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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


Electric Companies Surprising Winners In New Tax Package

Jan 4, 2013
Originally published on January 4, 2013 7:02 pm



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. The new last-minute tax deal cobbled together by Congress and the White House has produced at least one surprise winner, electric companies. That's because the two sides agreed not to increase the taxes that most people pay on dividends. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren explains why that is welcome news to the electricity business.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: First, a little reminder about what a dividend is. Some stocks pay dividends. Some don't. Usually, people choose stocks that pay dividends because they want regular income from their stocks. In exchange for that reliable payout, they get a stock that might grow slower. Most electric company stocks pay dividends so these companies went all out to try to keep taxes low on the income people get from dividends.

They ran a nationwide campaign to get regular folks like this older couple riled up about the risk.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The rate on our dividends would more than double.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills.

SHOGREN: Members of Congress got hundreds of thousands of messages from constituents asking them not to raise dividend taxes. In the months leading up to the New Year's tax deal, CEOs from major power companies travel to Washington to make the case with members of Congress and top White House officials. Energy analyst Kevin Book says the strategy paid off big for electric companies.

KEVIN BOOK: They're the happy beneficiary of the perception on Capitol Hill that the dividend tax rate is all about fixed income seniors.

SHOGREN: Book says the electric companies, more than any other industry, rely on their relatively large dividends to attract buyers for their stocks.

BOOK: It's sort of abstruse, but if people couldn't get as much money from those stocks, then they wouldn't want to own those stocks and that, in turn, would take away the money the power utilities had to invest in generation and transmission equipment.

SHOGREN: Industry lobbyist Brian Wolff works for Edison Electric Institute, the utilities trade group. He says protecting retirement income for regular folks wasn't the only pitch that worked with members of Congress and the White House.

BRIAN WOLFF: This year alone, we're spending about $94 billion.

SHOGREN: That's $94 billion utilities are pumping into the economy. It's spent in communities all over the country to upgrade the grid, install pollution control equipment and repair damage done by big storms like Hurricane Sandy. Wolff says Congress and the White House didn't want to jeopardize the jobs that come with that kind of money.

WOLFF: So I think that that was the really important point that they understood.

SHOGREN: So if Congress made utility stock less attractive by raising the dividend tax, utilities would have less money to spend to help the economy recover. In the New Year's tax package, Congress made the 15 percent tax rate permanent on income from dividends for individuals who make less than $400,000 and couples that make less than $450,000.

The interest was increased slightly to 20 percent for people who make more than that. If the tax package hadn't passed and the Bush-era tax cuts had been allowed to expire, dividend income would have been taxed like regular income, up to 40 percent. Tom Williams from Duke Power says his company is tickled pink.

TOM WILLIAMS: It's a huge thing for our company.

SHOGREN: Duke is arguably the largest electric company in the country. It serves about 20 million people in six states, and its stock is worth $46 billion. Williams says the company's stock is so strong because shareholders get nearly 5 percent back in dividends. Nick Akins is the CEO of American Electric Power, another of the country's largest utilities.

He was one of the executive who trekked to Washington to plead with Congress and the White House.

NICK AKINS: It was scary and our stock value actually deteriorated in the industry before the end of the year in anticipation of some kind of imposition of a higher dividend tax rate.

SHOGREN: After the tax package was announced, American Electric Power stock jumped 2 percent. Akins says this was good news in an industry that had a tough year because demand for electricity still hasn't returned to pre-recession levels. Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.