This week, one of the biggest coal mining companies in Central Appalachia, Patriot Coal, filed for bankruptcy protection. Over the past three months, a wave of layoffs has hit coal country hard, and this past month, the share of all U.S. electricity generated from coal hit its lowest level since the 1940s. Our colleague Guy Raz visited Webster County in the middle of West Virginia to find out what's killing King Coal.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Here in Washington, D.C., the city government has been enveloped by a series of scandals and federal investigations this year. Two city council members have resigned after pleading guilty to bank fraud and embezzlement. And now, there are calls for the mayor, Vincent Gray, to quit too. Three of Gray's campaign associates have pleaded guilty to various crimes. Here's Patrick Madden of member station WAMU.
Comic-Con, the big annual entertainment convention in San Diego, is well under way. The gathering is known for its devoted fans, often dressed in costumes, and its showcase of mostly science fiction and fantasy.
The convention has a reputation as a magnet for geeks, but in recent years, Comic-Con has become more mainstream and, dare we say, kind of cool. Here to give us the lowdown on what's going on this year is NPR's Nina Gregory, who joins me now from San Diego.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Five billion dollars of net income in three months. Sounds like a pretty good quarter, right? Well, for almost any other company, it would be, but for JPMorgan Chase, those profitable second-quarter results have been overshadowed by news of a ballooning trading loss that shook investor confidence in the bank. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, JPMorgan's CEO is trying to restore what was once a good reputation for risk management.
And now to our weekly political roundtable. David Brooks is away this week. I'm joined instead by syndicated columnist Mona Charen, who worked in the Reagan White House and as a speech writer for Jack Kemp. Mona Charen, welcome to the program.
MONA CHAREN: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: And E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution is back with us. Hi, E.J.
David Rowell is an editor with The Washington Post. His first novel, The Train of Small Mercies, is just out in paperback.
When I was growing up in North Carolina, my family went to the same beach every year; it had the sand, the water and pretty much nothing else. Mostly that was OK, but the idea of a boardwalk, which I caught glimpses of on TV or in movies, seemed wondrous to me — like a carnival rolled out from a wooden carpet.
The fate of Texas' new voter ID law is now up to a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C.
Lawyers for Texas and the Justice Department wrapped up five days of arguments in U.S. District Court Friday, with each side accusing the other of using deeply "flawed" data to show whether minorities would be unfairly hurt by a photo ID requirement.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, right, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, gestures next to Rabbi Avichai Appel, left, a board member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany, during a news conference in Berlin, Germany on Thursday.
In Germany, the past few weeks have been marked by an intense debate over religious liberties.
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel jumped into the fray saying her administration would work to protect religious circumcision.
"It is absolutely clear to the federal government that we want Jewish, we want Muslim religious life in Germany. Circumcisions carried out in a responsible way must not be subject to prosecution in this country," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.
Support group members Pamela Travis (from left), Dominique Martin, Yovanda Dixon, Shanna Chaney and Ramona Shewl hold a meeting as part of the Family Independence Initiative. The Oakland nonprofit encourages low-income families to form small groups to help each other get ahead.
Credit Pam Fessler / NPR
Yovanda Dixon washes vegetables in her San Francisco home to prepare a demonstration for her support group.
Credit Pam Fessler / NPR
Yovanda Dixon (left) shows fellow group member Pamela Travis some of the bath oils she sells outside a San Francisco grocery store as part of her business Scentuality.
Militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group, an al-Qaida affiliate, ride on a vehicle in northeastern Mali in June. Mali is one of the places where al-Qaida-linked groups are trying to take over territory and win over local residents to their cause.
Members of Ansar al-Sharia, another al-Qaida-affiliated group, man a checkpoint at the southern Yemeni town of Jaar in April. Government troops recently retook areas in the country's restive south from militant control after a two-month offensive.
Al-Qaida has been subtly testing a new strategy. In the past couple of years, the group's affiliates have been trying their hand at governing — actually taking over territory and then trying to win over citizens who live there. It happened with various degrees of success in Somalia and Yemen, and recently in the northern deserts of Mali.