Astronomers said Wednesday that a reaction wheel that keeps the orbiting telescope pointed at tiny, distant patches of sky to look for Earth-like planets has failed. If they can't fix it, Kepler will be relegated to a less prestigious mission, directing its gaze much closer to home in a search for so-called "near-Earth objects," i.e., meteors and asteroids.
MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, BYLINE: And I'm Audie Cornish.
The Obama administration is doing some intensive damage control this evening. Tonight, the president announced that the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, is being pushed out over heightened scrutiny given to Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations.
School suspensions are a big issue in California. Last year, schools handed out 700,000 of them. But the Los Angeles Unified School District took a step to change that this week when it voted to ban suspension of students deemed "willfully defiant."
Two years ago on Memorial Day, Nashville songwriter Connie Harrington was driving in her car, listening to a story on the public radio program Here & Now. And she heard a father remembering his son — a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.
Revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny have put a spotlight on a part of the tax code increasingly popular with political groups: section 501(c)(4).
But what's the benefit for organizations to get approved for 501(c)(4) status?
The Justice Department's subpoena of Associated Press phone records as part of an investigation into what Attorney General Eric Holder has called "a very grave leak" to the news agency has set off a political firestorm on Capitol Hill, but there's a lot to the AP story published a year ago that started it all.
Hundreds of condolences are appearing online for Richard Swanson, the Seattle man whose plan to dribble a soccer ball all the way to Brazil to raise money for charity ended Tuesday after he was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Oregon. Many see his story as an inspiration, and say they'll continue his charity work.
"It is with a heavy heart to notify you that Richard Swanson passed on this morning," reads an update announcing Swanson's death on the Facebook page for his project, Breakaway Brazil, yesterday.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The President of the U.N. General Assembly said today that at least 80,000 people have been killed in Syria's two-year civil war, and that most of those casualties were civilians. The assembly also approved a resolution today calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. But that vote was largely symbolic; the resolution is unenforceable.
The competition for your ears — and dollars — just got a little tougher. On Wednesday, Google launched a paid music subscription service that will put it in direct competition with other streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. The announcement may just be the beginning for Google.
When 23-year-old Solomon "Sully" Omar felt the music scene in his native Denver wasn't giving him what he was looking for, he made a radical move. He headed for Kabul, capital of the war-torn country his parents had fled decades ago.
"I came here to continue my education and at the same time see what's in the music scene here and bring some of the skills and abilities that I have to the music scene," says Omar.
A scholarly publisher has issued a warning to Jeffrey Beall, a librarian who writes about what he calls "predatory" practices in the scholarly publishing industry, threatening him with a $1 billion lawsuit for his blog posts criticizing the company.
Beall is an academic librarian at the University of Colorado; he writes about the journal industry on his personal blog, Scholarly Open Access.
Wal-Mart says it has drafted its own plan for improving safety at garment factories in Bangladesh rather than join other Western retailers in a legally binding agreement to pay for improved conditions for workers in the South Asian country.
The Arab world was aflame in March 2011. Longtime rulers in Tunisia and Egypt had been toppled. NATO was poised to attack Libyan government forces. The Syrian uprising was just beginning. And on the small island nation of Bahrain, the government was cracking down on pro-democracy protesters.
Across Bahrain, protest leaders were rounded up and some were quickly tried, convicted and sentenced to prison. The writing was on the wall for the leaders of the movement, including Ali Abdulemam.
Every 14 minutes, someone in this country commits suicide, and research on ways to reduce that grim statistic appears to be on a plateau. In other words, psychologists don't have much in the way of new ideas - at least, right now - except maybe for what's described as groundbreaking work on the notes that those who kill themselves sometimes leave behind. A team of researchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital use computers to break down the language in these messages of despair, in the hope that they can better identify those at risk.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Today as part of our Looking Ahead series, we'll talk with writer Chris Hedges, former New York Times foreign correspondent and old friend and colleague who's joined us many times over the years, going back to what's probably still his best known book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."
Update at 6:42 p.m. ET: Reaction From Boehner's Office
In a statement, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said the emails "contradict statements made by the White House that it and the State Department only changed one word in the talking points."
Sarah Polley earned wide acclaim for directing the drama Away from Her, about a woman fading into the twilight of Alzheimer's, as well as for her acting performances in an array of films including The Sweet Hereafter and My Life Without Me. Her latest film, Stories We Tell,is a documentary, though — and a personal one at that.
First things first: Can we talk about hair? Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a big knockout of a novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color; but, as Adichie has said in interviews, she also knows that black women's hair can speak volumes about racial politics.
Climate change is gradually altering the fish that end up on ice in seafood counters around the world, according to a new study.
"The composition of the [global] fish catch includes more and more fish from the warmer areas, and cold-water fish are getting more rare, because the temperatures are increasing," says Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia, a co-author of the study.
Just about anything that Angelina Jolie does is pretty much guaranteed to make news. But her announcement that she had decided on a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her unusually high risk of cancer sparked an outpouring of passionate comment on breast cancer prevention and treatment.
This year's Little League baseball and softball season is under way — and in the Northeast, some teams and players have taken the field again, despite losing vital equipment to Hurricane Sandy. Many donations were handled by Pitch In For Baseball, which gathered used and new gloves and helmets for the players.