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Tags crickets , Cuba conspiracies , Cuba incidents , mass hysteria , psychogenic illness , sonic weapons , US-Cuba relations

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Old 23rd September 2019, 02:21 PM   #681
dann
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Others:

Strange “Havana Syndrome” Affecting Diplomats in Cuba Now Blamed on Mosquito Gas (Mysterious Universe, Sep. 22, 2019)
Cuba pesticides may have caused Canada diplomats' injuries: study (ABS-CBN News, Sep. 20, 2019)
Probable Cause of Mysterious Illness Among US and Canadian Diplomats in Havana Found (¡ahora!, Sep. 20, 2019)
Cuba 'sonic attack' might be connected to insecticide intended to fight Zika, study says (KITV, Sep. 23, 2019)

Quote:
The use of insecticides in Cuba to combat mosquitoes has followed internationally established protocols, including World Health Organization and Panamerican Health Organization standards, and procedures established by the manufacturers of these chemical agents. The Cuban Ministry of Public Health is reviewing the issue in the light of ongoing research.
If anything has been confirmed over time, it is that the unfounded accusations and slander of the U.S. Government on this issue have responded to a calculated and deliberate political strategy to discredit Cuba.
Investigations continue to dismantle U.S. calculated and deliberate political strategy to discredit Cuba (Sep. 20, 2019)

Quote:
If fumigation is the culprit, it would seem that the mystery ailments would have shown up in the broader population as well. Lead researcher Alon Friedman of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia says his team plans to work with Cuban scientists in another study to see if that was the case. (Everything from spytech to microwave weapons have been blamed previously.)
(Newser, Sep. 23, 2019)

Cuban media use the opportunity to remind Cubans that the best way to fight Zika and Dengue is to eliminate the breeding grounds for mosquitos:
Solo sin criaderos no habrá mosquitos, ni dengue (Granma, Sep. 22, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 25th September 2019, 01:12 AM   #682
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Good News!

Quote:
Meanwhile, the hypothesis at least provides a potential answer to what has been a long-standing mystery. It also offers a possible solution to the syndrome: Prevent exposure to toxic insecticides. Although there is currently no treatment, Friedman said the people will improve, some more slowly than others. Many have begun to improve.
Canadian research points to pesticides as possible cause of Havana Syndrome (Ottawa Citizen, Sep. 24, 2019)

However, the reaction to this news is peculiar:

Quote:
Friedman and his team studied 26 Canadian diplomats and their family members, most of whom had symptoms of so-called Havana syndrome after being posted to Havana.
(...)
Friedman said he met in Ottawa recently with those diplomats to discuss the research findings. Not everyone reacted with relief. Some, he said, found it hard to believe.
“I think the response was very mixed between ‘that might be interesting’ and ‘no, it couldn’t be’.”

I can see why the U.S. State Department prefers to believe that their embassy workers were attacked by hostile forces and won't answer calls from the CNN about the Dalhousie study, but what makes (some) Canadian diplomats prefer to believe that they were attacked rather than unfortunate victims of insecticide? Since they have sued the Canadian government for having neglected to protect them properly, I would think that they have a much better case now, whether Cubans or Canadians (or both) are to blame for the 'Havana Syndrome'.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 26th September 2019, 04:01 AM   #683
dann
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Fox News and MSN.com reported on the Canadian study from Dalhousie University last week:

Mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ suffered by diplomats caused by Zika fumigation, study suggests (MSN.com, Sep. 20, 2019)

Quote:
Researchers were also able to find a correlation between the test subjects most affected by the symptoms and the number of fumigations that were performed at their work and homes.
‘Sonic weapon’ used on diplomats in Cuba may have been pesticide, study finds (Fox News, Sep. 20, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 26th September 2019, 04:09 AM   #684
dann
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I don't really see why, but the lawyers hired by the affected Canadians aren't happy with the new explanation:

Quote:
The lawyers suggest the insecticide theory isn’t very plausible and that the Canadian government has failed its injured diplomats by not properly investigating the cause or providing proper medical treatment.
No clear findings on cause of 'Havana Syndrome' in Canadian diplomats: new report (City News, Sep. 25, 2019)

In my opinion, the study gives the diplomats and their families a much better cause for suing the government, but I have no idea about Canadian law in this respect - or in any other.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 26th September 2019 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 26th September 2019, 04:18 AM   #685
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Some new information in an article form BuzzFeedNews:

