"Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday detailed new efforts to investigate "Havana syndrome," the mysterious health affliction affecting dozens of U.S. personnel first identified in Cuba and now including several countries.
In his most extensive remarks yet on the issue, Blinken said the incidents have inflicted "profound" physical and physiological harm on those impacted.
"All of us in the U.S. government, and especially with the State Department, are intently focused on getting to the bottom of what and who is causing these incidents, caring for those who have been affected and protecting our people," Blinken said.
Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, tinnitus, vertigo and trouble with seeing, hearing or balancing. Many officials have suffered symptoms years after reporting an incident, while some have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
Blinken has tapped two career diplomats to oversee the agency's response to "Havana syndrome."
For almost five years now, the issue -- which the Biden administration has labeled "anomalous health incidents" -- has vexed U.S. officials, who don't know who or what is behind it.
In an effort to learn more, Blinken confirmed Friday that the State Department has deployed new technology to U.S. missions around the world to help understand the cause.
"The details I can provide on this are limited as well, but I can say that new technology is helping us more quickly and thoroughly evaluate a variety of potential causes of these incidents, and we've distributed across posts so that we can respond rapidly to new reports," he said.
He encouraged employees with any knowledge of an incident to come forward.
"There is absolutely no stigma in reporting these incidents. And there will of course be no negative consequences of any kind," Blinken said. "On the contrary, reporting means that we can get people the help they need. And by reporting, you can help keep others safe, and help us get to the bottom of who and what is responsible."
American diplomats, spies, and other officials have reported symptoms in nearly a dozen counties, starting in Cuba and expanding to China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and more. Most recently, cases were reported among staff and families at the U.S. embassy in Colombia, weeks before Blinken arrived for a visit.
But it's unclear how many reported incidents are confirmed to be episodes of what many victims insist are attacks..."
"Although it officially goes by "The City of Peace," Salem has been known as the Witch City for most of its modern history. It leans into the epitaph, with witches decorating its police cars and as its local high school mascot. Along with a preponderance of shops offering readings and psychics, Salem ties much of its tourism to arguably the worst chapter in its history: the infamous witch trials. The Witch Museum, various haunted houses, and the city's graveyards serve as major attractions.
But for many of Salem's residents, witchcraft is more than mere folklore or a stereotyped tourist attraction. Erica Feldmann, the proprietor of HausWitch Home and Healing, which is located on a sunlit corner of Main Street, is one of the most active members of Salem's witchcraft community. She first moved to Salem in 2010, while she was in graduate school. At the time, she was attending Simmons College—which is located in Boston—to study witches in socio-historical cultural context. "I just fell in love with Salem," she says. "I just think it has a really unique energy."
When first she arrived in Salem—on May 1, the festival of Beltane—Feldmann headed down to the Salem Commons, the major park downtown, expecting to find a witches' circle celebrating. "I was really shocked when I moved here by the lack of [the witch] community," she said. "Most witchcraft in Salem in public was strictly based on tourism." After she graduated in 2012, Feldmann created a blog focused on redecorating and magic, which she called "HausWitch." When the website grew enough to become a brick and mortar store, which opened this past June, she saw a chance to fill this void.
With Nordic styling and neat shelves, HausWitch Home and Healing features housewares among tinctures and teas, candles and crystals, while a wall of spell kits frames the space. HausWitch is frequented by locals and tourists alike, but the real magic happens at night, when local witches find community at regular events and workshops. Its contemporary, non-denominational witchcraft is built around empowerment and inclusion, forming a coven of hipsters and riot grrrls..."
— Source: Vice article by Haley ED Houseman