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posted by martyb on Saturday January 15 2022, @12:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the curiouser-and-curiouser dept.

'Havana syndrome': US baffled after new cases in Europe

Four more US diplomats working in Geneva and Paris have fallen ill with a suspected neurological illness known as "Havana syndrome", US media report. Three diplomats became sick in the Swiss city and one in the French capital last summer, with some 200 people affected over five years.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the American government was working to get to the bottom of the mystery. There are fears an adversary may have targeted diplomats with microwaves. Mr Blinken said the issue had been raised with Russia but no determination had been made.

[...] A more innocent, but also unproven, theory is that those who got sick suffered from a mass condition brought on by some stressful underlying situation.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:16PM (2 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Saturday January 15 2022, @03:16PM (#1212926) Journal

    This sure smells like a very similar problem, so ingenuously called Colony Collapse Disorder. Entire bee hives were dying, and the cause was a Big F'ing Mystery. Except it wasn't a mystery. It was pesticides. Neonics. I mean, DUH, insecticides can't discriminate between pest insects and bees. The ones pushing the notion that it was a mystery were the insecticide peddlers.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16 2022, @10:11AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16 2022, @10:11AM (#1213088)

    So you're saying it's pesticides? What are you saying?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Sunday January 16 2022, @11:09PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday January 16 2022, @11:09PM (#1213276) Journal

      There's been a Cambrian Explosion number of new chemicals introduced relatively recently, as in, over the last couple of centuries. Ever since we figured out the Periodic Table and DNA, and grew much more powerful, making mining, metallurgy, and plastic production a lot easier, we've flooded society with all kinds of novel substances that we've hastened to harness for our use, without bothering to carefully check the safety. What makes it so tricky is that many of these substances are sleepers, their harmful effects very slight and taking a long time and a lot of exposure to build up to serious levels. Radiation poisoning we figured out fairly fast, because it acts fairly fast and is highly damaging.

      Worse, is that those who have a special interest in a particular substance have shown, over and over and over, that they do all they can to deny the dangers. They lie. When they learn of the dangers, they bury what they've learned. They even run propaganda campaigns, and discourage independent research on the safety. When it becomes excruciatingly obvious, they keep right on lying and denying. The behavior of the U.S. Radium Corp. is a case in point. Big Tobacco is perhaps the most notorious, for now. In the near future, that may be strongly eclipsed by Big Oil. More than 50 years ago, those bastards knew hydrocarbon exhaust was building up in the atmosphere, knew that was going to cause trouble, and instead of putting their enormous resources towards solutions, they spent it on disinformation campaigns while the problem steadily worsened.

      One thing that is awfully convenient and way too effective is blaming the victims. It's your own fault you're overweight. And while lifestyle does have a large bearing on obesity, it is hardly the only factor. Or it's your genes, you have bad genes, tough luck, sorry! Nope, doesn't have a thing to do with Bisphenol A, phthalates, and other plastics.

      And, yes, pesticide and herbicide manufacturers do it too: lie, obfuscate, and confuse. One of the most notorious cases of herbicide use run amok was the profligate use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. I certainly would take a very hard look at this practice of using pesticides in US embassies, and I strongly suspect that the speculation in the article about the cause of Havana Syndrome being the pesticides is correct.

      One of the greatest books of the 20th century is Silent Spring. Chemical companies hate that book, for exposing their recklessness in pushing dangerous chemicals into daily public use. Some of that stuff, now gone, was Scotchgard, Energine, and, incredibly, plain old lead and mercury. Used to make toy figurines, sinkers, plum bobs, and bullets out of lead. The brass alloy used for plumbing fixtures typically was 5% lead, until the 2010s. Mercury was used in thermometers, thermostats, blood pressure measurements, and dental fillings. That use in dental fillings is perhaps not enough to harm patients, but it likely does harm the dentists who worked with that on a daily basis. WE aren't totally sure, thanks in no small part to the efforts to suppress research on the matter. Mercury is what made mad hatters mad.