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.

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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.


In Hindsight, Those Presidential Polls Looked Just Fine

Nov 9, 2012
Originally published on November 9, 2012 12:49 pm

For as much criticism as pollsters endured in the run-up to Election Day, a look back shows many of them hit very close to the bull's-eye for the presidential race — but some did better than others.

Take the venerable Gallup. It had Mitt Romney at 49 percent and President Obama at 48 percent in a poll published Monday, a day before the voting. And when undecided voters were split up among candidates, Gallup put the figure at 50 percent Romney, 49 percent Obama.

The actual outcome: Obama 50 percent; Romney 48 percent — within Gallup's margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

"Our final estimate of the national popular vote was actually fairly accurate," says Frank Newport, Gallup's editor-in-chief. "It was within a point or two of what the [candidates] got. In a broad sense, it was pretty close."

Peter Enns, a professor at Cornell University's Institute for the Social Sciences, agrees that most of the polls fell within the margin of error.

The biggest challenge for pollsters, and the one that accounts for most of the variation among them, is figuring out who will show up on Election Day to vote, Enns says.

It's the difference between registered voters and likely voters.

"About a week ago, Gallup had Romney up by 5 percent — and that's substantial if the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points — but among registered voters, they had Romney up by only a percent, and that's a statistical tie," Enns says.

Gallup's Newport acknowledges that the Obama campaign's "ground game" was so good that — to some extent — it upset conventional polling theory.

Usually, the question is how many people who say they will vote actually do so. "But this time around ... people might tell a pollster they were not planning to vote and then do the opposite on Election Day," Newport said.

John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, says the big turnout among Latinos this year could have thrown some pollsters a curve, especially the ones that aren't flexible enough to conduct their face-to-face or telephone interviews in Spanish.

"In this election cycle in particular, where President Obama won over 70 percent of the Latino vote, if you're not sampling Latinos in Spanish in states like Florida, New Mexico or Colorado, you're not capturing that entire demographic," Hudak says.

There are some other possible factors that could affect getting a good sample of likely voters. Whether a pollster calls any (or enough) cellphones could be crucial, though the issue is controversial in public opinion polling circles.

The theory is that people who use cellphones only (no landline) tend to be Democrats, so if you're not reaching those folks, you're undercounting the blue column. But cellphones have their own problems. With a built-in caller ID, fewer people are likely to answer a call they don't recognize — like one from a pollster.

"Some say it's important, others that it's not. That's an open question," says Hudak.

There's another way to zero in on the perfect numbers. Cue statistician Nate Silver, who blogs for The New York Times. His forecasts this election year were deadly accurate.

He called all 50 states correctly and was within a few tenths of a percent on the popular vote, beating his own extraordinary record of missing just one state in 2008.

Silver uses lots of individual polls and then runs them through a weighted formula. "Each of the polls is essentially a best guess with some error around it," Enns says. "If you combine across all the polls, some are going to be wrong in one direction and some are going to be wrong in the other direction, and that should get you closer to an accurate result."

So, that's the first thing. The second is that Silver relies on polls conducted on a state-by-state basis instead of a national sample, Hudak says. The state polls provide a better perspective because they are closer to ground level.

Enns says Silver and the others who weighted the aggregated polls provided very good information this election.

"Where errors were made is when one particular poll was overemphasized, and all the weight was placed on that," Enns says.

"So, if you get someone quoting the Gallup poll, essentially they are weighting that poll as one and all other information as zero," he says. "You might be right, but you are much more likely to be wrong than if you take the information from all polls together."

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