract to allay the institutions’ concerns. He said even the Zoo Museum District board will only see some of the findings by the consultant, while detailed reports on each member will be distributed solely to those institutions.
“We’ll have some information, it’ll be limited,” Campbell said. “But again, the interest is making sure these organizations are in no way inadvertently compromised.”
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