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.


Grrr, Said The Grylloblattid. I'm Not Leaving. Not Yet.

Jan 2, 2013
Originally published on January 2, 2013 5:01 pm

Every year, thousands of college graduates pour into big cities, find themselves a fun place to live in a cool neighborhood, great location, friends all around. But then, their luck turns, they run short of money, lose their first job, their second job, lose their lease, and then, step by step, find themselves in places that are less safe, less airy, less and less livable, until they're on the bad side of town in a scary, dank room ... and life is grim. You know people like this?

Well, this is their mascot: an animal with a serious real estate problem.

This brave, mobile, tough little insect has been on the planet almost as long as the cockroach. It's a survivor. But in its time on Earth, it has moved from sunny, glorious forests to emptier, colder places. Now, it's the only big insect that makes its living in perpetual snow. Most insects stop moving when it gets too cold. But not this guy. He lives on ice. Yup, ice.

And even so, the grylloblattid (or ice crawler, as it's called) is running out of options because all over the world, the ice it lives on is melting. Another earthling with nowhere to go. And when the ice goes, it's not clear what happens next. Except that it will be another chapter of an incredible story.

When these critters first came on the scene more than 200 million years ago, back in the Permian era, they made their living in vast green tropical forests. (This was an age before flowers, so forests were mostly seeded by pollen from conifers, like today's pine cones). Back then, grylloblattids had wings, so they'd fly from plant to plant like primitive bees, feeding on pollen. Their fossils turn up all over the ancient world. They were thriving.

Then plants changed. Some learned to wrap their seeds in fruits, advertising them with showy, colorful petals, and suddenly, the forest was jammed with bees and wasps. Beetles diversified. The air was crowded with pollinators, hustling, competing, and grylloblattids had more and more trouble making a living. So they moved.

They chose the cold. Gradually, they left the temperate zones for mountains or the edges of glaciers. They learned to stay awake and stay active at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes as low as 23. They shed their wings and found a niche where there is ice all year long, but it doesn't get too cold. Some moved deep inside caves. The obvious advantage? Their competitors stayed away. They had the snow to themselves, and there is food to be found, if you eat dead insects that blow in and can munch on mold or dead leaves.

The problem? Ice crawlers can't stand cold below 22 degrees or so, but they also can't stand heat. You don't want to let an ice crawler touch your hand ...

... because your 98.5 body temperature will kill it. Piotr Naskrecki, who writes about these creatures in his book Relics, calls them "six-legged Goldilocks." They can't be too hot, they can't be too cold. For them, things have to be just right. So ... OK, you can let them touch you, but don't let them stay too long ...

Some insects (and amphibians) have learned to pump their wintry bodies with antifreeze, but not these guys. They can survive only in semifrozen environments, which is why they favor the edges of glaciers. And you know what happened next.

As the world warms up, as glaciers across North America retreat, ice crawlers are losing their homes. They could, if they still had wings, fly up mountainsides or try to make it to the next glacier, but all they can do now is crawl. And crawling won't hack it.

"Some populations in the Sierra Nevada of California, perhaps entire species of ice crawlers, may already be extinct, as repeated attempts to find them for the last forty years have failed," writes Naskrecki.

Ice crawlers are the polar bears of the insect world. They aren't as cute as those cuddly looking balls of fur, but lucky for them, they're smaller than polar bears; they can live off leaf scraps. All they have to do is make it through this next global warming to the next Ice Age. After that, they're home free.

Normally, I don't look forward to Ice Ages, and I'm not in the habit of rooting for scuttling little insects. But in this case, and maybe just in this case, I'm making an exception. The grylloblattid has been so stubbornly, so furiously, so desperately a survivor for so long — I'd hate to see it go.


Piotr Naskrecki's new book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine, takes us on a worldwide tour of animals and plants that have stuck it out over 10s, sometimes hundreds of millions of years, and are still with us. Horseshoe crabs, cycads, gingko trees show up, of course, but Naskrecki also finds wonderfully strange little critters like the grylloblattids, insects that seem to nurse their young, Martian-like things called quiver trees — all of them photographed, because Naskrecki is one of the world's more eminent nature photographers. The pictures in this post are his.

If you want to see a gryllobattid in action, running around a snowball and getting close to a dangerously warm human finger, Purdue University has produced this video:

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