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.

Pages

The Mysterious Disappearance Of The Russian Crown Jewels

Dec 30, 2012
Originally published on January 2, 2013 2:49 am

The story of the missing Russian crown jewels begins, as so many great adventures do, in a library.

In this case, it was the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Va.

Richard Huffine, the director, was looking through the library's rare-book collection when he came upon an oversized volume.

"And there's no markings on the outside, there's no spine label or anything like that," he says. "This one caught our eye, and we pulled it aside to take a further look at it."

Researcher Jenna Nolt was one of those who took a look.

"The title page is completely hand drawn, and it's got this beautiful, elaborate design on it, and it has the date 1922," Nolt says. "When we translated the title, we found out that it was The Russian Diamond Fund."

The Diamond Fund is the name given to the imperial regalia of the Romanov family, the czars of Russia for more than 300 years, from 1613 to 1917.

Huffine knew they were on to something.

"Several of the pictures at the very front of the album are the iconic, known products that you would think of for the Russian Crown Jewels, including the Orlov Diamond in the scepter, and the grand crown, which has the huge stone at the top," he says.

The Orlov Diamond is a 189-carat stone that was famously stolen from the eye of a statue of a Hindu deity in southern India — and that's only one of the stories behind the collection.

These are jewels of almost magical significance, symbols of unbridled power and wealth.

Calling In An Expert

The U.S. Geological Survey librarians called Kristen Regina, the archivist and head of the research collection at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Hillwood boasts the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia.

"The crown jewels play an important part in the coronation story," Regina says, "because the czar crowns himself in the coronation, and that is the moment when he takes full power."

The Romanov dynasty came to an end in 1917, amid the chaos of a world war, a revolution and a civil war.

Regina says the fate of the crown jewels raised a furious debate among the Bolshevik leadership, which was badly in need of money.

Some of the revolutionaries saw the jewels as symbols of centuries of exploitation — gems that ought to be sold to benefit the workers.

Historian Igor Zimin says much of the collection was preserved by curators at the Kremlin in Moscow, who were able to convince the leaders that the gems had enormous historical significance.

Zimin, the head of the history department at the St. Petersburg State Medical University, says there are records of auctions of some of the lesser pieces from the collection dating from around 1927. There are even memoranda about Soviet agents being caught while traveling with diamonds in their luggage.

Zimin is skeptical, by the way, about the newly rediscovered book, because it's dated 1922, and an official photographic inventory of the crown jewels wasn't published until 1925.

Differences Between The Two Books

The USGS has a copy of that book, too, and researcher Jenna Nolt has compared the two.

She found that the 1922 volume shows four pieces of jewelry that don't appear in the later official book.

Nolt says the researchers learned the fate of one of the pieces, a sapphire brooch.

She says it was sold at auction in London in 1927, "but the three other pieces, the necklace, the diadem and the bracelet, we have no idea what happened to them."

One person who might have known is the man who acquired the 1922 volume in the first place.

He was an American mineralogist and gem expert who worked at various times for the jeweler Tiffany & Co. and the USGS.

His name was George Frederick Kunz, and his adventures took him to Russia in the early 1890s.

"If you ever have a chance to read his writings," Nolt says, "he's got this wonderful attitude, and he's traveling in carriages in rural Russia to meet 'the peasant queen of amethysts,' and he's talking about how he's traveling with a pistol over his knees because he doesn't trust the driver of the carriage, so I think — an Indiana Jones figure, definitely."

On View At The Kremlin

The jewels of the Russian Diamond Fund are on display in the Kremlin in Moscow — or most of them, anyway.

The officials in charge of the exhibition declined to comment for this story.

As for those missing pieces, you can see the photos of all of them on the USGS website.

The researchers who've uncovered the story thus far say the rest of the mystery is free for anyone — amateur or professional — to try to solve.

Who knows, it might be time to take a look in great-grandma's jewel case.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Researchers in the United States have found a new clue to a historical mystery in Russia. It's a case that concerns the Russian crown jewels, a gentleman adventurer from the 1920s and a one-of-a-kind book.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: This story begins, as so many great adventures do, in a library. In this case, it was the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Virginia. Richard Huffine, the director, was looking through the library's rare book collection when he came upon an oversized volume.

RICHARD HUFFINE: And there's no markings on the outside so there's no spine label or anything like that. And this one caught our eye and we pulled it aside to kind of take a further look at it.

FLINTOFF: The hand-drawn title page had the date 1922 and the title "The Russian Diamond Fund." The Diamond Fund is the name given to the imperial regalia of the Romanov family, the tsars of Russia for more than 300 years. Huffine knew they were on to something

HUFFINE: Several of the pictures at the very front of the album are the iconic, known products that you would think of for the Russian Crown Jewels, including the Orlov Diamond in the scepter, and the grand crown which has the huge, you know, stone at the top.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOD SAVE THE TSAR")

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing in foreign language)

FLINTOFF: These are jewels of almost magical significance, symbols of unbridled power and wealth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOD SAVE THE TSAR")

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing in foreign language)

KRISTEN REGINA: The crown jewels play an important part in the coronation story because the tsar crowns himself in the coronation and that is the moment when he takes full power.

FLINTOFF: That's Kristen Regina, the archivist at Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C. She was called in because the Hillwood owns one of the few pieces of the Russian crown jewels outside of the Kremlin. The Romanov dynasty came to an end in 1917, amid the chaos of a world war, a revolution and a civil war.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INTERNATIONALE")

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing in foreign language)

FLINTOFF: Regina says the fate of the crown jewels raised a furious debate among the Bolshevik leadership, which was badly in need of money. Some of the revolutionaries saw the jewels as symbols of centuries of exploitation - gems that ought to be sold to benefit the workers.

Historian Igor Zimin says much of the collection was preserved by curators at the Kremlin in Moscow, who were able to convince the leaders that the gems had enormous historical significance.

IGOR ZIMIN: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: Zimin is the head of the history department at the St. Petersburg State Medical University. He is skeptical, by the way, about the newly rediscovered book because it's dated 1922, and an official photographic inventory of the crown jewels wasn't published until 1925.

The USGS has a copy of that book, too, and researcher Jenna Nolt has compared the two. She found that the 1922 volume shows four pieces of jewelry that don't appear in the later official book. Nolt says the researchers learned the fate of one of the pieces, a sapphire brooch - it was sold at auction in London in 1927.

JENNA NOLT: But the three other pieces - the necklace, the diadem and the bracelet - we have no idea what happened to them.

FLINTOFF: One person who might have known is the man who acquired the 1922 volume in the first place.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC, "INDIANA JONES")

FLINTOFF: He was an American mineralogist and gem expert who worked at various times for the jeweler Tiffany & Company and the USGS.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC, "INDIANA JONES")

FLINTOFF: His name was George Frederick Kunz, and his adventures took him to Russia in those dangerous years after the Civil War.

NOLT: And he's talking about how he's traveling with a pistol over his knees because he doesn't trust the driver of the carriage. So, yeah, I think an Indiana Jones figure, definitely.

FLINTOFF: The jewels of the Russian Diamond Fund are on display in the Kremlin in Moscow - well, most of them, anyway. The officials in charge of the exhibition declined to comment for this story. As for those missing pieces, you can see the photos of them on the USGS website.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "ROMANCE FROM THE GADFLY")

FLINTOFF: The researchers who've uncovered the story this far say the rest of the mystery is free for anyone, amateur or professional, to try to solve. Who knows, it might be time to take a look in great-grandma's jewel case.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "ROMANCE FROM THE GADFLY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.