Cuba Mystery Deepens as Study Claims US Diplomats’ Brains Had Changed

Cuba Mystery Deepens as Study Claims US Diplomats’ Brains Had Changed
TEHRAN (FNA)- The curious case of US embassy staff who fell ill in mysterious circumstances in Cuba has taken another twist as researchers who studied their brains say they have found potential abnormalities which may explain their symptoms.

Scans taken from 40 US government workers who complained of suffering from concussion-like symptoms while deployed in Havana have revealed that the diplomats’ brains had lower volumes of white matter and lower functional connectivity between different brain regions than healthy volunteers, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The University of Pennsylvania researchers say the pattern of differences they found in the brain scans are unlike any other pathology, such as concussion or traumatic brain injury.

“These findings may represent something not seen before,” study co-author Douglas H. Smith stated.

The research was quickly dismissed by the Cuban government, which has repeatedly denied all responsibility for the bizarre affair. Interestingly it was also panned by several prominent experts, who pointed out that the differences found in the brains weren’t shown to be significant.

“This paper would not meet usual standards for publication, particularly in a high-profile journal, were it not for the topicality of the findings,” Prof Paul Matthews, head of brain sciences at Imperial College London, noted.

The strange phenomenon started in 2016, when dozens of government personnel and their family members began to report a range of neurological symptoms, including difficulty with concentration and memory, dizziness, visual issues and balance problems.

The symptoms were supposedly linked to sudden, intensely loud noises which US State Department officials later described as a “sonic attack” or “directional phenomena”. Officials failed to provide any specific evidence for the alleged “attack” and the specifics of the event remain a mystery.

In response to the latest study Johana Tablada, of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced that there was no evidence that it was a deliberate attack, two years after the investigation was opened.

“Cuba asks the US government to put an end to the manipulation of this issue as a pretext to impose more measures of aggression against the integrity of our country, this economy and the Cuban people,” she said.

So it appears as if we’re still no closer to understanding exactly what was going on at the US embassy in Havana.

posted by ZUKUNASHI at 22:22| Comment(0) | 国際・政治



Senior Official: Iran Welcomes Resolving Differences with S. Arabia, UAE
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi underlined that his country is in favor of resolving problems with Saudi Arabia and the UAE through talks.

"Iran welcomes resolving issues with Emirates and Saudi Arabia peacefully because that will be in favor of all regional countries," Vaezi said on Wednesday.

"Saudi Arabia’s policies have left them alone in the Muslim world and the region,” he added.

"The Saudis started a war that they thought would be ended in a few weeks,” Vaezi said, adding that “Yemen war was harmful to Saudi’s economy and distorted the country's face”.

“Saudi ambassador to UN admitted what Iran has repeated many times i.e. regional issues must be resolved through negotiations and by regional countries,” he underlined.

His remarks came after Saudi Arabia released an Iranian oil tanker which was “illegally” held for two months.

Reports said last Saturday that the Iranian oil tanker, named Happiness I, had been released and was heading towards Iran’s waters. The vessel was denied a leave permission by the Saudi port of Jeddah, in a move described by Iran as illegal.

On May 2, Saudi Arabia announced its coast guard had rescued a distressed Iranian oil tanker with 26 on board off the Red Sea port of Jeddah, after it faced "engine failure and the loss of control."

According to Iranian officials, the incident occurred on April 30 while Happiness I was on its way to the Suez Canal and that water had leaked into the tanker’s engine room.

Despite being fixed, the Saudis were refusing to let the vessel leave, and at the same time were demanding that Iran should pay $200,000 a day for maintaining the vessel in Jeddah.

Iranian officials slammed the Saudi demand, describing it as “illegal”.

Earlier this month, an Iranian lawmaker said Saudi Arabia's persistence in the continued seizure of the Iranian oil tanker was stirring tensions in the region.

"Saudi Arabia should not be after tensions in the Persian Gulf and among the neighbors through the continued holding of the Iranian oil tanker in Jeddah port. Tensions among the Persian Gulf littoral states do not benefit any country and only favor the West," Ali Bakhtiar, a senior member of the Iranian Parliament’s Energy Commission, said on July 06.