Quote:
The tests also found 3-PBA, another common insecticide, in most of the diplomats. Their exposure corresponded to a sharp increase — as much as five times more often — in outdoor fumigations that Canada’s foreign ministry arranged around diplomatic housing in Havana in 2017.
The Mysterious “Sonic Attacks” In Cuba Might Have Actually Been Caused By Zika Pesticides (BuzzFeedNews, Sep. 24, 2019)

I don't know what exactly Canada's foreign ministry did: Did they ask Cuban authorities to fumigate more? Or did they hire a company to fumigate? Where did the insecticide come from?

Quote:
There is no way to irrefutably prove that the pesticides caused Havana syndrome, Friedman said, “short of sending another 20 diplomats to Havana and exposing them to pesticides, which wouldn’t be ethical.”

I don't see why you would have to send the 20 diplomats all the way to Cuba in order to expose them to pesticides, but it would be just as unethical to do so at home, of course.

Quote:
Cuban scientists have not seen indications of the diplomats’ injuries among the general population. “We have not observed the ‘syndrome’ in the Cuban population, although the Canadians recognize that their staff could have been submitted to more frequent exposures,” neuroscientist Mitchell Valdés-Sosa of the Cuban Neuroscience Center in Havana told BuzzFeed News, by email.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 26th September 2019, 04:28 AM   #686
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From Telegraph:

Quote:
"We found out how the the fumigation was done - up to 25 times a year in some houses - and the products that were used and we realised this would never happen in North America or Europe," he said.
Prof Friedman added that further study would include looking at local populations in Cuba to see if they suffered similar symptoms.
He said that it was well known that certain pesticides were linked to neurological problems, with similar symptoms seen in soldiers with Gulf War Syndrome - a cocktail of conditions suffered by those serving in the first Gulf War.
Use of pesticide linked to mystery illness affecting Canadian diplomats in Cuba (Telegraph, Sep. 25, 2019)

Why would it never happen in North America? Different products? Frequency of use?

A professor in Edinburgh isn't convinced by the new explanation:

Quote:
Jon Stone, professor of neurology at the University of Edinburgh, said the Canadian researchers’ findings were interesting but did not point to a specific “Havana syndrome”.
“Since they don’t have any data on staff who were also exposed to the fumigation but didn’t have symptoms then it remains a hypothesis,” he said.
He added that symptoms such as headache, poor concentration and dizziness were common in the general population for a variety of reasons such as migraine.
“We aren’t told what proportion of the Canadian citizens were symptomatic so we don’t know whether there are truly more people who are feeling unwell than you would expect from chance,” he said.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 27th September 2019, 11:23 AM   #687
dann
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The lawyers of the Canadian diplomats suing their government make it clear that they don't understand how science works. On the one hand, they say that

Quote:
The report confirms, based on objective medical evidence, that the Canadian diplomats and their families have in fact suffered brain injuries while posted in Havana.
Canadian Diplomats Respond to Dalhousie Report (Newswire.ca, Sep. 25, 2019)

But on the other hand, they think that

Quote:
The report does not make any clear findings regarding the cause of Havana Syndrome, instead only raising the "hypothesis" of overexposure to insecticides as a "plausible" cause. The Dalhousie Report does not rule out other possible causes, including a targeted directed energy attack, saying only that the insecticide hypothesis is a "plausible alternative" to the theory of an acoustic attack. Additionally, the Dalhousie report specifically raises the possibility and does not discount that the brain injuries could be the result of a targeted chemical attack on our diplomats and their families.

What the lawyers, and probably the plaintiffs themselves as well, don't seem to get that science does what science does best: They look at correlations and possible (!) causes and effects, and they don't rule out what they can't rule out. For instance, they don't rule out that somebody, a hostile agent of the Canadian government, for instance, polluted the blood and urine samples with neurotoxins after the diplomats and their families got back to Canada. Not that it is at all likely that anything like that happened, but it was not part of their job description so it wasn't what they looked for.
Unlike the U.S. American scientists, who appear to have been hell bent on finding reasons to suspect an attack before they even started their investigation into possible causes and effects.

