INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Help Net Security
The number of phishing attacks continued to rise into the autumn of 2019, according to APWG.
The total number of phishing sites detected in July through September 2019 was 266,387. This was up 46 percent from the 182,465 seen in the second quarter of 2019, and almost double the 138,328 seen in Q4 2018.
“This is the worst period for phishing that the APWG has seen in three years, since the fourth quarter of 2016,” said Greg Aaron, APWG Senior Research Fellow and President of Illumintel.
In addition to the increase in phishing volume, the number of brands that were attacked by phishers in Q3 was also up notably. APWG contributor MarkMonitor saw attacks against more than 400 different brands (companies) per month in Q3, versus an average of 313 per month in Q2.
Stefanie Wood Ellis, Anti-Fraud Product & Marketing Manager at MarkMonitor, noted: “The top targeted industries are largely consistent with previous quarters. Webmail and SaaS sites remained the biggest targets of phishing.”
Meanwhile, “Business e-mail compromise” or BEC scams remained highly damaging. These attacks target employees who have access to company finances or valued data assets, usually by sending them email from fake or compromised email accounts (a spear phishing attack).
According to APWG contributing member Agari, 40 percent of BEC attacks use a domain name registered by a scammer. These domains are often variations of a trusted, existing company name, meant to fool unwary victims. In the third quarter, attacks involving wire transfers from victims were for an average of $52,325.
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Reposted from BBC News
Firefighters battled the flames for more than 10 hours, extinguishing them by Thursday afternoon. No injuries have been reported so far.
The wooden castle, built 500 years ago, was almost completely destroyed during World War Two.
The current structure is a reconstruction.
The castle served as a campus for Okinawa's largest public university until the 1970s, and has been a popular tourist attraction since.
The fire started just before 02:40 local time on Thursday (17:40 GMT Wednesday). It is still unclear what might have triggered it.
More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene, but one police officer said fire fighters struggled to contain the fire due to strong winds.
"The many wooden structures and the [recently reapplied] lacquer may have also had an effect," the unidentified officer told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Shuri Castle, which was was once the seat of the Ryukyu dynasty, sits on top of a hill overlooking the city of Naha - Okinawa's capital - and is surrounded by curved stone walls.
One resident said the castle was seen as "god-like".
"To us, the Shuri Castle is a god-like existence," 84-year-old Toyoko Miyazato told the Asahi Shimbun. "I am so sad I don't know what to say."
According to Okinawa's tourism site, the castle burned down three times during the Ryukyu Dynasty and was again destroyed in World War Two during the Battle of Okinawa.
Until Thursday's incident it was the largest wooden building in Okinawa.
The castle had been scheduled as a stop on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay route.
Reposted from the New York Times
Anticipating a surge in racist and hate-fueled attacks during the 2020 race, officials are speaking more frankly about politically motivated violence.
As a group of prominent black pastors listened, the top federal prosecutor in northern Ohio, Justin E. Herdman, spoke recently at Mount Zion church about the prospect that a gunman could target one of their congregations.
The subtext was clear. Mr. Herdman is among a group of federal law enforcement officials who have begun speaking more forthrightly about fighting domestic terrorism from the front lines. They want to reassure a skeptical public that the Justice Department is forcefully combating racist and politically motivated violence in the Trump era, amid their own mounting concerns about a possible surge in attacks sparked by the 2020 election.
“When I sit in church,” Mr. Herdman told the pastors, “I have one eye on what’s going on at the altar, and I have got one eye on the entrance to the sanctuary.”
“Mm-hmm,” the pastors responded in unison.
The community relations effort is the most visible of several aggressive steps by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to combat domestic terrorism. The bureau has about 850 open investigations across the United States. Prosecutors have backed rewriting the laws on domestic terrorism. And in northern Ohio, Mr. Herdman has encouraged his investigators to use wiretaps, one of their most intrusive tools, in such cases.
Their efforts show how federal law enforcement officials are fighting domestic terrorism and its underlying ideologies, including white nationalism and neo-Nazism, as they navigate not only demands to do more to stop high-profile mass shootings but also limits on their power, like First Amendment protections for hate speech.
At the church in Oakwood Village, a middle-class suburb southeast of Cleveland, Mr. Herdman was joined by the area’s top F.B.I. agent, Eric B. Smith, who expressed concern that the bitter divisions that have colored the nation’s political discourse will only worsen in an election year and could stoke more violence.
“One of the great concerns for us in the upcoming year is this domestic terrorism threat,” Mr. Smith said. “People are simply conducting acts of terror because it’s their side.”
Investigators discovered an AR-15 military-style assault rifle, World War II-era Nazi propaganda and a Hitler Youth knife in the basement of the suspect, 20-year-old James P. Reardon of New Middletown.
Evoking recent mass shootings, Mr. Herdman denounced Mr. Reardon and his toxic views, describing Nazism and racial superiority as failed ideologies.
“Threatening to kill Jewish people, gunning down innocent Latinos on a weekend shopping trip, planning and plotting to perpetrate murders in the name of a nonsense racial theory, sitting to pray with God-fearing people who you execute moments later — those actions don’t make you soldiers, they make you criminals,” Mr. Herdman said.
His words resonated. Letters, phone calls and emails poured in. “Thank you for so accurately describing the limits of fanaticism,” wrote Larry Schwarz, who is Jewish and lives in Hatboro, Pa. “I have never heard the case made so eloquently and so cogently.”
Mr. Herdman explained in an interview why he was compelled to speak out. “I wanted to lay down the marker,” he said. “I couldn’t let it go unsaid what the position of our office is.”
Mr. Reardon’s case is one of dozens that Mr. Herdman’s office has pursued in recent months. The F.B.I.’s Cleveland field office, which has a dedicated domestic terrorism squad, plans to add more investigators soon.
Mr. Herdman has encouraged his investigators to work aggressively, including using wiretaps to thwart domestic terrorists. Investigators must clear a high bar to start a wiretap; it requires the approval of a federal judge, and prosecutors must show that less invasive methods have failed or likely would.
Mr. Herdman’s office has charged others with making threats against federal law enforcement officers and against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York and a frequent target of conservative criticism.
Those arrests came after a man opened fire in August in a nightclub on the other side of the state, in Dayton, gunning down nine people and wounding 19. The gunman possibly embraced troubling beliefs, including anti-government, racist and misogynist views, according to a law enforcement official.
