WASHINGTON (AP) — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.
The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.
The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a cellphone or computer.
What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.
Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The U.S. says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.
The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the U.S. Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analyzing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services, the AP has learned. But the recordings have not significantly advanced U.S. knowledge about what is harming diplomats.
The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.
Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The U.S. hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”
“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.
Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.
“That’s the sound,” one of them said.
The recording being released by the AP has been digitally enhanced to increase volume and reduce background noise, but has not been otherwise altered.
The sound seemed to manifest in pulses of varying lengths — seven seconds, 12 seconds, two seconds — with some sustained periods of several minutes or more. Then there would be silence for a second, or 13 seconds, or four seconds, before the sound abruptly started again. Read the rest of this entry »
Alexis Stigmore had to endure 40 harrowing minutes of class in a distressed state, forced to look at the world through the eyes of a set of people she disagreed with. Now there is a safe space dedicated in her honor.
LYNNFIELD, MA—In an effort to provide sanctuary for Lynnfield College students exposed to perspectives different from their own, a new campus safe space was dedicated Wednesday in honor of Alexis Stigmore, a 2009 graduate who felt kind of weird in class one time.
“When our Alexis felt weird after hearing someone discuss an idea that did not conform to her personally held beliefs, she had no place to turn.”
Addressing students at the dedication ceremony, parents Arnold and Cassie Stigmore noted that while the college had adequate facilities to assist victims of discrimination, abuse, and post-traumatic stress, it had until now offered no comparable safe space for students, like their beloved daughter, who encounter an academic viewpoint that gives them an uncomfortable feeling.
“If unfamiliar thoughts are ever provoked in your mind, or in the mind of someone you know, you can come to this place and feel safe again.”
“When our Alexis felt weird after hearing someone discuss an idea that did not conform to her personally held beliefs, she had no place to turn,” said Arnold Stigmore, standing outside the $2 million space that reportedly features soothing music, neutral-colored walls, oversized floor cushions, fun board games, and a variety of snacks. “God forbid any of you, in your years at this institution, are ever confronted with an opinion you do not share. But if you are, you will have a refuge on this campus.”
“As a parent, I’ll always wish I could have been there for her in that lecture hall, protecting her from those unwelcome concepts.”
“If unfamiliar thoughts are ever provoked in your mind, or in the mind of someone you know, you can come to this place and feel safe again,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »
Christian Schneider writes: When Mark Twain gave one of his fantastical lectures, he was keenly aware that many in the audience didn’t believe his wild stories. He bragged that his long speeches contained many facts, but that he “expected everybody to discount those facts 95%.” Nonetheless, he maintained, “all through my life, my facts have had a substratum of truth.”
The year 2014 was a year in which the truth lay beneath the surface, not in facts, but in “narrative.” It was a year in which political activists frequently relied on the Italian maxim, “se non e’ vero, e’ ben trovato” — while it may not be true, it is well-founded.
Perhaps the most prevalent narrative of the year was found in a mere gesture. Following the August death of African-American teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, protesters adopted the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, adopting the narrative that Brown was attempting to surrender when he was shot. Yet the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that Brown attacked officer Darren Wilson in his squad car, then charged at Wilson in a second altercation before Wilson shot Brown to death.
Nonetheless, narrative trumped facts, and looters set Ferguson ablaze on the night the grand jury announced its decision to not charge Wilson with Brown’s murder. Even after all the forensics and testimony were made available, the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture lived on in protests around the country. In essence, “hands up, don’t shoot” became a stand-in for African-American distrust of police departments around the country; distrust intensified by the officer-instigated deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee.
Yet poor areas weren’t the only place where the wish became the father of the facts. On college campuses, feminists pushed the “rape culture” narrative, trying to convince Americans that sexual assault on elite campuses was more prevalent than in violent Third World nations. Read the rest of this entry »
With the Obama administration’s defeat in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, all eyes now turn to further Obamacare challenges. Chief Justice John Roberts shockingly greenlit Obamacare itself by converting it into a tax from a stated penalty, but he has also shown a partial willingness to chip away at the law.
