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05 October 2017, 12:31 | Leigh Flowers
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The Trump administration is expected to oust two-thirds of Cuba's embassy staff from Washington, D.C. after a string of sonic attacks against American diplomats in Cuba, according to several sources.
The announcement comes less than a week after the US reduced its diplomatic presence in Havana following mysterious attacks on USA personnel in Cuba.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered more than half the U.S. Embassy staff, and all family members, to depart Havana for their safety Friday while the inquiry continues.
Neither the FBI nor a separate Cuba investigation has been able to determine what and who is causing the maladies that have befallen at least 22 Americans stationed at the embassy, with symptoms ranging from hearing loss to cognitive disorders.
"Some U.S. government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba, on official duties - so they were there working on behalf of the U.S. embassy there - they've reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms", Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a news briefing back on August 9.
The U.S. also suspended processing of all visas in Havana, which has created uncertainty among Cuban families divided by the Florida Straits.
JIMENEZ: This is going to complicate and slow down any of our bilateral cooperation just simply based on the fact that there will be an insufficient number of people at the - at the Cuban Embassy here in D.C.to do very basic things like process visas or meet with USA businesspeople interested in doing business on the island.
Following Trump's decisions on this issue, several voices described the U.S. State Department's measures as excessive and alerted how risky it would be for the normalization process of bilateral relations.
"The decision to call them attacks reflects that there's been a consistent pattern of our people being affected, and there's no other conclusion that we could draw", a State Department official told reporters on a conference call Tuesday following the expulsion of Cuban officials.
"If the U.S. government is serious about solving this mystery, they shouldn't make it more hard to cooperate with the Cuban government during this critical time of the investigation", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a group that aims to strengthen U.S. -Cuba ties.
US officials initially suspected that sophisticated acoustic devices were used to aim damaging sound waves at Americans.
"So the idea that over 20 Americans working for the State Department, working for the U.S. Embassy could be severely injured in Cuba and the Cuban government not know anything about it is ridiculous", he added.
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The Big Ten Blog
With his effort against the Hawkeyes, Barkley became the seventh player in Penn State history to have 3,000 career rushing yards. More than a smattering of boos could be heard at Kinnick Stadium as the swarming Nittany Lions defense was in total command.