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Measles off to a fast start, as cases trend up

NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials are worried about recent U.S. measles outbreaks that so far have caused more illnesses than at the same point of any year since 1996.

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Vermont leading US in GMO labeling campaign

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont could likely be the first state in the country to require labels on genetically modified foods, under a bill approved by both legislative chambers and favored by the governor.

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Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'

Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, left, looks at Roger Pontz’s left eyeANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.


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Novartis lung drug not inferior to GSK's Seretide, study shows

Logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in BaselZURICH (Reuters) - Patients taking Novartis' inhaled medicine Onbrez Breezhaler for chronic lung disease had benefits similar to those taking GlaxoSmithKline's Seretide, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday, citing a late stage study. Also known as QVA149, Onbrez Breezhaler belongs to a new type of dual-action treatments that are expected by analysts to become major sellers. ...


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Fewer communities risk running out of water in California drought

Irrigation pipe is seen on a farm near Cantua CreekA moderate dose of winter rainfall hasn't ended California's historic drought, but it has dropped just enough moisture on the beleaguered state to help 14 communities that had risked running out of water. In January, public health officials in the most populous U.S. state said that 17 communities were at risk of running out of water in 60 to 90 days. But now just three small communities were at risk, one in the central part of the state and two in the north, Department of Public Health spokeswoman Anita Gore said on Thursday. In the town of Willits, for example, a grant from the state helped to pay for a backup water treatment plant constructed within weeks of the drought's declaration by Governor Jerry Brown in January.


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California school bus crash injures driver, 11 children

Eleven middle school students and a bus driver were injured on Thursday, three critically, when their bus veered off a Southern California road, authorities said. The bus driver and two of the students from El Rancho Charter School in Anaheim, California, were listed in critical condition at a local hospital, said Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department.

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Oregon's broken healthcare exchange may move to federal network

By Shelby Sebens PORTLAND (Reuters) - Top officials for Oregon's troubled health insurance network, dogged by technical glitches that have kept a single subscriber from enrolling online, recommended on Thursday dumping the state website in favor of a federally run healthcare exchange. Oregon, a state that fully embraced the Affordable Care Act, has endured one of the rockiest rollouts of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, requiring tens of thousands of applicants to apply on paper since launching on October 1. Managers of the state exchange, called Cover Oregon, have determined it would cost about $78 million to fix and continue under the beleaguered system, well above the projected cost of switching over to the federal exchange, spokesman Alex Pettit said. Under the latest proposal, the private insurance plans now offered through Cover Oregon would be moved to the federal website, while individuals seeking coverage under an expansion of Medicaid, a state-federal healthcare plan for the needy, would apply through the Oregon Health Authority, spokeswoman Ariane Holm said.

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Exclusive: Allergan approached Shire about takeover but rebuffed -sources

By Olivia Oran, Soyoung Kim and Nadia Damouni NEW YORK (Reuters) - Allergan Inc approached Shire Plc in recent months about a possible takeover but was rebuffed, according to people familiar with the matter, in the latest example of a U.S. drugmaker seeking to buy an overseas rival to lower its tax rate. The preliminary approach for Shire, which is based in Ireland and has a market value of $33 billion, did not progress to serious discussions between the two companies, the sources said. Since then Allergan has received an unsolicited $47 billion takeover offer from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management. Analysts have suggested one way for the Botox maker to defend against the unsolicited bid would be to acquire foreign drugmakers such as Shire, Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc or Alkermes Plc. One of the sources said it was unclear if Allergan would try to revive talks with Shire, or pursue another target as a means to remain independent.

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Motor racing-For Mosley, safety is Senna's lasting legacy

By Alan Baldwin LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - It has been 20 years since Formula One last suffered a driver fatality but that milestone, an achievement that would once have stretched credulity, will get less attention than the anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death at Imola. The sport - already praying for Michael Schumacher's recovery from a skiing accident that left the seven-times world champion in a coma - is only too aware of the dangers still lurking around every corner even if it is enjoying the safest period it has ever known. But one always has this feeling don't tempt fate," Max Mosley, former president of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), told Reuters. Mosley, who raced in the 1968 Formula Two race that claimed the life of the great Jim Clark and was FIA president at the time of Senna's death at Imola on May 1, 1994, is nonetheless proud of what has been achieved since then.

