Forensic Architecture Says It Has Found Bullet Linking Whitney Vice Chair to Violence in Gaza, Withdraws from Biennial

The bullet found by a Forensic Architecture researcher near the Al-Bureji protest camp near the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza (image via Forensic Architecture)

Forensic Architecture has announced its decision to withdraw from the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The London-based research group has also requested to replace its 10-minute video about the global spread of tear gas and bullets produced by companies linked to Whitney Museum vice chairman Warren Kanders, with new evidence they’ve found that directly links the weapons manufacturer to violence on the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza.

The organization has previously claimed a connection between the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Sierra Bullets — a weapons manufacturer partially owned by Kanders — through contracts with the army’s preferred supplier of ammunition, the Israeli Military Industry.

Now, one of Forensic Architecture’s researchers in Gaza believes they may have found direct evidence linking the museum board member to border violence that the United Nations classified in a recent report as a potential war crime. After a weekly Friday protest in mid-July, the researcher says that she found an unexploded open-tip bullet in the sand surrounding the Al-Bureji protest camp near the border. The bullet was intact and largely matches the open-source analysis that Forensic Architecture has already conducted on the types of ammunitions Sierra Bullets manufactures.

“What we’ve seen in Palestine is an escalation in acceptable violence,” the researcher told Hyperallergic during a joint interview with Forensic Architecture’s director, Eyal Weizman. “This escalation has resulted in over 90 amputations — the vast majority of which have been to lower limbs.”

A lawyer by trade and professor of political science, the Forensic Architecture researcher has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 15 years. More recently, she has been tasked with collecting evidence in Gaza — both in the form of ammunition rounds and eyewitness testimony. These two components were key for building the group’s biennial submission, “Triple-Chaser” (2019), a collaboration with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Praxis Films. Because the researcher investigates sensitive topics like the Israeli military’s weapons suppliers and its use of force on the Palestinian border, she has requested that her identity remain anonymous.

The Jerusalem Post estimates that over 60 Palestinians were injured during demonstrations on May 16, 2019. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said around 10,000 Palestinians in several locations along the fence burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops. Palestinian media has reported that the IDF fired live bullets, tear gas, and skunk spray at protesters trying to damage the border fence.

Weizman says that until yesterday, his organization was planning to release the new research alongside an ultimatum for the removal of Kanders from the Whitney’s board of trustees. Recent news of other artists withdrawing from the show — one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art — convinced the group to expedite its plans. Forensic Architecture says they have informed curators Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta of their decision.

“We believe there’s a problem in how everybody is focusing on the tear gas,” Weizman told Hyperallergic.

“After this discovery, what may have started as the Tear Gas Biennial is now the Sierra Bullet Biennial,” added the researcher. “For context, human rights groups have been looking for an identifiable specimen. It’s something the art world may appreciate less, but these groups have been trying to get these bullets outside of Gaza for some time. We believe that we have something that is going to make a difference.”

Forensic Architecture is the eighth exhibitor to withdraw from biennial.

The Whitney has responded to artist requests for withdrawal with the following statement from the museum’s director, Adam Weinberg: “The Whitney respects the opinions of all the artists it exhibits and stands by their right to express themselves freely. While the Whitney is saddened by this decision, we will of course comply with the artists’ request.”

Hyperallergic has reached out to a Kanders spokesperson for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

07/20/19, 5:56PM Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Forensic Architecture made their decision to withdraw in consultation with Decolonize This Place. This error was made due to a miscommunication between the two organizations; the decision was made solely by Forensic Architecture. We have removed the error from this article.

The post Forensic Architecture Says It Has Found Bullet Linking Whitney Vice Chair to Violence in Gaza, Withdraws from Biennial appeared first on Hyperallergic.

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Russia’s Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: ‘Largest Data Breach In Its History’

Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia’s Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media, and help the state split its internet off from the rest of the world. The data was passed to mainstream media outlets for publishing.

FSB is Russia’s primary security agency with parallels with the FBI and MI5, but its remit stretches beyond domestic intelligence to include electronic surveillance overseas and significant intelligence-gathering oversight. It is the primary successor agency to the infamous KGB, reporting directly to Russia’s president.

A week ago, on July 13, a hacking group under the name 0v1ru$ that had reportedly breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor working on a range of live and exploratory internet projects, left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech’s homepage alongside pictures purporting to showcase the breach. 0v1ru$ had passed the data itself to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution, which shared the files with various media outlets and the headlines with Twitter—taunting FSB that the agency should maybe rename one of its breached activities “Project Collander.”

I received a link to the Digital Revolution site where an initial tranche of breached documents was “published two months ago… as part of that 7.5 terabytes.” I won’t publish the link here for obvious reasons. Digital Revolution has targeted FSB before. It is unknown how tightly the two hacking groups are linked.

