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Mother's beef diet tied to son's fertility

Sons born to women who ate a lot of beef during pregnancy have a 25 percent below-normal sperm count and three times the normal risk of fertility problems, researchers reported yesterday. The problem may be due to anabolic steroids used in the United States to fatten cattle, Dr. Shanna H. Swan of University of Rochester Medical Center reported in the journal Human Reproduction. It could also be due to pesticides and other environmental contaminants, she added. (Los Angeles Times)

washington, d.c.

Women's equality amendment pushed
Federal and state lawmakers have launched a new drive to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, reviving a feminist goal that faltered a quarter-century ago when the measure did not gain approval by three-quarters of state legislatures. The amendment, which came three states short of enactment in 1982, has been introduced in five state legislatures since January. Yesterday, House and Senate Democrats reintroduced the measure as the Women's Equality Amendment and vowed to bring it to a vote in both chambers by the end of the session. (Washington Post)

Webb backs aide caught with gun
Senator James Webb expressed support yesterday for a top aide caught with a handgun in a Senate office building but shed little light on his role in what he described as an "unfortunate" situation. Webb, Democrat of Virginia, declined to confirm what the aide, Phillip Thompson, told authorities after he was taken into custody on Monday: that the gun belongs to the senator and that he was "safekeeping" it for him. Webb said that a mix-up was to blame for the episode but that he could not provide details because Thompson faces criminal charges. "I think this is one of those very unfortunate situations where, completely inadvertently, he took the weapon into the Senate Tuesday," Webb said. The senator did not say whether the gun is his. "I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex, and I did not give the weapon to Phillip Thompson, and that's all that I think I'll say," Webb said during a news conference at the Capitol. (Washington Post)

Torture suit against Rumsfeld is tossed
Former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cannot be tried on allegations of torture in overseas military prisons, a federal judge said yesterday. US District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job. The lawsuit says the prisoners were beaten, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked in boxes, and subjected to mock executions. (AP)