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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday September 30 2017, @09:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the different-kind-of-sonic-boom dept.

State Department orders nonessential diplomats and families out of Cuba following mysterious attacks

The US State Department is pulling out all families of employees and nonessential personnel from Cuba, after a string of mysterious attacks against US diplomats.

Several US officials tell CNN that 21 US diplomats and family members became ill after apparent sonic attacks. The American embassy will continue to operate with a 60% reduction in staff. The officials said the US will stop issuing visas in Cuba effective immediately because of the staff reductions and the decision is not described as a retaliatory measure. Officials say there will still be consular officials in the embassy available to assist US citizens in Cuba.

The State Department is also issuing a travel warning, urging Americans not to travel to Cuba because they could also be at risk as some of the attacks against diplomats have taken place at hotels where Americans stay, a senior State Department official told reporters Friday.

Also at the Miami Herald, BBC, and NYT:

Some of those attacked have suffered significant injuries, with symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance and visual problems, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. But despite an intensive investigation by the F.B.I., the cause and perpetrators of the attacks remain a mystery, with some experts speculating that some kind of sonic weapon or faulty surveillance device may have been at fault.

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'


Original Submission

Related Stories

Latest Explanation for Cuban Embassy Symptoms: Microwave Weapons 45 comments

Spooky Theory on Ills of U.S. Diplomats in Cuba (archive)

During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control. More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people's heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare.

Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington.

The medical team that examined 21 affected diplomats from Cuba made no mention of microwaves in its detailed report [open, DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.1742] [DX] published in JAMA in March. But Douglas H. Smith, the study's lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview that microwaves were now considered a main suspect and that the team was increasingly sure the diplomats had suffered brain injury. "Everybody was relatively skeptical at first," he said, "and everyone now agrees there's something there." Dr. Smith remarked that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion.

Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits — sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety. In particular, a growing number of analysts cite an eerie phenomenon known as the Frey effect, named after Allan H. Frey, an American scientist. Long ago, he found that microwaves can trick the brain into perceiving what seem to be ordinary sounds.

Mentioned in the article: JASON, which is also investigating the attacks and considering the possibility of microwaves causing the symptoms.

Previously: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy


Original Submission

Sonic Attack? U.S. Issues Health Alert After Employee Experiences Brain Trauma in Guangzhou, China 27 comments

A U.S. government health alert has sparked comparisons to symptoms experienced by State Department employees in Cuba:

US officials have issued a health alert after a US government employee stationed in southern China reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" that indicated a mild brain injury.

The official, assigned to the city of Guangzhou, reported a range of physical symptoms from late 2017 through to April 2018, and was sent back to the United States for assessment, the State Department said. The US Embassy in Beijing learned on May 18 that the clinical findings of the evaluation matched that of a "mild traumatic brain injury," an embassy spokeswoman told CNN.

The alert will raise comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most US personnel from the embassy in Havana. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery.

[...] The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.

Also at BBC, CNBC, South China Morning Post, and MarketWatch.

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy


Original Submission

Politics: Two US Diplomats Evacuated From China Amid 'Sonic Attack' Concerns 32 comments

Two American diplomats stationed in China were reportedly evacuated from the region after being sickened by a mysterious ailment linked to odd sounds.

The two Americans evacuated worked at the American Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou, the New York Times reported Wednesday, adding that their colleagues and relatives are also being tested by a State Department medical team.

American officials have been worried for months that American diplomats and their families in Cuba -- and now China -- have been subjected to a "sonic attack," leading to symptoms similar to those "following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury," the State Department said in a statement Tuesday.

The new cases broaden a medical mystery that began affecting American diplomats and their families in Cuba in 2016. Since then, 24 Americans stationed in Havana have experienced dizziness, headaches, fatigue, hearing loss and cognitive issues, the State Department said.

[...] The nature of the injury, and whether a common cause exists, hasn't been established yet, the department said.

Previously: Sonic Attack? U.S. Issues Health Alert After Employee Experiences Brain Trauma in Guangzhou, China

Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy


Original Submission

US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack' 12 comments

The US believes several State Department employees at the US embassy in Havana were subjected to an "acoustic attack" using sonic devices that left at least two with such serious health problems they needed to be brought back to the US for treatment, several senior State Department officials told CNN. One official said the employees could have suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.

The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016 which resembled concussions.

Conspiracy theory fodder, or actually possible?

alt links:
https://archive.fo/yZB5q
https://web.archive.org/web/20170809231552/http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/09/politics/us-cuba-acoustic-attack-embassy/index.html


Original Submission

Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the ‘Sonic Attacks’ in Cuban Embassy 11 comments

"A team of computer scientists from the University of Michigan may have solved the mystery behind strange sounds heard by American diplomats in Havana, who later suffered a variety of medical disorders.

Professor Kevin Fu and members of the Security and Privacy Research Group at the University of Michigan say they have an explanation for what could have happened in Havana: two sources of ultrasound — such as listening devices — placed too close together could generate interference and provoke the intense sounds described by the victims."

Original URL:
Computer scientists may have solved the mystery behind the ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba

This is an update of previous stories here:
US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It


Original Submission

Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms 53 comments

Diplomats and other victims of mysterious "sonic attacks" at the American embassy in Havana, Cuba are experiencing neurological symptoms months after being affected:

A preliminary case report on the victims of mysterious "health attacks" in Havana, Cuba details the results of extensive clinical evaluations, concluding that the individuals appear to have sustained "injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma."

