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.


Drilling Rig's Thick Hull Helps Prevent Oil Spill

Jan 8, 2013
Originally published on January 8, 2013 6:06 am



The Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground off Alaska last week is now anchored in a quiet harbor so divers can assess the damage. Wildlife officials say they have seen no evidence of a spill from the vessel, which was carrying tanks of diesel fuel. But the accident does raise questions about Shell's plans to drill for oil in the remote and fragile ecosystem of the Arctic.

NPR's Richard Harris reports.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: When towboats lost control of this massive drilling rig during a big storm, it seemed possible that the story would end in calamity. Shell had spent $300 million outfitting this rig to work in the icy Arctic, and as it sat on the rocks, pounded by punishing waves, the worst-case scenario for Shell looked pretty bad. But yesterday, after officials decided it was still seaworthy, a tugboat managed to pluck it off the rocks with relative ease.

RICHARD BURKE: Sometimes you get lucky.

HARRIS: Richard Burke is a former marine-salvage operator, now at the SUNY Maritime College. He says the rig's thick hull - built for ice - apparently helped it stand up to a week of winds and swells that could have destroyed a weaker vessel. And through it all, the Kulluk's hull apparently remained intact - a big plus for its recovery.

BURKE: Usually, it's harder. But I'm sure the salvage master is very happy with this outcome.

HARRIS: Shell also breathed a big sigh of relief, though the story is far from over. The Kulluk was on its way to Seattle for maintenance. And once it ran aground, large waves damaged parts of the vessel's superstructure. Seawater also found its way into the rig's diesel generators, apparently through open hatches. Burke says if there is damage to the steal hull, that's often not too difficult to fix, as long as the vessel can get to a dry dock.

BURKE: The real problem is going to be machinery and electrical damage, because those components can be difficult to replace. They're expensive, and they're - and sometimes there's a long lead time to get them.

HARRIS: If repairs take more than a few months, Shell may not be able to resume its exploratory drilling in the Arctic next summer. And hardware damage isn't the only problem Shell faces. There's also damage to its reputation. Environmental activists and some members of Congress are asking the Obama administration to investigate and re-think letting oil companies operate in the fragile Arctic.

Eleanor Huffines, with the Pew Environment Group in Anchorage, says Shell was fortunate that this rig ran aground near Kodiak Island, Alaska, where there is a major Coast Guard base. If the accident had occurred in the distant Arctic Ocean, the response would have been far slower and less robust, she says.

ELEANOR HUFFINES: It's a thousand miles from the drilling sites, at a minimum. And so the Coast Guard has made - take some small steps forward to put seasonal equipment up in the Arctic. But we have a lot more to do to be spill-response ready.

HARRIS: Pew and other groups are hoping to navigate the delicate politics of Washington, D.C. to press for tighter regulations on Arctic drilling.

HUFFINES: While there may be support for drilling, the expectations are that we should be leaders. We should demonstrate that we can do this safely and protect the communities and the ecosystem at the same time.

HARRIS: A spokesman for Shell says it's too early to say whether the incident will, in fact, affect the company's plans to keep exploring for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

Curtis Smith is at Shell Alaska.

CURTIS SMITH: We have a long history of working offshore Alaska, and we are proud of that. But when something like this happens, you have to own it. You have to learn from it, and we certainly will.

HARRIS: There are always things you can do to improve operations. But Richard Burke, at the SUNY Maritime College, says some things you just can't fix.

BURKE: This is a very, very adverse environment. It's one of the worst pieces of water in the world. It's not uncommon for tows to break loose from towing vessels under such conditions.

HARRIS: That will be on everyone's minds when it's time to hook up another tow line to the Kulluk so it can continue its journey south to Seattle.

Richard Harris, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.