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.


Girls, Boys And Toys: Rethinking Stereotypes In What Kids Play With

Dec 17, 2012
Originally published on December 18, 2012 6:50 am

We've been focusing on some serious news today. Here's something on the lighter side.

A New Jersey teenager who launched a campaign to get Hasbro to make a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven is expected to meet with the toy company Monday afternoon.

Update at 5:40 p.m. ET. Easy-Bake Oven goes gender-neutral:

After meeting with Pope, Hasbro now says it plans to introduce a new black, silver, and blue model of the oven, and to feature boys in ads for the product. Our original post continues:

According to The Associated Press, the oven's team at Hasbro invited 13-year-old McKenna Pope of Garfield, N.J., to share her thoughts and ideas. McKenna wants the company to make the pink and purple oven in more boy-friendly colors and also feature boys in their marketing for the toy. The oven, she says, reinforces gender stereotypes to the point that her younger brother thinks boys shouldn't cook.

"We continue to enforce this stereotype that men don't cook, they work," Pope says in a YouTube video created as part of her effort to get Hasbro to change the way it makes and markets the toy oven. Her online petition has garnered 44,000 supporters since it was launched in November and has the backing of top chefs like Bobby Flay.

(Incidentally, the oven hasn't always been pink. Introduced in 1963, it's been green, yellow and orange. It turned gender-specific pink in 1993.)

Pope's campaign seems to be part of heightened gender messaging awareness in toys this holiday season.

In Sweden, a toy company recently revamped the way it advertises toys to boys and girls. The company, Top Toy, was told by a Swedish regulator to stop advertising using stereotypes, toy analyst Sean McGowan of Needham & Co. tells NPR's David Greene. So in Top Toy's 2012 Christmas catalog, boys are shown playing with a pink ironing board set, for example, and girls are shown playing with a Nerf rifle.

"I think what they were worried about was causing gender identification needlessly — to turn off passive learning, passive expression down the road, even passive economic opportunity for girls or boys if they felt they couldn't do something because of societal norms," McGowan says.

Time will tell, McGowan says, whether trying to take gender out of toys will affect play habits.

"It'll be interesting to see how this changes the attitudes of parents and of kids over time or whether or not it does. There may be some hard-wired differences," he says.

Meanwhile, Lego has developed and marketed a line of toys specifically to girls after researching for years how to get girls to play with the toy bricks. The Lego Friends line includes a cafe, a vet's office and a pet salon. The figures, McGowan notes, are bigger and are more realistic than other figures because Lego learned that girls see them as avatars of themselves.

"By unlocking that mystery — what is it that the girls are looking for out of the play? — Lego was able to get a lot of girls and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue just in one year, whereas they couldn't get that before," McGowan says.

Ultimately, for good or bad, there really are just fundamental differences between boys and girls, he says.

"I don't think anybody here is kidding themselves that we're going to get girls to like all boys toys and boys to like all girls toys," McGowan says. "But I think it's a noble effort to say, 'I have a product I believe in, that I think is good for kids — what can I do to make it more attractive to more of those kids?' "

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Now let's talk about toys, an important subject in any holiday season, especially important to one 13-year-old in New Jersey. Her name is McKenna Pope. Her little brother loves to cook and wanted an oven. And she noticed something about Hasbro's Easy Bake Oven, and she made a video to take the company to task.


MCKENNA POPE: Why don't they have any boys in the Easy Bake Oven commercial?

GREENE: McKenna's campaign raises some interesting questions about toys and gender. And so we called up veteran toy analyst Sean McGowan to talk more about this.

SEAN MCGOWAN: I remember when I started covering this industry in the mid-'80s. There were a couple of action figure lines that were surprisingly popular with girls. And once they became very popular with girls, they actually lost appeal for boys because boys didn't want to be seen playing with a girl's toy and the girls didn't mind being seen playing with the boy's toy. You know, maybe the thinking is a little bit more progressive on that. And there's a very interesting experiment going on, you could call it that, in Sweden, I think, with gender-neutral advertising for toys.

GREENE: And tell me a little bit about that campaign.

MCGOWAN: Well, the campaign was really forced by the regulatory authorities who govern advertising that did not want to see gender specific targeting in ads. And a Toys "R" Us affiliate, I think it's called Top Toys in Sweden, actually shows boys playing with vacuum cleaners and blow dryers and girls playing with Nerf guns. It will be interesting to see how this changes the attitudes of parents and the kids over time or whether or not it does. You know, there may be some hardwired differences.

GREENE: Well, what exactly was the Swedish government worried about, you know, on a broader level?

MCGOWAN: I think what they were worried about was causing gender identification needlessly. In other words, to turn off paths of learning, paths of expression, you know, down the road even paths of economic opportunity for girls, you know, if they felt like they couldn't do something, or boys, if they felt that they couldn't do something because of societal norms. So they're really trying to create opportunities and to further equality and then further economic opportunity.

GREENE: You know, one Scandinavian company, speaking of that part of the world, Lego, has a pretty successful ad campaign going right now and it seems like there's no doubt that they're trying to reach girls. Let's give a listen.


STEPHANIE: Lego friends, welcome to beautiful Heartlake City. I'm Stephanie. I'm going to a party at the new cafe with my friend Olivia.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's me. I just finished decorating my house. Time to chill with the girls.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: At the beauty shop, Emma is styled and ready to go. That's just because you're so much fun.

GREENE: Sean McGowan, what do you think? I mean is this a positive decision for a company like that to try to go after the other gender or is this something the Swedish government would say hey, hey, hey, this is exactly what we don't want?

MCGOWAN: Yeah, I think the Swedish government might have some issues with the marketing itself because it is pretty gender specific. You know, Lego's a Danish company but I would give Lego enormous amount of credit not just because they're marketing to girls; this product was developed with eight years of solid intensive research behind it to figure out how to crack that nut of how do you get girls interested in Lego toys. You know, girls tend to gravitate towards more cooperative play, more social play, more communicative play, you know, and the boys are more about the outcome and the building and destroying and, you know, fantasies that are maybe outside of themselves. So it really comes down to - this product, the most important thing is the distance and the figures.

The figures in Lego's Friends are bigger. They have more parts that are interchangeable. They're more realistic, if you will, to the extent that a, you know, couple-inch plastic figure can be realistic. And what they learned from their research was the girls really see these figures as avatars of themselves. It's a way to express themselves, whereas the boys tend to think of the figs - as they call him - as their guys. They're just, you know, they're just guys - good guys, bad guys, they fight each other. So by unlocking that mystery - what is it that the girls are looking for out of the play - you know, Lego was able to get a lot of girls, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue just in one year, whereas they couldn't get that before.

GREENE: Well, I guess that raises the question - is there something about toys that make them hard to try and market for girls and boys at the same time?

MCGOWAN: Vive la difference, right? I mean there is a difference. We may wish that there weren't sometimes and we may celebrate the difference at other times. I don't think anybody here is kidding themselves thinking we're going to get girls to like all boys' toys and boys to like all girls' toys, but I think it's a noble effort to say, you know, I have a product here that I believe in that I think is good for kids, what can I do to make it more attractive to more of those kids?

GREENE: Sean McGowan is a senior analyst at Needham and Company. Thanks so much for speaking to us.

MCGOWAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.