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EU should halve meat, dairy consumption to cut nitrogen-report

By Nina Chestney LONDON (Reuters) - People in the European Union, who according to a United Nations body eat way more protein than necessary, could prompt big cuts in nitrogen pollution if they halved their meat and dairy consumption, a U.N.-backed report said on Friday. Nitrogen is used in fertilizer to replace nutrients which are removed by soils during plant growth but excess nitrogen can harm the environment by polluting water, air and soil. That represents around 80 percent of nitrogen emissions from all sources, said the study by the United Nations' Economic Commission for Europe's (UNECE) Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen. "If all people within the EU would halve their meat and dairy consumption, this would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 25 to 40 percent, and nitrogen emissions by 40 percent," lead author Henk Westhoek, program manager for Agriculture and Food at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said in a statement.

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Netflix makes deals to appear on first U.S. cable boxes

The Netflix logo is is shown on an ipad in Encinitas, CaliforniaLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Netflix Inc's streaming video service will be integrated into TiVo Inc set-top boxes provided by Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN, the cable providers said on Thursday. The deals are the first in the United States to bring Netflix as an app to cable set-top boxes. Netflix has similar arrangements with operators in Europe. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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Scientists Rush to Finish Mind-Controlled Robotic Suit Before World Cup

Scientists Rush to Finish Mind-Controlled Robotic Suit Before World CupParaplegic Volunteer Will Wear the Suit at Soccer's Big Tournament


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'Vapers' relieved FDA won't restrict popular e-cigarette flavors

Advertisements for e-cigarettes hang at the window of a tobacco store in New YorkMcshalonic Martinez, 25, puffed on a caramel mochachino flavored e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in lower Manhattan, saying the device helped him kick his three-pack-a-day smoking habit. He can't imagine going back to traditional cigarettes. It does not recommend restricting flavored products or online sales and advertising, which public health advocates say make the products more attractive for children and teens. The announcement comes on the heels of a New York City law passed last year that banned e-cigarette usage anywhere that traditional cigarettes are prohibited.


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Caregivers Are Key In Protecting Kids' Dental Health

By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many kids on Medicaid are not receiving dental care, and those who do often first show up with a dental emergency, according to a new study. Less than half of a group of four-year-olds the researchers followed had ever visited a dentist, and caregivers who neglected their own oral health tended to neglect that of their children too. "We know that both good oral health and dental problems tend to cluster and co-occur in families," said Kimon Divaris, who led the study at the UNC School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Utah sperm swap 'unacceptable' but still unexplained -university docs

A University of Utah committee investigating reports that a Salt Lake City fertility clinic worker artificially inseminated a patient with his own sperm called the action "unacceptable" on Thursday, but said it could not determine whether the switch was intentional. Practices at two now-closed Salt Lake-area clinics came into question last year when Pamela Branum, who was artificially inseminated at Reproductive Medical Technologies Inc, claimed genetic testing revealed that, instead of her husband, a lab technician had fathered their daughter in the early 1990s. The technician, Tom Lippert, has since died. He was also a registered sperm donor at the clinics and frequently supplied samples.

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Oregon moves to dump health exchange website

Cover Oregon interim chief information officer Alex Pettit speaks during an advisory committee meeting in Portland, Ore., Thursday, April 24, 2014. After months of deliberation over what to do with Oregon's botched online health exchange, the advisory panel recommended that the state drop its trouble-plagued online health exchange for private policies and have Oregonians instead shop for them on the federal online marketplace. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon, once expected to be a national leader in the federal health care overhaul, on Thursday moved to become the first state to dump its troubled online health exchange and use the federal marketplace instead.


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5 Things You Need to Know About E-Cigarettes

5 Things You Need to Know About E-CigarettesMillions Have Started to Use the Device as an Alternative for Traditional Cigarettes


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Watch: Formerly Conjoined Twins Meet Celebrity Dolphin

The 4-year-old boys' prosthetic legs and Winter's prosthetic tail were made by the same team.

