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Nation & World Briefs


Thursday, October 12, 2017
Dangerous sound? What was heard in Cuba attacks

WASHINGTON — 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.

Fire survivor regrets not pulling neighbors from home

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — As his house filled with smoke from one of California’s devastating wine country fires, Ryan Nelson’s thoughts went to his elderly neighbors — one of whom has multiple sclerosis.

He ran over and pounded on their doors and windows but wasn’t able to get their attention. Now he fears they didn’t make it out and wonders whether he could have done more to help.

“We’re in the middle of the city, so that’s never crossed anybody’s mind here in terms of everything being a total fire loss,” Nelson said. “That’s why I didn’t kick his door in. I just thought I’d come back to the house.”

Nelson was in his Santa Rosa neighborhood on Wednesday going through the ruins of his house to try to find his grandfather’s rifles, including an M-1 carbine from World War II, that he kept in a gun safe.

He found only pieces. His neighbors’ home was also a total loss.

NYC, London police taking fresh look at Weinstein claims

NEW YORK — Police detectives in New York City and London are taking a fresh look into sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein now that some 30 women have accused the Hollywood film producer of inappropriate conduct.

New York Police Department spokesman Peter Donald said Thursday that investigators are reviewing police files to see if anyone else reported being assaulted or harassed by him.

So far, no filed complaints have been found, he said, other than one well-known case that prompted an investigation in 2015, but authorities are encouraging anyone with information on Weinstein to contact the department.

London police were also looking into a claim it had received from the Merseyside force in northwest England, British media reported Thursday. Merseyside police said the allegation was made a day earlier and concerned “an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s.”

Some 30 women — including actresses Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow — have spoken out recently to say Weinstein had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. Weinstein was fired Sunday by The Weinstein Co., a studio he co-founded with his brother.

Official says Vegas hotel didn’t quickly report gunfire

Mandalay Bay hotel officials didn’t notify police about a shooting in a hallway inside the high-rise until after Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd at a country music festival outside, a federal official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The disclosure means there may have been a delay of some six minutes in summoning police to the scene of what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The official was briefed by law enforcement but wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In the most recent chronology given by investigators, Paddock sprayed 200 rounds into the hallway on the 32nd floor Oct. 1, wounding an unarmed security guard in the leg, six minutes before he unleashed his barrage of bullets on the festival crowd. He killed 58 people and injured nearly 500.

Over the past few days, Las Vegas police and the Mandalay Bay’s corporate parent, MGM Resorts International, would not answer questions about whether the hotel notified police about the hallway shooting in the minutes before the massacre began.

EPA orders cleanup at Texas toxic site flooded by Harvey

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has handed a rare victory to environmentalists, ordering two big corporations this week to pay $115 million to clean up a Texas toxic waste site that may have spread dangerous levels of pollution during flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a directive Wednesday requiring International Paper and McGinnis Industrial Maintenance Corp., a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc., to excavate 212,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the San Jacinto River Waste Pits site.

Pruitt has said cleaning Superfund sites is among his top priorities, even as he has worked to delay and rollback a wide array of environmental regulations that would reduce air and water pollution. Often Pruitt has done so directly at the behest of industries that petitioned him for relief from what they characterize as overly burdensome and costly regulations.

From Associated Press
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