There are two more upcoming cases on Obamacare worth watching. We can only hope that such lawsuits are just the beginning when it comes to the implementation of a law with regulations stacking up to eight feet tall.
Halbig v. Burwell: This case seemingly turns on a technicality, but it could completely sink the workability of Obamacare itself. The law allows for federal subsidies for those who buy their care through state exchanges; if subsidies are unavailable, those people can claim exemption from Obamacare penalties for hardship reasons.
There is one major problem for the Obama administration: 34 states refused to start state healthcare exchanges, and the law makes no provision for subsidies for those who buy their coverage through the federal exchange. That means that millions of people who applied for coverage through the federal exchange could be left without subsidies, freeing them of Obamacare penalties and destroying the base upon which Obamacare is based. Read the rest of this entry »
George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley, who self-identifies as a liberal and has supported President Barack Obama on numerous issues, argued that that the president’s attempts to expand the power of the executive branch will “cause serious problems,” and will “start to lose Democrats.” …(read more) Breitbart.com
The first of two parts
For RealClearPolitics, Adam O’Neal writes: Last month, as the Senate was busy negotiating the final details of its Ukraine aid package, Majority Leader Harry Reid became temporarily distracted with a campaign finance issue. Since winning re-election in 2010, Reid’s campaign had purchased gifts for supporters and donors from vendors like Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Nordstrom, and the Senate gift shop, among others. But one round of spending was directed to a less recognizable firm: Ryan Elisabeth, a jewelry line.
In 2012 and 2013, the campaign spent $31,267 purchasing gifts from the company, which is owned by Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid. All told, she took in nearly seven times more cash than all vendors of donor gifts combined during that period of time.
Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the news after receiving a tip about the expenditures. (Ryan Elisabeth’s last name did not appear on the FEC reports, and the senator’s office initially failed to confirm her identity.) While Sen. Reid does not appear to have broken the law, he understood that the purchases created a perception of favoritism. Lamenting the unwanted attention heaped on his granddaughter, he decided after the news broke that “it would be best to pay for her work out of my own pocket.”
This was not the first time that Reid had mixed family and politics — or potentially run afoul of ethics rules.
Harry Reid has spent more than 40 years in government, starting as a small city’s attorney and eventually becoming the most powerful senator in the country. He has raised tens of millions of dollars in political contributions, established himself as an institution in Nevada politics along the way, and made himself a very wealthy man. His humble roots — from growing up in a remote desert town to working six days a week as a Capitol police officer while in law school — are legend in Washington and Nevada. Reid exhibits the toughness of a once destitute boy who completely transformed his life through determination, hard work — and good luck. Read the rest of this entry »
Gillian Mohney reports: The great-granddaughter of General Mills heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post was found stabbed to death in her luxury Honduras spa, law enforcement officials told the Associated Press.
Nedenia Post Dye, 46, was found stabbed in her spa on the resort island of Roatan, Honduras on Dec. 22.
Lenin Roberto Arana, 25, was arrested and charged with Dye’s murder, police officials told The Associated Press.
Arana allegedly said he and Dye were romantically involved, but police said Dye was trying to help Arana quit drugs, according to the AP.
“She was a good woman who worked with young people at risk, drug addicts and alcoholics,” Roatan police chief Alex Madrid told the AP.
Roatan police did not respond to ABC News’ attempts to contact them.
Madrid said Arana, a local singer who goes by the stage name “Canary,” was soaked in blood when police stopped him in Dye’s car. Arana told local reporters that he is innocent.
In a call with reporters today, the founder and the current head of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., painted a bleak picture for the future of NASA’s manned spaceflight program based on its current direction. Their comments came on the eve of Congressional authorization for the space agency’s budget.
“The sense of drift or the sense of lack of consensus is still fairly serious” Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute, said of the political debate over NASA’s course. Pace, who previously served as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation, was joined in a press conference today by John Logsdon, professor emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and founder of the Space Policy Institute.