Seasons Greetings

Flash News: Carrie Meek, the grandchild of a slave and pioneering Black former congresswoman, dies at 95      - | -     Fauci says new variant omicron might 'evade immune protection'      - | -     Police report 'some fatalities' after more than 20 people were injured when SUV drives through Wisconsin parade      - | -     Austria back in lockdown as protests erupt over COVID restrictions in Austria, Italy, Croatia      - | -     Colorado pilot killed while fighting a wildfire near Estes Park reported turbulent conditions moments before the crash      - | -     Florida legislature sends four COVID-19 vaccine bills to Gov. DeSantis      - | -     Biden says Taiwan's independence is up to Taiwan after meeting with Xi and Clarifies US 'won't Change' Its Policy On Taipei      - | -     The FDA Could Authorize COVID-19 Booster Shots For All Adults to be available by weekend      - | -     NYC moves ahead with boosters for all as FDA deliberates      - | -     6 teens from Aurora Central High School were hospitalized after a shooting near Colorado high school      - | -     9-year-old Dallas boy dies after Astroworld festival crush; death toll rises to 10      - | -     Colorado works to curb superspreader events, announces vaccine mandate as Mountain West states grapple with a surge      - | -     Attorney: 'We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here'      - | -     New infections on the rise in most states; Vaccinated Vikings player hospitalized with COVID-19 issues      - | -     Vaccine misinformation widely believed, polling shows; Pfizer CEO Calls People Who Spread Misinformation About COVID Vaccines ‘Criminals’     - | -     Part of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier opens to the public for the first time in nearly a century     - | -     At least 1 dead in Alaska grocery store shooting, authorities say; suspect in custody and charged with murder      - | -     Biden administration waives immigration-related fees for thousands of evacuated Afghans      - | -     NYPD Commissioner Warns More Guns on Street 'Last Thing We Need' as SCOTUS Mulls Permit Law      - | -     The United States for a surge of vaccinated international travelers from Monday      - | -     Gov. Doug Ducey says Arizona won't stop using COVID money for anti-mask grants     - | -     DOJ targets Texas again, Sues Texas Over Voting Bill, Alleging It Violates Civil Rights Act     - | -     The US gives final approval of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11      - | -     Michelle Wu becomes the first woman, a person of color elected as Boston mayor      - | -     States prepare to receive pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech doses ahead of full approval for ages 5-11: COVID-19 updates      - | -     Charleston church shooting victims, DOJ reach $88M settlement over white nationalist's gun      - | -     Remains found in California desert identified as Lauren Cho, missing N.J. woman      - | -     Vladimir Putin Drives Down Europe Gas Prices By Ordering Company to Supply Austria, Germany      - | -     Florida school district that defied governor on mask rules will end requirement for its high schools      - | -     Blinken says he ordered reviews of State Dept's evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan      - | -     Saudi, UAE summon Lebanon envoys over minister's Yemen war remarks      - | -     Biden easily won Virginia. Why is McAuliffe struggling?      - | -     Protest Over 'Unsettling' Antisemitic 'Vax the Jews' Banner Hung on Texas Bridge      - | -     'Unite the Right' rally's planners accused in civil trial      - | -     Tokyo's Government Is Finally Saying Goodbye to the Floppy Disk      - | -     Google pays fines to Russia over banned content      - | -     Amid the Capitol riot, Facebook faced its own insurrection      - | -     Los Angeles observes 150 years since one of the largest lynchings in American history      - | -     Deadly bacteria found in aromatherapy product sold at Walmart      - | -     Every day, Biden smells like more of a loser      - | -     Army reservist with 'Hitler mustache' demoted, discharged after Jan. 6 charges      - | -     Troubled developer Evergrande to resume trading, warns of financial obligations      - | -     Britain has more new cases than France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined      - | -     Alyssa Milano says she was arrested at voting rights demonstration outside White House      - | -     Click to Pray 2.0 - Vatican app gets up close and personal with God      - | -     Jan. 6 committee to hold contempt vote for Steve Bannon over subpoena refusal      - | -     Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies?      - | -     Religious exemptions threaten to undermine US Covid vaccine mandates      - | -     U.S. Supreme Court again protects police accused of excessive force      - | -     Biden PFAS plan puts chemical industry’s feet to the fire      - | -     A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics      - | -     Havana Syndrome is a mystery illness with 200-plus documented cases. Lawmakers are demanding action.      - | -     The root of Joe Biden's troubles      - | -     The Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine offers good protection now. A booster shot will maximize that, experts say      - | -     China's new hypersonic missile demonstrated an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise, report says      - | -     At least 15 dead and dozens missing in India floods      - | -     Ancient eel-like creature is named after Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi     - | -     Hacking incidents that took place in 2016 Presidential Election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton     - | -     Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro announces he's running for governor     - | -     Back-to-school gun violence was the highest on record. Active shooter drills may not be the answer     - | -     Several asteroids bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza will approach Earth starting Friday      - | -     The next big cyberthreat isn't ransomware. It's killware. And it's just as bad as it sounds.      - | -     California launches investigation into oil spill      - | -     Someone needs to remind Greg Abbott he is a conservative      - | -     Navy engineer accused of trying to pass intel in peanut butter sandwich      - | -     What would a Covid memorial look like? Designers share ideas for 'unprecedented' tribute      - | -     Facebook unveils new controls for kids using its platforms      - | -     China Calls India 'Unreasonable' as Nations Fail to Deescalate Border Tensions in Talks      - | -     The Biden-Harris train wreck may have its savior: 2024 GOP nominee Donald Trump      - | -     President Schumer or President Manchin?      - | -     Why world's top virologist cautions India against reopening      - | -     NASA's asteroid spacecraft Lucy launches this week on ambitious 12-year mission      - | -     Paralyzed Texas cheerleader Makayla Noble put back on ventilator, fitted with feeding tube      - | -     Former Trump press aide: We went to Fox News 'to get what we wanted out'      - | -     Biden is the wrong leader for America      - | -     Sex and the City spin-off confirmed for December      - | -     Covid is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of people in urban areas      - | -     How podcasts have become the backbone for white supremacist recruiting      - | -     Apple Watch flags multiple types of irregular heartbeats, study shows      - | -     Shakira says she was attacked by a pair of wild boars      - | -     Texas nurse killed 4 patients, prosecutors allege      - | -     Russia threatens to block YouTube as confrontation with Google escalates      - | -     Britney Spears' lawyers push for end to father's control ahead of hearing      - | -     The big idea - Combining an HIV vaccine with immunotherapy may reduce the need for daily medication      - | -     Predicting the future isn’t magic anymore! AI in Marketing      - | -     The majority of unvaccinated Americans believe boosters prove COVID vaccines don't work      - | -     Milley defends calls to Chinese at end of Trump presidency      - | -     Ford jolts auto industry with $11 billion investment in electric vehicles      - | -     Pak woman principal sentenced to death for committing blasphemy      - | -     Democrats' aging leaders need all their skills for the task ahead      - | -     Deadly U.S. passenger train crashes in recent years, NTSB to investigate fatal Montana Amtrak derailment      - | -     Trump’s return to office 'would be a disaster' for US intel: Former DHS whistleblower      - | -     Question of Taliban's Recognition "Not on the table": Russia At UN      - | -     US rules out adding India or Japan to security alliance with Australia and UK      - | -     New York health chief, defender of Cuomo policies, resigning      - | -     Hubble finds 6 dead galaxies in space, baffling experts      - | -     Joe Biden has damaged U.S.-Europe relations even more than Donald Trump      - | -     China’s Evergrande says it has ‘resolved’ a scheduled payment      - | -     Florida Marijuana activists push for legalization on '22 Ballot: 'People are ready for it'      - | -     Ghost forests creep up U.S. East Coast      - | -     Donald Trump sues niece Mary Trump, New York Times for $100 million over disclosing tax documents      - | -     Google expands in New York with $2.1 billion office purchase      - | -     CIA director's team member reported Havana Syndrome symptoms during India trip      - | -     A life and death question for regulators: Is Tesla’s Autopilot safe?      - | -     George Holliday, who shot video of police beating Rodney King, dies      - | -     Elon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight     - | -     COVID creates shortages of an array of U.S. medical supplies     - | -     FBI searches family home of fiancé Brian Laundrie after her likely remains were found #vanlife     - | -     The Biden cat's arrival to the White House has been delayed     - | -     Top U.S. General confirms Chinese, nuclear meetings but denies anti-Trump Plot      - | -     Russia still largest driver of disinformation on social media, Facebook report finds      - | -     Human remains found inside 500-pound alligator. How common are alligator attacks?      - | -     'New' Van Gogh drawing to go on display in Amsterdam museum      - | -     1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19      - | -     Facebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens      - | -     Donald Trump's mental health becomes an issue again      - | -     Pakistan's Imran Khan says world should give Taliban 'time' on human rights but fears 'chaos' without aid      - | -     COVID-Sniffing dogs at miami airport have 99 percent accuracy at detecting infections      - | -     Biden vaccine plan hinges on rarely used rule, inviting legal challenges      - | -     New York city schools reopen to a mixture of fear and relief      - | -     U.S. COVID deaths highest since march, with Mississippi hit hardest      - | -     FBI releases newly declassified document on Saudi government's role in 9/11 attacks      - | -     Former Navy Commander Sentenced to Life in Prison for ‘Heinous’ Sexual Abuse and Child Pornography of a Family Member      - | -     Stop mounting your TVs above the fireplace: Why it's actually a terrible idea      - | -     What a CDC report says about vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant      - | -     Pro-China misinformation operation attempting to exploit US Covid divisions      - | -     FBI releases new videos of suspect who planted pipe bombs outside RNC, DNC      - | -     Telemedicine abortion gets restricted in new executive order by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem      - | -     Geronimo the alpaca, who UK health officials killed thinking he had bovine tuberculosis, might not have been sick      - | -     20 years on, 9/11 mastermind still awaits Guantanamo trial      - | -     Medicine is an imperfect science – but you can still trust its process      - | -     Trump's inner circle says after Afghan debacle he will run in 2024      - | -     J&J Shot study shows Covid infections halved in health workers      - | -     U.S. probing nearly 350 reports of oil spills in wake of Hurricane Ida      - | -     How to protect children under 12 from Covid-19, according to Fauci      - | -     TikTok, live streaming, and 'creator economy' quickly changing social apps landscape      - | -     Relatives of MH17 victims speak of trauma in court      - | -     Doctors in Covid-19 are 'surprised and disappointed' at new record hospitalizations      - | -     Singing star Sarah Harding dies at 39 after cancer fight      - | -     As Donald Trump makes noise about 2024, Melania Trump tries to stay out of the public eye      - | -     COVID vaccine boosters: When is it time for that extra shot? Here's what we know      - | -     At least 46 dead after flooding overwhelms NYC, Northeast      - | -     States that had some of the worst Covid-19 case rates in past week also reported the highest rates of new vaccinations      - | -     There's now an official Trump Card design, and getting one will cost you $45      - | -     British defense secretary suggests US is no longer a superpower after Afghanistan withdrawal      - | -     15M Covid vaccine doses have been wasted in the U.S. since March, new data shows      - | -     As Biden falters, a two-man race for the 2024 GOP nomination begins to take shape      - | -     What Hurricane Ida Means for Louisiana's COVID-19 Problem      - | -     Mu COVID variant, which scientists fear is resistant to vaccines, detected in 39 countries      - | -     Ida left more than 1 million without power for possibly weeks, and now comes the scorching heat      - | -     Florida woman hospitalized with Covid returns home to find husband dead of same disease      - | -     Radioactive snakes could help scientists track fallout from Fukushima Disaster      - | -     Covid third wave could peak between Oct-Nov in India; intensity expected to be 1/4 of second wave      - | -     One dead, New Orleans without power as Hurricane Ida slams Louisiana      - | -     Fear and anticipation on the streets of Kabul as Afghans adapt to Taliban rule      - | -     Florida radio host 'Mr. Anti-Vax' dies of COVID-19      - | -     This new antibody can stop all COVID-19 strains, including new variants, experts say      - | -     Biden on terror attack in Afghanistan, eviction moratorium blocked among others      - | -     Biden and Trump battle over what could have been in Afghanistan      - | -     Alone in the sky, pilot and fiancee save 17 in Tenn. flood      - | -     Experts find 231 million year-old fossil, ancestor to most reptiles      - | -     With more than 100,000 people in the hospital with Covid-19, this August is worse than last, expert says      - | -     Nearly two dozen San Diego, California, students and their families are stuck in Afghanistan      - | -     California looking to pay drug addicts to stay sober      - | -     Will an asteroid ever hit Earth? NASA scientist gives reassuring answer      - | -     Biden receives inconclusive intelligence report on covid origins      - | -     Why Biden will end the final mission in Afghanistan in just 7 days?      - | -     China wants families to have three children. But many women aren't convinced      - | -     Strange wasp nests glow neon green under UV light      - | -     Twin babies were 'swept away' in Tennessee floods that killed at least 22      - | -     Kathy Hochul sworn in as 1st female New York governor; Cuomo blasts state attorney general      - | -     Why India's outbreak is a threat to the world     - | -     Suspected smuggling boat tragedy in San Diego adds to Biden's migrant crisis woes     - | -     Maryland votes to nix state song, a Confederate call to arms     - | -     Kim Janey rewrites history, Boston's first Black and female mayor     - | -     Gunman kills 10 at Colorado supermarket in second US mass shooting in a week     - | -     Kamala Harris laughs when asked if she will visit the border raises sharp criticism online     - | -     Roger Stone under fresh scrutiny as Capitol attack investigation intensifies     - | -     Vaccines will likely not be mandatory for teachers: Biden’s Education Secretary     - | -     Fauci warns about potential for an oncoming resurgence of virus if restrictions eased     - | -     Biden plug relief to Americans, celebrates 'transformational' victory on COVID-19 relief     - | -     LA Schools to Reopen in mid-April & NY City will open high schools next week     - | -     Women are tired of explaining to men like Andrew Cuomo why sexual harassment is wrong     - | -     Biden signs orders on gender equity, nominates two women to be four-star commanders     - | -     Nation takes baby steps to normality after year in lockdown; "The virus isn't going to go away," says Harvard epidemiologist     - | -     Rumours of vaccine site giving jabs to anyone because of low demand. Hundreds lined up     - | -     Vaccine supply will "dramatically" increase in weeks ahead: Fauci     - | -     Biden calls it "Neanderthal thinking" slams Texas and Mississippi's decisions to lift COVID-19 mask mandates     - | -     This Is What GOP Feared. Now that Trump Has Governed with Executive Orders, Dems Plan to Do Same      - | -     Man Throwing 'Incendiary Devices' at ICE Detention Center Is Killed in Attack      - | -     Mueller Hearing Pushed Back a Week to Allow More Time for Him to Answer Questions      - | -     Trump Tells 4 Congresswomen of Color to 'Go Back' to 'Crime-Infested' Countries They Came From      - | -     GOP Congressman Invokes 'The Deep State'

