Aspirin, Havana Syndrome, and the Year's Funniest Pet Photos

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 13, and we're covering new guidance for use of a common medicine, the ongoing mystery surrounding Havana syndrome, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Rethinking Aspirin 

Low doses of aspirin should no longer be taken on a daily basis as a preventive medication against heart attacks and strokes, an independent federal advisory panel said yesterday. The guidance, which reverse years of conventional wisdom, applies to those over 60 years old at risk of their first heart attack.


A generic name for acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory but also prevents clumping of blood platelets, reducing the risk of blood clots (and therefore heart attacks and strokes). Previous research found a daily regimen correlated to a 0.4% decrease in cardiovascular problems (more here), but was also linked to a 0.5% increase in bleeding issues. 


A 2016 recommendation to use the drug as a preventative for colorectal cancer is also likely to be walked back, sources indicated.

Havana Syndrome

Three victims reported to have suffered from Havana syndrome will speak out publicly on their experience for the first time in an interview with NBC News today (6:30 pm ET, NBC). The mysterious condition has reportedly affected at least 200 Americans worldwide, primarily diplomatic staff, and has led to speculation a foreign adversary is targeting US citizens abroad. Symptoms of the condition include headaches, fatigue, hearing and memory loss, and more.


While some have argued the effects are an instance of mass hysteria, some experts suggest it may be caused by pulsed microwave energy—which can somewhat penetrate walls and has been shown to induce neurological symptoms, particularly affecting the inner ear. Intelligence officials have launched a task force probing the reports.


The interview comes as cases of the mysterious illness have ramped up recently, including reports in August from at least two US officials stationed at the US Embassy in Berlin and an aide to the CIA director in India in September. President Joe Biden signed into law Friday a bill that will provide financial help to US victims.

Southwest Stabilizes

A dayslong series of cancellations by Southwest Airlines slowed yesterday, with the company dropping 87 flights, or about 2% of its schedule. The airline had canceled roughly 2,400 flights since Saturday, causing a cascade of travel delays that rippled across the US. 


While the cancellations began shortly after the pilots' union tried to push back on the company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the reasons for the disruption remain unclear. Union officials denied pilots were protesting the mandate, instead blaming what they say are longstanding issues with the company's IT infrastructure and a staffing shortage brought on by the pandemic. Southwest initially blamed weather and problems with air traffic control, a charge refuted by regulators. 


The dropped flights were the latest in a bumpy return for the airline industry, which has seen passenger volume rebound but hasn't filled positions of experienced pilots who took early retirement at the onset of the pandemic, according to reports.


Editor's note: Yesterday, regarding Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill, we incorrectly wrote 7.3% of patients in the test group died, compared to 14% in the control group. In fact, 7.3% of patients were hospitalized in the test group; zero deaths were reported through one month, compared to eight deaths in the control group. See Merck's press release here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

Brought to you by The Ascent

> Actor William Shatner, 90, and three others launch into suborbital space this morning as the second crewed flight of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company (More)


> Paddy Moloney, Irish folk music legend who cofounded and won six Grammy Awards with the Chieftains, dies at 83 (More)


> New Superman comes out as bisexual in upcoming DC comic "Superman: Son of Kal-El" (More) | Coachella will no longer mandate vaccinations for its April 2022 festival; ticket holders will only have to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test (More)

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Science & Technology

> Federal advisory panel takes no stance on decision of whether to recommend a booster shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, says two doses are sufficient to protect against severe illness and death (More) | US to fully reopen Canada and Mexico borders to vaccinated travelers next month (More)


> Physicists make the most precise measurement of free neutron lifetime ever; study helps shed light on the formation of the early universe (More)


> NASA, European Space Agency begin developing plans for a mission to Mars to retrieve the Perseverance rover; space probe collected soil samples last month (More) | Separately, images from the rover suggest ancient floods on the red planet (More)

Business & Markets

> International Monetary Fund reduces global growth projection to 5.9% for 2021, citing supply chain issues (More) | A record 4.3 million US workers quit their jobs in August; US job openings at 10.4 million, per Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report (More)


> CEO of toy giant Hasbro dies after recently taking medical leave, had been battling cancer since 2014 (More)


> The Food and Drug Administration approves three electronic cigarette products aimed at helping adult smokers working to quit using tobacco (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> US House passes measure to raise the debt ceiling; bill allows for $480B in additional borrowing, expected to last through Dec. 3 (More) | Department of Homeland Security to halt mass workplace raids (More)


> Rep. John Yarmuth (D, KY-3), chair of the powerful House Budget Committee, to retire at the end of the term (More)


> Wyoming coroner says Gabby Petito was strangled to death 3-4 weeks before her body was found Sept. 19; boyfriend Brian Laundrie still at large (More)



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"It pays to know the enemy–not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend."

- Margaret Thatcher

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