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posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 23, @11:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the can-you-hear-that? dept.

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

Related Stories

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

U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks" 15 comments

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

A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It 41 comments

The State Department has not provided further details about the medical condition of the affected staffers. But government officials have suggested anonymously that the diplomats may have been assaulted with some sort of sonic weapon.

Experts in acoustics, however, say that's a theory more appropriate to a James Bond movie.

Sound can cause discomfort and even serious harm, and researchers have explored the idea of sonic weaponry for years. But scientists doubt a hidden ultrasound weapon can explain what happened in Cuba.

"I'd say it's fairly implausible," said Jürgen Altmann, a physicist at the Technische Universität Dortmund in Germany and an expert on acoustics.

Once again, the New York Times gets it wrong. James Bond is not the movie genre they're looking for.

mrpg also brings us this less-critical AP report, What Americans Heard in Cuba Attacks: The Sound.


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

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

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

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  • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday May 23, @11:34PM (17 children)

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday May 23, @11:34PM (#683320)

    What possible motivation could the Chinese (or the Cubans) possibly have for attacking the US Consulate or Embassy with some sort of secret "sonic weapon".

    What could they possibly gain? It is just nonsense.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @12:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @12:02AM (#683324)

      They have to provide some excuse for things....

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bob_super on Thursday May 24, @12:04AM (3 children)

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 24, @12:04AM (#683325)

      I wouldn't be surprised to learn, 25 years from now, that some US spying device is backfiring on its users...

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by c0lo on Thursday May 24, @12:32AM (1 child)

        by c0lo (156) on Thursday May 24, @12:32AM (#683329)

        I wouldn't be surprised to learn, 25 years from now, that some US spying device is backfiring on its users...

        Or that the State Department recruits, for various (maybe unintended) reasons, brain-damaged employees.

        (grin)

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 24, @12:36AM

          by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 24, @12:36AM (#683330)

          Diplomatic posts in Cuba and China ... It's probably a new not-quite-commie vaccine formula, with side-effects.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @03:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @03:18PM (#683578)

        The "Cone Of Silence" is broken.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 24, @12:47AM (4 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday May 24, @12:47AM (#683336)

      No, but that doesn't mean it's made-up. As someone else said, it could be a US device that's backfiring, but it could also be someone else targeting US personnel, but not working with the permission of either the Chinese or Cuban governments. In fact, it could be a false-flag attack, with the intention of harming relations between those countries.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @12:56AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @12:56AM (#683339)

        It isn't likely we'd be messing up our own embassy employees.

        The obvious is a 3rd party. Countries routinely spy on embassies that are neither their own nor in their own country. Example: France can spy on the Malaysian embassy in Vietnam.

        The next most obvious is China. Cuba was the testing ground.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:14AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:14AM (#683349)

          Example: France can spy on the Malaysian embassy in Vietnam.

          Once, I met a German girl in England who was going to school in France.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday May 24, @09:38AM

            by c0lo (156) on Thursday May 24, @09:38AM (#683479)

            Example: France can spy on the Malaysian embassy in Vietnam.

            The next most obvious is China. Cuba was the testing ground.

            Once, I met a German girl in England who was going to school in France.

            Even more of a reason it is blindly obvious the Chinese were testing the soil in Cuba. (grin)

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday May 24, @02:55AM

          by c0lo (156) on Thursday May 24, @02:55AM (#683388)

          It isn't likely we'd be messing up our own embassy employees on purpose or knowingly

          FTFY

          The obvious is a 3rd party.

          I don't see it as obvious. Perhaps you want to come with a p-hacking model, maybe it will gain some credibility?

          (this is an "failure of imagination" argument: I can't imagine other causes, so you must accept my assertion as obvious).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:57AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:57AM (#683358)

      Why doesn't the embassy install some microphones so we know if accoustic attacks are occuring? I'm getting tired of hearing how people might have been attacked, since it would be trivial to detect.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday May 24, @05:11AM (1 child)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24, @05:11AM (#683430) Journal

      secret "sonic weapon".

      The trauma aspect is suspected to be a side effect of a spying apparatus.

      Still it doesn't say much about our highly vaunted NSA/CIA that they remain totally clueless about the cause this while at the same time spying on american citizens at home and poking around in presidential campaigns, and blaming ZTE for spying without a shred of evidence.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Thursday May 24, @07:43AM

      by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24, @07:43AM (#683460)

      Possibly they are testing brain control stuff, contextually sending a message like "watch out, we are doing it too, succesfully".
      The USA is not new to completely made up casi belli, but this kind of incidents is not grave enough to warrant a full scale reaction, so I'd discard this possibility.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by black6host on Thursday May 24, @01:45AM (3 children)

    by black6host (3827) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24, @01:45AM (#683356) Journal

    [...] 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.

