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MRIs on US diplomats hurt in Cuba: ‘Something happened to their brains’

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The brains of about 40 US diplomats injured in mysterious circumstances in Cuba have visible differences as compared to those in a control group, researchers who analyzed those hurt at Washington’s request said Tuesday.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and led by professors at the University of Pennsylvania, does not draw any conclusions about the cause of the symptoms suffered by the diplomats from late 2016 into May 2018.

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But the MRIs of the patients confirm that “something happened to the brains of these people,” Ragini Verma, a professor of radiology at UPenn and co-author of the study, told AFP.

“It’s not imagined,” she said. “All I can say is that there is a truth to be found.”

Verma added: “Whatever happened was not due to a pre-existing condition, because we test for that.”

From late 2016, diplomats posted in Havana and some of their family members suffered unexplained symptoms ranging from poor balance and vertigo to lack of coordination, unusual eye movements, anxiety and what victims called a “cognitive fog.”

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The United States recalled most of its diplomatic personnel from the Cuban capital in September 2017.

Some of them have recovered and returned to work, but others are still undergoing rehab, according to Verma.

The US government never publicly explained the cause of the mysterious illnesses. It neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of attacks using some sort of acoustic weapon, as some US media reported, without offering proof.

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Cuba has denied all responsibility for the incidents, which also affected at least 14 Canadian citizens. Ottawa also ended up recalling most of its diplomats from Havana in January.

At the request of the State Department, 44 diplomats and family members were sent from mid-2017 to UPenn’s brain trauma center to undergo MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exams.

Researchers compared those results with scans from 48 comparable subjects in two control groups. The differences are statistically significant and relate to the brain’s white matter as well as the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement.

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A State Department spokesman welcomed “the medical community’s discussion on this incredibly complex issue. The Department’s top priority remains the safety, security, and well-being of its staff.”

Verma said it was vital to follow the diplomats and their families over time “to see whether these changes evolve or change.”


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Is Trump a master of ‘3-D chess’? Expert says nope

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Politics is often conceived as a type of game. To win, a person or group must amass more power than the other players in order to advance their own goals. Victory can be achieved through cooperation with the other players, domination over them or some combination of the two.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Alternatively, a person or group can decide not to participate in this current version of politics, while they seek to invent their own game with different rules.

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‘Game changer’: Morning Joe panel nails Giuliani’s confessional outburst as evidence for Trump impeachment

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Panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" agreed President Donald Trump's phone call to Ukraine's president should be a "game changer" -- and was clearly "impeachable."

The July 25 call appears to have triggered a complaint from a whistleblower, after the president allegedly offered military and financial aid to Ukraine in exchange for pursuing an investigation into Joe Biden's son doing business there.

"It does feel like a moment in time," said MSNBC's Donny Deutsch. "We've sat on this set after so many Trump's snafus and this is it -- this is a game changer. If the Democrats can't smell this. I've been going all along, step away from impeachment because when it's a process thing, when it's campaign finance, this is the big one. If this is the case, this is the Super Bowl, and the Democrats need to pounce aggressively."

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Mike Pompeo says US building anti-Iran coalition after Saudi oil attack

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The United States said on Thursday it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats following a weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

Iran has warned U.S. President Donald Trump against being dragged into a war in the Middle East and said it would meet any offensive action with a crushing response.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Trump, who has ordered more sanctions on Iran, wants a peaceful solution to the crisis.

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