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.

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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.


Gift Cards: What's New, What's Hot, What To Avoid

Nov 28, 2012
Originally published on November 28, 2012 7:48 am



Like it or not, we are now in holiday shopping season. And for gift givers who are simply stumped about what to get that special or not so special someone, there is always the gift card. They might be derided as impersonal, but Americans spend billions and billions of dollars on gift cards.

To help us sort through the array of gift cards, and also to give us some warnings about fees we might find, we called up Janna Herron. She writes about gift cards for Bankrate.com.

Janna, welcome to the program.

JANNA HERRON: Hi, thanks for having me.

GREENE: You recently wrote an article that really dug into a lot of these different gift cards. I mean, surveying 55 different cards. And as I understand it, Shell, Exxon, what can I get using a gift card from an oil company?

HERRON: Well, you can pay for gas. You can also go into the gas station and get, you know whatever they sell, like gum or a soda or a coffee.

GREENE: If I'm on the road, I'm running out of food and I need a snack, I can use the gift card from my aunt or uncle.

HERRON: That's right.


GREENE: And there is something we should talk about though, some of the hidden fees that we're seeing with these gift cards. They're not worth quite as much as you think they are when you get that $50 card.

HERRON: That's true. We found that all of the eight general-purpose gift cards - those are the ones with the MasterCard or American Express logos on them...

GREENE: As opposed to just a specific retailer.

HERRON: That's right. All of those have purchase fees ranging from $3 to $6. So not only are you spending the $25 to get the $25 gift card, but on top of that you have to add the $3 to $6. Most of the store-branded gift cards don't have a purchase fee. So that's the front end. And then if you look on the back end, your recipient might end up paying what we call inactivity fees, where they will charge you a monthly fee if you're not using your gift card.

GREENE: Oh, so the card, if it goes one month after another, it gets worth less and less.

HERRON: That's right, after 12 months. And it has to be after 12 months under federal law, so you do have a year. But then the gift card issuer can start charging you two bucks, you know, every month and then all of a sudden your $25 gift card is down to, you know, $17.

GREENE: Hmm. But if I start seeing my card go from $25 to $17, isn't one option to reload some cards and put money back into it?

HERRON: Yeah. Some gift cards do come with a reloadable feature. That works for the kind of gift cards where you will use it often small transactions, like when you go to Starbucks and you buy a latte and you go - say you go three times a week and you don't want to bring cash with you, you don't want to put it on a debit or credit card, then maybe you'll pull out your Starbucks card.

GREENE: Who is doing the reloading? Is it me or is it Uncle Harry who bought me the card?

HERRON: It would be you.

GREENE: OK. It's just not part of the gift.

HERRON: I mean, right. If Uncle Harry wants to reload he's going to have to give you the cash to do it.


GREENE: Which would be fine.


GREENE: And just so we're clear, do people usually use all the value in their gift cards, or is there sometimes, you know, they just sit there and there's value left over?

HERRON: There's a lot of talk about unused funds on gift cards and it has gotten a lot better. Six years ago, consumers didn't get 10 percent of their gift card funds because they were either lost to fees or they expired, or they just didn't use them. Today, that percentage is less than 2 percent.

GREENE: And Janna Herron, I got a tweet from someone who said of gift cards: Love them. Love to get them. Can pick out what I want and the giver can rest assured that I'll like it. Is that what most people think of it or do some people feel that it's kind of an impersonal gift?

HERRON: You know, I'm sure they're a lot of people who think it's impersonal. I know that my niece and my nephew love gift cards and they're easy to send, and they don't have to wait in line to return something that I sent them that either didn't fit or they didn't like, and it is the number one most requested item for six years in a row, according to a National Retail Federation survey. So it's hard to go wrong, but you can. The best thing to do is to make sure you know where your recipient likes to shop. And if you don't, then you might want to consider the general-purpose cards.

GREENE: Number one most requested item - that more people are saying gift cards than anything else.

HERRON: That's right. It's amazing.

GREENE: Amazing. Jenna Herron, happy holiday shopping.

HERRON: Thank you. You too.

GREENE: Thanks for joining us. She's an analyst at Bankrate.com. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.