BBC Russia broke the news that 0v1ru$ had breached SyTech’s servers and shared details of contentious cyber projects, projects that included social media scraping (including Facebook and LinkedIn), targeted collection and the “de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser.” The BBC described the breach as possibly “the largest data leak in the history of Russian intelligence services.”

As well as defacing SyTech’s homepage with the Yoba Face, 0v1ru$ also detailed the project names exposed: “Arion”, “Relation”, “Hryvnia,” alongside the names of the SyTech project managers. The BBC report claims that no actual state secrets were exposed.

The projects themselves appear to be a mix of social media scraping (Nautilus), targeted collection against internet users seeking to anonymize their activities (Nautilus-S), data collection targeting Russian enterprises (Mentor), and projects that seem to relate to Russia’s ongoing initiative to build an option to separate the internal internet from the world wide web (Hope and Tax-3). The BBC claims that SyTech’s projects were mostly contracted with Military Unit 71330, part of FSB’s 16th Directorate which handles signals intelligence, the same group accused of emailing spyware to Ukranian intelligence officers in 2015.

Nautilus-S, the Tor de-anonymization project, was actually launched in 2012 under the remit of Russia’s Kvant Research Institute, which comes under FSB’s remit. Russia has been looking for ways to compromise nodes within Tor’s structure to either prevent off-grid communications or intercept those communications. None of which is new news. It is believed that some progress has been made under this project. Digital Revolution claims to have hacked the Kvant Research Institute before

The preparatory activities for splitting off a “Russian internet,” follow Russian President Vladimir Putin signing into law provisions for “the stable operation of the Russian Internet (Runet) in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web.” The law set in train plans for an alternative domain name system (DNS) for Russia in the event that it is disconnected from the World Wide Web, or, one assumes, in the event that its politicians deem disconnection to be beneficial. Internet service providers would be compelled to disconnect from any foreign servers, relying on Russia’s DNS instead.

There is nothing newsworthy in the projects exposed here, everything was known or expected. The fact of the breach itself, its scale and apparent ease is of more note. Contractors remain the weak link in the chain for intelligence agencies worldwide—to emphasize the point, just last week, a former NSA contractor was jailed in the U.S. for stealing secrets over two decades. And the fallout from Edward Snowden continues to this day.

Digital Revolution passed the information to journalists without anything being edited, removed or changed—they said. Little is known about 0v1ru$ and the group has not come forward with any comment.

Neither, unsurprisingly, has FSB.

Keep Clear Of Germs and Wash Your Hands

Most of us have been taught to wash our hands since early childhood. But the hand hygiene we were taught can be improved. Especially now during summer vacation when we spend more time out of our own friendly-germ environment and possibly traveling, it makes sense to follow sensible precautions.

When do you wash hands? Naturally, after toilet use and after touching yucky things like garbage. How about:

  • Before starting to cook. While cooking, after you’ve handled raw meat. After any time you’ve handled raw meat.
  • Before eating. Coming in from the street and ravenous? Take a minute to wash before attacking the meal.
  • If you’re taking care of a sick person, wash before and after contact. Wash before and after treating a cut or a wound.
  • Wash well after changing diapers or wiping a child or adult.
  • Got a runny nose? Even if you’re not sick, do everyone a favor and wash your hands after a nose-blowing session. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow to minimize spreading airborne cooties.
  • You love your pets, but their body wastes and food are as germy yours. So wash after handling pet food and changing kitty litter or the newspaper in the hamster’s cage.

Running water and soap are your best tools for hand-washing. Remember that the backs of your hands and between your fingers need lathering too. Use a nail brush to get dirt out from under your nails. Avoid using water that’s already been used, for example, water standing in a basin.

How long to lather? 20 seconds will do it. Or hum “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice while soaping up.

Dry thoroughly. If no clean towel is available, swish your your hands around to dry in the air. Dirty towels are worse than useless, they’re dangerous, especially if sick people are using them.

A hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content will do instead of washing, but not as efficiently as water and soap, and especially if your hands are greasy or dirty with visible dirt. Rub the sanitizer between your palms, on the backs of your hands and between your fingers until it’s almost evaporated. Wave your hands to air dry.

Note that some substances, notably pesticides and heavy metals, aren’t removed from the skin with alcohol.If you’ve had contact with pesticides, wash with soap and water. Call a poison control center if the contact has been extensive, and follow instructions.

Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitizers are safe when used as directed, but older children and adults might swallow some to get drunk. Bad idea.  Swallowing more than two mouthfuls will poison a person.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, from 2011 – 2015, U.S. poison control centers received nearly 85,000 calls about hand sanitizer exposures among children. Children may be particularly likely to swallow hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged.

Hand sanitizers should be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used with adult supervision. Child-resistant caps could also help reduce hand sanitizer-related poisonings among young children.

:: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention


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