The lawyers again make it very clear that they don't understand the connection between facts and explanations when they say that:

Quote:
The facts are, however, that the persons effected (Is this Canadian legalese for affected?!) were concentrated amongst a handful of Canadian and American diplomats and their families. The only (!!!) plausible explanation is that whatever happened in Cuba, the Canadian and American diplomatic staff had been specifically targeted.

Go to the statement from the lawyers and read the rest. It's not very long.
I hope that the plaintiffs get advice from actual scientists before they go to trial. Otherwise they'll risk ruining their chances of getting the desired help and compensation when they are confronted with the government lawyers.
But, of course, it's also possible that the government is only awaiting the result of further investigations and doesn't have any problems with accepting the responsibility for their employees as they are recovering.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 27th September 2019, 11:32 AM   #688
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One of the Communist parties of Canada has invited the neuroscientist Dr. Friedman to speak about the Havana Syndrome at their conference in a few days:

Quote:
Attendees will also learn the results of the very latest research into a controversial and mysterious ailment reported by some U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Dr. Alon Friedman, a ground-breaking neuroscientist at the Dalhousie University Brain Repair Centre who recently led a multidisciplinary study into the so-called “Havana Syndrome” for Global Affairs Canada, will present his findings at the conference.
International Conference October 31 – November 2 - The Cuban Revolution at 60 (Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 28th September 2019, 05:15 AM   #689
dann
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I have been expecting to hear a response from R. Douglas Fields to the Canadian study. A new article in Gizmodo mentions him:

Quote:
One of the clearest differences was that few Canadian patients reported hearing any strange sounds before their symptoms occurred, while no one reported any hearing loss.
(...)
The team’s theory is admittedly based on circumstantial evidence. And according to Douglas Fields, a neuroscientist who has independently investigated the cases, there’s still the possibility that more than one natural cause may ultimately explain these patients’ symptoms. In fact, given how the cases among affected Canadians are so different from the U.S. cases in presentation, it’d be strange if the answer didn’t turn out to be multiple choice. But at the very least, it’s a theory that can be further studied without delving into the world of Tom Clancy.
“The pesticide theory is plausible but not proven, and the study has many weaknesses,” Fields told Gizmodo via email. “However, it’s good to see this attempt at a reasonable diagnosis, instead of the past approach of assuming the existence of a new energy beam neuroweapon. This paper is not the last word.”
Pesticides, Not Sonic Weapons, May Have Made Diplomats in Cuba Sick, Preliminary Study Finds (Gizmodo, Sep. 24, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 4th October 2019, 02:59 AM   #690
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Quote:
A new interdisciplinary study on the “Havana Syndrome” led by Dr. Alon Friedman M.D. of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Dalhousie University Brain Repair Center in Nova Scotia, Canada, points to overexposure to pesticides as a likely cause for neurological symptoms among Canadian diplomats residing in Havana, Cuba in 2016.
(...)
The research will be presented at Breaking the Barriers of Brain Science Symposium in New York on Sunday, October 27.
The study details the nature of the injury, specifies the brain regions involved, including the blood-brain barrier and suggests a possible cause in the form of “cholinesterase inhibitors,” with “organophosphorus insecticides” being a likely source. Cholinesterase (ChE) is one of the key enzymes required for the proper functioning of the nervous systems of humans, invertebrates and insects.
Pesticides likely caused ‘Havana syndrome’ that affected Cuba-based diplomats (Neuroscience News, Oct. 2019)

Also in:
Pesticides likely caused 'Havana syndrome' that affected Cuba-based diplomats (Science Daily, Oct. 3, 2019)

In The Chronicle Herald last week, Friedman described the way the Canadian and Israeli team do research:

Quote:
Friedman said the researchers had no assumptions or hypotheses about a possible cause, and instead allowed their discoveries to lead them “like a detective story.”
Using a combination of common clinical techniques and cutting-edge technology, researchers pinpointed parts of the brain with evidence of trauma, including the basal forebrain.
“It’s a very small but important part of the brain ... associated with the cholinergic nervous system,” Friedman said. “It’s one of the most important neurotransmitter systems.”
The discovery led researchers to explore injuries to that specific region of the brain. They discovered that neurotoxins were a plausible culprit.
“Once we considered neurotoxins, we asked what could be the source of exposure, and pesticides were one possibility,” Friedman said.
Nova Scotia research team points to cause of Havana syndrome that sickened diplomats (The Chronicle Herald, Sep. 26, 2019)

