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Sec. Blinken says government-wide probe into ‘mysterious’ injuries afflicting US personnel ongoing



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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday he is still conducting research surrounding the “directed” attacks and subsequent injuries of US diplomats. Blinken spoke about the “Havana Syndrome” during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“We are in the midst, at the President’s direction, with the National Security Council in the lead, of coordinating a government-wide review, including the intelligence community, the State Department, the Defense Department, to try to get to the bottom of what caused them, who did it, if anyone did, and of course care for any people who may have been victimized by it,” Blinken said.

But, this early on, Blinken says intelligence officials are still not sure who or what is behind the injuries. “So certainly if we have concerns, suspicions or beliefs that any state actor, Russia or otherwise was involved … you can be sure that we will take it to them. But right now, we simply do not know,” Blinken said.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago



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The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.

The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57%  the preceding quarter.

The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.

592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:

They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.

Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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