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.


Obama And Boehner Call It Negotiation; The Rest Of Us Are Permitted To Laugh

Dec 4, 2012
Originally published on December 8, 2012 1:29 pm

If you're tempted to throw back your head and guffaw when you hear the word "negotiation" linked with "Congress" and "fiscal cliff," please, don't hesitate.

Because what you're seeing play out publicly between congressional Republicans and Democrats and the White House bears little resemblance to negotiation.

"The game that's being played is the same game that's been played over the past few years — brinksmanship, and hard positional bargaining," says William Ury, who knows negotiation when he sees it.

A co-founder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation, Ury has advised and mediated conflicts ranging from those in the Middle East to the former Soviet Union. He's also written best-selling books on productive negotiations.

It's a not-so-productive scenario when, as has been happening on Capitol Hill, positions are staked out publicly, attacks commence, and the conversation is about who wins and who loses, he says.

Negotiation expert Bruce Patton agrees.

"These negotiations are looking like classic 'positional bargaining' brinksmanship," says Patton, also a co-founder of the Harvard negotiation program. And that, he says, tends to promote very little creativity in reaching resolution, and the expectation of "late-night, last-minute compromises."

Sound familiar?

As the White House and a divided Congress stumble toward another fiscal deadline — this one occurs Dec. 31, when more than $6 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts kick in if there's no budget deal — we turned our tired eyes to Ury, Patton, and other noted negotiators for some perspective.

The Third Side? It's All Of Us

"Much of this process is theater," says Jim Thomas, author of Negotiate to Win: the 21 Rules for Successful Negotiating. "I think that now, everyone needs to shut up and get to work."

There's no question that a deal could be reached with a commitment to real negotiation, the pros say, especially now that President Obama and Republican leaders have issued their opening offers — no matter how distasteful to the other side.

GOP House Speaker John Boehner characterized as coming from "la-la land" the president's proposal, which would roll back Bush-era tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000.

The White House says the Republican proposal "does not meet the test of balance" between new revenue (taxes) and spending cuts.

Doesn't sound promising, but it's a start.

And getting to a deal even given the circumstances, Ury says, could be straightforward — but deceptively so.

As he noted in a 2010 TED talk about negotiating to end conflict: "It's not easy. But it's simple."

He argues that perhaps the most important element in reaching resolution between two sides in difficult matters — in Congress, in international strife, at home — is the consideration of the "third side," or those most affected by the outcome.

"The third side here clearly is the American people," Ury says. "They have the most to lose." Their stories matter, he says, in framing the negotiations because they, metaphorically, send the parties in dispute "to the balcony" for perspective.

Maybe Obama has listened to Ury in the past, because his recent campaign-style trip to Pennsylvania, as well as his appearance Monday to answer questions on Twitter and the White House push to have people share their economic stories on social media sites, has the markings of an attempt to engage that "third side."

New polls suggest the outreach may be working: Most Americans surveyed said they would be more apt to blame Republicans than they would the president for a budget impasse.

"What I think people long for is a more creative discussion," Patton says.

He and Ury agree that at this point, it appears that if there's no budget deal before the end of the year, Obama will very likely fare better in the public's eye in the short run than congressional Republicans.

"Once the Bush tax cuts expire, he'll be proposing tax cuts for the middle class, and more spending on defense," in the new year, Patton says. "That will be hard for the Republicans to vote against."

A Nation Of Bad Negotiators?

Thomas, the Negotiate to Win author who helps negotiate for clients around the world, says that Americans are just flat-out poor negotiators, more prone to John Wayne posturing and ad hominem attacks than diplomacy.

"We just don't come to the party skilled," Thomas says. He argues that Obama's opening gambit was "classic negotiating principles poorly applied."

He explains it like this: When a new proposal is worse in the eyes of the other side than the last best offer, as Obama's was to Republicans, that's "escalation."

"The only thing worse," he says, "is a personal attack."

However, since Obama's last best offer, things have decidedly changed.

During the last budget negotiations, Democrats were coming off what Obama himself characterized as a "shellacking" in the 2010 midterm elections.

Obama has now won re-election, and Democrats increased their majority in the Senate and added to their minority numbers in the House. The White House, not without reason, views this as a whole new negotiation, with past offers — including the last best one that Boehner rejected in the summer of 2011 — as inoperable.

Obama's new proposal is one that's much more difficult for Republicans to swallow; Boehner's new proposal is basically the one he wouldn't take last time.

Thomas advocates having the negotiations go dark publicly, and the two sides work around the clock to hash out a deal. It's the "less mature" politicians, he says, who will continue to participate in the grandstanding.

Truly successful negotiations involve putting aside ego, and listening to what is driving the demands of the other side, Ury says.

Take Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist whose no-tax-pledge pressure on Republicans has shaped the GOP's negotiating stance.

"If you were to listen to Grover Norquist, as I have, what's driving him, what he's really interested in is his belief in the erosion of liberty in this country, and that large government gets addicted to taxes," Ury says.

There are creative ways, he argues, to respect Norquist's beliefs, and those of like-minded people, in a way not antithetical to people on the other side who want to create, for example, a safety net to protect the country's most vulnerable.

"When you start thinking of ways to do that, it becomes a different question," Ury says. "We have to craft a deal in which neither side loses, and the American people win."

It's All About The BATNA

But he acknowledges that it's become a game of who blinks first.

That suggests that the movement on Capitol Hill is toward what those in the negotiation world refer to as the "best alternative to a negotiated agreement," or BATNA. In laymen's terms, BATNA is the best course of action that would satisfy one's interest if an actual agreement can't be reached.

Obama's BATNA, Ury suggests, may be to go over the fiscal cliff, which would allow Bush-era tax cuts across the board to expire. Then, in the new year, he could introduce legislation that would roll back the taxes on the middle class.

The Republicans' BATNA? The president gets blamed if there's no deal to avoid the automatic cuts and tax rollbacks that come with going over the fiscal cliff.

"If I look at the BATNA right now, the president's is slightly stronger in the short term because of the automatic expiration of the tax increases," Ury says.

But, he adds: "From a negotiation analyst's view, you can see a zone of agreement that lies between each one's BATNA."

The BATNA way is not the optimal way.

"To me," Ury says, "the advantages of negotiation, and negotiating now, far outweigh the BATNA." Any victory, he argues, would be pyrrhic given the countless issues, including more debt ceiling debates, that the president and Congress will face.

But right now, anyway, it appears that all of us on the third side will be getting a big bag of BATNA for the holidays.

Unless, as Thomas suggests, the jet fumes of planes waiting to take members of Congress home for the holidays inject the process with urgency.

"Just remember — if the tax cuts expire, they can be reinstated. If we go off the cliff, it's economic tough love," he says.

In other words, deadlock in these "negotiations" when everyone's hair is on fire, he says, "might be a good thing."

Even if it's a failure of true negotiations.

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