The Canadian diplomats and their lawyers seem to think that it speaks against the findings of the Canadian study that it has come to a conclusion that differs from the U.S. American 'attack theory':

Quote:
The diplomats further noted that no American expert who has investigated Havana syndrome has come up with the “insecticide theory” as the cause of the brain injuries.
“The cause of Havana syndrome in both Canadian and American diplomats is likely the same.”
Dalhousie University New Havana syndrome study leaves diplomats with questions and feeling 'betrayed' (The Chronicle Herald, Sep. 24/26, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 4th October 2019, 03:27 AM   #691
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I wonder if the Canadian study, which was published May 24, 2019, was the reason why Canada, unlike the USA, reinstated some of its diplomatic services this summer:

Quote:
Canada’s embassy in Cuba is reinstating some services that were cancelled back in May following a string of mysterious illnesses that had struck several diplomats.
In a news release, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it will reinstate passport drop-off and visa pick-up services, as well as biometrics collection -- which includes fingerprint and photo taking -- in the Cuban capital of Havana on Aug. 1.
The federal department said it is bringing the services back to “minimize the impact of the closure on applicants and facilitate their travel to Canada.”
Canadian embassy in Cuba reinstating some services following mystery illnesses (CTV News, July 29, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 15th October 2019, 04:34 AM   #692
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Quote:
In 2017, dozens of U.S. and Canadian diplomats and their families experience strange health symptoms like serious headaches, severe nosebleeds and loss of vision. Doctors are perplexed. Was the cause a mysterious sonic attack from Cuba? Well, new Canadian research sheds new light on the cause. Still, there are many questions left unanswered, and the mystery continues. Jayme Poisson investigates.
Havana syndrome: Investigating what made the diplomats sick (cbc.ca, Oct. 6, 2019)

Havana Syndrome: Investigating what made the diplomats sick (The Fifth Estate, Oct. 7, 2019) min. 18:12:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

It doesn't tell us anything new, but it has clips with both R. Douglas Fields and Dr. Mitchell Valdes-Sosa.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 23rd October 2019, 04:47 AM   #693
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The Center for a Free Cuba (Wikipedia) isn’t quite happy with the study from Dalhousie University (Canada) and the Ben Gurion University (Israel) and asks three (well, actually four) questions:

Quote:
The active ingredient in the pesticide credited with the injury according to the new research is a "'cholinesterase inhibitors,' with 'organophosphorus insecticides' being a likely source," according to Science Daily.
This raises three important questions.
1. Why have only Canadian and U.S. diplomats in Havana been affected by pesticides used to kill mosquitoes and combat a Zika outbreak in the island? News reports in 2016 demonstrated that the pesticide was being sprayed widely and aggressively across the island in copious amounts.
2. Was this pesticide also used in China in 2017 when US diplomats experienced the same symptoms as their counterparts in Havana?
3. Why did Cuban government officials deny the reality of the injuries and claim that it was "mass hysteria" and "crickets"?
Is it a pesticide cloud that is responsible or is it just a smokescreen for something else?
Cubabrief: Questions Remain in the Mystery of American and Canadian Diplomats Harmed in Cuba (Center for a Free Cuba, Oct. 9, 2019)

1. Obviously, the first question should have been: Why have only Canadian and U.S. diplomats in Havana been affected by pesticides used to kill mosquitoes and combat a Zika outbreak in the island when employees of other embassies and Cubans all over Cuba weren't affected?
The obvious answer is that it is being investigated right now if anybody else was affected. Cuban and Canadian scientists have joined forces to answer this question. In the meantime, we have already been informed that the two embassies and the residences of their employees were sprayed much more copiously than other places - apparently at the request of the embassies themselves.


2. Yes, it would actually be interesting to know if the same pesticide was used in Guangzhou. And if the same pesticide was used, It would also be interesting to know who administered the fumigation and at whose request: Chinese government official? Or the Americans themselves? (I can't imagine that a team of Cubans fumigated the offices of the U.S. consulate and the residences of their employees.)


