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Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

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This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

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A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

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Ambassador Rice Asks Not To Be Considered For Secretary Of State

Dec 13, 2012

Moving to withdraw her name from among those being considered to be the next secretary of state, embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has told President Obama she does not want to be nominated.

The White House just released a statement from the president that says, in part:

"Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America's interests. ...

"I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. ...

"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country."

NBC News broke the story, minutes before the White House statement was released, reporting that:

"Embattled U.N. envoy Susan Rice is dropping out of the running to be the next secretary of state after months of criticism over her Benghazi comments, she told NBC News on Thursday.

" 'If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,' Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she's saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects."

Rice has been the target of sharp criticism from many Republicans because of what they have charged were misleading statements she made in the days after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed. Critics say she downplayed the role that terrorists played. The administration says she relied on information provided by the intelligence community.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she plans to step down sometime in the coming months. Among others thought to be leading contenders for the job is Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Update at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Letter:

We've put a copy of Rice's letter to the president online, and you can read it in the box below. Click on the title — "Susan Rice Letter" — to pop up a larger view.

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