    The State Dept. is getting smarter every day! Oh, it hurts when you stand there? Well, don't stand there!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by black6host on Thursday May 24, @01:50AM (2 children)

      by black6host (3827) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24, @01:50AM (#683357) Journal

      Oh, I forgot to mention this from TFS/A: "mild traumatic brain injury". I mean really, I don't want any kind of traumatic brain injury. Not even mild. Is that like being in a mild coma? Or mildly pregnant? At least if's probably not worse than mildly dead, I have to say that.

      • (Score: 2) by Bot on Thursday May 24, @07:45AM (1 child)

        by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 24, @07:45AM (#683462)

        > I don't want any kind of traumatic brain injury.

        You should ditch the TV, the social media, uh, the mother in law too...

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:37PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @01:37PM (#683537)

          I've actually done all three :)

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Subsentient on Thursday May 24, @02:50AM

    Must have found my mixtape.
    --
    "Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer." -Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #208
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @04:36AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @04:36AM (#683416)

    Looks like US embassies are in full panic mode. Good.

    I bet even a perfectly normal speaker sending barely audible weird screeches or low hum will drive them mad, you know with nocebo and all that.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Thursday May 24, @06:13AM

      by anubi (2828) on Thursday May 24, @06:13AM (#683441) Journal

      My first impression is someone deployed an ultrasonic doppler presence detector, and did not turn off the ultrasonic emitter during the day.

      I had the same impressions at a department store when I went to University. I could not be in that store but just a few minutes before I was headachey, uneasy, nauseous, the whole gamut of stuff I couldn't put a finger on. Talking to other students, I found mostly women were sensitive to it and felt it as well - but no one knew what it was.

      I later experienced the exact same thing when I was working in the aerospace industry. They used ultrasonic presence detectors in the lab that were never turned off. I not only had my nausea, but I also had a spectrum analyzer and a microphone there. I can't hear it as a tone, it registers to me like a pressure and a dizziness. But the microphone did hear it. And the mystery to me was solved. Now I know why the earlier TV's and monochrome computer monitors would make me naueous ( Magnetostriction of the horizontal output transformer and CRT deflection yoke at 17.5KHz ) and one of my computers ( again, the power supply ) was giving me the heebie-jeebies.

      I could hear the TV's, and that's what got me onto maybe this is something even higher frequency than TV deflection.

      Some people are sensitive to ultrasound.... but we don't recognize what it is.

      Maybe it works kinda like short wave ultraviolet being bad for the eyes [medscape.com], even though we don't see it as light.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @08:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, @08:06AM (#683467)

    Israel is known to assassinate people around the world. No other nation could get away with state-sponsored terrorism like israel (Khazaria) does. The Wikipedia page on List of Israeli assassinations [wikipedia.org] provides an overview of what Khazars are capable of. (look at the length that page!)

    They do a lot more than assassinate people. They attack targets and blame them on someone else. Sonic attacks (or another kind we don't know about yet) are made on innocent, unsuspecting civilians and diplomats alike to ruin relations between nations and to get them both to fight deadly wars. The khazar looks on in glee at what he created.

    There is no reason to believe this attack on another innocent person in China was not made by the israeli khazar jews to create "issues" between the US and China.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by pTamok on Thursday May 24, @10:14AM

    by pTamok (3042) on Thursday May 24, @10:14AM (#683487)

    I still think it's unlikely to be anything to do with sounds transmitted through the air. The symptoms seem consistent with the Microwave Auditory Effect [wikipedia.org], and a foreign embassy is likely to be a place where Intelligence organisations are likely to be playing around with microwaves - there is a long history of this for example, 'The Thing' [wikipedia.org] from 1945. Given that people have complained of hearing noises when resting at night, I would not be surprised if hotel rooms likely to be used by diplomats are bugged, possibly by devices incorporated in the walls when the place was built, and microwaves could be used to energise them, or recharge batteries etc.
    Many people with a technical bent have heard of van Eck phreaking [wikipedia.org], which is simply one aspect of gaining insight into the workings of electronic apparatus by observing its emissions - something which the TEMPEST programme [wikipedia.org] aims to minimise. It is possible that using microwaves to energise otherwise quiescent circuits and thereby reveal a fingerprint was the intent: high-energy pulsed microwaves could certainly be used for this - anyone who has used a GSM phone near an audio amplifier can identify the characteristic noises that are emitted when the phone periodically contacts a base-station, and the bip-debip debip debip sound that just precedes the phone ringing, followed by the storm of noise while a conversation takes place. Looking at how pulsed microwaves are affected can reveal a lot about any equipment in the signal path, as can analysing echoes from equipment which reflect signals.

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