3. Cuban government officials claimed that it was "mass hysteria" and "crickets" because U.S. American diplomats (as well as 'diplomats') claimed that they were attacked with super-sonic weapons. Cuban officials must have been aware that no such attack had taken place. Later, recordings of the alleged sound attack showed that what the Americans had heard was most likely explained by crickets. And since the U.S. State Department did not share the medical records of the victims, mass hysteria appeared to be the most likely explanation. (And it probably still is in the case of people who reported symptoms but whose medical records cleared them.).


4. It would be very interesting to hear the reasoning behind the suspicion that the Dalhousie study is "just a smokescreen for something else." In particular because there is every reason to suspect that the idea of a sonic attack was just a smokescreen for the Trump administration's efforts to roll back Obama's normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the USA.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 23rd October 2019, 06:44 AM   #694
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Edited by Agatha:  Removed breach of rule 0
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Franklin understands certain kickbacks you obtain unfairly are legal liabilities; however, a risky deed's almost never detrimental despite extra external pressures.

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Old 25th October 2019, 02:25 PM   #695
dann
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As mentioned in post 690 the Dalhousie/Ben Gurion study will be presented in New York this weekend:

Quote:
A new interdisciplinary study on the “Havana Syndrome” led by Dr. Alon Friedman M.D. of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Dalhousie University Brain Repair Center in Nova Scotia, Canada, points to overexposure to pesticides as a likely cause for neurological symptoms among Canadian diplomats residing in Havana, Cuba in 2016.
(...)
The research will be presented at Breaking the Barriers of Brain Science Symposium in New York on Sunday, October 27.
Pesticides likely caused ‘Havana syndrome’ that affected Cuba-based diplomats (Neuroscience News, Oct. 3, 2019)
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 27th October 2019, 09:31 AM   #696
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I guess that Dr. Alon Friedman's presentation is this one, A BGU Symposium on Brain Research with three of Israel's top researchers revolutionizing the field, this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 3rd November 2019, 04:37 AM   #697
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This weekend Dr. Alon Friedman presented the Canadian study of the 'Havana syndrome' at the international conference The Cuban Revolution at 60 at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Dalhousie University:

Quote:
Attendees will also learn the results of the very latest research into a controversial and mysterious ailment reported by some US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Dr. Alon Friedman, a ground-breaking neuroscientist at the Dalhousie University Brain Repair Centre who recently led a multidisciplinary study into the so-called “Havana Syndrome” for Global Affairs Canada, will present his findings at the conference.

A short article about Alon Friedman's presentation has already appeared:

Quote:
When someone in the audience asked Dalhousie University neuroscientist Dr. Alon Friedman whether his conclusion - that Canadian diplomats in Havana had become ill after exposure to an insecticide used to fumigate against Zika virus - was "a fact or a theory," his response was quick and to the point.
"What do we need to do to prove it?" he asked rhetorically, then answered his own question to laughter and applause. "To fumigate 10 more diplomats?"
(...)
While Friedman said more research is needed, he said the best evidence now suggests a clear connection between the fumigation and the illnesses reported.
The Havana Syndrome - An Answer from Science (Cuba Business Report, Nov. 2, 2019)

The article is by Stephen Kimber, who is also the author of the excellent "narrative nonfiction thriller" What Lies across the Water - The Real Story of the Cuban Five (GoodReads).
The book is being turned into a TV series by the Canadian companies Pictou Twist Pictures and Picture Plant in collaboration with the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC).

The story of Los 5 Cubanos has already been adapted as a movie soon to appear on Netflix, Wasp Network (Guardian review, Sep. 2, 2019), with Penélope Cruz in a leading role as the wife of one of the five Cubans.

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I AGREE

But unlike the TV series, Wasp Network isn't based on Stephen Kimber's book, and I think that the story is much too complicated to be rendered in a meaningful way in the format of a movie.
If you liked the FX series The Americans, you will probably like both the movie and the upcoming TV series, but unlike The Americans they are based on actual events.
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Old 7th November 2019, 05:35 AM   #698
dann
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Quote:
Documents released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act shed light on how the British embassy in Havana and senior Foreign Office staff in London desperately sought to make sense of the unfolding events.
Though most are heavily redacted on grounds of national security and international relations, they show how staff pored over press reports, official statements and other communications to understand a situation that one overnight update from August 2017 said was being presented by the media as “a bizarre cold war-style confrontation”.
UK diplomatic cables shed light on Cuba 'sonic attacks' scare - FoI release shows how embassy and FCO staff sought to make sense of mystery illnesses (The Guardian, Nov. 7, 2019)