Leader's Aide: Seizure of British Tanker, Downing US Drone Turning Point in Muslim History
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Supreme Leader's top adviser for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati underlined that the IRGC's downing of the US spy drone and seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf was a milestone in the history of the Muslims.

"The activities and measures taken by the resistance front, including Hezbollah of Lebanon, Ansarullah of Yemen, Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Palestinian Hamas movement to restore the Islamic values make the Islamic countries and the resistance front stronger today than the past," Velayati said in a meeting with Palestinian Hamas Politburo Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri in Tehran on Tuesday.

He added that seizure of a British tanker and downing of an intruding US drone in Iran's territorial waters are considered as "a turning point in the history of the Muslims' struggles".

Velayati also added that the eye-catching and valuable efforts of the Palestinian fighters, specially in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, have given hope to the Muslims about the future of Palestine, noting, "Victory of the Palestinian nation and taking back the occupied territories will be materialized in the near future."

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force shot down an American spy drone over the territorial waters of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz at dawn on June 20.

Also, US President Donald Trump said the US air force was “cocked and loaded” to attack three Iranian targets a day later, but he called off the strike with 10 minutes to spare after being told that the airstrike might kill as many as 150 people.

Trump said in a series of tweets that he decided that the death toll was not a proportionate response to the Iranian shooting down of a US spy drone off the Iranian coast.

After Trump's remarks, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that his forces could have shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington.

“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.

“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”

General Hajizadeh also stressed that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object.

“Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same," General Hajizadeh said.

“We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.

"We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said.

“If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted.

Iranian Official Threatens American Bases in Region in Case US Decides on War, Qatari Media Claims
Tensions between Iran and the US in the Strait of Hormuz have escalated since the downing of American drone by Iranian forces over it purportedly violating the latter's borders. Washington later claimed to have downed one or two Iranian drones that allegedly came too close to an American ship, although Tehran denies losing any aircraft.

Qatar-based channel Al Jazeera has quoted advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader and former Minister of Defence Hossein Dehghan as saying that all American military bases in the region will be targeted by Tehran, if the US decides to go to war with Iran. Dehghan further reportedly noted that Iran is not going to negotiate its missile programme with anyone, including US President Donald Trump.

The adviser also reportedly blasted the UAE for allegedly becoming a "US centre to strike Iran's national security", but added that the country has already sent a delegation to Iran to discuss "peace".

Al Jazeera also quoted the adviser as cautioning other countries against changing the status of the Strait of Hormuz, saying that it would open up the path to dangerous confrontations. He namely brought up the UK's initiative to form a European "maritime protection mission" as an example of a move that could lead to "unpredictable consequences".

HMS Duncan, a Type 45 Destroyer, which will relieve HMS Montrose in the region as Iran threatens to disrupt shipping. Iran on Friday, July 12, 2019 demanded the British navy release an Iranian oil tanker seized last week off Gibraltar, accusing London of playing a “dangerous game” and threatening retribution

Dehghan reportedly argued that all countries must have the ability to safely sail and export oil through the Strait of Hormuz, which of late has become a flashpoint of tensions between Iran on the one side and the UK and US on the other.

The negative trend in US-Iranian relations started last year, but they aggravated further after Iranian air defences shot down an American drone after, as Tehran says, it violated the country’s border. The US planned a retaliatory strike in response but stopped short of launching it.

Later, the White House reported that one of its military ships had downed one or two Iranian drones that came too close to the vessel and vowed to do so in the future. Tehran has, however, denied losing any drone and even released footage of the US ship that allegedly shot down the drone to prove that the UAV safely returned from its reconnaissance mission.

Another source of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz is a conflict between London and Tehran that started after British authorities detained the tanker Grace 1 carrying Iranian oil in Gibraltar over suspicions its cargo was destined for Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Iran has denied the accusations and demanded the tanker be released, warning it may detain a British tanker otherwise. Iranian officials later detained the tanker Stena Impero on 19 July over violations of maritime regulations, but noted that it was not a "retaliation" for the Grace 1 incident.

posted by ZUKUNASHI at 00:06| Comment(0) | 福島原発事故