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10 things you need to know today: May 16, 2013
Obama fires the acting IRS chief, NASA's Kepler telescope breaks down, and more
 
An artist's rendering of the Kepler telescope, which has helped scientists locate 1,235 planets in one small section of the Milky Way Galaxy.
An artist's rendering of the Kepler telescope, which has helped scientists locate 1,235 planets in one small section of the Milky Way Galaxy. NASA/Kepler mission/Wendy Stenzel

1. ACTING IRS COMMISSIONER FORCED OUT
President Obama on Wednesday night ousted the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven Miller, over the agency's improper targeting of conservative groups, which Obama called "inexcusable." Miller's firing was Obama's strongest attempt yet to dampen a flurry of scandals threatening to disrupt his second-term agenda. The administration even released a letter in which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Miller to resign to "restore public trust" in the IRS. [Washington Post]
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2. WHITE HOUSE RELEASES BENGHAZI EMAILS
The White House released 100 pages of emails Wednesday to show that it didn't try to cover up the fact that the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, was terrorism. The messages show that CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell asked to strip references to al Qaeda from administration talking points hours before a similar request from the State Department. The CIA suggested early on that the attacks were "spontaneously inspired" by a protest at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. [The Hill]
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3. TORNADO KILLS SIX IN TEXAS
At least six people were killed late Wednesday when a tornado hit a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood in north Texas. More than 100 others were injured as the twister destroyed most of the 120 homes in the area. Another 14 people were missing, and authorities warned the death toll could rise. An hour after the tornado hit near Granbury, a mile-wide tornado spawned by the same storm was reported to have touched down, threatening the town of Cleburne. [CNN]
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4. HOLDER TELLS CONGRESS HE DIDN'T ORDER AP SPYING
Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with a decision to secretly obtain Associated Press phone records. The snooping — part of a Justice Department investigation into a leak — has provoked harsh criticism of the Obama administration, and Holder in particular. But Holder says he had recused himself from the investigation and didn't know why the records were subpoenaed. "I'm simply not a part of the case," he said. [Huffington Post]
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5. NEW ORLEANS PARADE SHOOTING SUSPECT ARRESTED
New Orleans police on Wednesday arrested the suspect witnesses said shot into a crowded Mother's Day parade, injuring 19 people. Akein Scott, 19, was identified as the shooter by several witnesses after police released surveillance photos Monday showing a man in a white T-shirt lunging toward the crowd as people scatter, some falling to the ground. Police received numerous tips as the crime sent a wave of anger through a city whose residents are fed up with street violence. [Reuters]
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6. KEPLER GLITCH COULD END NASA HUNT FOR EARTH-LIKE PLANETS
NASA's Kepler spacecraft has been shut down by a malfunction in a reaction wheel that keeps its telescope pointed precisely at far-away planets, the space agency said Wednesday. The failure could end Kepler's hunt for possibly habitable, Earth-like planets around other stars — like two unveiled last month that are 1,200 light-years away. NASA engineers are still hoping to fix the problem, as astronomers fretted over the possible loss of what one called a "gift to humanity." [New York Times]
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7. AFGHAN BOMBING KILLS FOUR NATO SOLDIERS, SEVERAL SCHOOLCHILDREN
Four NATO soldiers and six Afghan civilians were killed Thursday when a suicide bomber rammed a Toyota Corolla into a NATO convoy in Kabul. Afghan officials said some of the dead were schoolchildren who had been walking to school in a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan's capital. Another 35 people were wounded. The attack was the first major bombing since March, but it came in a bloody month. Fifteen foreign military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of May. [Washington Post]
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8. ARIEL CASTRO PLANS TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY
Defense lawyers for Ariel Castro say he plans to plead not guilty to the alleged kidnapping and rape of three Ohio women who were found in his Cleveland house, after disappearing one after the other a decade ago. Castro's family has disowned him. His brothers told CNN they hoped he "rots in jail." Defense lawyer Craig Weintraub said Castro, 52, isn't the "monster" he's made out to be. "The media and the community want to demonize this man before they know the whole story," he said. [Slate]
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9. O.J. SIMPSON BLAMES HIS LAWYER FOR HIS ROBBERY CONVICTION
O.J. Simpson testified in court Wednesday for the first time about the 2007 confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers that landed him in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping. In a longshot bid for a new trial, Simpson told a Las Vegas judge that his lawyer, Yale Galanter, had advised him that he had the right to take back mementos from his days as a football star that the men were selling, because he believed the items were stolen from him. Galanter is set to testify on Friday. [USA Today]
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10. POWERBALL JACKPOT RISES TO NEARLY A HALF BILLION
The Powerball jackpot ballooned to a near-record $475 million on Thursday — up from $360 million — after none of the tickets sold in the multi-state lottery matched all of the winning numbers in Wednesday night's drawing. The new jackpot is the second largest in Powerball history — and the third biggest lottery prize overall. Lottery officials said a redesign in the system, making it easier to win some kind of prize but harder to hit the jackpot, is making massive prizes more common. [USA Today]

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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