The Cubans, i.e. Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, the director of the Cuban Centre for Neurosciences, aren't yet fully convinced by the study of the Canadian diplomats:

Quote:
"There is absolutely no evidence for a mysterious weapon causing a new syndrome characterised by brain damage and much less inner ear damage. Some diplomats may be ill due to natural causes, and we have not yet tested the idea of insecticides causing intoxication in some cases, but the results of what has been published tells us that there is no homogenous set of symptoms or lab findings. And whatever has been found overlaps very much with several frequent medical conditions."
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th November 2019, 08:45 AM   #699
Armitage72
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
From Telegraph:


Why would it never happen in North America? Different products? Frequency of use?

The study listed temephos as one of the detected pesticides. According to the EPA's Pesticide Product Label System, temephos is not currently approved for use in the United States. The EPA issued a cancellation order for temephos products in 2011, with the last cancellations taking effect in 2015. Health Canada's pesticide database doesn't show it approved there either. Temephos is also for treating standing water, so I'm not sure why it would be sprayed extensively around diplomatic buildings, if it were being used according to the directions. Checking the archived labels for US temephos products, they were either powders applied in water soluble packets, or liquids with extensive directions prohibiting spray drift into residential areas.
The study also mentioned 3-PBA, 3-phenoxybenzoic acid, which isn't actually an insecticide. It's a metabolite produced in the body after exposure to pyrethroid insecticides. Pyrethroids are an incredibly common insecticide because they're harmless to humans and most pets (but not cats and fish). They're structurally similar to pyrethrins, natural insecticides found in chrysanthemums.
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Old 8th November 2019, 10:38 AM   #700
dann
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Very interesting.
I know almost nothing about basic or organic chemistry, which makes it difficult to read articles about this theme:

According to this article, Pesticides and Cholinesterase (University of Florida IFAS Extension, Oct. 2009, revised 2012 & 2015), "Common Symptoms Associated with Carbamate and Organophosphate Pesticide Poisoning" (temephos is mentioned as one of them) are "Fatigue, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, excessive sweating/salivation, nausea/vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea."

Of those symptoms, I seem to remember the first four being mentioned in the cases of both the U.S. and the Canadian diplomats. A victim might put excessive sweating down to the climate change when you are a North American going to Cuba, and I guess (!) that vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea might be more common in the case of acute exposure rather than a slow build-up over time as would have been the case here.
Hearing weird noises isn't mentioned, but that 'symptom' is likely better explained by unusual noises (crickets, water pipes etc.) that the embassy employees and their families actually heard and mistakenly associated with their actual symptoms and explained to themselves and others as a 'sonic attack'.

You write that "Temephos is also for treating standing water, so I'm not sure why it would be sprayed extensively around diplomatic buildings, if it were being used according to the directions. Checking the archived labels for US temephos products, they were either powders applied in water soluble packets, or liquids with extensive directions prohibiting spray drift into residential areas."

If ponds (or other standing water) were sprayed more extensively, it could explain why a dog was much more affected than the embassy workers and their families, so affected, actually, that it had to be put down, since dogs are more likely to drink from ponds etc. (However, cholinesterase inhibitors are also used against fleas in cats and dogs.)

I don't think that it has been mentioned who manufactured and sold the insecticides used for the fumigation in Cuba. Temephos seems to be manufactured by companies all over the world. In this article, Pesticide Information Profile: Temephos (EXTONET (Extension Toxicology Network, Sep. 1993), an American manufacturer is mentioned:
American Cyanamid Co.
One Cyanamid Plaza
Wayne, New Jersey 07470
But that would be 25 years ago, and due to the embargo/blockade Cuba wouldn't have been able to buy in from the USA.


