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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Hidden Housing Subsidy May Soon Come Out Of Hiding

Nov 16, 2012
Originally published on November 16, 2012 2:47 pm

The federal government has all these ways of paying people to buy houses without actually, you know, paying people to buy houses.

We've talked a lot about two examples of this:

1. The mortgage-interest tax deduction is effectively a government payment to people who are paying a mortgage.

2. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow home buyers to get below-market-rate mortgages. They blew up in the housing bust, requiring a massive federal bailout.

We haven't talked so much about a third example of a federal housing subsidy that doesn't seem like a subsidy: the Federal Housing Administration, aka FHA.

Like Fannie and Freddie before the housing crisis, FHA has always funded itself. And, like Fannie and Freddie after the crisis, FHA may soon need a taxpayer bailout. An audit of FHA released today found that the agency is $16 billion in the hole.

The FHA doesn't actually make loans. It guarantees them. If you get an FHA-backed mortgage and don't pay it back, the FHA has to make up the difference. The FHA requires everyone who gets an FHA loan to buy insurance, which is supposed to cover losses when borrowers default.

But the system only works if the FHA prices the insurance correctly. And it appears that, during the early part of the housing bust, the FHA did not collect enough in premiums to pay off losses it will incur in the coming years.

The trouble is likely to come from loans made in 2008 and 2009. At that time, it became increasingly difficult to get a private loan. So more and more borrowers turned to FHA-backed loans, and the agency wound up backing hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgages.

On top of that, FHA loans require only a tiny down payment — as little as 3.5 percent. As a result, when housing prices decline, borrowers very quickly end up owing more than their home is worth. This dramatically raises the risk of default.

The agency has been raising the premiums it charges, among other steps, to try to fix the problem. But today's audit suggests that those steps haven't plugged the hole. FHA will probably need taxpayer money to make good on the promises it made as the housing market was collapsing.

Update: FHA today announced several new steps it's taking to try to plug the hole in its finances. Details here.

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