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.

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A Guarantee: The World Will Not End On Friday

Dec 19, 2012

According to countless prophecies, terrorizing people across the world, this will be my last contribution to 13.7. On Friday, December 21, the world will come to an end. I have been receiving dozens of concerned email messages from otherwise reasonable people, convinced that this time it is for real, that there is no escape.

Readers, you may relax. I can guarantee you that Friday, December 21, will be just another winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.The shortest day of the year will be harmless. Come Saturday morning, you will be calmly drinking your coffee, a large smile on your face, convinced that, indeed, these end-of-world prophecies are complete nonsense. Everything will be quickly forgotten, and life will go back to normal, Christmas celebrations and all.

Until the next doomsday prophecy, that is.

The one upon us now is based on how the Mayans count time. Their calendar, amazingly sophisticated, rewinds every 13 "baktuns," each cycle containing 5,126 years. This count started on August 13, 3114 BCE, and runs out Friday. But the end of a cycle is not the end of time or of Earth; it simply marks the beginning of a new cycle, typical of cultures that consider time to be circular, as opposed to the linear time of biblical culture. (We do that with our yearly calendar.)

Archeologists studying Mayan artifacts have canvased the few documents that survived the destructive fury of tropical weather and the zealotry of Spanish Catholic priests and found no evidence whatsoever pointing to an end-of-the-world prophecy. For those interested in the meaning of the fragmentary text where the apocalyptic misinterpretation comes from, an in-depth analysis of the Mayan Long Count can be found over on the Naked Science Forum.

Science also has nothing to add in the way of the apocalyptic for this Friday. Many potential cataclysms have been proposed: a reversion of Earth's magnetic polarity, a collision with a rogue asteroid, solar flares, the "mysterious" planet Nibiru, galactic alignments, etc. NASA has recently prepared answers to all these "potential" causes in its website and in a video.

The story with Nibiru, for example, was invented by a Nancy Lieder, an American "channeler" who claims to have a brain implant capable of communicating with aliens from the binary star system Zeta Reticuli, some 39 light-years away. Never mind that several missions have so far failed to find planets in orbit about the stars there.

How could millions of intelligent people believe in such ridiculous stuff? And how could millions more forget that, in spite of hundreds of apocalyptic prophecies throughout history, the world is still here? What could possibly sustain such neglect of reason?

Among other things, fearing that the world will end reflects a deeper fear of losing control of life, of destiny. It's engraved in our collective unconscious, an ancestral fear that nature is much more powerful than we are, that it can annihilate us in an instant. Annual natural disasters feed this fear, playing the role of small rehearsals for what nature can do. Hurricane Sandy is fresh in everyone's minds in the United States.

If, in centuries back, doomsday fear reflected divine wrath or the impending arrival of the resurrection, today, with the advances of science, causes are sought in cataclysmic cosmic phenomena. (Unless you are a literal believer in the New Testament.) But as I explain in my book The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Fear and the End of the World, the symbology remains the same, the end coming from the skies, offering us no chance of survival. (This is where the Christian rhetoric of repentance comes in.)

But it needn't be this way. We have a powerful weapon against ancestral and unfounded fears: reason. Our current understanding of nature doesn't only bring us cell phones and GPSs; it also brings us the certainty that knowledge is the truest form of freedom.


You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

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