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.


Circus Roboticus, Or: This Actor Is A Serious Heavyweight

Nov 8, 2012
Originally published on November 9, 2012 11:45 am

Whenever the military rolls out some revolutionary new robot, folks are quick with the Skynet jokes. But in recent years, some robotic-evolution experiments suggest that robotic rebellion might end in applause rather than annihilation.

Take, for example, the robot KUKA — the hulking star of a French nouveau-cirque performance, Sans Objet, which premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Friday. It's no special effect; it's a real robot, developed by the automotive industry in the 1970s.

"It is an elaborate robot, skillful, powerful and fast," says Tristan Baudoin, the light-and-sound technician responsible for operating KUKA and programming the Windows 95 software that runs it.

"This robot is a mechanical arm articulated in six axes, which copy the shoulder-elbow-wrist movements of a human arm," he says. "He used to carry heavy pieces in car assembly lines."

And KUKA isn't a prop or a piece of scenery. The robot is a major character in Sans Objet, a mysterious bulk who grows very tall, spreads himself wide and is strong enough to pick up people effortlessly and turn their bodies in the air, the way Hamlet would inspect a skull.

He likes to throw his 2,866 pounds around. Because of his size, he requires his own dressing room. And he goes around with an entourage.

"We need two forklifts of increased capacity to get it off the truck," says Dylan Nachand, production supervisor for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. "We need to be careful and meticulous in handling him."

Sans Objet has toured Germany and Austria, so KUKA is "the first industrial robot globetrotter," Baudoin says.

"During the creation, it often happened that we have to force him to climb up three steps," he says. "He is therefore also the first industrial robot that has mounted stairs."

The latest creation of the Toulouse-based circus ensemble Compagnie 111, headed by Aurelien Bory, Sans Objet is a large-scale, visually poetic performance piece that also showcases the acrobatic talents of two human performers.

"To work with a robot means basically to make a program," says Bory. "You have an idea, then you program it, and it takes hours. Then you can finally try your idea, notice that it is wrong, and turn to another idea that takes again hours of programming. The challenge required patience and pugnacity."

Translated: KUKA was a diva during the 14 weeks of rehearsals.

"First you must know that a robot is a fascinating mover, very precise and even elegant," Bory says. "What it can do, it does it perfectly. That's the difference with human beings. We are, fortunately, not perfect."

Randy Gener, a New York-based editor and writer, is an ArtsFwd Blogging Fellow and the recipient of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.

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