In Brief | Nation & World 5-24-13


IRS replaces official who supervised agents involved in targeting tea party groups

WASHINGTON — Moving quickly to stem a raging controversy, the new acting head of the Internal Revenue Service started cleaning house Thursday by replacing the supervisor who oversaw agents involved in targeting tea party groups.

A day after she refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing, Lois Lerner was placed on administrative leave, according to congressional sources.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said Lerner was asked to resign but refused, so she was placed on leave. An IRS spokeswoman said the agency could not comment on Lerner’s status because it was a private personnel matter.

Danny Werfel, the agency’s new acting commissioner, told IRS employees in an email that he had selected a new acting head of the division, staying within the IRS to find new leadership.

Ken Corbin, a 27-year IRS veteran, will be the new acting director of the agency’s exempt organizations division. Corbin currently is a deputy director in the wage and investment division, where he oversees 17,000 workers responsible for processing 172 million individual and business tax returns, Werfel said.

How sweet it isn’t: Scientists learn how some roaches evolve to avoid poison — in just 5 years

NEW YORK — For decades, people have been getting rid of cockroaches by setting out bait mixed with poison. But in the late 1980s, in an apartment test kitchen in Florida, something went very wrong.

A killer product stopped working. Cockroach populations there kept rising. Mystified researchers tested and discarded theory after theory until they finally hit on the explanation: In a remarkably rapid display of evolution at work, many of the cockroaches had lost their sweet tooth, rejecting the corn syrup meant to attract them.

In as little as five years, the sugar-rejecting trait had become so widespread that the bait had been rendered useless.

“Cockroaches are highly adaptive, and they’re doing pretty well in the arms race with us,” said North Carolina State University entomologist Jules Silverman, discoverer of the glucose aversion in that Florida kitchen during a bait test.

The findings illustrate the evolutionary prowess that has helped make cockroaches so hard to stamp out that it is jokingly suggested they could survive nuclear war.

McDonald’s offers Ohio kidnap case hero free food for a year, donates $10K in victims’ names

CLEVELAND — The man who famously put down his Big Mac to help rescue three women held captive for years in a Cleveland house will get free McDonald’s for the next year, a company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Local franchisees in Charles Ramsey’s neighborhood have offered him free food at their restaurants, said Heidi Barker, a spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp.

Ramsey was called a hero after helping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight break out of the house May 6. Homeowner Ariel Castro faces charges. His defense team has said he will plead not guilty.

Ramsey had noted in an interview with a local TV station that he was eating McDonald’s when the scene unfolded. He also spoke of it in a 911 call. Both the interview and the call quickly became popular online, and McDonald’s caught wind of Ramsey’s mentions.

The world’s biggest hamburger company had said a day after the rescue on Twitter: “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey — we’ll be in touch.”

By wire sources