Civil liberty and Muslim advocacy groups have accused the government of being slow to recognize the deadly threat as investigators focused heavily on Islamic terrorists.
“For too long, the F.B.I. was myopically targeting Muslims as potential terrorists,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School. “It is now feeling pressure from Congress and the public to address white nationalist violence, so we are seeing a wave of investigations and prosecutions.”
Around the country, federal law enforcement officials have vocally taken on domestic terrorism. Thomas T. Cullen, the top prosecutor in the Western District of Virginia and a Trump appointee, has moved aggressively to convict white supremacists who break the law.
He prosecuted James Fields Jr., the avowed white supremacist from Ohio who steered his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of protesters near a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, killing a young woman and injuring dozens. As Mr. Fields was sentenced in June to life in prison, Mr. Cullen said his attack was “motivated by this deep-seated racial animus.”
Mr. Cullen has targeted local members of a Southern California-based violent white supremacist group, the Rise Above Movement. Two regions of growing concern are the West Coast and the states around the Great Lakes, where the F.B.I. has seen more arrests than in other parts of the country.
Other prosecutors in Virginia as well as in Florida and Los Angeles have also targeted white supremacists.
Agents have also ramped up activity against members of Atomwaffen, one of the most violent extremist groups in the country, arresting suspected members on gun charges and asking a local judge to seize the weapons of one in the Seattle area because he was a risk to the public.
The group, which has dozens of members across the country, wants to start a race war in the United States, according to the F.B.I. The bureau is also concerned about an Atomwaffen offshoot, Feuerkrieg Division.
Federal prosecutors have backed a domestic terrorism bill that they say could aid in investigations, but the effort has stalled at the White House, a Justice Department official said.
Any legislation also would probably face stiff resistance from civil rights activists over its First Amendment implications. An existing federal statute defines domestic terrorism roughly as people trying to use political violence to intimidate others but carries no penalties.
The F.B.I. made 107 domestic terrorism-related arrests in the fiscal year that ended in September, a total roughly consistent with recent years.
“Certainly, the most lethality in terms of terrorist attacks over the recent years here in the homeland has been on the domestic terrorism side,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, told lawmakers last month. Just days after his testimony, the F.B.I. charged a white supremacist in Colorado with plotting to blow up a synagogue.
Though he and other senior law enforcement officials have spoken out about the rise of hate crimes and political violence, including Attorney General William P. Barr, who condemned both in a July speech on combating anti-Semitism, they stand out somewhat in terms of how the politics of fighting domestic terrorism have played out in Washington.
President Trump has stoked race-based fears and praised “both sides” after the deadly Charlottesville attack. He also continues to lend credibility to white nationalists and anti-Muslim bigots by amplifying suspect accounts on Twitter, according to an investigation by The New York Times.
But after years of prodding, the Department of Homeland Security finally affirmed in September that domestic terrorism was a national security threat while earlier this year, the F.B.I. established a domestic terrorism-hate crimes fusion cell.
The Justice Department should also craft and make public a strategy to combat white nationalist violence, Ms. Patel said, adding that the government does not necessarily need new laws to fight domestic terrorism, just new priorities.
In Ohio, Mr. Herdman expects extremism to persist. “Just based on the trend line, I don’t see where it goes down,” he said.
He has prosecuted cases associated with a mixed bag of ideologies, including anarchists, people obsessed with mass killings and sovereign citizens, who view government as illegitimate.
The F.B.I. late last year arrested Damon M. Joseph, a white supremacist-turned-aspiring-jihadist who was planning to attack a synagogue in the Toledo area. The arrest came weeks after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 worshipers, an attack that Mr. Joseph had praised.
That same week, agents arrested a Toledo couple, Elizabeth Lecron and Vincent Armstrong, both 23, on charges of planning to blow up a bar there. Investigators said Ms. Lecron consumed Nazi literature and was infatuated with mass killers, posting photographs and comments on social media glorifying the Columbine school shooters, who killed 13 and wounded 21 in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, and the man convicted in the killing of nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.
In a journal, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “I have a vision. A vision to kill. To hunt the unwilling.”
Ms. Lecron pleaded guilty in August to providing material support to terrorists, a crime frequently charged in international terrorism cases — but not domestic ones. Mr. Armstrong also pleaded guilty to his role in the thwarted attack.
At the church, Mr. Herdman, who has given the same sober talk to Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, offered a reminder about why the Justice Department was founded after the Civil War: to fight the Ku Klux Klan, whose members have historically terrorized black people and targeted churches.
“We’re here for you,” he told the pastors.
Reposted from City Lab
For high schoolers in Parkland, Florida, going back to class after the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018 meant being on display. The name of their town had become shorthand for a tragedy; their trauma had become fodder for a nation trying to make sense of—and move past, and regulate around—yet another school shooting, which left 17 classmates dead.
Also on display were the contents of their book bags: Over spring break, the school established a rule that students wear clear plastic backpacks instead of conventional ones.
See-through book bags are a school-violence-deterrence tactic that dates back decades. But the MSD teens rebelled against the gear. They told journalists that they hated the beach-ball smell, the uniformity, and the fact that their private belongings—from tampons to medication—were now public. Students turned their bags into stages for protest: They exhibited Spongebob memes (“ravioli ravioli give us the gun controli”), snarky notes (“so when are our clear school uniforms coming in??”), and makeshift prisoner ID badges in them.
AJ Cardenas, then a 19-year-old freshman at Florida State University, created an Instagram account dedicated to sharing photos of backpacks mocking the trend. By soliciting submissions from MSD students, the account—still up at @msdcamo2—became a home for “clear backpack clapbacks.” (Cardenas was never a student at MSD, he says, but knew several people affected by the violence.) “This is not effective: It’s a poor solution, it’s a waste of time and money, and it does not make the students feel secure,” he says. “It feels like the students have had their freedom taken away from them.”
But more than a year later, clear backpacks—like the fears of random violence that they embody—haven’t gone anywhere. Along with active-shooter drills, metal detectors, and visitor’s badges, the transparent accessories are now familiar elements in the security theater that laces the American public education experience.
But what, if anything, do these PVC-scented reminders of The Worst That Could Happen accomplish to improve public safety?
