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U.S. diplomats in Cuba were attacked by a ‘sonic weapon’

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A group of American diplomats in Havana, Cuba have suffered severe and unexplained hearing loss over the past year, which U.S. officials believe was caused by a covert and advanced sonic device. Something’s afoot in Havana. Reports are coming down the grapevine claiming that five US diplomats and at least one Canadian envoy have fallen ill, all suffering from acute hearing loss, headaches, and nausea. The cause? A covert sonic device – an acoustic weapon – that’s being reportedly used to terrorize the diplomatic staff.

The severity of some of the diplomats’ symptoms has forced them to cancel their Cuba tours early and return to the U.S. for treatment, the Associated Press reports. But what exactly is a sonic device, how common are they, and how much damage can they actually cause? Here’s what to know so far.

Months of investigation revealed several facts about the onset of the symptoms. They always appeared suddenly, not gradually, and only took place inside Cuban government-owned properties – normally the residences of the diplomats themselves.

The specificity of the targets and the hearing loss associated with the illness has led both the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service to conclude that a powerful acoustic device was the trigger.

However, U.S. officials who spoke anonymously to the AP said that the hearing loss was caused by a device deployed either inside or near the diplomats’ residences. The devices emitted a sound that was not audible to human ears, they added.

So what exactly is an acoustic weapon? There’s been no documented use of such a device for the purposes of attacking diplomatic personnel, so if the American investigators are right, then this would be the very first deployment of one.

That would indicate it was most likely an infrasonic or ultrasonic weapon. Infrasonic weapons can cause physical pain without detection, though they usually target the entire body rather than just the eardrums. The damage caused by acoustic weapons can vary from minor irritation to death, theoretically speaking. The effect can depend on the type of weapon and the range involved. Ryan Littlefield, who published a paper with the University of Portsmouth on the topic, says the fatality of such a device is unproven.

Police have used infrasound for riot control around the world, using it trigger vertigo, imbalance and other medical disruptions, according to Littlefield. In other cases, it’s been shown to cause vomiting and defecation. In still others, the technology has been used to disrupt targets’ hearing.

At this stage, it’s deeply unclear which is more plausible – but the point is that “silent” acoustic weapons do exist, and they certainly could have been deployed in Havana.

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Officers Down, Schools on Lockdown After North Carolina Prison Break

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According to reports, a failed escape in North Carolina’s Pasquotank Correctional Institution left several officers injured. Located in the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the prisoners set fire to the prison’s sewing plant to distract prison guards on the scene. The incident was first reported at around 3:30 p.m. when an alert was sent out via the state’s public safety Twitter account.

One officer was reportedly struck with a hammer, while three others were sent to a nearby hospital. Of the three, one is said to be an unresponsive female officer and the two others are males between 40 and 50 years of age. Officials later confirmed to local media that at least six people were sent to the Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City.

“It was chaos here,” the Virginian-Pilot cited Randy Cartwright, Pasquotank County Sheriff, saying. “We’re just getting things under control.”

In response to the incident, three nearby schools, Northside Elementary, Elizabeth City Middle School and Pasquotank County High School, have been placed on lockdown per instruction from Emergency Management.

The prison is an all-male institution with roughly 900 inmates. Speaking to reporters, an official with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Officer said “all we know is there were multiple people injured,” Newsweek reported.

According to Heavy, the prison previously made headlines back in February and April this year. In February an inmate was caught with marijuana while in April a prisoner was stabbed multiple times — he did survive his injuries.​

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Mattis Says US Army Must Ensure Having Military Options Over North Korea

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US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has shed light on the Pentagon’s stance on the North Korean issue amid controversial remarks made by President Donald Trump, saying that “only one thing will work” with regard to Pyongyang.

When asked about the Pentagon’s North Korea strategy, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said at an annual meeting with the military that despite Washington sticking to the “diplomatically-led economic sanctions buttressed effort” to convince Pyongyang to “turn off this [nuclear program] path,” the US Army should be “ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”

“[North] Korea is in all of our minds, and you know there is a reason,” Mattis said, adding, “What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say.”

He emphasized that currently, Washington resorts to diplomacy, adding that the UN Security Council twice in a row voted unanimously in favor of imposing stronger sanctions on Pyongyang over its ballistic and nuclear missile launches.

“The international community has spoken, but that means the US Army must stand ready,” Mattis said.

Mattis’ statement comes after last week US President Donald Trump’s tweets suggested that Washington might be considering a military option regarding North Korea. Most recently, the US president said that “only one thing will work” with regard to Pyongyang as “talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked.”

Earlier, he said that US State Secretary Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” adding that “we’ll do what has to be done.”
Meanwhile, earlier this week a Russian lawmaker, who has just returned from North Korea, claimed that Pyongyang is ready to test a missile capable of reaching the US western coast. The Pentagon responded by telling Sputnik that it is “closely” watching North Korea.

The North Korean nuclear and missile test issue has been aggravated in recent months as Pyongyang has held several rounds of missile launches and nuclear tests. The most recent one was conducted on September 15, when North Korea launched a ballistic missile, which flew over Japan before falling into the northern Pacific some 20 minutes after the launch.

On September 11, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted its toughest resolution yet against North Korea over its latest nuclear test and repeated missile launches. The move prompted harsh criticism from Pyongyang which subsequently vowed to use any means possible to retaliate against the United States.

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