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.


Can An Algorithm Discover The Key To Laughter?

Jan 1, 2013
Originally published on January 1, 2013 9:44 am



Along with decent finances, it takes a lot of talent and practice to play in an orchestra. The same goes for being able to make people laugh. And even some of the most brilliant comedians can have a hard time of it. Let's listen to the usually great Johnny Carson in one of his not-so-great moments on the "Tonight Show."


JOHNNY CARSON: You know, kids, I tell you, are very fickle. Today at Zody's, I saw a nine-year-old step on a Smurf's head to get to a Cabbage Patch Doll. I mean, how quickly it changes. How quickly you change. How quickly we all change.


INSKEEP: Carson's sidekick, Ed McMahon, had to laugh at that, but nobody else was required. Not knowing how a joke will go over is part of the exhilaration of being a comic. But imagine if comedians could get it right every time. Some Web-based startups are trying to figure out the algorithm for funny. Alex Schmidt reports.

ALEX SCHMIDT, BYLINE: Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, is not fooling around.

PETER MCGRAW: This is not a place that has shelves and shelves of rubber chickens and whoopee cushions.

SCHMIDT: Actually, the lab is one of the first mainstream psychological attempts to study people's reactions to humor and how they can be used in the real world - in public service announcements, for example. McGraw says humor is notoriously tough to study.

MCGRAW: It's pretty easy to make people sad. But when it comes to humor, what one person finds funny, another person is offended, and yet another person is bored by it. And so to conduct this research really broadly ends up being difficult.

SCHMIDT: McGraw thinks figuring out the key to laughter could be used in the business world. He's advising a new startup called Laffster.

DANIEL ALTMANN: Log onto the app. It's showing you how to vote here.

SCHMIDT: I'm going to click through the directions. I'm testing the most recent Laffster mobile app with CEO Daniel Altmann. Kind of like Pandora recommends music or Netflix recommends movies, Laffster recommends comedy. The first video I click in the app is Joe Biden's appearance on the TV show "Parks and Rec."


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And you must be Leslie Knope. Welcome. Welcome.

(Soundbite of Laughter)

AMY POEHLER: (as Leslie Knope) My name just came out of your mouth.

SCHMIDT: I thought the clip was pretty funny, so I gave it a thumbs-up. Videos are defined by attributes, like sarcastic, demeaning, subtle or dirty. By noticing what I like, Laffster tries to recommend more movies, keep me laughing and keep me watching. Daniel Altmann wants to license out the technology, too.

ALTMANN: Can someone else plug in the Laffster technology and drive three times the amount of videos, three times the amount of ads watched and ultimately drive revenue? Because they're coming there, and they're interacting. They're engaging.

SCHMIDT: Other startups are trying to harness humor differently. Julia Kamin is founder of dating website Make Each Other Laugh, currently in beta. If two people on her site laugh at the same stuff, her software will send them on a date. There will be no joke categories or analysis at all. In fact, she doesn't want to understand the magic of why two people click through humor.

JULIA KAMIN: One of the things that gives us excitement in life is that there are things that are always going to be elusive, no matter how much we're able to crunch data.

SCHMIDT: Kamin quoted author E.B. White, who famously said that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: The frog dies, and who cares about its insides? Humor researcher Peter McGraw draws a different conclusion.

MCGRAW: I like to say that if frogs are like jokes, there's a lot of sick frogs out there.

SCHMIDT: And, McGraw says, if by dissecting frogs we can improve humor, then by all means, pass the scalpel. For NPR News, I'm Alex Schmidt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.