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.


New Bank Rule: Sounds Boring, Actually A Big Deal

Jan 7, 2013
Originally published on January 14, 2013 5:59 pm

We don't hear much about bank liquidity, partly because it sounds so dull. It's much more fun to talk about prop trading (fear the London Whale!) or structured finance (synthetic CDOs are crazy!).

But if you're trying to figure out how safe banks are — and how willing they'll be to make loans to ordinary people — liquidity is at least as important as other, more-dramatic-sounding corners of finance.

So the new liquidity rules global banking regulators released yesterday are a big deal for the real economy.

Liquidity, in this context, basically means how easy it is to turn stuff you own into cash. Example from ordinary life: Apple stock is very liquid (you can sell it at a moment's notice with no trouble); a house is not very liquid (it could take months to sell and is a huge hassle).

Here's why liquidity is so important for banks.

When people start to panic about the financial system, they have a tendency to go to the bank and ask for their money back. This is especially true of big institutions whose money is not protected by deposit insurance.

Banks, of course, don't keep huge piles of cash sitting in the vault. Instead, they make loans and buy bonds (which are a kind of loan). If a lot of people want to pull their money out of the bank at the same time, banks typically have to sell off some of those bonds.

But not all bonds are created equal. At moments when the finance world seems scary — the kind of moments when people start pulling lots of money out of banks — no one wants to buy bonds that are backed by questionable mortgages, or bonds sold by heavily indebted companies. Everybody wants to buy really safe bonds, like short-term U.S. government bonds.

If you wanted a bank to be really, really liquid, you could say: Take all the money people deposit in your bank, and use it to buy short-term U.S. government bonds. That way, if things get crazy, you can always sell off the bonds and give people their money back.

But if banks did this, they wouldn't have any money left over to lend to ordinary people or small businesses or anything. It would be a disaster for the economy.

You want banks to hold enough liquid assets to weather a crisis, but not so much that it stifles lending to ordinary people and businesses. And so you end up in the rather unsatisfying universe where lots of bank regulation questions seem to end up, trying to work out the details and figure out which way to move on the spectrum of more restrictive or less restrictive.

The liquidity rules released yesterday are significantly less restrictive than what was previously proposed. They're part of a set of global banking rules called Basel III (here's a Planet Money story on the Basel rules).

The rules were initially supposed to kick in in 2015; instead, they will be phased in gradually and won't fully take effect until 2019. And rather than being restricted to government bonds and other supersafe assets, banks will now be allowed to count some riskier assets toward their liquidity requirements.

Banks had pushed for the liquidity rules to be looser than those described in the initial proposal. arguing that looser rules would allow them to make more loans, which would help the economy. That's likely to be true. Banks are, after all, still in the business of making loans; they make more money lending money to ordinary people than they do buying government bonds.

At the same time, there will surely come another day when people start to panic again about the health of the world's banks, and big institutions rush to pull their money out. The looser liquidity rules mean the banks will be in a much riskier position when that day comes — especially if it comes before 2019, when the new rules fully take effect.

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