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.


A Good Jobs Report Might Be Bad For The Jobless

Dec 7, 2012
Originally published on December 7, 2012 1:49 pm

The Labor Department's glad tidings Friday about the uptick in job creation last month might morph into bad news next month for many of the long-term unemployed.

That's because the boost in November hiring, with employers adding 146,000 jobs, might make it more difficult for Democrats to argue in favor of having Congress renew the extension of benefits for people out of work more than six months.

As things stand, four in 10 Americans who receive unemployment insurance will lose their extended benefits if federal aid expires as scheduled on Dec. 29.

If that were to happen, "it would be devastating for these unemployed workers and their families; in many cases, this is the only income they have," says Judy Conti, a lobbyist with National Employment Law Project, a group that advocates for low-wage workers. "It's the middle of winter — when people need heat and food and shelter."

But conservatives now have a stronger argument to make when they say the job market is healthy enough to offer opportunities to those who have been out of work a long time. In November, the unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point to 7.7 percent, the lowest level in four years.

A Cutoff Looms

The future of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed is part of the ongoing budget negotiations in Congress. Lawmakers are trying to sort out a complicated cluster of tax-break expirations and automatic spending cuts. Collectively, those budget problems are commonly called the fiscal cliff.

One of the issues involved in the negotiations is the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Unless Congress reauthorizes it for 2013, more than 2 million long-term unemployed workers will be cut off from federal benefits.

In November, the number of people who have been looking for work for more than six months was little changed at 4.8 million, the Labor Department said.

Many economists say it's difficult to sort out exactly what the state of the job market was last month because of distortions caused by the hiring of election-related workers and Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that knocked out power for millions of homes and businesses as it hit the Northeast in late October.

A Cloudy Outlook

Even with some distortions, the jobs report seemed encouraging. But no one doubts that the labor market's future remains dicey as long as the outcome of the fiscal-cliff negotiations remains uncertain.

Evidence of concerns about uncertainty showed up in the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey. The November survey, released Thursday, found that small-business owners plan to add fewer new jobs over the next 12 months than at any time since the depths of the 2008-2009 recession.

The survey's key finding was that "there is the potential for a serious decline in jobs early next year."

That's what has advocates for the unemployed worried. They want the extended benefits to keep coming in 2013 to give the job market more time to heal.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Friday that in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, extended benefits are crucial for his region. "We just suffered a major catastrophe," he said in a phone interview. "The recovery will be a long slog, so there are people who will be unemployed for a long time."

As the budget negotiations continue, "I'm willing to go to the mat for this," Blumenthal said.

Usually, the responsibility for providing workers with unemployment benefits lies with the states. The typical program gives laid-off workers up to 26 weeks of financial support, replacing up to half of their previous weekly wages. For the most part, the states set the rules for providing help and carry the costs.

But when the Great Recession slammed into the job market, Congress agreed to provide additional federal funds to help states extend benefits, in some cases up to 99 weeks.

When the authorization for federal unemployment benefits was set to expire in February 2012, Congress renewed the program, saying the help was needed because the unemployment rate was still over 8 percent at the time. But that extension, part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, set into motion a phase-out timetable. Currently, the maximum length of benefits is 73 weeks in states where the jobless rate exceeds 9 percent.

As 2013 begins, the federal program will end, so jobless workers will have to go back to relying on their 26 weeks of state aid. People who already have exhausted that amount will suddenly stop getting checks.

Reducing The Deficit

Many Republicans want to stick to the fast-approaching expiration date, saying that would help reduce the budget deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that "the expiration of those benefits will lower spending by $26 billion in fiscal year 2013."

Not only would ending the program reduce the budget deficit, but the change also would help the economy by spurring the long-term unemployed to search harder for new jobs, conservatives argue.

They say the labor market has improved since the 2009 depths of the recession when the unemployment rate hit 10 percent. And they note that jobs are in fact available for many workers willing to make necessary changes, such as moving, retraining or accepting lower wages.

"Unemployment insurance makes unemployment last longer," Casey Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, concluded in a written assessment of the impact of extended benefits.

Giving The Economy More Time To Recover

But other economists say the job market is still so bad that many people need much more than six months to find jobs. Moreover, the extended benefits help keep the economy from worsening by allowing jobless people to continue to spend money at grocery stores and gas stations, and to keep paying their rent or home mortgage. Having food, gasoline and a home with a working phone can make a job candidate more attractive to an employer.

Ending federal extended benefits would reduce economic growth by about $48 billion and trigger the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning research group.

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