The report offers the first medical glimpse of the victims—US government personnel and their families who were serving on diplomatic assignment in Havana. From late 2016 to August 2017, they reported experiencing bizarre and inexplicable sonic and sensory episodes. The episodes tended to include directional, irritating sounds, such as buzzing and piercing squeals, as well as pressure and vibrations. Afterward, the victims developed a constellation of neurological symptoms.

In clinical evaluations of 21 of 24 individuals affected, an interdisciplinary team of doctors at University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine retrospectively pieced together symptoms—an average of 203 days after individuals were exposed. They found that the most common issues persisting more than three months after exposure were cognitive impairment (17/21); balance issues (15/21); visual (18/21) and hearing (15/21) problems; sleep impairment (18/21); and headaches (16/21).

Previously: U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30 2017, @09:51PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30 2017, @09:51PM (#575386)
  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:19PM (5 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:19PM (#575392) Journal

    I suspect it's biological, and probably all the Cubans have built up an immunity to it.

    Could also be water contaminated by stuff nobody tests for. You leave an embassy locked up for decades, then start living there again and wonder what is in the pipes that haven't moved water in all that time.

    How hard is it to detect an actual sonic attack? a few microphones and an osiloscope ?

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:22PM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:22PM (#575393) Journal

      It's not clear to me that there was an ongoing string of attacks. If I read it right they are still responding to what happened months ago (see previous Soylent article).

      There's another way to detect a sonic attack: with your ears. It's too late by then.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RamiK on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:07PM (2 children)

      by RamiK (1813) on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:07PM (#575399)

      water contaminated by stuff nobody tests for

      Not sure how it is in Cuba, but in most African embassies, the water goes through reverse osmosis and ultra-violet with different faucets getting tested periodically as samples are being sent to labs states-side. So, once medical issues started they would at least have protocols in place and would look more thoroughly at the samples.

      How hard is it to detect an actual sonic attack? a few microphones and an osiloscope ?

      My guess is it's an FBI power grab where-by they're speculating sonic attacks to force the state department to deploy surveillance all over the embassy.

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:17PM

        by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:17PM (#575402) Journal

        My guess is it's an FBI power grab where-by they're speculating sonic attacks to force the state department to deploy surveillance all over the embassy.

        But despite an intensive investigation by the F.B.I., the cause and perpetrators of the attacks remain a mystery, with some experts speculating that some kind of sonic weapon or faulty surveillance device may have been at fault.

        That could just make it worse!

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01 2017, @11:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01 2017, @11:15AM (#575530)

        deploy surveillance all over the embassy.

        What do you think they do all day long in an embassy? Spy. There probably is no more room for more gadgets.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Sunday October 01 2017, @04:42AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 01 2017, @04:42AM (#575477) Journal

      "How hard is it to detect an actual sonic attack? a few microphones and an osiloscope ?"

      I'm kinda thinking the same thing - but, which microphones? I suppose you need to monitor both ultrasonic and subsonic - would something like this be sufficient? http://www.earthworksaudio.com/microphones/m-series/m50/ [earthworksaudio.com] Or, are these "weapons" further up or down the sound spectrum?

      I would expect before our people make accusations, that they have actually detected some kind of sonic assault. A number of people unexplainably get sick, so we ASSume that the commies are causing it? There are too few details to make any kind of judgement, IMHO.

      How close is the embassy to the sea? Did they consider mermaids, sirens, and leviathan? Maybe there is a super intelligent octopus planning on world domination, and he's relying on sound that humans can't detect? Mmmm - octopus. Now I'm hungry . . .

      --
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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by maxwell demon on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:30PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 30 2017, @10:30PM (#575395) Journal

    Obviously someone didn't read the safety instructions for his sonic screwdriver.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 30 2017, @11:33PM (#575405)

    Typical of these leeches... one comes up with a novel unprovable excuse to stop working, next thing you know they all stop working for the same unprovable reason.

  • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by Snotnose on Sunday October 01 2017, @12:08AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday October 01 2017, @12:08AM (#575411)

    One has to wonder...

    Hawkwind rocked [youtube.com]

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  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by mendax on Sunday October 01 2017, @12:28AM

    by mendax (2840) on Sunday October 01 2017, @12:28AM (#575422)

    Real sonic attacks are whenever Donald Trump opens his mouth and exercises his vocal chords. They are assaults to logic and reason, not to mention good English grammar. Someone turn off his mike for God's sake!

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
  • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Sunday October 01 2017, @05:01AM

    by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 01 2017, @05:01AM (#575479) Journal

    Damn Atreides. http://duneii.com/special/#345 [duneii.com]

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pTamok on Sunday October 01 2017, @09:13AM

    by pTamok (3042) on Sunday October 01 2017, @09:13AM (#575503)

    Having read some discussion about this between well qualified people (I'm not one of them), I'm leaning towards the idea that this might, possibly, be use of the "Microwave Auditory Effect" [wikipedia.org]

    In 2003–04, the WaveBand Corp. had a contract from the U.S. Navy for the design of a MAE system they called MEDUSA [wikipedia.org] (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) intended to remotely, temporarily incapacitate personnel. The project was cancelled in 2005.

    Although that project was cancelled, it is entirely possible a new one was started up, or the results have been used by someone else.

    The Wikipedia article states:

    ...the subjects were discovered to be able to hear appropriately pulsed microwave radiation, from a distance of 100 meters from the transmitter. This was accompanied by side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and a pins and needles sensation.

    There's a more complete exposition on hackaday: https://hackaday.com/2017/09/25/cuban-embassy-attacks-and-the-microwave-auditory-effect/ [hackaday.com]

    An interesting question is also, if the diplomats were affected on purpose (i.e. it is not some weird accident or medical condition experienced by the diplomats), who benefits?

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