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Peru's Vargas Llosa to take secret of Garcia Marquez spat to grave CARACAS (Reuters) - Peruvian author and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa vowed on Thursday to honor until death a pact with his late Colombian counterpart Gabriel Garcia Marquez not to reveal the mystery of their famous decades-old enmity. The two Latin American literary greats were once friends, but stopped speaking to each other in 1976 when Vargas Llosa gave Garcia Marquez a black eye in a dispute - depending on who one believes - over politics or the Peruvian's wife.

Oregon panel recommends dropping troubled exchange for private policies, using federal system

PORTLAND, Ore. - After months of deliberation over what to do with Oregon's botched online health exchange, an advisory panel on Thursday recommended that the state drop the site for private policies and have Oregonians instead shop for them on the federal online marketplace. A top Cover Oregon official, Alex Pettit, said fixing the existing system would be too costly at $78 million, would take too long to implement, and would be too risky. He said switching to the federal system would cost $4 million to $6 million.

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.

Language commissioner calls for bilingual crews for Ambulance New Brunswick

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's official languages commissioner is urging the Health Department to order Ambulance New Brunswick to have bilingual ambulance crews. Katherine d'Entremont's recommendation follows her investigation into an incident in September 2013 when she says the two ambulance attendants dispatched to help a Dieppe resident were unable to speak French. D'Entremont says attempting to assist a person without speaking his or her language may have life-threatening consequences.

Politics clouds proposed overhaul of U.S. housing finance system

By Margaret Chadbourn WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee appears likely to back a bill to wind down government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to sources familiar with talks on the legislation. The committee's leaders have secured a bare majority of the votes needed to push the bill forward, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not keen for it to come up for a vote on the Senate floor ahead of congressional elections in November, these industry and Capitol Hill sources say.

Three Americans killed in Kabul hospital attack

KABUL (Reuters) - Three 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. Attacks on security forces, Afghan civilians and Westerners have been on the rise since the beginning of the year as Western forces prepare to leave the country and Afghans choose a new president.

Aetna's 1st-quarter profit jumps 36 per cent, health insurer also hikes 2014 earnings forecast

Aetna's first-quarter net income soared 36 per cent, fueled by gains from a multi-billion-dollar acquisition, and the health insurer hiked its 2014 earnings forecast above Wall Street estimates. Its results breezed past analysts' expectations, and Aetna shares jumped more than 5 per cent Thursday after it detailed a starkly different quarter compared with competitor UnitedHealth Group, which dragged down other health insurance stocks last week after it said first quarter earnings fell 8 per cent.

Feds propose e-cigarette regulations, including banning sales to minors, new product approval

WASHINGTON - The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels. While the proposal being issued Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration won't immediately mean changes for the popular devices, the move is aimed at eventually taming the fast-growing e-cigarette industry. The agency said the proposal sets a foundation for regulating the products but the rules don't immediately ban the wide array of flavours of e-cigarettes, curb marketing on places like TV or set product standards.

At Take Our Daughters, Sons to Work event, girl with jobless dad hands first lady his resume

WASHINGTON - Michelle Obama's annual question-and-answer session with the children of Executive Office employees took a serious turn Thursday when a 10-year-old girl in the front row told the first lady that her dad had been out of work for three years. Then the girl popped up to hand the first lady his resume. The first lady seemed a little taken aback but then explained to the other children, who might not have heard the girl's comment, that the matter was "a little private, but she's doing something for her dad." Mrs. Obama promised to deal with the matter later.

Swiss drug maker Novartis gets new drug boost in Q1

GENEVA - Strong new drug sales and higher operating income helped Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG report a 24 per cent rise in first-quarter profit. The company said Thursday that its net profit of nearly $2.97 billion, up from $2.42 billion in the same period last year, was helped by sales growth from some of its newest product launches, such as Gilenya for multiple sclerosis and Afinitor for cancer, and higher operating income.
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