In 1998, a year before the two shooters at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School left 13 dead, fears of school violence in America were on the rise. In December 1997, a 14-year-old high school freshman in West Paducah, Kentucky, took a pistol out of his backpack and opened fire, killing three classmates and injuring several more. That mass shooting was just one in a string of high-profile incidents that had parents and school administrators on edge. In the fall of 1998, President Bill Clinton convened a special White House conference on school safety.
Amid this unease, some schools took pre-emptive action. In June, after “recent and numerous school shootings that occurred throughout America,” Alexandria, Louisiana’s Rapides Parish school district decided to institute a see-through and mesh bag policy for the coming school year. “Clear book bags,” Sarah Crook wrote in Alexandria’s Town Talk newspaper. “Here to stay or gone for good?”
See-through personal accessories were originally about fashion, not safety. Clutches made of lucite plastic emerged in the late 1940s and ‘50s, becoming a glam trend popular among movie stars and Miami Beach vacationers. In the 1990s, the Hollywood Reporter claimed, rave culture had appropriated and democratized plastic totes. Clear bags became obligatory at music festivals like Ultra, as organizers cracked down on the drug-hiding. But in the mass-shooting era, clear bags emerged with a different mission: to help school districts see into their students’ lives.
In Alexandria, the clear backpack rule sent “parents and students into a tail-spin,” the local paper reported. Area businesses rushed to stock their shelves with them; students prepared to part with the regular backpacks their parents had already bought. Two weeks before the start of the school year, the board reversed the decision, first saying they’d let each school decide their own policy, and then putting off the decision entirely until the 1999-2000 school year. By 1999, Town Talk wrote that clear backpacks were “one of the hottest items to hit stores,” according to then-Target executive Brad McPherson. (Target, which now carries clear backpacks emblazoned with college mascots, declined to comment for this article.)
Rapides Parish was hardly the only school debating backpacks and security in the pre-Columbine era. Earlier that decade, some schools had banned backpacks altogether. Grayson, Kentucky’s East Carter High instituted a backpack freeze after a 1993 shooting that killed a teacher, a policy that, as Isabel Fattal wrote in The Atlantic, warped students’ perceptions of what high school was like for years to come. When Nicole Martin, who graduated from East Carter in 2001, had a daughter of her own, she told Fattal she couldn’t believe her school allowed her to carry a backpack at all.
But the Columbine massacre in April 1999 dramatically raised the stakes on school security. The shooters wore trench coats, so some schools banned them; the shooters carried some of thedeadly firearms used in the attack in backpacks and duffel bags, so schools got rid of them, or enforced strict plastic backpack policies.
Other schools have followed. In October, a day after a weapon was found on a high school student in Douglas, Arizona, parents and students in the district were alerted that backpacks would be banned altogether. After a school board meeting, the policy was changed—the only backpacks and bags allowed moving forward would be either clear or measuring smaller than a hand. “Any item that does not meet approved criteria shall be confiscated and returned at the end of the day,” read a Facebook post by the school.
Seeing the growing market potential for see-though gear, Bobby Lin launched The Smarty Co., a heavy-duty clear backpack company, in 2017. Since then, the former Apple engineer has seen business double each year, as more school districts—especially in Southern states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia—turn to the company to fill bulk orders, or to offer backpacks to students who don’t have the means to buy them themselves.
The company doesn’t just supply backpacks; it sells gym bags and lunch bags, and is planning on launching a line of clear purses. The market ranges from correctional officers (who have to carry clear gear on the job) to gym rats (some gyms won’t allow you to put your duffel of equipment on the floor unless it’s in a clear casing) to costume designers (honestly, they just want to be able to see their needles better). After a shooting at California’s annual Gilroy Garlic Festival this summer, transparent picnic bags and totes were nearly all you could see at San Francisco music festivals.
Browsing through Amazon’s clear backpack options, you’ll see dozens of other brands offering similar “stadium approved” gear. “For School, Security, Sporting Events,” they often suggest. Herschel Supply Co., a popular backpack retailer, sells a line of clear plastic models for $50 to $75, and also a clear fanny pack. Urban Outfitters, Target, Walmart, and even Victoria’s Secret sell see-through models.
“From our projections, next year more and more schools and stadiums and public events will start to require them as well,” Lin says. More people are carrying them preemptively, he says, to ease security hassles. Even where they’re not mandated—like at San Francisco’s NBA arena, the Chase Center—“there are people who still wear them because they can just breeze right through security; the personnel don’t have to rummage through their bag.”
At first, the mandates may seem inconvenient, Lin says. Then, you get used to them. “You say, hey, here’s the framework, let’s work within it,” he says. “And then why not have the one that matches your lifestyle or personality?”
That’s also how transparent backpacks are advertised on Vera Bradley’s website: “Three school- and stadium-ready pieces that meet the regulations, but still have all the pops of personality you’d expect from us.” If you have to live in constant low-level fear,you might as well do so in style.
Beyond their aesthetic qualities, clear plastic can be a challenging material for a heavy-duty bag: Based on a survey of online ratings from shoppers, many backpack buyers complain about their flimsiness.“These things suck,” one parent wrote on Reddit. “You’re lucky if your kid can even get thru one semester with this junk. Last year I had to buy 2 and now another.”
And some students do not seem to have warmed to the products. After Texas’ Cypress Fairbanks School District instituted a clear backpack rule last year, it released an FAQ. No, colored backpacks weren’t allowed. Yes, non-transparent athletic bags and instrument cases are allowed, but only if they’re stored immediately upon arriving at school. And no, the policy didn’t constitute a privacy violation. “We understand the concern regarding the privacy of certain items contained within backpacks. Students will be permitted to carry such items in a small makeup pouch or purse within the backpack.”
Not all students were satisfied. Conor Fulbright, a student at the high school, started a Change.org petition addressed to the district’s superintendent, Mark Henry. “While it is much appreciated that the Cy-Fair Administration has been making an effort to protect our children … A clear backpack policy will do nothing but simply increase the risk of another tragedy,” he wrote. “The root of a vast majority of these events is bullying. Exposing the personal items of students will increase bullying, and will inevitably increase the risk of a shooter.” He notes that the policies are easily thwartable, and suggests just enforcing a size limit instead.