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Behavior therapy works over short term for young kids with OCD

By Andrew M. Seaman NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A family-based cognitive behavioral therapy markedly improves symptoms in children as young as five years old with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), according to a new study. The behavioral treatment, which involved parents heavily and is already known to work for older kids and teens, left almost three quarters of the young children significantly better off, according to objective measurements. "I really think that the results highlight this family-based cognitive behavior therapy model as the first-line treatment for children with OCD," Jennifer Freeman, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health. People with OCD have a set of compulsions - feeling compelled to do something - that cause them distress or disrupt their daily lives.

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In fight with opiate overdoses, N.J. county issues antidote to police

Police in coastal Ocean County in New Jersey, faced with a doubling in deaths from drug overdoses in the past year, have issued all police officers an anti-opiate drug in a pilot program aimed at combating deaths tied to painkiller addiction. Police have already saved six people from overdoses since launching early this month a test of the anti-opiate drug naloxone, which helps restore breathing in people who have overdosed on opiate drugs. "We're on a roll," said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the county prosecutor's office, which led the effort. In almost every case, their first comment is how great it will be to do something except stand there." The county, home to about 583,000 people, saw 112 overdose deaths in 2013, more than double the 53 recorded in 2012, Della Fave said.

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Oregon panel recommends moving to federal exchange

Cover Oregon interim chief information officer Alex Pettit speaks during an advisory committee meeting in Portland, Ore., Thursday, April 24, 2014. After months of deliberation over what to do with Oregon's botched online health exchange, the advisory panel recommended that the state drop its trouble-plagued online health exchange for private policies and have Oregonians instead shop for them on the federal online marketplace. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon, once expected to be a national leader in the federal health care overhaul, on Thursday moved to become the first state to dump its troubled online health exchange and use the federal marketplace instead.


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Vaccines prevent more than 700,000 child deaths in the U.S.: CDC

By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A federal government program launched 20 years ago to increase vaccinations for low-income children in the United States will prevent more than 700,000 deaths, but measles remains a stubborn adversary, with more than 129 cases so far this year, a federal agency said on Thursday. There have been no deaths from the disease reported in the United States this year, the CDC said. The importation of measles from overseas makes vaccination even more important for children in the United States, the CDC said. "Borders can't stop diseases anymore, but vaccinations can," CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters.

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FDA approves test to detect DNA of cancer-causing HPV strains

(Reuters) - The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the use of a test for cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), clearing the way for replacement of the Pap smears used to screen most women for cervical cancer. The FDA said the cobas HPV Test, made by Switzerland's Roche Holding AG, can be used for women age 25 and older to help assess the need for additional diagnostic testing. The test had previously been approved in conjunction with, or as a follow up to, a Pap test, which examines cervical cells for changes that might become cervical cancer. Experts have said it will be tough to convince doctors to move from the current testing guidelines, which call for the use of both Pap tests and HPV tests, since there have been no studies directly comparing the regimens.

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Alstom shares jump on report of $13 billion GE bid

The logo of French power and transport engineering company Alstom is pictured on a wall of the company's plant in Reichshoffen, near HaguenauBy Natalie Huet and Benjamin Mallet PARIS (Reuters) - Shares of Alstom jumped 10.9 percent on Thursday after a report that U.S. conglomerate General Electric was in talks to buy the struggling French turbine and train maker for about $13 billion. The companies may announce the deal as early as next week, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter as saying late on Wednesday. If confirmed, a takeover offer from a foreign company would raise concern among politicians and unions in France, where Alstom employs around 18,000 people, or 20 percent of its global workforce. While Alstom is well known for both its transport and power turbine business, the latter is likely to be of most interest to GE, one person familiar with the industry said.


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GMO Foods: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Is altering a crop in a lab the same as altering it on the farm? Yes and no.

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Apple buoys Nasdaq; Ukraine weighs on broader market

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Nasdaq rose modestly in a choppy session on Thursday, lifted by a rally in Apple shares a day after the iPad maker's strong results, though tensions in Ukraine held the broader market in check. Shares of Apple Inc , the most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization, jumped 8.2 percent to $567.77, the biggest gain since August, a day after the company posted revenue that far outpaced expectations. Apple also approved another $30 billion stock-buyback plan, raised its dividend and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. The three major U.S. stock indexes had opened sharply higher, with the Nasdaq initially climbing more than 1 percent before turning negative in the first half-hour of trading.


