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 'War On Christmas' Takes A Fiscal-Cliff Twist

Nov 26, 2012
Originally published on December 4, 2012 7:19 pm

In past years, conservatives have used the phrase "war on Christmas" to liberally accuse liberals of trying to ruin the holiday through political correctness and anti-religiousness.

This year, it's the Obama White House warning that Republicans are a threat to Christmas or, more precisely, the part of the economy that relies on the holiday shopping season — retail sales.

Against the backdrop of negotiations between White House and congressional aides aimed at avoiding the dreaded fiscal cliff, President Obama's economic team warned Congress on Monday that failure to reach a deal could significantly hurt not just future economic growth but Christmas itself.

If Dr. Seuss had been an economist, he would've been hard-pressed to conjure up a more sobering picture of what might happen without an agreement than did Obama's economic advisers. Do not be the Grinch who steals Christmas, the report by Obama's economists warned congressional Republicans.

From a section of the report under the headline: "The Holiday Season is No Time to Threaten Middle-Class Pocketbooks":

"Consumer confidence over the next several weeks is particularly important: the National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion. Last year, Americans spent around $50 billion on Black Friday weekend alone.

"If Congress does not act on the President's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, it will be risking one of the key contributors to growth and jobs in our economy at the most important time of the year for retail stores."

The report cited considerable economic data meant to buttress the White House argument about economic harm that would be caused by federal income tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect next year if a deal isn't reached.

With consumers representing about 70 percent of economic activity, a Washington fiscal standoff that spooked them into parting with less of their money could do real economic harm, the report said.

If the tax hikes and spending cuts are allowed to take effect next year, consumer spending could fall by about $200 billion, or 1.7 percentage points, in 2013. That, in turn, could reduce the nation's gross domestic product by 1.4 points, the report said.

More from the report:

"This reduction of $200 billion is approximately four times larger than the total amount that 226 million shoppers spent on Black Friday weekend last year, or roughly the amount American families spent on all the new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. in the last year."

One disagreement going into the negotiations is whether marginal tax rates on the wealthiest would be allowed to rise, perhaps to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. Obama campaigned on higher taxes for couples making more than $250,000. Congressional Republicans oppose higher rates on the wealthiest.

Some conservatives saw the report as a transparent attempt to use the holidays' emotional power to pressure Republican lawmakers into making a deal.

A headline in the conservative Daily Caller pointed to by conservatives on Twitter captured that perspective: "Disagreeing with Obama can ruin Christmas, says White House report."

If anyone was threatening the economy during the holidays and beyond with a possible recession, conservatives said, it was those liberals who have taken the stance that allowing the fiscal cliff to occur would be good. Taxes would go up on everyone, including taxpayers with the highest incomes. That would raise needed revenue and also increase the pressure on Republicans to renew middle-class tax cuts without extending further cuts to the wealthiest.

Of those who have argued that the failure to reach agreement wouldn't be so bad, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday during a Senate floor speech:

"It's time for the president to present a plan that rises above these reckless and radical voices on the hard left, that goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail, and that has a realistic chance of passing the Congress. The time for campaigning is over. It's time for the president to lead."

Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation, whose political action committee in 2012 made 75 percent of its political contributions to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets.org, issued a response to the White House report.

While the NRF said it found it "encouraging" that the administration understood the pain retailers and consumers would face if across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts happen, its call to "reform the tax code, fundamentally and structurally address federal spending and reduce the nation's deficit" echoed the stance of congressional Republicans.

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