Gun safety experts tend to be similarly skeptical of backpack rules. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re useless,” says Michael Dorn, the executive director of the school safety nonprofit Safe Havens International. He’s heard some principals sing the praises of clear backpacks: Once, a child brought a turtle to school, and the principal was able to intervene quickly. “But generally speaking, it’s very easy to conceal weapons in them.”
Pistols and knives can be hidden in transparent bags just as easily as tampons can, he says: Inside tennis shoes, or wrapped up in T-shirts. Musicians could cram a larger gun into a music case, and football players could stuff them in gym bags. “In our experience, most of the students figure out the limitations of them,” says Dorn, whose organization has consulted over 8,000 K-12 schools on safety policies. “They’re not that hard to defeat in relation to the inconvenience they cause.”
He says some schools he advised told him they adoptedclear backpack policiesonly to later drop or loosen them “because they found it was not very effective.” He can’t recall ever advising a client to institute the requirements. “It could help a little bit to speed up screening, but you’d have to do the same things you’d have to do with or without clear bags,” says Dorn. “You have to look inside to see if anything contains a firearm.”
Even back in the pre-Columbine 1990s, kids were raising these concerns. “A clear backpack cannot tell you if a child is meditating something illegal or hurtful, such as bringing a gun to school with the intent to use it,” wrote Patrick Richardson and Norisha Kirts, members of the Town Talk’s Youth Council. “[I]f someone is intent on bringing a weapon to school, they will. Just as plain as that.”
Lin wouldn’t comment on whether or not he thinks they’re effective—there isn’t enough data to say either way, he says.
But the hope among schools that pursue such measures is that, like instituting mandatory visitor screening and metal detectors, forcing people to carry clear bags is a gentle-but-persistent means of discouraging malicious activity. If it’s even a little bit harder to walk into school with a weapon—or with alcohol, which spurs a lot of the more minor stadium altercations, Dorn says—some violence could be quelled.
Backpacks might also have a kind placebo effect that helps ease student anxieties about their classmates: By insisting no one has anything to hide, they could show students just how little there is to fear. Basically, in a nation with 393 million civilian-owned firearms, a clear-backpack rule is better than doing nothing, schools say.
“We understand that no single measure is the answer, but that a layered approach will help in the prevention, identification/intervention and response to potential school threats,” Cypress-Fairbanks Superintendent Henry told CityLab in a statement.
Regardless of their effectiveness, Dorn has a more fundamental objection to these security policies: They address a problem that has long been overstated. School shootings may be framed as an epidemic, but only 1.2 percent of homicides are committed at school. Fears of mass shootings and the increasingly aggressive counter-measures they inspire affect far more people than violence itself, he says. Programs like active-shooter drills have made recruiting teachers more difficult, and could be inflicting psychological trauma on students.
In this atmosphere, clear backpacks might even be making things worse, Dorn says.“It can be very counterproductive to present to people an image of security that is not realistic,” he says. If it fails, the institution is seen as incompetent, and trust in the systems of protection is lost.
“There is a place for physical security, no question about it. However, the human elements—the behavioral training and threat assessment and self-harm assessment processes, etc—those are by far the most reliable,” he says. “What we often see is the more [schools] go for simple solutions—like metal detectors or putting a cop in every school, arming teachers, clear book bags—the less they’re doing the things that are the most important.”
Fulbright, who says only a few hundred people signed his petition when he first posted it last spring, was surprised to see the signatures had now surpassed 10,000. But he’s not surprised that others share his clear-backpack hatred. “I’ve personally gone through seven of them. They snap and they tear,” he says. “They’re completely useless and they just make my life harder.”
Though the Cypress-Fairbanks superintendent says the bags’ intent is to curb gun violence, “I also think there’s another—not necessarily secret, but another reason,” he added, “to reduce the amount of vaping and drugs and whatnot in school.” (It doesn’t stop that, either.)
At Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, students’ frustration has been heeded. When students returned to the classroom in September last year, the clear backpack policy was gone. In its place: metal detectors.
Reposted from Security Security Services USA
The holiday season is here and with it comes the hustle and bustle of the shopping season. Crowded stores and increased traffic can bring out the rudeness in anyone but is even more reason to pause and try to reinforce the holiday sentiment of good cheer by being kind and helpful to others. In this spirit, as you begin your holiday wrapping, Securitas would like to offer a few holiday safety tips.
There are many seemingly insignificant steps we can take to protect ourselves and help ensure the safety of those around us at work, at home and while on the road. Taking a few precautions will help ensure a merry and joyous holiday with friends and family.
Safety in the Festive Workplace
Although they will vary by work location, some practical guidelines can help ensure the safety of all. Refrain from obstructing or obscuring fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and emergency or directional signage with holiday decorations. This can create an unnecessary risk for coworkers, clients, and visitors. End of the year office parties are another area for additional attention. These events can pose additional hazards and consideration must be given to everything from food served—to guard against allergic reactions—to the consumption of alcohol. The latter is one of the top concerns for most managers. Ensuring that coworkers either have a designated driver or a cab ride home can help prevent a tragedy. Additionally, drinking responsibly will also protect you and your coworkers from embarrassing situations that could reflect negatively on you and possibly lead to termination. Even though it is a social setting, make sure you are following all company rules and policies.
Safety in the Holiday Home
A home fire is a frightening event, and the danger of having one increases during the holidays. An average of 210 structure fires occur each year from Christmas trees alone. Both natural and artificial trees pose potential hazards. Dryness of a natural tree and the certification of an artificial tree. Tree placement, types of lights used, and using a timer or remembering to turn off tree lights when going to bed or leaving the house can all reduce the risk of a tree fire. Do not plug multiple extension cords into one outlet. This can overload the circuit and cause a fire risk. There are additional home safety concerns during the holidays. The FBI reports that approximately 400,000 home burglaries occur between the months of November and December. Pay attention to what you throw away. Empty computer and television boxes may draw the attention of would-be thieves. Packages under the tree can also look appealing and make easy targets when viewed through the window. Finally, use caution when posting to social media if you spend the holidays away from home. Drawing attention to the fact that your house is unoccupied can make it a target. A common-sense approach will help protect you and your family.
