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.


Minorities May Spurn The GOP, But The Party Welcomes Them

Dec 26, 2012
Originally published on January 1, 2013 12:03 pm

As the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama benefited from and expanded his party's enormous advantage among minority voters.

But as he prepares to start his second term, Obama hasn't managed to usher in behind him many Democrats who are minorities to top elected office. Conversely, Republicans — despite their highly limited support among non-Anglo voters — have managed to elevate more top politicians from minority backgrounds.

"It's just an objective, empirical fact that more members of minority groups have done well winning in the Republican Party," says Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama who has switched allegiance to the GOP.

"The Republican Party has proven welcoming to minorities, and its voters will elect minorities as long as those minorities share their worldview, as long as those minorities are conservatives," Davis says.

Thinner Lineup

Obama's success disproves the notion that minorities can't be elected as Democrats, and in terms of lower offices, far more minorities are elected as Democrats than Republicans. But when it comes to major statewide offices, Davis is right.

Minority Democrats face several obstacles, if only because they often represent congressional districts that are more liberal than their states as a whole. Many of them, in fact, hail from Southern states that are unlikely to elect Democrats of any color statewide these days.

For their part, Republicans are happy and eager to promote politicians of color who embrace the party's conservative agenda.

When Congress reconvenes next month, Democrats will make history by seating the first caucus in House history comprising more women and minorities than white men. The House GOP caucus will remain dominated by white males.

By contrast, the lineup of Democrats holding top statewide offices is thin — limited to Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who is African-American, and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who is Hispanic.

Republicans can boast of a number of minority officeholders whose first two names in news accounts seem to be "rising star," including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and incoming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Once newly elected officials are sworn in, Republicans will have more female governors and more Hispanic U.S. senators than the Democrats. Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina will be the only African-American in the Senate — appointed by Nikki Haley, one of two Republican governors of Indian descent. (Louisiana's Bobby Jindal is the other.)

Minority politicians are likely to have "a smoother path" running for top offices as Republicans, says Robert C. Smith, author of several books about race and politics.

"The left highway is crowded, and the right highway's less so," he says.

Hobbled By Success?

The nature of the districts many minority Democrats represent handicaps them when they set their sights on statewide offices, says Lara Brown, a Villanova University political scientist.

"When you look at those minority-majority districts, this is why Democrats don't have statewide elected officials [from minority groups]," she says. "Their constituents and these districts are very liberal, and that makes it very hard for these individuals to moderate [their positions] to win their states."

Smith, who teaches political science at San Francisco State University, says this argument was more true 10 or 20 years ago than it is today.

He notes Democratic black politicians with aspirations for higher office — such as Davis, who ran as a Democrat for governor in 2010, and then-Rep. Harold Ford, who ran for Senate in Tennessee back in 2006 — self-consciously adopted moderate or even conservative positions to run statewide.

"Twenty years ago, black politicians had little ambition to seek office beyond being in Congress or being a big-city mayor," Smith says. "Now, they're positioning themselves as centrists so they can run for statewide office."

The Need For Crossover Appeal

Still, reaching the top rungs can be difficult for African-American politicians in particular — because the vast majority of those holding elected office are in the South.

Neither Davis nor Ford was able to win election, and other blacks nominated to statewide posts in the South have done even more poorly.

In addition to the region's conservative nature, in the Deep South, "in terms of statewide elections, there's high racial polarization," says David Bositis, an expert on black politics at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Democratic politicians of color frequently are nominated to statewide office in the South, but they rarely win. In recent races in states such as Mississippi and Florida, black candidates have taken roughly 30 percent of the general election vote — about the same share as the minority populations there as a whole.

Following his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention this summer, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was widely touted as a potential star. But despite prognostications that Texas may eventually turn "blue" in presidential voting, Castro has to include in his calculations the fact that Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in nearly 20 years.

Things may be different for Cory Booker, the African-American mayor of Newark, who recently made clear his intentions to run for U.S. Senate. If he's nominated, he'll have a strong chance in the generally Democratic state of New Jersey, Smith says.

Minorities running in Northern states with relatively small minority populations "absolutely" need to have crossover appeal, says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials.

He notes that both Menendez, from New Jersey and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar (now Obama's interior secretary) carried states that are both about 15 percent Hispanic.

GOP's Welcome Mat

By contrast, Vargas notes, even successful minority Republican officials have mostly failed to carry majorities among their own ethnic communities. Rubio, the Florida senator, is a notable exception, having won 55 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2010 election.

Given the usual lack of support for Republican blacks and Hispanics within their own groups, there's a certain quality close to tokenism that prevails on the GOP side, Bositis suggests.

"The Republican Party has always tried to have a certain number," he says. "If they could find some black or Hispanic or Asian person to put out front, they were always happy to do it."

There's no question Republicans are eager to showcase minority politicians. Their national convention in Tampa, Fla., at times seemed to feature more black and brown faces on the podium than were otherwise in the hall.

Smith, the San Francisco State political scientist, says this is done from necessity. Giving prominent roles to minority politicians, he suggests, may not help the GOP make deep inroads into minority communities that find the party's platform hostile to them on issues such as voting rights and immigration.

"But it gives the party the image of being an inclusive, multiethnic party," Smith says. "White suburbanites would not be comfortable with a party that is not inclusive."

If an ambitious politician who happens to be African-American or Hispanic or Asian also happens to be conservative, the GOP is going to welcome that person with open arms.

"If you're an African-American or a Hispanic of conservative bent — and you will be, or you wouldn't be in the Republican Party — you're going to be in the mainstream of your party more often than not," says Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant.

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