The way Americans get their electricity is changing. Coal is in decline. Natural gas is bursting out of the ground in record amounts. And the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast. All this is happening as power companies are trying to choose which kind of energy to bet on for the next several decades.
Until recently, half of these plants burned coal to make electricity. Now, that's down to about one-third. Since 2010, about 150 coal plants either have been retired or it's been announced they will be retired soon.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, shown here in August at the Republican National Convention, has named a five-member task force to conduct a review of what went wrong for his party in the November elections.
These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.
It's no secret that the atmosphere in pro sports for gay athletes, especially men, isn't always a comfortable one. This week came another story on that topic: a report that an NFL team asked college players about their sexual orientation when they were auditioning for the league. The NFL says it's investigating. And for more on this, sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins us, as he does most Fridays. Hi there, Stefan.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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$46 billion: That's the amount the Pentagon must cut from its budget by the end of September under the new regime of austerity that kicks in today. This afternoon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned about the impact of that.
SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: Let me make it clear that this uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions.
The Major League Soccer season starts tomorrow. Superstar David Beckham is gone and there aren't any new teams to get excited about this year. But the MLS is on solid footing, and as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, the league has big ambitions.
The long-feared automatic spending cuts are set to start late Friday, and now Congress must deal with another deadline at the end of this month. Tamara Keith talks to Melissa Block about what happens next.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block. President Obama has seen the country through quite a few fiscal showdowns - standoffs with Congress over the budget, the debt ceiling, the so-called fiscal cliff. In each of those cases, a last-second bipartisan deal pulled the country out of a nosedive.
The week's developments include a pope emeritus for the first time in six centuries, federal budget cuts seemingly designed by Sweeney Todd, and the visit by one of the NBA's all-time rebounders (Dennis Rodman) to the son of one of the world's greatest sportsmen (that would be North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, whose late father claimed to have shot five holes-in-one on his very first golf outing).
Two rapid-fire snowstorms belted Kansas with more than 2 feet of snow this week. They caused thousands of accidents and all kinds of hardships — but they also produced very broad smiles from some quarters.
That's because in a place as dry as Kansas has been lately, a blizzard can be a blessing for farmers and ranchers.