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.

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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 Finding Gun Control Voice, Which Had Gone Quiet In White House

Dec 18, 2012
Originally published on December 18, 2012 6:23 pm

If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.

For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.

But with the funerals of murdered Connecticut children and educators far from over, the president on Tuesday went further than at any point in his presidency to take up the gun control cause.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told journalists that Obama will "actively support" legislation that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., intends to introduce next year to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which ended in 2004.

Obama also will back legislation to close the so-called gun show loophole — which allows owners to sell weapons to strangers without any background check being done — and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, Carney said.

This represents not just a break from how Obama has dealt with the gun issue until now, but also a return to his political roots as a onetime unabashed supporter of gun control.

From his days as an Illinois state senator to his time as a U.S. senator through his first campaign for president, Obama spoke repeatedly for further legislative action to make Americans safer from gun violence.

In his 2008 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, he even questioned the wisdom of consumer-oriented assault weapons, which suggested that as president he would try to restrict those weapons.

But after he became president, and even as the numbers of mass killings by gunmen climbed, the president grew reticent on gun control. Even after the Tucson, Ariz., attacks by Jared Loughner that left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others seriously wounded in January 2011, Obama didn't utter the words "gun control" in his subsequent State of the Union speech.

"It's pretty clear, at least during his first term, that he made a conscious decision to focus on other issues," said Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland who has written extensively on gun control.

Obama certainly had plenty on his crowded and urgent agenda when he took office, Spitzer noted in an interview, with an economy that seemed in free fall, a crippled Wall Street and plans to take on health care.

"He clearly turned his attention to other priorities. The question now is, after just being re-elected by a comfortable margin, he has some momentum, he has a mandate, he does have a political opportunity right now to act on the gun issue, if he chooses to do it," said Spitzer.

Not only did a first-term Obama ignore the items on gun control advocates' wish lists, he also left those same advocates bewildered when he expanded gun rights by signing two bills into law — one that allowed the public to carry guns into national parks; another that let passengers carry guns in their luggage on Amtrak trains.

Obama even boasted that his administration had expanded gun rights in a March 2011 op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star in an effort to prove to his gun rights opponents that he wasn't really a threat to their weapons, as he had been characterized.

All of this helped earn the president an "F" for his first year in office from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Yet it did little to gain him supporters among the gun lobby. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive president, has claimed repeatedly that Obama threatens the Second Amendment.

Gun control advocates aware of Obama's positions over the course of his political career, and who had hoped he would lead on the issue once in the White House, were crestfallen, to say the least.

"I think people had higher hopes for him on this issue based upon some of his statements and positions," said Daniel Webster, professor and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. "Speaking for myself, I was disappointed. I thought he would try to move the ball forward on this issue."

Webster speculates that Obama fell prey not just to the competing demands of his agenda, but to the anxieties of Democratic policymakers that have existed since the 1990s that gun control is politically hazardous.

"He and presumably his advisers decided that the difficult political situation with gun control would only be a frustration and an impediment to other things he wanted to achieve, including, of course, his own re-election," Webster said. Obama's first-term political adviser, David Axelrod, didn't respond to an NPR interview request.

"The conventional wisdom among many in the [Democratic National Committee] unfortunately in recent years has been that gun control wins you few votes but loses you close elections. And I personally disagree with that, but I think that's been the conventional wisdom," Webster said.

Webster said Democrats misattribute their loss of House control in 1994 and the White House in 2000 to President Clinton signing into law the Brady bill, which required gun dealers to conduct background checks, and the assault weapons ban. He believes other reasons better explain those losses, like Hillary Clinton's 1993 health care proposal.

But now, with the nation's conscience stricken by the Newtown massacre and some gun-rights Democrats shifting their position on the regulation of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the conventional wisdom seems to have changed.

Still, the challenges before Obama and other Democrats who seek new legislation in the wake of Newtown loom large. As political handicapper Charlie Cook points out, many members of Congress, particularly Republicans, represent parts of the country where gun rights trump gun control.

For such reasons, Spitzer isn't optimistic.

"I think the most likely outcome is that nothing major will happen at the national level," he said. "However, it's possible something could happen at the national level. It's hard to guess what Obama will do. He's proven himself to be a very cautious political leader, despite what his [conservative] critics had said about him."

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