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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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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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40 Years After 'Free To Be,' A New Album Says 'It's Okay To Do Stuff'

Dec 5, 2012
Originally published on December 6, 2012 10:29 am

Forty years ago, Marlo Thomas assembled a gang of big-name musical and comedic talent — Mel Brooks and Diana Ross and Alan Alda and more. The goal? To create a children's album befitting second-wave feminism, an album that would break down sexist norms and teach children that they could express their gender — and themselves — however they pleased. The result, Free to Be ... You and Me, did just what it set out to do — the album eventually went gold, spawning a best-selling book and a TV special. Boys learned that "It's All Right to Cry," and girls learned that they could grow up to be both mommies and doctors — if that's what they wanted, of course.

Rob Kutner, Peabody- and Emmy-winning writer for Conan and The Daily Show, has released a new comedy album paying tribute to Free to Be ... You and Me, in honor of the original's 40th anniversary. The project, a collaboration with Stephen Levinson and Joel Moss Levinson, features the talents of Andy Richter, Lizzy Caplan, Fred Willard, Wyatt Cenac, Samantha Bee and others. It's titled It's Okay to Do Stuff, and it's a good bit less idealistic — and a good bit more irreverent — than the original.

This song, from Go-Go's member Jane Wiedlin, gives the album its title. (It also contains a twinkle of profanity, so play it advisedly.)

In "Divorce Makes A Family Twice As Big," the cheery singing of one mommy and daddy devolves into an argument about who's most to blame in the disintegration of their marriage. "Wally Wants a Real Doll" sends up the gender-progressive 1972 song "William Wants a Doll" — only this time, the doll in question has a more sexual nature. And "Swallow Your Dreams" sharply spoofs the difficulty of following your dreams in a post-crash economy: "So reach for the stars and be all you can be/ But maybe also think about a back-up degree."

Kutner says Free to Be ... You and Me was deeply ingrained in his childhood listening, and he lovingly blames it for making him the "crazy, obnoxious free-thinker who wrote these songs." But, in light of the current political and economic climate, he recognizes the difficulty of maintaining the fierce idealism that Marlo Thomas and her gang brought to the world.

"I'm the father of a four-year-old girl," Kutner wrote in an e-mail. "I struggle to get her to listen to the gender-enlightened 'William Wants a Doll' while she's steadily getting sucked in by the Disney-Industrial-Princess complex."

So could an album like Free to Be ... You and Me, with its brazen shattering of gender norms, be made today? Kutner isn't sure. He says it would likely be politicized, with the project's message becoming much more controversial and attracting the same objections that are frequently encountered by entertainment aimed at children that some believe to be offensive or inadequately value-driven.

But, in some ways, the original album is now more relevant than ever, when issues of gender identity and construction still loom at the forefront of discussion. Taylor Swift doesn't call herself a feminist and immediately becomes the target of criticism. Ann Romney is attacked for never working, and women leap to defend motherhood as a professional endeavor. And remember last year's J. Crew catalog, featuring a boy with painted pink toenails? Marlo Thomas would surely have something to say to those who criticized the ad.

Kutner doesn't tackle these issues in his short, 11-and-a-half-minute album — but that's not what he's setting out to do. ("If I emailed people and asked them to take part in a social critique, I'd get sent into more spam filters than a chunk of pig neckbone," he says.) It's Okay to Do Stuff is first and foremost meant to be funny — and it is, most of the time. Here, the earnestness of Free to Be is replaced with satire, but irony is the ethos of our age, remember? What we're left with instead are a few minutes of humor, and, perhaps, an invitation to revisit the lessons of the original album.

It's Okay to Do Stuff can be purchased as an electronic download from Rooftop Comedy Productions, or through Amazon or iTunes.

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