Our Values, Our Gift
Embracing tolerance and safety in your personal and professional spaces can help spread joy during the holidays. Practice giving the gifts of tolerance and safety to everyone throughout the year. We encourage our employees, clients and the public to adopt and promote these behaviors. Securitas USA believes this can be done by practicing our corporate values of Integrity, Vigilance, and Helpfulness. Our values are our gift. In this spirit, we wish you and your family a joyous and safe holiday season.
Safety on the Road
During the holiday season the combination of weather, the time of year, and normal driving risk factors result in an increase in accidents. One common hazard is distracted driving. This can range from talking on the phone to texting, looking for a parking spot, trying to find a store, or watching the GPS. Any time driving is not the primary focus, the chance of being involved in an accident increases. Let nonessential tasks wait until the car is parked or ask a passenger to assist with those that can’t. Holiday stress can also lead to dangerous driving. People are often in a hurry, trying to beat the rush, or finish last minute shopping. This can compel them to speed or take unnecessary risks. The pressure and stress of the holidays are shared by many, making this a good time to pay extra attention to your driving and be aware of the drivers around you.
Bad weather also increases driving accidents. Allow sufficient travel time when driving in harsh weather conditions. Planning and patience could be the best approach to driving in inclement weather. Maintain a safe following distance to give yourself much needed reaction time. Other helpful strategies include using the time and pacing three seconds rule. Do this by identifying a fixed point down the road— such as a speed limit sign or overpass. When the car in front of you reaches that point, begin counting. If the car you are driving reaches that same location before you reach the specified number, you are following too close. The three seconds rule is recommended in clear, daytime weather driving. However, for night driving, heavy traffic, or inclement weather you should follow the six seconds rule. This increases the amount of reaction time with the car in front of you. If the weather is extremely poor and you lack a clear line of sight, increase the distance to nine seconds. This will provide some of the longest times and distances to react, in the event the car you are following makes a sudden change of speed or direction.
For more information on this and other security related topics, visit the Securitas Safety Awareness Knowledge Center at: http://www.securitasinc.com/en/knowledge-center/security-and-safety-awareness-tips
Reposted from Newsweek
The Getty fire in California is burning the fringes of the Getty Center property, but an official told Newsweek the museum wasn't concerned about its priceless works of art being damaged by the flames. The architecture and the landscaping were designed with fire prevention in mind.
"This is one of the safest places for art," Lisa Lapin, vice president of communications for the Getty Trust told Newsweek. "Walls and rooftops are stone or metal so embers aren't going to get in."
Around 1:30 a.m. PDT on Monday morning, a brush fire ignited along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles near the Getty Center, a campus that includes the Getty museum, conservation and research institutes and foundation. Within hours, the fire grew to over 500 acres, at least five homes were damaged and officials ordered mandatory evacuations.
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) officials credited the fire's rapid spreading to high winds, an issue that threatened large portions of the state. On Sunday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued another round of red flag warnings and fire weather watches for California counties, including Los Angeles. Low humidity coupled with high Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation is a prime situation for wildfires to spark and spread.
"It's a dangerous season right now," Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a press conference. "Santa Ana winds pick up historically in September and last through April. We have not had any significant rainfall for a period of time. So, that's why we're very, very concerned about these weather conditions."
Aptly dubbed the Getty fire due to its proximity to the Getty Center, which houses a collection of masterpieces by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Leonardo da Vinci, Lapin told Newsweek that by 8:30 a.m., the fire was on the fringes of the property. This didn't cause concern for the art, though, as the center was built to withstand the threat of fire.
"That was one of the incentives of the architect," Lapin said. "Some of [the design] was for the aesthetic and some of it was for fire prevention."
To prevent loss of human life, mandatory evacuations were ordered for more than 10,000 structures and other residents were cautioned to prepare to leave at a moment's notice. While residents left the area, more than 600 firefighters worked to save people's homes and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti applauded their heroic efforts.
Terrazas noted it wasn't the first fire his crew has had to deal with this season, either. California experienced its deadliest and most destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018 and so far, in 2019, there have been 5,819 fire incidents and more than 162,000 acres burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
Along with ground personnel, the LAFD, in conjunction with other agencies, deployed a number of air tankers and helicopters, including assigning some to the Getty Center. Lapin said they were doing "drop after drop" of water and fire retardant. She credited crews for being "amazing," and said they were "taking very good care of us."
While Lapin was confident the Getty Center would be "just fine," she said the organization was concerned about their neighbors, who don't have the advantage of being on the top of a hill.
"We feel terrible there's going to be a loss of homes," Lapin said. "It's really tragic."
Reposted from the Art Newspaper
Palermo, 18 October 1969: it’s a dark and stormy night and two low-lifes in a Piaggio Ape are driving along the Via Immacolatella in the historic centre. They stop at the Oratory of San Lorenzo, break in and make straight for Caravaggio’s Nativity hanging above the altar, cut the canvas from its frame with a razor, roll it up and leave.
This is the opening sequence of one of the most notorious art thefts in history, a sequence that some still find credible. Fifty years on, though, the crime has still not been solved. The passage of time and the endless versions of events offered by informers and pseudo-detectives have taken over the inquiries, while the actual fate of the Nativity remains shrouded in mystery.
Here we sum up a few of the most imaginative hypotheses based on the opening sequence outlined above.
This stream of stories, boasts and false leads has kept the police busy for years and has led to just two conclusions: the painting was stolen by the mafia, and it was then destroyed.
In 2017, however, the case was re-opened by the anti-mafia commission, led by its president, the government minister Rosy Bindi. Having acquired new statements from Mannoia and another pentito, Gaetano Grado, the commission concluded that the painting still exists and that after it was relinquished by the boss Gaetano Badalamenti (one of the most powerful traffickers in the Sicilian heroin trade with the US, who died in a US prison in 2004), it was cut up and is now in Switzerland.
This report is undoubtedly significant and although it contains a number of logistical and geographical inaccuracies in the statements made by the two pentiti—and not all antique dealers consulted agree that it is likely the painting was cut up—the document has the great merit of resurrecting the work, identifying the role of Badalamenti and suggesting where it might be.
Attention has focused again on the accusations, levied immediately after the theft by Monsignor Rocco, custodian of the Oratory, against Badalamenti. Although these were ignored at the time, Rocco stated that, after being shown a piece of canvas as proof, he opened the way to possible negotiations but was stopped by the then state official for works of art, Vincenzo Scuderi.
