Several executives leave Komen after controversy

Posted March 22, 2012, at 8:26 p.m.

DALLAS — At least five high-ranking executives with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity have resigned in the aftermath of the organization’s decision to eliminate its funding for Planned Parenthood.

The departures include three officials from Komen’s Dallas headquarters, as well as CEOs of affiliate groups in Oregon and New York City. Although some of the executives cited personal reasons, the resignations suggest that Komen is still in turmoil, even after restoring the money.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun said she could not speak to individuals’ reasons for leaving but acknowledged the effects of the controversy among supporters.

“Obviously, we know some folks are upset. We’ve certainly seen that,” Aun said.

The resignations began about a month ago. Chris McDonald, executive director and chief executive of the organization’s Oregon and southwest Washington affiliate, announced that she’ll leave at the end of April. She said her decision wasn’t “predicated by any one event,” but that actions by national headquarters affected her thinking.

Average IRS refund this year about $3,000, chief says

WASHINGTON — That nice Internal Revenue Service refund check many families eagerly await this time of year is down slightly from 2011 but still not too shabby: an average of about $3,000.

Through March 10, the IRS has issued 59.2 million refund checks totaling $174.4 billion, agency chief Douglas H. Shulman told a House subcommittee Thursday. That compares to 59 million refunds totaling $178.3 billion a year ago.

Based on those figures, this year’s checks average $2,946, down marginally from last year’s $3,022.

An IRS spokesman said the agency isn’t certain why the figure has dipped. He noted that the widely used Making Work Pay tax credit created by the 2009 economic stimulus law had expired and another credit for first-time homebuyers has been restricted.

Shulman said that through March 10 the IRS has processed almost 71 million individual returns, a small increase.

Wis. official: Mystery booms caused by minor quake

MILWAUKEE — A minor earthquake occurred this week near the eastern Wisconsin city where researchers have been investigating a series of unexplained booming sounds, federal geologists said Thursday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 1.5 magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday just after midnight in Clintonville, a town of about 4,600 people about 40 miles west of Green Bay.

Geophysicist Paul Caruso told The Associated Press that loud booming noises have been known to accompany earthquakes. It’s possible the mysterious sounds that town officials have been investigating are linked to the quake, he said.

“To be honest, I’m skeptical that there’d be a sound report associated with such a small earthquake, but it’s possible,” he said.

Those reservations didn’t stop Clintonville City Administrator Lisa Kuss from declaring “the mystery is solved” at a news conference Thursday evening.

She said USGS representatives described the event as a swarm of several small earthquakes in a very short time.

“In other places in the United States, a 1.5 earthquake would not be felt,” she said. “But the type of rock Wisconsin has transmits seismic energy very well.”

The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquakes with magnitude of 2.0 or less aren’t commonly felt by people and are generally recorded only on local seismographs. Caruso said the Tuesday earthquake was discovered after people reported feeling something, and geologists pored through their data to determine that an earthquake did indeed strike.

Local residents have reported late-night disturbances since Sunday, including a shaking ground and loud booms that sound like thunder or fireworks.

City officials investigated and ruled out a number of human-related explanations, such as construction, traffic, military exercises and underground work.

Soldiers overthrow Mali government

BAMAKO, Mali — Drunk soldiers looted Mali’s presidential palace hours after they declared a coup on Thursday, suspending the constitution and dissolving the institutions of one of the few established democracies in this troubled corner of Africa.

The whereabouts of the country’s 63-year-old president Amadou Toumani Toure, who was just one month away from stepping down after a decade in office, could not be confirmed.

The soldier heading the group of putschists said on state television late Thursday that Toure is “doing well and is safe.” Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo refused to say where the ousted leader is being kept, and did not make clear if they are holding him.

The scene in this normally serene capital was unsettling to those proud of Mali’s history as one of the few mature democracies in the region. Soldiers smelling of alcohol ripped flat-screen TVs, computer monitors, printers and photocopiers out of the presidential palace, carting them off in plain sight. Others in pickup trucks zoomed across the broad avenues, holding beer bottles in one hand and firing automatic weapons with the other.

The mutineers said they were overthrowing the government because of its mishandling of an ethnic Tuareg insurgency in the country’s north that began in January.

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