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United States

Portland, Ore.

Gay mayor’s affair: Just days after he was sworn in, the openly gay mayor of Portland was facing calls for his resignation after he admitted this week to a relationship with an 18-year-old former aide. Sam Adams, 42, said this week that in 2005, while serving as a city commissioner, he’d had a brief sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove, a legislative assistant who had just turned 18. When a potential rival for the mayor’s office raised questions about the relationship in 2007, Adams denied that it was sexual and prevailed on Breedlove to do the same. Adams said this week he’d lied, and had asked Breedlove to lie, because he’d feared that voters would believe rumors that he’d had sex with a minor. “I apologize to the people of Portland for my dishonesty,” Adams said. The police union and two newspapers called on Adams to resign for lying.

McAllen, Texas

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University president resigns: The embattled president of the University of Texas-Pan American stepped down this week in the wake of charges of plagiarism. Blandina “Bambi” Cardenas, 64, said she would resign because “pressures” had taxed her health and left her unable to focus on her job. Cardenas had been embroiled in repeated controversies during her four-year tenure, including charges that she had billed the university for home renovations. Last October, university officials and Texas news outlets received unsigned letters claiming that Cardenas had plagiarized sections of her doctoral thesis. The anonymous accusers said they were Pan American faculty members. University officials said that in light of Cardenas’ resignation, they would drop their investigation of the charges.

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Pro-choice doughnuts? The popular Krispy Kreme doughnut chain found itself in the middle of political controversy this week, after anti-abortion groups objected to an Inauguration Day promotion featuring a free doughnut. In its promotion, Krispy Kreme offered customers a free doughnut on Jan. 20 as a way of “honoring Americans’ sense of pride and freedom of choice.” Those were fighting words to the anti-abortion American Life League. “‘Choice’ is synonymous with abortion access, and celebration of ‘freedom of choice’ is a tacit endorsement of abortion rights,” said league President Judie Brown. Krispy Kreme denied any connection between free doughnuts and “any social or political issue.”

Blakely, Ga.

Recall follows outbreak: Grocery chains rushed to pull items containing peanut butter from store shelves, after a salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter caused six deaths and sickened at least 470 people in 43 states. Food and Drug Administration officials traced the outbreak to the Blakely plant of Peanut Corp. of America, which makes peanut butter and peanut paste used by institutions and food companies. FDA officials warned consumers not to eat crackers, cookies, ice cream, or other products containing peanut butter. The recall does not affect peanut butter sold in jars to consumers. The salmonella virus can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps, and can be fatal to infants, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Washington, D.C.

Kennedy suffers seizure: Sen. Ted Kennedy suffered a seizure this week, casting a pall over a congressional luncheon celebrating the inauguration of President Obama. The Massachusetts Democrat, who is being treated for brain cancer, was chatting with other senators when he went into convulsions. President Obama, who was attending the luncheon, and some of Kennedy’s Senate colleagues rushed to offer aid before an ambulance took him to Washington Hospital Center. The hospital’s neurosurgery chief, Dr. Edward Aulisi, said the seizure was probably brought on by “simple fatigue.” Kennedy had just spent several hours sitting in the cold during the inauguration ceremony. As he entered the ambulance, Kennedy said, “I’ll be fine; I’ll see you later,” and he was discharged after overnight observation.

Washington, D.C.

Geithner apologizes: Facing lingering questions over his ethics, Treasury Secretary–designate Timothy Geithner this week apologized to the Senate for failing to pay some taxes while working for the International Monetary Fund. Saying, “I should have been more careful,” Geithner, 47, called the nonpayment of Social Security and Medicare taxes from 2001 through 2004 “careless” but “unintentional.” He initially failed to pay the taxes despite applying for and receiving IMF reimbursement for the amount owed. He eventually paid almost $45,000 in back taxes and penalties. Despite the concerns, the Senate is expected to confirm his appointment this week. Geithner will preside over the government’s $700 billion bailout plan of Wall Street and banks, and he told senators its implementation needed “fundamental reform” for it to be effective.

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