Relations between the two were particularly tense because Scuderi had not listened to the priest’s requests, made well before the theft, to tighten the security of the building, and, against Rocco’s wishes, he had also authorised RAI, the state broadcasting company, to film a programme on hidden treasures inside the oratory, which was broadcast in August 1969. Rocco blamed this programme for the theft. The anti-mafia commission’s investigations are basing themselves on Rocco’s statements accusing Badalamenti of having the painting, and this would clearly be a lead to follow now.
This rapid overview of the situation raises a number of questions that have never been answered by earlier investigations. First, when was Caravaggio’s Nativity actually stolen? The congregation saw it for the last time at Sunday mass on 12 October 1969, and the Gelfo sisters, the caretakers of the oratory, noticed it had gone missing on Saturday 18 October when they entered the oratory to prepare for the mass on the following day. The theft must, therefore, have been committed between 12 and the 18 October, which allows time for the work to have been smuggled out of Palermo. News of the theft was only reported in Giornale di Sicilia on 20 October.
Second, the police report on the state of the premises, a vital document for understanding the theft, has disappeared.
Third, is the opening sequence as described above, and taken as the basis for all subsequent investigations, credible? Could the removal of a painting measuring 3x2 metres, on particularly heavy wooden stretchers, hanging at a height of six metres and surrounded by the delicate plasterwork of Giacomo Serpotta, to which there was no damage whatsoever, really have been the work of two common thieves?
And what of removing the canvas with a razor blade without leaving a single millimetre of paint on the remaining shreds? The excision was carried out with extreme skill and precision and can neither have been rushed or improvised.
So, if this was not the work of two delinquents who happened to break into the oratory and carry off the canvas after slashing it out of its frame, then the most probable hypothesis is that the theft was well prepared and carried out to order, perhaps by professionals.
Indeed, this suspicion was voiced at the time in the headline of Giornale di Sicilia, and it was repeated by Maresciallo Guelfo Giuliano Andrei of the newly formed Carabinieri’s Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (division for the protection of cultural heritage), sent to Palermo to coordinate the investigations, who issued a statement saying that “the theft was not opportunistic, but may have been ordered by a gang of international, organised criminals using local operatives in Palermo”.
This hypothesis was abandoned too soon, probably in order to follow the confessions and revelations offered by pentiti mafiosi, and it would now be worth reinvestigating, with leads to Switzerland and to Badalamenti’s role as the person who either ordered the theft or paid those who carried it out.
Last, it is worth mentioning the thought-provoking theory of a local anthropologist, scholar and mafia expert who suggests that the mafia had nothing to do with the theft but became its victim because such an outrageous act threatened its claim to territorial control and its international prestige as an organised criminal network. It therefore laid claim to the theft and boasted about it with numerous different versions of the story, all of which ending, of course, in the destruction of the Nativity.
Fifty years have passed. Many of the protagonists have died, but no stone is being left unturned now and hope is still alive. It relies on trust in the continuing investigation, on chance discovery, or the miracle of a deathbed repentance by the unlawful possessor, who knows that they will shortly meet their Maker.
Reposted from The Smithsonian
By now, most people are familiar with the Monuments Men, a cadre of museum curators, art historians and archaeologists tasked by the U.S. Army with finding and safeguarding European art masterpieces from destruction as World War II raged across the continent. Now, the Army and the Smithsonian Institution, partially inspired by that effort, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to bring back a modern version of the group.
The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, signed the agreement on Monday at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C., where the personal papers and artifacts associated with the original Monuments Men are housed.
Under the new program, the Smithsonian will help train and support U.S. soldiers whose mission it is to make sure military operations do not damage or destroy culturally significant areas or artifacts during armed combat.
Sarah Cascone at artnet News reports that the Army actually began reconstituting the Monuments Men (and now Women) back in 2015, recruiting cultural specialists to join the Army Reserves. The Smithsonian has led some day-long workshops to help train these officers, but the new arrangement will be more formalized, with the centerpiece being a week-long training held in March.
“We’ll be learning from each other—these are people who already have a background and expertise as cultural heritage professionals,” Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative director Cori Wegener, who served as a Civil Affairs Arts, Monuments, and Archives officer in Iraq, tells Cascone. “It’s a really historic agreement between the Army and the Smithsonian.”
The cultural experts enrolled in the new program will be Army Reserve officers serving under the Civil Affairs branch. Since they are reservists, they will not be deployed full-time. Instead, they will be attached to military units as needed and may be deployed to conflict areas. The age limit for joining the Army reserves, currently 35, has been waived so more qualified cultural specialists can join the program.
Cascone reports the initial group of 25 cultural heritage preservation officers will be drawn from qualified officers already in the Army Reserves. But the unit may directly seek out specialists from museums and cultural institutions in the future. “There are discussions about a program involving direct commissions for candidates with the right education background and skill set who might want to join the military,” Wegener says.
The officers will be tasked with advising and assisting military commanders when executing military operations, like telling them areas to avoid during airstrikes and places where extra security may be needed to avoid looting. The officers will advise on non-combat deployments as well. For instance, after the U.S. military deployed to Haiti in 2010 to help out after a catastrophic earthquake struck, 35,000 items of cultural value were pulled from the rubble. The new officers will help coordinate similar efforts.
“In conflict, the destruction of monuments and the looting of art are not only about the loss of material things, but also about the erasure of history, knowledge, and a people’s identity,” Smithsonian ambassador-at-large Richard Kurin said at the announcement, report Ralph Blumenthal and Tom Mashberg at The New York Times. “The cooperation between the Smithsonian and the U.S. Army aims to prevent this legal and moral crime of war.”
For many, this type of unit is long overdue. Marine reserve colonel and head of the Antiquities Tracking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Matthew Bogdanos was in Baghdad in 2003 when looters ransacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite warnings from archaeologists and State Department cultural specialists, the military failed to initially secure the museum. Bogdanos set up an ad hoc team to secure the museum and helped track down about 3,000 of the stolen items, a mission he chronicles in his book Thieves of Baghdad. He tells the Times this type of military and cultural collaboration is sorely needed. “It was a great idea when I first proposed it in back in 2003, and it is even more crucial in today’s world where antiquities trafficking often funds terrorism,” he says.