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TSX gains on Potash, banks; gold miners slip

Toronto Stock Exchange logo is seen in TorontoBy Alastair Sharp TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index rose slightly on Thursday, helped by a gain in shares of Potash Corp after the company's results beat low expectations and by small increases in heavyweight banking stocks. The upward thrust was offset by declines in major gold miners and an 11.5 percent plunge in Colombia-focused oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp . With the domestic stock market hitting highs last reached in mid-2008, stock pickers are taking a more nuanced view in building positions, resulting in long-maligned sectors such as energy producing winners and losers in almost equal measure. You're not seeing buying across the board," said Elvis Picardo, a strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.


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Webby Awards honor mobile health and fitness apps

An American Red Cross official participates in a mock rescue drill simulating a boating accident in waters off the coast of San DiegoBy Daniel Gaitan NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As part of the 18th Annual Webby Awards, 11 mobile health applications ranging from personal wellness journals to allergen and symptom trackers were chosen as honorees. WebMD, available for iOS and Android mobile operating systems, provides a symptom checker allowing users to indicate pain or symptom levels to learn about potential conditions or issues (http://bit.ly/1tHoL2U). "We are thrilled," said David Ziegler, director of mobile product management. "In addition to improving the look and feel of the entire app and our popular symptom checker utility, we wanted to offer users the ability to read about healthy living-related content on a daily basis." My Wellness Journal is a personal health record app created by California-based Project Tiki (http://bit.ly/1f7Rjyy).


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Oregon energy plant halts Canada medical waste over fetal tissue concerns

By Shelby Sebens PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - Commissioners in an Oregon county have temporarily stopped accepting boxed medical waste from British Columbia over fears they may have been burning fetal tissue at a plant that converts waste to energy, officials said on Thursday. Marion County said it had stopped taking the boxes in response to an article it became aware of late on Wednesday in a Vancouver-based newspaper about the possibility the plant had accepted human tissue from outside sources. "We are outraged and disgusted that this material could be included in medical waste received at the facility," Commissioner Janet Carlson said in a statement at the time. On Thursday, the two-member Marion County Board of Commissioners directed staff to draft an ordinance excluding fetal tissue from medical waste allowed at the waste-to-energy facility, and stopped accepting all such waste until the ordinance can be passed.

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Trend-setter Apple's stock split could bring out the copycats

A man poses for a photo in front of the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New YorkBy Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple has long been a trend-setter whose hot products attract imitators, and now its recent stock split might help revive a trend from the 1990s that has all but disappeared on Wall Street. Apple Inc's move might inspire others, some believe, but only modestly. "It could become a bit of a trend when you see a name like Apple decide to split the stock," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities. Polcari said Priceline Group Inc, the most expensive single stock on the S&P 500, is a prime candidate.


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Bird flu on California farm prompts HK, others to bar poultry imports

An avian-borne virus outbreak on a California quail farm has fueled fears that the disease known as bird flu could spread, prompting investigators to continue their probe and five key export markets to bar imports of poultry from the state. A state diagnostic laboratory confirmed on April 18 that a quail flock in Stanislaus County, California, tested positive for low-pathogenic avian influenza virus. On Thursday, Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety announced a ban on the import of all poultry and poultry produced from Stanislaus County. Taiwan, too, has blocked chicken imports from California, while Japan has banned poultry slaughtered and eggs laid in California on or after March 24, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

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Salmonella cases decline, but other foodborne illnesses up

By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - There was little progress in reducing food poisoning rates in the U.S. last year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although Salmonella infections decreased by 9 percent in 2013, illnesses caused by other foodborne bacteria rose by as much as 32 percent. Each year, the most common foodborne illness - Salmonella - sickens about 1.2 million people in the U.S. and results in 450 deaths, according to the CDC. Recent efforts to lower that number seem to be working, but illnesses caused by contaminated food are still too common, say the report's authors.