Also:
WHO Specification and Evaluations for Public Health Pesticides: Temephos (FAO/WHO Evaluation Report 340/2005)
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 8th November 2019, 02:26 PM   #701
Armitage72
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It looks like American Cyanamid's product was a Manufacturing Use concentrate, only to be used by other companies to manufacture actual end use products. Their registration was transferred to Clarke Mosquito Control Products in 1997 after the pesticide portion of the company was bought by BASF, and it was one of the ones cancelled between 2011 and 2015.
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Old 10th November 2019, 08:49 AM   #702
dann
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Dr Robert Bartholomew and Dr Robert W. Baloh contest the insecticide hypothesis

Challenging the diagnosis of ‘Havana Syndrome’ as a novel clinical entity (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Oct. 1, 2019)

Emotional trauma and fear most likely cause of 'Havana Syndrome' (Eureka Alert, Oct. 31, 2019)

Havana Syndrome: ‘Emotional trauma and fear’ most likely cause of illness among US diplomats in Cuba, not mysterious sonic weapons (Independent, Nov. 1, 2019)

Havana Syndrome: 'Emotional trauma and fear' most likely cause of illness among US diplomats in Cuba, not mysterious sonic weapons (MSM.com, Nov. 1, 2019)

Cubans launching sonic attacks on US embassy? Not what we're hearing, say medical boffins (The Register, Nov. 1, 2019)

Challenging the diagnosis of ‘Havana Syndrome’ as a novel clinical entity (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Oct. 1, 2019)

No hubo armas ni ataques sónicos en La Habana, reafirman especialistas (Medium, Nov. 2, 2019)

Quote:
To date, there have been four studies of either U.S. or Canadian embassy diplomats who reported falling ill in Cuba under mysterious circumstances. The most recent suggests that the culprit is insecticide fumigation. There are so many problems with this study; it is hard to know where to begin.
If it’s true, where is the outbreak of concussion-like symptoms across Cuba and around the world? Supposedly, both embassies had been heavily sprayed at intervals—but other buildings in Cuba and around the world have also. How come non-diplomats working at the embassies and in the affected buildings weren’t affected? What happened to all of those people hearing noises and falling sick? How come the Canadian illness experiences were different than the Americans? It doesn’t make sense.
An Open Letter to the Diplomats With "Havana Syndrome" (Psychology Today, Nov. 2, 2019)

The questions raised by Robert Bartholomew in the Psychology Today article appear to be the ones that the researchers behind the Dalhousie study along with Cuban researchers are now investigating.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 10th November 2019, 11:33 AM   #703
dann
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More articles based on the Bartholomew/Baloh article in JRSM

Quote:
The paper’s lead author, Dr. Robert Bartholomew, concludes that ‘Havana Syndrome’ is more akin to shell shock, with the symptoms paralleling those associated with war trauma. “A characteristic feature of combat syndromes over the past century is the appearance of an array of neurological complaints from an overstimulated nervous system that are commonly misdiagnosed as concussions and brain damage,” he writes. He adds: “A signature feature of shell shock was concussion-like symptoms. Like today, their appearance initially baffled physicians until a more careful review of the data determined that what they were seeing was an epidemic of psychogenic illness. In fact, some of the descriptions from 100 years ago are virtually identical, right down to the use of the phrase ‘concussion-like symptoms’.”
Shell Shock: A New Study on ‘Havana Syndrome’ With a Stunning Conclusion (Sci Tech Daily, Oct. 31, 2019)

'Havana Syndrome' of US diplomats likely caused by paranoia not sonic weapon, study claims (Telegraph, Nov. 1, 2019)

’Emotional trauma’ caused illness at US Cuban embassy, report finds (NewsTalk, Nov. 1, 2019)

Quote:
The so-called Havana Syndrome was caused by emotional trauma and fear rather than something new and sinister, according to the latest take on an intriguing saga.
A sociologist and a specialist in neurodegenerative diseases say the US and Canadian diplomats who recently reported a mystery illness while stationed in Cuba were participants in a continuation of the Cold War, living in a hostile foreign country where they were under constant surveillance.
In paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Robert Bartholomew and Robert Baloh argue that at the time embassy staff were living in a cauldron of stress and uncertainty, amid rumours of an enigmatic sonic weapon.
Was the Havana Syndrome just an old cold lingering? (Cosmos Magazine, Nov. 4, 2019)

Quote:
In their commentary, Bartholomew and Baloh did not directly address the Canadian study that pointed to fumigation related to the mosquito-borne Zika virus as a likely cause of Havana Syndrome. Nor did they refer to the study published in JAMA earlier this year that found unique differences in the brains of the former diplomats. The U.S. State department, meanwhile, has hypothesized that some sort of attack caused the symptoms.
In an email, though, Bartholomew dismissed the studies as: “Two more examples of dubious science.”
He said the explanation that Havana Syndrome is really a type of psychogenic war trauma makes the most sense.
“This explanation is by far the most likely explanation: a combination of mass psychogenic illness and a redefining of everyday aches and pains,” said Bartholomew. “It is firmly rooted in the prosaic. There is no need to resort to exotic hypotheses like sonic weapons or microwaves.”
New paper adds to Havana Syndrome mystery, suggests cause was stress, not high-tech attacks (Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 5, 2019)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 12th November 2019, 08:18 PM   #704
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@dann.

