Cuban crickets were the villain in Sonic attacks

Cuban crickets were the villain in Sonic attacks

A noise heard by US diplomats in Cuba who suffered mysterious brain injuries came not from technological weapons but local crickets, a new study suggests. In late 2016, US diplomats in Havana began to report ear pain and other symptoms from a high-frequency noise, leading Washington to withdraw half its embassy staff and to expel Cuban diplomats in retaliation. But a study by two biologists assessed a purported recording of the noise and said it matched the mating song of the Indies short-tailed cricket found around the Caribbean.

The actual cause of the diplomats’ ailments was outside the scope of the study, with the researchers not ruling out that the diplomats suffered a sonic attack at another point. “While disconcerting, the mysterious sounds in Cuba are not physically dangerous and do not constitute a sonic attack,” said the study by Alexander Stubbs, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, a professor of sensory biology at the University of Lincoln in Britain. “Our findings highlight the need for more rigorous research into the source of these ailments, including the potential psychogenic effects, as well as possible physiological explanations unrelated to sonic attacks,” they wrote.

In the Havana incident, the researchers studied a recording made by a US government employee that was sent to the US Navy for analysis and was later published by the Associated Press. The researchers compared the recording with data from the Singing Insects of North America database run by University of Florida entomologist Thomas Walker, who found that the Indies shorttailed cricket had the fastest wing stroke rate of any known cricket that calls continuously.

The cricket’s calling song matches the recording in “duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse,” the study said. The research was released last week and has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal. Around two dozen US diplomats and several Canadians reported dizziness, anxiety and mental fog -- conditions that University of Pennsylvania researchers described as similar to concussions.




May makes fresh push for Brexit

May makes fresh push for Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May huddled with her ministers yesterday as she plotted a renewed bid to convince MPs to back her EU divorce deal after securing a delay to Brexit from European leaders in Brussels. The premier faces daun

May pleads to save Brexit plan

May pleads to save Brexit plan

A dogged but isolated Prime Minister Theresa May was headed back to Brussels yesterday to beg for more time to deliver her Brexit plan, in defiance of the MPs who twice rejected the withdrawal deal. May’s fellow European Union le

Oil slick heading to French coast

Oil slick heading to French coast

An oil slick was heading towards the French coastline yesterday after an Italian cargo ship sank in the Atlantic carrying 45 containers of “dangerous materials”, authorities said. “According to our forecasts, fragment

Startups pitch their business models

Startups pitch their business models

Flat6Labs Bahrain hosted its Second Demo Day at The National Theatre of Bahrain where eight startups from its second cycle pitched their businesses. The second cycle received over 200 applications from more than 40 countries which were

Turkey tumbles into recession

Turkey tumbles into recession

Turkey’s economy entered its first recession in a decade, official data showed yesterday, just weeks before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government faces local elections where growth and inflation will be key issues for

Abbas appoints Shtayyeh as PM

Abbas appoints Shtayyeh as PM

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on Sunday, a senior official said, in a move seen as part of efforts to further isolate Hamas. Abbas asked Shtayyeh, a member of the central


SCW to further promote women entrepreneurship

SCW to further promote women entrepreneurship

Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of His Majesty the King and President of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), has stressed the council’s keenness to go ahead with the women’s empowerment programmes, mainly in the economic field, to achieve family stab

New programme to employ 240 newly-graduated Bahraini docs

New programme to employ 240 newly-graduated Bahraini docs

Chairing the Cabinet session yesterday, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa launched a programme to employ 240 newly-graduate Bahraini doctors. Under the scheme, which will be implemented over two years, beginning from 2019, the new graduates will be trained and

Roommate killer’s jail term reduced

Roommate killer’s jail term reduced

An Indian man who stabbed his roommate to death last June has got his 10-year jail sentence reduced by the High Criminal Court of Appeals. The 38-year-old defendant was sentenced by the criminal court to 10 years of imprisonment in January, after he was found guilty of killing his roommat

Dog torturer’s custody extended

Dog torturer’s custody extended

A man who was arrested for torturing a dog in Bani Jamrah village will remain in custody pending further investigation, it was announced yesterday. Northern Governorate Chief Prosecutor Mohammed Abdullah said yesterday that the case has been referred to the concerned court. This came a da

50 birds worth Dh20m killed by lightning bolt

50 birds worth Dh20m killed by lightning bolt

As many as 50 rare birds worth over Dh20 million were killed when a lightning bolt hit a farm in Al Dhafra area in Abu Dhabi, Al Bayan reported. According to the farm’s owner Khalfan bin Butti Al Qubaisi, the birds had won many trophies in competitions. They were priceless, he said.

Probe ordered

Probe ordered

The Cabinet yesterday chaired by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, has ordered a thorough probe into allegations of two girls selling drugs at a school in the Northern Governorate. The Premier ordered the formation of a high-level committee, under the

Jakarta opens mass rapid transit system

Jakarta opens mass rapid transit system

Indonesia’s capital inaugurated its first mass rapid transit system on Sunday, a $1.1 billion project seen as crucial to tackling some of the world’s worst traffic congestion. President Joko Widodo and other officials joine

MAX anti-stall software fix ready

MAX anti-stall software fix ready

A fix to the anti-stall system suspected in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that killed 189 people in Indonesia is ready, industry sources said Saturday, as the company tries to avoid a lengthy grounding of its planes. Boeing was d

Sri Lanka opens work on $3.85bn refinery

Sri Lanka opens work on $3.85bn refinery

Sri Lanka began construction yesterday of a nearly $4 billion oil refinery it hopes will revive foreign interest in its shipping facilities after Beijing’s takeover of a nearby port spooked international investors. Prime Minister