Features & Columns

Havana Syndrome is a mystery illness with 200-plus documented cases. Lawmakers are demanding action.

viewsViews 274

Havana Syndrome is a mystery illness with 200-plus documented cases. Lawmakers are demanding action.

2021-10-19 01:51:23

By K. Shalini  Image Source: Screen Shot

U.S. lawmakers and diplomats are increasingly frustrated with the State Department's response to "Havana Syndrome," as the number of American diplomats affected by the mysterious health attacks continues to climb.

There are now more than 200 estimated cases of the illness, with new incidents emerging in just the last few weeks among Americans stationed in Colombia, Germany and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the State Department does not have a coordinator leading its response to the attacks. The Biden administration's initial pick, Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, left the post in September after just six months.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

"The State Department is not treating this crisis with the requisite senior-level attention that it deserves," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has played a leading role in addressing the problem. She said it's unclear what prompted Spratlen's departure.

Jeanne Shaheen looking towards the camera: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 25.© Pool, Getty Images Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 25.

Shaheen and 10 other senators on the committee, including the panel's top Democrat and Republican, sent a stinging letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week calling on him to replace Spartlen "immediately" with a high-level official.

"We are extremely alarmed that reports of these incidents continue to grow. It is clear that this threat continues to target U.S. diplomats and related personnel, and reflects a significant, unmitigated threat to our national security," Shaheen and the other lawmakers wrote.

Marc Polymeropoulos in Afghanistan in 2011. The retired CIA officer said he first began experiencing symptoms of Havana Syndrome in a Moscow hotel room in 2017.© Courtesy of Marc Polymeropoulos Marc Polymeropoulos in Afghanistan in 2011. The retired CIA officer said he first began experiencing symptoms of Havana Syndrome in a Moscow hotel room in 2017.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that he expects the agency to name a new coordinator in "the coming days," and he defended Blinken's handling of the issue.

"The secretary has no higher priority than the health and the safety and the security of our work force and their family members and dependents," Price said.

But some rank-and-file foreign service officers are uneasy.

“There doesn't seem a plan of how to address this,” said a former senior State Department official who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the issue. This person said there is widespread concern inside the State Department that the agency’s leaders are not taking the attacks seriously enough.

“There are a lot of people who aren't satisfied, a lot of people aren't happy ... a lot of people who say they've been ignored,” the former official added. “It's really becoming a department-wide morale issue.”

Havana Syndrome symptoms can be completely debilitating

The CIA and the Pentagon have been more aggressive in tackling the issue, and it's not clear why the State Department has lagged behind, said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior intelligence officer who began experiencing Havana Syndrome symptoms in 2017 while in Russia.

For Polymeropoulos, it started in his Moscow hotel room with a severe case of vertigo, a ringing in his ear and a crippling headache.