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Costa Rican 'miracle' woman was key to John Paul's sainthood

Costa Rican woman Diaz poses near a statua of John Paul II after she speaken to the media about the miracle that set Pope John Paul II onto the road of sainthoodBy Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Floribeth Mora Diaz does not care if people think she is crazy. She is convinced - and so is the Vatican - that she owes her life to a miracle cure because she prayed to the late Pope John Paul. "I have experienced the mercy of God in my own life and I am grateful," she told a news conference at the Vatican on Thursday explaining what Church investigators believe was a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession with God. Pope Francis will elevate John Paul to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday at a ceremony expected to draw more than one million people to the Vatican.


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U.S. trade bank urges lawmakers to renew charter, avoid 'political games'

U.S. lawmakers should back a bill renewing the U.S. Export-Import Bank's charter and stop playing "political games" that will only hurt American exports and jobs, the bank's president said on Thursday. Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg said critics of the export credit agency did not appreciate its role in supporting jobs and exports, and he warned the bank would have to close its doors on October 1 unless lawmakers renewed its charter. The White House had sent a bill to Congress to extend the bank's lending limit by $20 billion to $160 billion and allow it to operate for five more years, he said.

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Scientists discover new rare genetic brain disorder

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - International teams of researchers using advanced gene sequencing technology have uncovered a single genetic mutation responsible for a rare brain disorder that may have stricken families in Turkey for some 400 years. The discovery of this genetic disorder, reported in two papers in the journal Cell, demonstrates the growing power of new tools to uncover the causes of diseases that previously stumped doctors. Besides bringing relief to affected families, who can now go through prenatal genetic testing in order to have children without the disorder, the discovery helps lend insight into more common neurodegenerative disorders, such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, the researchers said. The reports come from two independent teams of scientists, one led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the other by Yale University, the University of California, San Diego, and the Academic Medical Center in the Netherlands.

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With genome deciphered, experts aim to swat dreaded tsetse fly

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international team of scientists has deciphered the genetic code of the tsetse fly, the bloodsucking insect that spreads deadly African sleeping sickness, with the hope that its biological secrets can be exploited to eradicate this malady. The findings announced on Thursday were the culmination of a multimillion dollar, decade-long effort involving more than 140 scientists from 78 research institutions in 18 countries. The fly's bite carries a parasitic microorganism that causes sleeping sickness in people in sub-Saharan Africa and a form of the disease in animals that can devastate livestock herds. Sequencing the tsetse fly's genome exposed the molecular underpinnings of its weird biology: it gives live birth to young rather than laying eggs like other insects;

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Uruguay to allow pot users to buy up to 20 joints a week

Marijuana plants are seen in an indoor cultivation in MontevideoUruguayans will be able buy up to 10 grams of pot a week, enough to roll 20 joints, under new rules governing the recently legalized marijuana trade in the country, a government source said on Thursday. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because President Jose Mujica has not yet decreed the new regulations, said the government will auction up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally. Uruguay, the first country to legalize the growing and sale of marijuana, is being closely watched by other countries debating drug liberalization. Uruguay has said it is also considering having marijuana grown on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.


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Chicago health center confirms doctor killed in Afghanistan

A Chicago pediatrician was among those killed in an attack on a Kabul hospital funded by the U.S. Christian charity Cure International on Thursday, a clinic where the doctor worked in Chicago said. "For nearly a decade, Dr. Jerry Umanos volunteered in Afghanistan to train medical residents and to see pediatric patients," said Dr. Bruce Rowell, a medical director of clinical quality at Chicago's Lawndale Christian Health Center.

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Three Americans killed in Kabul hospital attack

Afghan policemen stand at the gate of Cure Hospital after three foreigners were killed in KabulThree Americans were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at a Kabul hospital funded by a U.S. Christian charity, the latest in a spate of attacks on foreign civilians in Afghanistan. A fourth American was wounded, the Afghan Health Ministry said. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for similar attacks this year, but made no comment about Thursday's shooting. Those killed included a doctor, and a father and son visiting the hospital, Health Minister Suriya Dalil said.






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