Gay lawmaker gets a top post in Calif.
The first openly gay lawmaker to lead either house of the California Legislature was sworn in Monday as speaker of the state Assembly. John Perez, 40, a Los Angeles Democrat, took the reins of the 80-member house as the state tries to close a $20 billion budget deficit and unemployment remains above 12 percent.
On 200th birthday, museum for Chopin
The last piano that Frederic Chopin composed on. A death mask made after he succumbed to what was probably tuberculosis. A lock of his brown hair. Those are among objects on display at a new Warsaw museum dedicated to the life of the Romantic-era composer that opened on his 200th birthday Monday in his native Poland. The virtuoso pianist died at age 39 in 1849.
By the numbers Teen use of pot, alcohol on the rise
Alcohol and marijuana use among teens rose last year, ending a decade-long decline, a study being released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found.
39 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 reported drinking in the last month, up from 35 percent. That represents a total of 6.5 million teens.
25 percent of teens reported smoking marijuana in the last month, up from 19 percent.
Herbicide turns male frogs female?
A study shows that male frogs exposed to the herbicide atrazine can make a startling developmental U-turn, turning female so completely that they can mate with other males and lay viable eggs.
The study will focus new attention on concerns about atrazine, which is applied to an estimated 75 percent of American cornfields and is commonly found in U.S. rivers and streams. Its manufacturer, the Swiss agricultural giant Syngenta, says the product is safe for wildlife and for the people who are exposed to small amounts of it in drinking water.
In recent years, however, some studies have seemed to show that atrazine can drive natural hormone systems haywire in fish, birds, rats and frogs. In some cases, male animals exposed to the chemical developed female characteristics.
The new study led by Tyrone Hayes, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It showed an even starker transformation: Among a group of male African clawed frogs raised in water tainted with atrazine, he said, a fraction grew up to look and act like females.
"Ten percent of the chromosomal males become completely, functionally female," Hayes said in a telephone interview. "They can lay eggs (and) they mate."
The findings run counter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's pronouncement in 2007 that atrazine does not cause problems in amphibian development. But last fall, the EPA said it would ask a panel of scientists to examine more recent studies.