The Justice Department searched phone records of AP reporters and editors in search of the source of a leak. Critics call that overreach. The president says the government must sometimes balance national security against press freedom.
PODCAST: Weather to blame for low Walmart sales; Angelina Jolie surgery boosts film about breast cancer
Disappointed by the latest economic indicators out today? Blame the weather. Walmart sales are down and so are housing starts, but that could be because retailers had to do a lot of heavy discounting in response to unseasonably cold spring weather. Snowstorms bombarded parts of the East Coast and Colorado in late March.
Plus, the Cannes Film Festival is under way, and though Angelina Jolie won't be there, her star power will. The attention her mastectomy has brought to hereditary breast cancer is creating buzz for a film that will be screened Saturday.
And, in Mexico, a look at how social media outlets such as Twitter are being used by the public to battle public corruption.
The new Google Maps features tailor-made results based on users' habits and search histories. The features were made possible by the revisions Google made to its privacy policies last year, a change that removed most of the barriers between its various services.
NASA's Kepler space telescope searches for Earth-like planets. But this week, equipment failure means the $600-million Kepler is in "thruster-controlled safe mode," and may never fully operate again.
How much space exploration does $600 million buy? Is it worth it?
NASA’s budget is smaller than it used to be, but it’s still galaxy-sized -- about $17 billion a year. Which makes the budget for the Kepler telescope look pretty small in comparison. But what exactly do we get for $600 million? Bobby Braun, a professor of space systems at the Georgia Institute of Technology and former NASA chief technologist, says that amount is just about right for turning scientific dreams into reality.
“Five years ago when I would look up at the night sky, I would think to myself there has to be a planet out there somewhere," Braun says. "There are so many stars…But I didn’t know that to be true. I just believed it.”
Now Braun says Kepler’s findings over the past four-plus years are going to change textbooks. The telescope has identified close to 3,000 candidates for planets and confirmed over 100. And while the dreamers and astrophysicists would love to continue the search, thanks to a broken wheel the Kepler mission’s future is cloudy.
John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, says that’s simply the price of doing business far, far away from earth and satellite-repairing engineers.
“When you put things in space they are tricky things to operate and eventually they wear out,” he says.
But Logsdon notes that Kepler’s broken wheel isn’t a case of premature failure. NASA says that the telescope has already outlived its expected life of four years. And the space agency says it still may find a fix. So what would be lost if the Kepler can’t continue its search? Logsdon says we’d lose more data.
“And scientists love data, because data leads to discoveries.”
Both Logsdon and NASA say there’s so much data from the mission already, it will take scientists years to analyze it.
The economic news out of Tokyo overnight was pretty good. The economy there grew at what you can fairly call a booming 3.5 percent annual rate last quarter. Nifty in and of itself -- downright awesome when you remember Japan's lost decades.
Credit -- most of it, anyway -- goes to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December with an policy prescription that's come to be known as 'Abenomics.'
'Abenomics,' says BBC Correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, isn't really about doing anything new, but combining two well-known strategies: Government spending, especially funding for public works; and the Bank of Japan printing a huge amount of money.
Those two moves have helped the Japanese stock market skyrocket, while at the same time pushing down the value of the yen. This was the desired effect for the government, says Wingfield-Hayes, because it wants Japanese companies to be able to export their goods at lower prices.
So far the plan seems to be working. Public sentiment is much more positive than it was in years past, and consumer spending is up.
Still, this kind of pace can't last forever.
"There are real dangers in this," says Wingfield-Hayes, "because while exporters like it, importers hate it." Japan imports a lot of food and almost all of its energy, he points out, and those rising prices will eventually affect Japanese consumers.
"This is a balancing act," adds Wingfield-Hayes. "It if goes too far, it's going to cause a lot of problems."
For a society that has struggled for the last few decades, change can be difficult.
"People want change," he says. "This has been a very comfortable country, a country where the people have been looked after by the system and change is frightening."
The targeting of some conservative groups for extra scrutiny from the IRS has ignited a political firestorm in Washington.
A recently published study found slightly elevated amounts of inorganic arsenic in samples of chicken meat purchased at grocery stores. Arsenic-based drugs are no longer used in chickens — but they are still used in turkeys.