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.


Companies Rush Dividends To Beat Possible Tax Hike

Nov 29, 2012
Originally published on November 29, 2012 9:18 am



And let's stay on this topic. For some people who own stock, there's a silver lining of sorts to the prospect of higher taxes, which brings us to today's business bottom line. An unusually large number of U.S. companies are handing out extra money in the form of dividends to their shareholders. And they're doing this earlier than ever. It's a way of helping their investors avoid next year's tax increases, which are likely to happen with or without the fiscal cliff. But as NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, not everyone thinks this is a wise business decision.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: When companies want to make their shareholders happy, they hand out special dividends. It's a kind of bonus for staying onboard. And a lot of companies are sharing the wealth right now - more than three times as many as normal, says the data research firm Markit. A lot of other companies are rushing to hand out dividends before the year ends.

Michelle Hanlon is a professor of accounting at MIT.

MICHELLE HANLON: The question is whether to give a dividend now or later. But I think what they're doing is, the calculus is if we're ever going to give a payout now is the time.

ZARROLI: Now is the time because taxes could go up next year. Right now, investors pay 15 percent in taxes on dividends they earn. Next year, that could rise to 43 percent for the highest earners. By making the payouts before the end of the year, companies can spare investors higher taxes.

More than 40 years ago, Joyce Redden and her husband heard about a company from a man at their church and decided to buy $700 worth of its stock. The company was Wal-Mart and the Reddens have been earning dividends ever since.

JOYCE REDDEN: Every three months we receive a dividend. It's an addition to our income that we have. And we like it, we appreciate it.

ZARROLI: Recently, Wal-Mart said it would hand out its fourth-quarter dividend in late December instead of early January. The money saved will allow the Reddens - who are retired - to buy a little extra for Christmas. Redden says lower taxes allow the couple to help their children and grandchildren.

REDDEN: I want them to have a good life. I don't want them to have to struggle. And I think higher taxes, will make that more difficult.

ZARROLI: By helping their shareholders lower their tax bills, companies like Wal-Mart are buying a lot of investor good will. But they're not just being magnanimous. Research has shown that companies where executives own an unusually large amount of the stock tend to be especially likely to write big dividend checks, which means they're writing those checks to themselves. So there's a measure of self-interest involved.

Again, MIT's Michelle Hanlon.

HANLON: You might find some people that would argue that these managers are looking out for themselves and somehow it's, you know, a bad action on their part.

ZARROLI: But Hanlon says there's a counter-argument. Executives who own a lot of their company's stock also tend to be a lot more careful about the interests of their shareholders because they're shareholders too.

Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Management says what's good for investors isn't necessarily in the long-term interest of a company. He says instead of handing out gifts to shareholders, many companies should be looking for ways to increase their growth potential.

JIM PAULSEN: What it really tells me or raises questions about, if the best thing they can come up with is to pay a special dividend to me, then that tells me they don't have many growth prospects.

ZARROLI: But at a time of so much uncertainty in the markets, investors aren't necessarily thinking about a company's long-term interests and for now at least, they're not likely to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.