Photo: Yander Zamora/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The so-called "sonic attacks" that left American diplomats in Cuba with strange illnesses and brain trauma last year — and resulted in President Trump rolling back embassy staff and issuing a travel advisory — may have instead been caused by microwave weapons, reports the The New York Times.

The details: The medical team that inspected the 21 diplomats were initially skeptical, but now believe that the unusual reports of loud, painful sounds experienced by the victims may be attributed to the Frey effect — a phenomenon in which the brain is tricked into perceiving nonexistent noises by microwaves. The source and motive behind the attacks is still unknown.

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Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
24 mins ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.

Biden will allow lobbyists to join transition team

Biden speaks at a campaign stop at Pittsburgh Union Station Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's presidential transition office will allow lobbyists to help shape his potential administration, but will require them to receive a waiver to participate if they engaged in lobbying activity in the last twelve months.

Why it matters: Presidential transition teams are instrumental in establishing a new administration, and the rules that govern them are often a template for the ethics guidelines that the new administration imposes after the inauguration.