I don't understand why people are still trying to make this issue anything but hysteria.

CSPAN had an excellent talk about US Cuban relations on the other day and the embassy illnesses was brought up among the dozens of important issues the speaker discussed.

U.S.-Cuba Relations
Quote:
Miguel Fraga, first secretary of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C., spoke about U.S.-Cuba relations. He talked about the impact of the U.S. embargo, the changes on the island over the preceding five years, pop culture and media influences, and how Cubans perceived foreign policy in the United States. Mr. Fraga referenced the U.N. General Assembly resolution that was happening during his presentation, which called for the end of the embargo. 187 countries voted in favor of the resolution while three countries -- the U.S., Brazil, and Israel -- voted against the resolution.
As usual CSPAN programs are long, an hour and a half in this case. There is a transcript and it is free to stream online. I thought it was an excellent talk.

The discussion of the 'sonic attack' accusation is around the 1 hour mark.
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Old 13th November 2019, 01:39 PM   #705
dann
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The sonic-attack story is more or less dead, i.e. anybody with a bit of common sense knew that it was a fairytale as soon as the recording was revealed to be crickets.
However, the State Department isn't troubled by common sense.

However, the Dalhousie study doesn't seem to be as far-fetched as the attack paranoia, and I don't think that Bartholomew presents any real argument against it in his dismissal of all other hypotheses than his own.
I don't know why he seems to be so unwilling to consider it: If some of the embassy workers actually do suffer from organic damages (brain-blood-barrier problems) from exposure to insecticide, it would make it seem more likely that those who had all kinds of symptoms but no actual damages suffered from mass psychogenic illness only. That would also explain why their symptoms disappeared so fast.

Granma and all other Cuban media are full of articles about the UN resolution:
U.S. pressure to undermine support for UN resolution against the blockade denounced (Granma, Nov. 5, 2019)
LIVE: 187 votes in favor of Cuba leave the United States looking bad before the world (Granma, Nov. 7, 2019)
Truth and justice triumph: 187 countries against the U.S. blockade of Cuba (Granma, Nov. 8, 2019)
Bruno Rodríguez: Cuba has been the victim of the most unjust, severe, prolonged system of sanctions that has even been imposed on any country (Granma, Nov. 8, 2019)

This is an annual occurrence, unfortunately, and the USA ignores it every time.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 1st December 2019, 04:10 PM   #706
dann
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This does not appear to be big news - in Canada or elsewhere:

Quote:
Federal government lawyers are arguing that five diplomats and their families have made “excessive” and “exaggerated” claims in a $28-million lawsuit filed over mysterious injuries suffered while stationed in Cuba.
They’re asking a judge to toss the lawsuit, which alleges negligence and a cover-up over the so-called “Havana Syndrome” — strange injuries the lawsuit speculates may have been caused by a “sonic or microwave weapon” initially aimed at American officials.
In court filing, Canadian government argues diplomats exaggerated 'Havana Syndrome' claims behind $28M lawsuit
An independent environmental assessment of Canadian staff quarters in Havana 'revealed no evidence of unusual environmental phenomena'
(National Post, Nov. 26, 2019)

I'm surprised that the lawsuit now, after the Dalhousie study, still talks about a "sonic or microwave weapon." It would appear to me that they would have had a much better case if they had referred to fumigación and insecticides instead.
I wonder what exactly it's supposed to mean when it says that the independent environmental assessment "revealed no evidence of unusual environmental phenomena." It doesn't say if they looked for or found residue of the chemicals that the Dalhousie study suspects to have caused the Canadian diplomatic families' symptoms.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 1st December 2019, 06:34 PM   #707
mgidm86
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
@dann.

I don't understand why people are still trying to make this issue anything but hysteria.


... snip ....

Looks like ISFers have figured it out. This thread has been pretty dead for some time.
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