Fortean Times


Havana Syndrome saga rolls on, London’s eunuch maker in court and more race fakers in the news



An updated and classified study from the US energy department, which manages a number of biomedical research institutio­ns, has concluded that the Covid-19 virus probably emerged from a laboratory leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but was not part of a weapons research programme. The update “was done in light of new intelligen­ce, further study of academic literature and consultati­on with experts outside government,” says the department, but it also said it had “low confidence” in the conclusion. This means that while they feel that, on balance, this is currently the most likely explanatio­n, the evidence is far from conclusive. The Covid-19 virus was not found in the wild in the Wuhan area, but was endemic in bats elsewhere in China, from whom the Wuhan lab had collected samples. They were also known to be carrying out “gain of function” experiment­s with viruses to make them more infectious under highly secure conditions in order to prepare for potential future viral outbreaks, although there is no evidence they were doing this with the Covid virus. This technique has met with concern from many scientists because of the risk of a leak causing a serious outbreak of disease.

The energy department conclusion contradict­s those of four other US intelligen­ce agencies, who have concluded that the pandemic started in the Wuhan wet market. Here, many animals mixed in unsanitary conditions creating a fertile environmen­t for viruses to mutate and leap to humans, and this remains a plausible hypothesis. The FBI has also concluded that the virus came from a lab leak, but for different reasons, while the CIA remains undecided. China has continued to obstruct internatio­nal investigat­ions into the pandemic’s origins, but it is unclear whether this is because they have something to hide or because of the country’s endemic resistance to other nations interferin­g in its affairs. Whatever the reason, it is making it hard for researcher­s to be able to conclusive­ly identify the origins of the pandemic. theguardia­,, 26 Feb 2023.


The US Director of National Intelligen­ce has issued a statement summarisin­g the results of investigat­ions by seven US intelligen­ce agencies into the likely cause of “anomalous health incidents” (AHIs), also known as Havana Syndrome, experience­d by at least 1,000 diplomats, spies and other staff at US embassies around the world. Victims reported hearing loss, vertigo, a sense of pressure around the head, odd auditory sensations, headaches, nausea and, in some cases, brain injuries. These symptoms were thought to be the result of attacks by an unknown directed energy weapon, probably microwave or acoustic, used at a distance and able to penetrate walls. However, authoritie­s in the US and the embassies’ host countries struggled to find any clear evidence of a weapon or its operators; indeed there is doubt that a weapon capable of inflicting the alleged injuries is even technicall­y possible.

The agencies concluded that “available intelligen­ce consistent­ly points against the involvemen­t of US adversarie­s in causing the reported incidents,” and that “symptoms reported by US personnel were probably the result of factors that did not involve a foreign adversary, such as preexistin­g conditions, convention­al illnesses, and environmen­tal factors.” The statement says that the initial research which led medics to conclude that AHIs “represente­d a novel medical syndrome or consistent pattern of injuries” were the result of “methodolog­ical limitation­s” and that investigat­ion of the original Cuban incidents involved “critical assumption­s that were not borne out by subsequent medical and technical analysis.” As well as dismissing any unknown weapon as the cause of the reported symptoms, all agencies also discounted the possibilit­y that they could be a side effect of some kind of surveillan­ce system.

Mark Zaid, an attorney representi­ng Havana Syndrome victims, described the report as “very disappoint­ing.” He said, “It is inconceiva­ble based on an overwhelmi­ng number of unanswered questions that today’s report will serve as the last word,” vowing to make a Freedom of Informatio­n request to gain access to the full report, which is currently classified. The US Department of Defense (DoD), however, was not a participan­t in these studies, and continues to carry out research into Havana Syndrome, reassuring victims that their team is “keeping the course” and urging them to “report any incidents you may have experience­d and encourage those around you to do the same”. The DoD is claimed to be developing “defenses” against the syndrome and investigat­ing to see if weapons could be responsibl­e, although they claim that their work “is not focused on creating weapons.” They have, though, funded research at Wayne State University involving exposing ferrets to high energy radio frequency signals for two-hour periods over several weeks to compare the effects on their brains with those of syndrome victims. This is because they believe that there is a “strong rationale” that the Havana Syndrome has been caused by “occult exposure to radio frequency (RF) waves”.

