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.


A Lull Until New Year's? Not So These Days

Dec 26, 2012
Originally published on December 26, 2012 1:32 pm

Time was, the stretch following Christmas Day until New Year's Day was a quiet, sleepy spot on the American calendar. The six-day span hung like a lazy hammock between the holidays.

Not anymore.

Nowadays, the WAC — Week After Christmas — is busy and abuzzing. All around the country, Americans continue to celebrate — Kwanzaa, the Christmas afterglow and the coming New Year.

It's a mashup week that morphs from cozy fires to fireworks, from prayer books to party hats, from holly berries to hangovers. Such a strange straddling seems particularly American, like Baltimore sprawling into Washington or barbecue sauce slopping over coleslaw.

Some people spend the time rushing here and there to reminisce with friends and families, returning useless presents and raking in gift-card booty.

Others run right back to work. According to research provided by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 99 percent of companies in the United States shut down on Christmas Day and 95 percent on New Year's Day. Only 12 percent are closed for the week between the two national holidays.

"The final week of December can account for as much as 15 percent of a retailer's holiday sales," says Kathy Grannis of the National Retail Federation. The NRF reports that in 2011, holiday season sales represented nearly 20 percent of total retail industry sales for the year.

So, Grannis says, the week after Christmas "is still a very important part of the holiday season."

Haggling, Singing, Dancing, Hunting

Even Congress, often criticized for not working hard enough, may be in session to try to prevent the country from going into fiscal free fall because of the debate over taxation. "If the Senate passed a bill Dec. 27, the House Rules Committee could schedule a vote for the following day," reports Time magazine. "The last time the Senate held a roll call vote in the week between Christmas and New Year's was in 1963, according to the Senate Historical Office."

Meanwhile, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, N.C., is opening up on certain days for Kwanzaa, a post-Christmas festival that highlights seven basic values of African culture. The emphasis is on family, community and culture among African-American people and Africans around the world.

On Dec. 29 — the fourth day of the seven-day observance — there will be a daylong celebration of cooperative economics, including dancing and arts and crafts.

Other places will be open during the week as well. The Free Soul Dance studio in Blasdell, N.Y., is scheduled to hold special classes, and Wolfe's Pheasant Farm in Fountain City, Wis., plans to stage hunts following Christmas. In Branson, Mo., the 3 Redneck Tenors — Billy Bob, Billy Joe, and Billy Billee – are slated to perform several nights.

For the museums of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the week after Christmas "is one of the most popular times," says spokesman John Gibbons, "with thousands of visitors, rivaling spring break and summer vacation."

It's a week, Gibbons says, "when houses are full of children out of school and out-of-town guests for the holidays. What better way to keep everyone happy, busy and interested than visiting the Smithsonian's many museums?"

He adds, "We're even more attractive as a destination after the expenses of the holidays because all our museums are free. Where else can you visit Mars, hold a hissing cockroach and critique what the first ladies wore to dinner all in one day?"

A Fiscal Cliffhanger

In the Christian tradition, the week is part of Christmastide. Back in the olden days, Christmas began on Dec. 25 and lasted until Epiphany — the day that the divine nature of the infant Jesus was revealed to the Magi — on Jan. 6. This is best illustrated in the popular song The 12 Days of Christmas

Now, the more secularized Christmas season in America kicks off around Thanksgiving and pretty much winds down on Christmas Day when the final gifts are passed around.

In the book of essays We Are What We Celebrate: Understanding Holidays and Rituals, sociologist Amitai Etzioni divides traditional American holidays into two types: holidays of recommitment, such as Easter and Passover, and holidays of tension management, such as Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day.

The 144-hour period we're talking about flows from a recommitment holiday (the end of Christmas Day) to a tension management one (the beginning of New Year's Day).

In this fiscal cliffhanger of a year, Americans may need to blow off a little steam — when it comes to taxation and representation — at the end of December.

Back in England, many traditions have changed. Some have not.

During the week after Christmas, which includes Boxing Day on Dec. 26, "most offices are closed, although hospitals, police stations, emergency services, newsrooms, some shops — and, of course, pubs — stay open," says Alexandra Dimsdale of the British Council, the U.K.'s cultural relations organization.

Usually, it's a very quiet time, Dimsdale says, "where people stay at home or visit family."

And, presumably, the open pubs.

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