When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

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.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

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.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

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.


Is California Up Next For An Oil And Gas Boom?

Dec 12, 2012



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Here in California later today, the Bureau of Land Management will be auctioning off 18,000 acres of oil leases. To some, this sale is a sign that the state's next in line for an oil and gas boom. California has one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the country. And it's attracting new attention because of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Lauren Sommer of member station KQED reports.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Southern Monterey County is California wine country. Vineyards stretch for 40 miles along the highway here, about two hours south of the Bay Area. But it's not exactly Napa Valley.

KURT GOLLNICK: I wouldn't say we do a high volume of foot traffic.

SOMMER: Kurt Gollnick is walking through a field of Chardonnay at Scheid Vineyards, one of the wineries here. This area grows more Chardonnay than Napa does, he says. What it lacks is the name recognition that Napa has and the visitors that follow.

GOLLNICK: This is something that we're trying to change now. We do have very scenic areas of Monterey County.

SOMMER: But lately, more than what's on the ground, people are talking about what's under the ground: oil and plenty of it. Some of the oil leases up for auction this week aren't far from this vineyard.

GOLLNICK: Very deep under the land here is the Monterey formation, which is shale that has oil reserves in it.

SOMMER: That oil is notoriously tough to extract, because it's locked inside the shale rock. Recently, though, oil companies have gotten a lot better at getting oil out of shale. They inject millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, underground. That cracks the shale rock, letting the oil out.

DON GAUTIER: Right now, I think there's a bit of a gold rush mentality concerning shale oil.

SOMMER: Don Gautier is a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He says fracking is nothing new in California. It's been used for decades.

GAUTIER: What is new right now is that the price of oil is reasonably high. This technology has become very sophisticated. So these explorationists are justifiably optimistic about the idea of being able to get out oil that couldn't have been accessed just a few decades ago.

SOMMER: California's shale oil resource is huge - an estimated 15 billion barrels in the Monterey formation. That's bigger than North Dakota's oil reserve, where recently there's been a drilling boom.

KASSIE SIEGEL: There is absolutely a danger of California being transformed almost overnight.

SOMMER: Kassie Siegel is a lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.

SIEGEL: In other parts of the country, we've seen contaminated water. We've seen people who live near oil and gas wells complaining of health effects.

SOMMER: Whether that's specifically caused by fracking is under debate in many places, but Siegel says it's enough to be concerned, which takes us back to Monterey County. Her group is suing the Bureau of Land Management over the oil lease sales, saying the agency has failed to review the risks of new fracking techniques.

SIEGEL: They are acting as if nothing has changed in the oil and gas industry, but of course everything has changed.

RICK COOPER: The red that you see on the map there is the federal mineral estate.

SOMMER: The Bureau of Land Management's Rick Cooper says the government is offering these leases because of interest from oil companies. But his office is predicting minor environmental impacts, because it doesn't foresee much new drilling.

COOPER: We haven't seen the development signals as of yet. But if we begin to see increased development, it would be at that time that we would pull back and say, well, we probably are going to have to do more analysis.

TUPPER HULL: Certainly our members are exploring how effective hydraulic fracturing is going to be in California.

SOMMER: Tupper Hull is with the Western States Petroleum Association, an industry group for oil and gas companies. He says fracking could boost the state's oil production, which has been declining for two decades.

HULL: If hydraulic fracturing proves to be as successful here as it's been elsewhere, it's an extraordinarily optimistic future we're looking at from an energy point of view.

SOMMER: Hull says there are a few things left to figure out. California's geology is challenging for large-scale fracking. The shale layers are messy, bent by seismic forces. Those forces are also a concern when it comes to disposing of fracking wastewater underground, which can increase the risk of earthquakes.

For NPR News, I'm Lauren Sommer in Monterey County. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.