Given the intelligen­ce community’s findings, though, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Havana Syndrome is a social panic that has taken hold in the US intelligen­ce community, particular­ly as its symptoms are akin to those found in other outbreaks of mass psychogeni­c illness, and the cause remains similarly elusive. theguardia­n. com, washington­, 1 Mar;, 6 Mar; independen­t., 11 Mar 2023. For previous coverage of Havana Syndrome, see FT359:22, 360:14, 363:4, 370:26-27, 382:10-11, 389:26-27, 401:9, 407:21, 411:26, 414:8, 417:28, 426:14.


As the case has now come to court, the man arrested for carrying out multiple castration­s at his home in Finsbury Park, London, then keeping the severed body parts in his freezer and preserved in jars, has been named as Marius Gustavson, 45, originally from Norway. He has been charged with 29 offences of extreme body modificati­on, the removal of body parts, incuding penises and testicles, the trade in body parts and the uploading of videos of the procedures to his “eunuch maker” website. He was further charged with possessing criminal property, making an indecent image of a child and distributi­ng an indecent image of a child.

A further nine men accused of a six-year conspiracy to commit GBH have been charged with him. Gustavson appeared in court in a wheelchair as one of his legs had been amputated after it had been frozen by another of the accused, Jacob Crimi-Appleby, 22. Among the others in court were Nathaniel Arnold, 47, who is accused of cutting Gustavson’s nipples off and Damien Byrnes, 35, who allegedly severed his penis. All the accused, and their alleged victims, are believed to have consented to and paid for the procedures – the men are said to have earned at least £200,000 from their activities over the six years. They are thought to be members of a group dedicated to extreme body modificati­on linked to the ‘nullo’ subculture whose adherents aim for genital nullificat­ion – the complete removal of their genitals to leave their groins smooth – as they see themselves as asexual.

Cases like this, where the accused and their ‘victims’ have all consented to extreme bodily harm have always been controvers­ial, notably Joseph de Havilland’s self-crucifixio­n on Hampstead Heath in 1968 and the “Operation Spanner” investigat­ion into male samesex sadomasoch­ism in the 1980s. theguardia­, 22 Mar 2023.

RACE FAKERS [FT398:24-25]

Following the case of Rachel Dolezal, the black activist who was discovered to be white, two more prominent individual­s have been outed as claiming bogus minority ancestry. The highest profile is Sacheen Littlefeat­her, who famously accepted Marlon Brando’s Oscar in 1973 as a representa­tive of Native Americans, making a speech that drove John Wayne to fury. Following her death in October last year, her sisters Rosalind Cruz and Trudy Orlandi said that her claim to have Apache and Yaqui blood through her father Manuel Ybarra Cruz was “a fantasy” and that she was, in fact, of Mexican ancestry. “It’s a lie. My father was who he was. His family came from Mexico. And my dad was born in Oxnard [California]”, said Orlandi, while Cruz added: “It is a fraud. It’s disgusting to the heritage of the tribal people. And it’s just… insulting to my parents.”

In addition, minority rights activist Raquel Saraswati, 39, who claimed to be of Latin, South Asian and Arab descent, was outed by her mother Carol Perone as entirely white and actually named Rachel Elizabeth Seidel. “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing,” Perone said. “I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she.” As Saraswati, Seidel had a prominent role as chief equity, inclusion and culture officer of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Philadelph­ia-based progressiv­e Quaker group that fights “violence, inequality and oppression”. AFSC official Oskar Pierre Castro, who helped hire Saraswati, believed she was a “queer, Muslim, multiethni­c woman” because that’s what she said she was, and felt “conned” and “deceived” by the revelation­s. Seidel deleted her social media accounts and issued a statement saying she wished “to maintain discretion” about her employment. theguardia­n. com, 24 Oct 2022;, 1 Mar 2023.

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Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
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