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.


Is Kwanzaa Still A Thing?

Dec 28, 2012
Originally published on December 28, 2012 1:02 pm



Now we'd like to talk about Kwanzaa. Wednesday marked the start of the seven-day celebration of African-American culture and heritage. And if you've been around a while, then you remember that in the 1980s and 1990s, Kwanzaa was one of the trifecta of winter holidays - along with Christmas and Hanukkah, of course - that got a lot of attention from the media, from retail establishments, including the big department stores, and artists. Soul singer Teddy Pendergrass released a song "Happy Kwanzaa" on his 1998 album "This Christmas I'd Rather Have Love." Let's listen.


TEDDY PENDERGRASS: (Singing) That it got no black or white. We all know it's all right. It's a celebration that should last throughout the year. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Kwanzaa. Together there's much that we can do. All right. Happy Kwanzaa. Together there is so much we can do. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Kwanzaa.

MARTIN: OK. So maybe it wasn't his best effort. But have you noticed these days, there just doesn't seem to be as much buzz and fanfare around Kwanzaa? According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, just 2 percent of Americans say they celebrate the holiday, which left us asking: Is Kwanzaa still a thing?

Joining us to answer that, we've called Mark Anthony Neal. He is a professor of black popular culture at Duke University. And he's with us now. I guess I'm supposed to ask: Habari Gani.


MARK ANTHONY NEAL: Ugima, I guess, is supposed to be the answer.


MARTIN: OK. And you know the answer, so you are obviously the right person to talk with about this.


MARTIN: You've actually written about this, and you point out that many people might not remember that Kwanzaa actually started as a part of the Black Nationalist Movement.

NEAL: It was something that was started by Maulana Karenga, then Ron Everett, as kind of an extension of his organization United Slaves, just simply known as US. And it really was an attempt to find some sort of ritual celebration that would counteract white supremacy on one hand, but give African-Americans an opportunity to kind of reflect on the past year and to start thinking and planning for the next year - you know, hence its celebration, December 26th to January 1st.

MARTIN: Was his idea originally that Kwanzaa would supplant both traditional Christmas festivities and New Years, and that would be the thing that African-American families celebrated instead of those two?

NEAL: I think in that sense that, you know, if African-Americans, black Americans could begin to establish their own holidays separate and distinct from those from white America - keeping in mind, you know, Kwanzaa was developed at the height of the Black Nationalist Movement, and everything was about creating our own institutions, whether it be schools or holidays. I mean, the second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia, is self-determination. It was very much in that kind of spirit that I think Karenga was hoping that we would establish a holiday that didn't necessarily would have to supplant Christmas. I think it was very shrewd of him to have it the day after Christmas start, as opposed to seeing something that had to be in competition with Christmas.

MARTIN: And as a number of commentators have pointed out, hating on Kwanzaa has been kind of the thing for some time now, that people every year talk about how it's played out or, you know, do you or don't you celebrate it? What's your take on this? Why do you think it is less popular than it used to be? I mean, the fact is, you know, you used to be able to buy some of the items, like a Kinara, you know, at the big department stores. And I just checked before I - we started our conversation, and I don't see them on the websites anymore.


MARTIN: Well, why do you think it seems to have waned in popularity. Or do you think that it hasn't?

NEAL: You know, I think there are a couple of factors. You know, as I just mentioned, it was started during the moment of the black freedom struggle, you know, so there was a lot of intensity around finding some way to express our black pride within that context. But it was also started at a time when there were no black studies department. You know, the Internet didn't exist.

So you could imagine for the millennial generation now, you know, who sit in black studies courses, who have so much more access to black history and black heritage in that regard and can really look up, you know, Kwanzaa on Wikipedia these days, that there's just not that kind of intensity around the holiday that we might have saw in the 1980s, for instance, when I was in college and, you know, that was the only way - and for many of us - to be able to connect to some sort of sense of black heritage.

I think there's also this sense of Kwanzaa being a made-up holiday. And, you know, when you compare it to, say, something like Hanukkah, which is clearly a religious holiday - you know, Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, though it does have, you know, spiritual overtones. But, you know, the reality is that so many holidays we celebrate are, in fact, made-up holidays. I mean, Mother's Day and Father's Day are basically holidays that were created by greeting card companies.

MARTIN: Well, sure. So was Thanksgiving. I mean, but it's true...

NEAL: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...that most cultures have a Thanksgiving celebration of some sort or a harvest celebration, but the Thanksgiving as we know it is certainly made up. But that doesn't diminish our love of it...

NEAL: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...or how much we appreciate it. You know, I have to put you on the spot. Did you ever...

NEAL: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: You know I'm going to ask. Did you ever celebrate Kwanzaa, and do you still?

NEAL: As a college student, it was so important to us. You know, we knew we wouldn't be together. On a predominantly white campus, there was a small percentage of us that were students there - African-American, black students that were there. It was an opportunity for us to be able to be able to fellowship and celebrate the year, particularly since we wouldn't be together when the actual holiday occurred. And that still occurs on many college campuses.

At the time, back in the 1980s, when I was this imagined black radical, you know, I had every intention of giving up Christmas for the rest of my life, you know, solely to, you know, introduce my family to Kwanzaa. But, you know, the things that brought me back to Christmas, you know, were these ideas - I mean, this was the holiday that my parents raised me with. I mean, all my memories of - great memories of my childhood circulated around Christmas and the Thanksgiving holiday. And in some ways, those are the kinds of things that keep me very still interested in Kwanzaa. We don't celebrate Kwanzaa as a family, but when there are local events that are Kwanzaa-related, it's not unusual for me to take my two daughters to those events.

MARTIN: Do you think that Kwanzaa's best days are behind us, or do you think that there's still a possibility for a comeback, that it could have - it could become a big part of the culture again?

NEAL: You know, I think, look, if there's any opportunity for black folks in this country to be able to come together and look backward at what we've just achieved in the past year and had the opportunity to plan for our future, I think there's always value in that. And I'm sure there would be younger generations of black folks who will see some significance in Kwanzaa, even if it's not practiced with the same intent that it might've been created in 1966.

MARTIN: Mark Anthony Neal is a culture critic, a blogger and a professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University. He was kind enough to join us from the studios of WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Professor Neal, thank you so much for joining us, and Happy Holidays to you.

NEAL: Thank you, Michel.


MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Let's talk more on Monday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.