The military also has some legal imperatives toward establishing this program now. Cascone reports that in 2009, the U.S. finally joined the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, which obligates signatory nations to establish and maintain units of specialist personnel to safeguard cultural property during wartime. “Each country is supposed to work to make sure their military understands their responsibility of protecting cultural heritage and to avoid damaging that heritage during armed conflict,” Wegener tells Cascone. “It’s an ethical and moral responsibility of all cultural institutions around the world.”
The U.S. military isn’t the only one thinking about cultural protection. The United Kingdom, which also recently ratified the Hague Cultural Property Convention, also established a Cultural Property Protection Unit as part of the British Army in October, 2018.
Reposted from UNESCO
The first guide for the insurance industry to protect our world’s priceless and irreplaceable assets was launched today at a major event by UN Environment’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in São Paulo, Brazil, convening leading insurers, investors and banks.
The pioneering guide, Protecting our World Heritage, Insuring a Sustainable Future, builds on last year’s launch of the first insurance industry statement of commitment to protect World Heritage Sites. The statement is supported by leading insurers—writing about USD 170 billion in gross premiums and managing USD 2.7 trillion in assets—as well as by insurance associations and key stakeholders around the world.
To develop the guide, UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI)—the largest collaboration between the UN and the insurance industry—worked with its member insurers, WWF and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre, and was supported by ECOFACT, a sustainability service provider.
The main aim is to provide practical guidance to insurers on how to prevent or reduce the risk of insuring and investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage World Heritage Sites, particularly in relation to sectors such as oil and gas, mining, and large-scale hydropower. Other relevant sectors include logging, fishing, agriculture, plantations, and large-scale infrastructure such as pipelines, roads and mega-ports.
World Heritage Sites are recognised for their unparalleled beauty, global significance and/or biological diversity and the important economic, social and environmental benefits they provide. Natural World Heritage Sites, in particular, provide vital resources such as food and water, and contribute significantly to economies through jobs, tourism and recreation. They also deliver critical environmental services such as stabilising soils, preventing floods and capturing carbon, all of which increase our resilience to the most harmful impacts of a warming climate. However, almost half of all natural World Heritage Sites are threatened by industrial activities and large infrastructure developments, which may cause irreversible damage.
“Protecting World Heritage Sites for present and future generations is not an option, but an obligation for all. Losing these treasures means losing sources of life, inspiration and human well-being, and losing the war against unsustainable development,” said Butch Bacani, who leads the PSI at UN Environment and who launched the guide in São Paulo. “This guide will help insurers protect our world’s most prized assets in their risk management, insurance and investment activities, while curbing carbon emissions, building disaster resilience, and ensuring healthy ecosystems. We call on insurers around the world to unite behind the science, show decisive leadership, and take ambitious action in insuring a sustainable future.”
“Natural World Heritage Sites include some of the world’s most amazing landscapes. A source of wonder and inspiration, they also provide critical habitats and vital services such as freshwater,” said Margaret Kuhlow, WWF Finance Practice Leader. “This practical guide will enable the insurance sector to make long-term investment decisions that reflect the value of natural World Heritage Sites and support the 11 million people who depend on them for their well-being. We look forward to continuing our work with UNESCO and PSI to support the industry in implementing this guidance.”
Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture said, “By proposing sites as World Heritage sites, countries recognise their importance for humankind and commit to protect them. But conserving World Heritage sites is the duty of every one of us. Too many World Heritage sites are threatened by unsustainable development or large-scale infrastructure. We believe the banking and insurance sectors can significantly contribute to protecting these outstanding places by ensuring that their portfolios avoid projects which could impact them. This publication is a very practical and hands-on toolkit on how to achieve this.”
The PSI-WWF-UNESCO guide explains the risks that insurers face and outlines a set of basic and advanced recommendations that insurers can implement in their risk management, insurance and investment activities. The recommendations span key areas of action: 1) accessing data and understanding best practice; 2) raising awareness and supporting widespread action; 3) developing and implementing a World Heritage Sites risk approach; 4) protecting World Heritage Sites proactively; and 5) engaging clients and investee companies. The guide also provides insightful case studies, and a sample World Heritage Sites risk assessment checklist for insurers.
Critically, the principles of good risk management and sustainability embodied in the guide can also be used for various types of protected areas—from strict nature reserves, wilderness areas and national parks; to natural monuments and features, and protected landscapes and seascapes—as well as Ramsar sites, wetlands of international importance.
As a joint effort by the PSI, WWF and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the guide shows that collaboration is essential. It is a call to action for insurers around the world to join the global effort to protect the priceless and irreplaceable assets that make up our World Heritage for present and future generations.
Signatories to the insurance industry statement of commitment to protect World Heritage Sites include: AGROASEMEX (Mexico), Allianz (Germany), Caixa Seguradora (Brazil), Interamerican (Greece), La Banque Postale (France), Liberty Seguros (Brazil), Mongeral Aegon (Brazil), Nat Re (Philippines), Peak Re (Hong Kong SAR, China), Porto Seguro (Brazil), RepRisk (Switzerland), Risk Management Solutions (USA), SCOR (France), Seguradora Líder DPVAT (Brazil), Sompo Japan Nipponkoa (Japan), Swiss Re (Switzerland), Tokio Marine Seguradora (Brazil), the Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNseg), Certified Sustainable Insurance Partners (USA), Earth Security Group (UK), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Insurance Council of New Zealand, the Microinsurance Network, and the Philippines Insurers & Reinsurers Association
Laurent Jumelle, CEO, Caixa Seguradora (Brazil): “By becoming part of a global group of insurance companies that support the agenda of world heritage protection, Caixa Seguradora reaffirms its commitment with environmental preservation whereas shaping its future through positive results on both preservation and management of environmental risks.”
Carlos Magnarelli, CEO, Liberty Seguros (Brazil): “At Liberty Seguros we believe that sustainable development is everyone’s duty. We invest in social initiatives generating shared value and we consider ESG criteria in our actions, projects and partnerships also we collaborate for the environment, managing the waste from our business. Supporting the World Heritage Protection agenda reinforces our commitment to the sustainability of the planet. Protecting irreplaceable assets should be a commitment of all.”
