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Mexico Debates Legalizing Opium Poppy for Medicine

Fed up with drug-related violence, a growing number of Mexican politicians see one potential cure: legalizing the cultivation of opium poppies for the production of medicine.

The debate has emerged in recent weeks after President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed legislation in April to loosen marijuana laws by legalizing medical cannabis and easing restrictions on its recreational use.

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Rural Midwives on Front Line of Sierra Leone Maternity Crisis

It is final exams season at Masuba midwifery school in rural Sierra Leone, and 70 more students are about to begin working life at the sharp end of the country's maternal health crisis.

Established in 2010, the school is only the second dedicated midwife training unit for a country of seven million people, located at the end of a bone-shaking series of dirt tracks several hours from the capital by car.

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Republicans Score Court Victory against Obamacare

Republicans clinched a victory Thursday against President Barack Obama's signature health care law, when a federal judge ruled that two of its central provisions violate the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington agreed with the Republican-led House of Representatives, which said the law illegally uses public funds to pay for tax credits to make insurance premiums more affordable, or to reduce deductibles, co-pays and other insurer "cost-sharing" measures for lower-income individuals.

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U.N.: 80 Percent of World's City Dwellers Breathing Bad Air

Over 80 percent of the world's city dwellers breathe poor quality air, increasing their risk of lung cancer and other life-threatening diseases, a new World Health Organization (WHO) report warned Thursday.

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Alone and at Risk: Sierra Leone's Baby-Faced Mothers

Dizzy and sweating, 15-year-old Isatu Koroma sits with her eyes closed in the maternity ward in Sierra Leone where she has spent the last 10 days, as her tiny little daughter begins to cry.

Koroma badly needs blood after a complicated delivery -- relatives are expected to donate here but none has visited, also leaving the nurses to pay for her to eat.

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New York Bars Can't Refuse Alcohol to Pregnant Women

Bars and restaurants in New York are not allowed to refuse alcohol to pregnant women since that would violate their basic rights, the mayor's office said.

Pregnancy discrimination under New York City Human Rights Law "is discrimination based on gender," according to new guidelines released last week.

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Gauloises Maker Appeals French Plain Package Law

Seita, the French subsidiary of Britain's Imperial Tobacco and the maker of the iconic Gauloises and Gitanes cigarettes, said Tuesday it would appeal to France's top court against regulations imposing plain packaging.

The appeal to the Council of State, France's top administrative court, won't suspend the regulation from entering force on January 1.

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Florida Pharmacies Taking Orders from Crisis-Hit Venezuela

The phone rings off the hook these days at some pharmacies in Florida and the calls are long-distance: from Venezuelans desperate for everything from diapers to cancer medication.

Venezuela, though sitting atop the world's largest proven oil reserves, is enduring an acute economic crisis due in part to the global drop in crude prices and just about everything is in short supply, including medicine.

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Report: Adolescent Health Neglected Worldwide

Decades of neglect and underinvestment have damaged the health of 10-to-24-year-olds worldwide and could hold back future generations, according to a major report published Tuesday.

Even as global efforts have significantly improved the well-being of children aged five and under, adolescents -- defined in the study as people aged between 10 and 24 -- have fared less well.

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Scientists Using Smartphone App Warn of 'Global Sleep Crisis'

Social pressures are forcing people to cut back on their sleep, contributing to a "global sleep crisis," according to a new study based on research collected through a smartphone app.

It enabled scientists from the University of Michigan to track sleep patterns around the world -- gathering data about how age, gender and the amount of natural light to which people are exposed affect sleep patterns in 100 countries -- and better understand how cultural pressures can override biological rhythms.

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