Are crickets to blame for Havana Syndrome? Judge to hear challenge to Texas abortion law. France: DNA IDs former cop as serial killer.
Are crickets to blame for the mysterious “Havana Syndrome”?
BuzzFeed News has obtained a report previously classified “secret” by the State Department which claims to put to rest the mystery of the Havana Syndrome, which has notoriously afflicted over 200 government employees, and sparked enquiries by the Defense Department and Congress. According to JASON, a scientific advisory group, the Havana Syndrome may be down to cricket calls and a case of mass hysteria.
US diplomats in Cuba, where the Havana Syndrome first appeared, recorded the ear-piercing sound that was assaulting their eardrums. Entomologists who heard the recording recognized the sound as being of insect origin, rather than being something electronic or mechanical. They eventually identified the Indies short-tail cricket, which is native to parts of the Caribbean, as the most likely culprit. You can hear recordings of the Indies short-tail cricket here.
The experts believe that the cricket hypothesis could account for some of the oddities of the “attacks”. For instance, some sufferers have reported that others around them appeared unaffected. This could be because the Indies short-tail cricket’s call is about an octave above the highest register on the piano, which many people may be unable to hear. Victims also report that they can “escape” the noise by moving around. The entomologists say this may mean that the cricket stops singing when it feels threatened by the humans moving around.
Previously, studies by both the University of Pennsylvania and the National Academies of scientists had claimed to have found various neurological and cognitive abnormalities among Havana Syndrome victims. They attributed these symptoms to an attack of some kind, possibly from directed energy or microwave weapon. Critics of those studies found their findings of neurological anomalies “unbelievably flimsy“. Skeptics also suggested that the Havana Syndrome was most likely a result of mass psychogenic illness, commonly known as mass hysteria.
The JASON report echoed the views of skeptics, concluding that “No plausible single source of energy (neither radio/microwaves nor sonic) can produce both the recorded audio/video signals and the reported medical effects”.
The researchers caution that “It cannot be ruled out that while the perceived sounds, while not harmful, are introduced by an adversary as deception so as to mask an entirely unrelated mode of causing illness”. However, they also emphasize that the sheer range of reported incidents and symptoms make it unlikely that an electronic “weapon” of some kind is to blame.
According to BuzzFeed, the State Department has had the JASON report in hand since 2018. Since then, U.S. State Department officials and military personnel in dozens of countries have reported Havana Syndrome attacks. They report a wide range of symptoms at the moment of the attack and its aftermath. These can include migraines, nausea, memory lapses, dizziness and cognitive fog. In the U.S., White House staffers and military advisors to former President Trump also reported suffering from the malady on the grounds of the White House itself.
Just this week, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the “Havana Act” to compensate State Department and military personnel who have been affected by the syndrome.
Following BuzzFeed‘s release of the report, the State Department released a statement suggesting they are not ready to abandon the “enemy action” hypothesis. A State Department spokesperson said, “We are grateful to the JASON Group for their insight, which while coming to no firm conclusions, has assisted us in our ongoing investigation of these incidents”. The spokesperson did not explain why they had not made the JASON report public or asked the National Academy of Science to consider it in their study.
Other recent Havana Syndrome incidents include:
Federal judge to weigh in on DOJ challenge to Texas abortion law
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Texas in a federal court in Austin over S.B. 8, a restrictive abortion law which outlaws abortions after about 6 weeks. The law has created chaos in Texas and neighboring states. Healthcare providers in Texas report that the law has complicated urgent reproductive care, including discouraging emergency procedures needed to protect women’s health. Meanwhile, abortion clinics in neighboring states are inundated with patients driving 100s of miles from Texas.
The law deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” a woman in obtaining an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, around 6 weeks. This is before most women even know they are pregnant. The law provides no exceptions for victims of incest and rape.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin will hear arguments from the DOJ today seeking a permanent injunction to enforcement of S.B. 8. The DOJ is hoping for a quick decision, but there is no telling when Pitman will rule.
France: DNA identifies ex-policeman as 80s and 90s serial killer
DNA testing has identified a murderer and rapist who terrorized France for decades. Sadly, the revelations came too late to bring the perpetrator to justice.
A serial killer called Le Grêlé, or the pockmarked man, committed at least four murders and six rapes between 1986 and 1994. His moniker originated from his most shocking crime, the rape and murder of 11-year-old Cécile Bloch in 1986. Bloch’s half-brother reported that her assailant had an acne-scarred face.
Details from Le Grêlé’s survivors led investigators to believe that their attacker was either a policeman or a gendarme, a military policeman. Earlier this month, a magistrate who recently re-opened the investigation sent out a letter to 750 gendarmes who had been stationed in Paris at the time of the attacks. Among them, 59-year-old François Vérove was due to give a DNA sample on Sept. 29. Vérove’s wife reported him missing on the 27th.
Police found Vérove dead, having taken his own life in a rental flat in a Mediterranean resort town. He left a suicide note, but police have not made the contents public. A sample of his DNA linked him to the four murders and six rapes. But investigators believe Vérove likely had many more victims and will be reopening some cold cases where DNA sampling had not previously taken place.abortion, cold case, crime, Department of Justice, DNA, France, Havana syndrome, international news, mass hysteria, mass psychogenic illness, national news, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news, reproductive rights, serial killer, State Department, Texas abortion law, US news, women's health, world news