"I've been in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've been shot at plenty of times, but this was pretty scary," he said in an interview earlier this year. He was eventually diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

American diplomats stationed in Cuba were the first to report signs of an attack in 2016, thus the label "Havana Syndrome." Many of those afflicted with the condition say their symptoms began with a piercing noise, a sensation of intense pressure or vibration in the head, and pain in the ear or the head, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences.

'This thing is obviously escalating'

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that at least five American families connected to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia were experiencing symptoms of the illness and at least one family had been flown out of the country for treatment.

Colombian President Ivan Duque told other news outlets that American officials had informed his government of the cases and both the U.S. and Colombian officials were investigating.

The Colombian cases come on the heels of reports that U.S. Embassy staff in Berlin had been the target of an "alleged sonic attack." And Vice President Kamala Harris delayed a trip to Vietnam last month after reports of an attack on U.S. diplomats in that country's capital.

“This thing is obviously escalating,” said the former senior State Department official.

He noted the cases in Colombia emerged a week before Blinken’s planned travel to that country and expressed fear that a muted U.S. response could embolden the foreign actors behind the attacks.

“It's not a coincidence,” he said of the cases that occurred just before Harris' and Blinken's trips. “This is obviously well thought out," he said, and a "malicious state actor that's doing this.”

US still doesn't know who's behind Havana Syndrome

Shaheen said it's no wonder victims of the attack are fed up. Four years after the first cases emerged, the U.S. government still doesn't have the answers to key questions.

"We need to figure out what's causing it, how it's being done, we need to figure out who's behind it, and then we need to come up with the appropriate response," she said.

"I wish we had answers to all of these questions," Shaheen said. "It's very frustrating ... for those people who have been attacked and their families, as well as our personnel who are looking at overseas assignments where this is a threat."

Some lawmakers and diplomats believe Russia is behind the attacks, but Shaheen said she has not seen any conclusive intelligence assessments about who is to blame.

"Now if you ask me, do I think Russia has the technology and the global reach to do these kinds of attacks, I would say yes," she said. "Unfortunately, they're not the only ones."

Many lawmakers and scientists believe the illness is caused by "directed energy attacks." In a 2020 report, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said the reported symptoms were “consistent with the effects of directed pulsed radio frequency energy."

Report: Pulsed radio frequency 'most plausible' cause of illness that hit US diplomats in Cuba, China

"It's a pretty insidious weapon," Polymeropoulos said, "because it's obviously proven very difficult" to determine who is to blame for the attacks. He said directed energy weapons are not new, but their use against humans is.

"It's more unusual that an adversary would actually utilize something like this because it's so immoral," he said. The attacks have forced a slew of diplomats and intelligence officers into early retirement, he said, and dissuaded countless others from accepting overseas assignments.

Three years after he was targeted, Polymeropoulos still suffers from debilitating headaches and brain fog, among other problems, and he had to retire early from the CIA because he couldn't focus.

"This is almost an act of war," and the Biden administration needs to respond forcefully, he said. 

Shaheen and the other senators said the State Department is "insufficiently engaged" in the U.S. government's efforts to determine the cause of the attacks, identify those responsible and develop a plan to hold them accountable.

She said the "mixed response" dates back to the Trump administration, when some officials downplayed or dismissed victims of the attacks. But the lackluster approach as continued to a problem under Blinken's stewardship, she said.

She noted that Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin issued guidance to Department of Defense personnel to raise awareness and increase preparedness for possible attacks. And CIA Director William Burns has taken the attacks "very seriously," she said.

"I hope that we're going to see a real, better, whole-of-government, coordinated approach," Shaheen said.

Price said State Department leaders have taken a number of important steps to tackle the issue. Among them: working to ensure those who report symptoms get medical care and launching a pilot program to to collect "pre-incident" baseline health information. The latter step will give medical officials comparison data if those individuals are later subject to an "anomalous health incident," he said. 

Post Your Comment

Most Recent News

NFL: Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC North Showdown

5 December, 2021

  Ravens v Steelers Preview  ...More

NFL: Key AFC Divisional Matchups Between Bills and Patriots, Ravens and Steelers

5 December, 2021

  Image: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (Image Source: David Rosenblum / Icon Sportswire) On this week’s docket, seven of 14 games are between opponents from the same division.......More

La Liga: Diego Simeone Backs Atletico to Turn Poor Form Around After Defeat

5 December, 2021

  Simeone backs Atletico to turn poor form around after defeat  ...More

Get Published

Want to publish your own articles?

Create an account, and submit your articles, photos and/or videos. They will be reviewed by our professional copy editors, and if it is approved, it will be published for all our readers to view.