José Carlos Mota, Director, Governance, Risk & Compliance, Mongeral Aegon (Brazil): “Mongeral Aegon’s mission is to protect the future of people, which includes understanding, managing and taking risks, and encouraging innovative action. We sign this declaration as we understand that we have an obligation to continue taking care of public assets, reaffirming participation in programs such as United Nations initiatives and Adote.Rio, and contributing to the development of society as an organization committed to sustainable planning and that enables new business.”
Eckart Roth, Chief Risk Officer, Peak Re (Hong Kong SAR, China) & Member of the PSI Board: “Protecting cultural heritage is a way to protect the communities around them, by building in economic resilience for these communities who derive their livelihoods linked to the heritage protected. Peak Re was built with the purpose to protect the emerging middle class through supporting the needs of their communities through reinsurance. We are pleased to be acting in support of this important cause.”
Roberto de Souza Santos, CEO, Porto Seguro (Brazil): “The Porto Seguro Cia de Seguros Gerais, as one of the leading insurance companies in the Brazilian market and responsible risk and capital manager, recognizes that World Heritage is a driving force for the economic, social and environmental sustainability of our country and the world. Thus, we are committed, whenever possible in the development of our business and services, to ensure the preservation and reduction of risks that threaten the exceptional universal value of those places.”
Daniel Stander, Global Managing Director, RMS (USA): “World Heritage Sites are uniquely significant. They provide important socioeconomic and environmental benefits. They are, however, at serious risk. Insurance companies play a triple role as the world’s risk managers: as physical risk managers, as financial risk managers and as investment risk managers. Today’s launch is an important demonstration of the insurance industry’s leadership. The guide offers practicable ideas for re/insurers to deploy their unique risk management expertise in support of the global effort to protect our World Heritage and the significant benefits thereof.”
Dr Philipp Aeby, CEO, RepRisk (Switzerland): “Safeguarding protected areas is crucial for biodiversity conservation and we are pleased to see an industry guide that helps insurers worldwide in doing so. RepRisk is a proud supporter of the commitment to protect World Heritage Sites and encourage enhanced risk assessment and transparency in underwriting and investment processes. By providing risk research on companies and infrastructure projects worldwide, we enable insurance providers to conduct ESG due diligence.”
Ismar Tôrres, CEO, Seguradora Líder DPVAT (Brazil): “Seguradora Líder, responsible for the DPVAT Insurance, is committed to the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), embedding them into its culture and activities. We support and work with initiatives that include best practices in environmental, social and governance principles. We are proud to be included in this relevant PSI, WWF and UNESCO initiative. Only by increasing the number of similar actions could we strengthen sustainable solutions in our sector.”
Jean-Paul Conoscente, CEO of SCOR Global P&C (France): “As a founding signatory of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, an early adopter of the first-ever insurance industry statement to protect World Heritage Sites, and amidst mounting pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity, SCOR welcomes the release of the first collaborative industry guide to better understand, prevent and reduce risks that threaten the outstanding universal value of World Heritage Sites”.
Shinji Tsuji, Group COO, Director, Deputy President & Representative Executive Officer, Sompo Holdings, Inc. (Japan): “The launch of the PSI-WWF-UNESCO insurance industry guide is a great opportunity as the first step by global insurers to protect World Heritage Sites. We hope these good practices will reach many stakeholders and promote various approaches to achieve a sustainable future.”
Patrick Raaflaub, Group Chief Risk Officer, Swiss Re (Switzerland): “We believe the new Global Insurance Industry Guide is a significant step forward in making the protection of World Heritage Sites a market standard. The guide confirms Swiss Re’s long-standing commitment, as well as our established policies and procedures to preserve protected areas.”
Jose Adalberto Ferrara, CEO, Tokio Marine Seguradora S.A. (Brazil): “Tokio Marine Seguradora S.A. in Brazil recognizes World Heritage Sites as drivers of economic, social and environmental sustainability, and the important role of the insurance industry in protecting World Heritage Sites. Our mission is to provide safety and security to people and companies, contributing to the progress of the society. Therefore, we adhere to the declaration developed by UN Environment’s PSI Initiative, WWF and UNESCO, and commit to taking actions proactively to protect World Heritages Sites.”
Marcio Serôa de Araujo Coriolano, President, Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNseg): “As the association representing Brazilian insurance companies, we recognize the outstanding universal value of World Heritage Sites and endorse our associates’ commitment and efforts in understanding, preventing and reducing risks that threaten these places. Together with UNESCO, WWF and the PSI Initiative, we will work to promote the key role of the insurance industry in protecting the priceless and irreplaceable assets that make up our world heritage.”
Tim Grafton, CEO, Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ): “Insurance seeks to prevent loss and if it occurs to restore it. World Heritage Sites are unique treasures that once lost are gone forever. Today many sites are threatened. This guide is a valuable contribution to help insurers protect these treasures for generations to come.”
Michael Rellosa, Executive Director, Philippine Insurers & Reinsurers Association (PIRA): “At a time in our history where humankind is faced with numerous issues and those related to World Heritage Sites are relegated to the background, the importance of preserving such sites come to the forefront. The launch of this guide is timely and its necessity paramount especially for countries such as the Philippines where our own World Heritage Sites are imperilled by other interests.”
Reposted from ICE.gov
On Sunday, Oct. 20, CBS News' 60 MINUTES aired a story highlighting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Wilmington, Delaware, investigation that resulted in the recovery and return of three stolen 15th century Columbus Letters, describing his discoveries in the Americas. As a result of an HSI investigation, the letters were determined to have been stolen from three separate libraries in Europe – the National Library of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain; the Riccardiana Library in Florence, Italy and the Vatican Library in Vatican City. The effort to locate, recover and return the letters involved a multi-year, joint investigation conducted by HSI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, and foreign law enforcement partners in Italy and Spain.
Since September 2011, HSI has been conducting an international cultural property investigation relating to several historically significant, printed letters authored by explorer Christopher Columbus during his return trip from the New World in 1493. The investigation revealed that several original editions of the Columbus Letter were stolen from several European libraries and replaced with forgeries without the knowledge of library officials or local law enforcement agencies. Since 2016, HSI special agents and prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware have partnered to return three precious letters documenting Columbus’ journey back to their rightful home. In May 2016, the repatriation of the Riccardiana Columbus Letter completed in Rome, Italy. In June 2018, the Catalonia Columbus Letter was repatriated in Washington, DC and the Vatican Columbus Letter was repatriated in Vatican City.
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