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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.

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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.

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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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If Obama Took 'Executive Action' On Guns, What Might He Do?

Jan 10, 2013
Originally published on January 11, 2013 7:29 am

After Vice President Biden said Wednesday that the Obama administration might take some executive actions on the issues of guns and gun-related violence, questions naturally arose:

What kinds of things was he talking about? What might the administration do that doesn't require Congressional action?

Our colleague Ari Shapiro is looking to answer those questions on All Things Considered later today (click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show). Meanwhile, here's some reporting from elsewhere:

-- Obama might "strengthen the database that the FBI uses to perform background checks on gun buyers. Many federal agencies that don't currently contribute to the database, such as the Social Security Administration, have access to mental competence information about prospective buyers, or details about failed drug tests and other issues that might prevent a sale to the wrong person. ... The president could also demand that the states share more information from their crime and mental-health databases." (The New York Times)

-- "It is unclear what specific executive orders Obama is contemplating, though one Democratic aide with insight into the talks said Obama could sidestep Congress and bolster federally funded mental-health programs." (The Hill)

-- "The coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has called for Obama to consider several measures that they said could be implemented without congressional approval: Step up prosecution by the Justice Department of felons and others prohibited from buying weapons when they attempt to buy them. ... Require federal agencies to report records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems. ... Appoint an ATF director. The federal agency charged with enforcing gun laws has gone without a confirmed director for six years." (USA Today)

The Times adds, by the way, that "most changes to the current system, which allows easy access to weapons with hugely destructive power, has to come through legislation."

After the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Biden was charged with reporting back this month with "concrete proposals" on reducing gun violence. Among the groups he's due to meet with today is the National Rifle Association.

Update at 12:35 p.m. ET. Biden Sees Recommendations Coming On Universal Background Checks And High-Capacity Magazines:

At the White House a short time ago, Biden said there's been broad agreement among the groups he's met with so far that some sort of sytem of "universal background checks" for gun purchasers needs to be created. Also, he said, there's been broad agreement for controls on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Based on past statements from NRA leaders, it's unlikely they are among those Biden is speaking about when he talks of agreement on those issues.

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