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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.

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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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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 Keeping A Low Profile On Possible Gun Control Legislation

Dec 18, 2012
Originally published on December 20, 2012 3:16 pm



Over the weekend, President Obama delivered a passionate plea to prevent gun violence, saying we haven't done enough as a country to keep our children safe. The president promised to use all the powers of his office to address the issue in the coming weeks. NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the president's next steps.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama spent Sunday afternoon meeting with families who lost loved ones in the Newtown massacre. But when he spoke that night, at a memorial service in the town's high school, his words were meant for the whole country.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?

HORSLEY: The politics may be shifting. A CBS News poll over the weekend found 57 percent of Americans think gun control laws should be strengthened, up from just 39 percent last spring. The killings in Newtown seemed to have changed public attitudes in a way earlier mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona, did not.


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Today is the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Today is the day.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Today is the day.

HORSLEY: Within hours of Friday's shooting, demonstrators gathered outside the White House demanding federal action. Preschool teacher Barbara Elsas was optimistic the Newtown killings would give Mr. Obama new resolve.

BARBARA ELSAS: And hopefully, the president of our country, who has children of his own, will do something about this and not be afraid of the NRA.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama's Sunday speech seemed to deliver on that expectation, as the president sounded determined to seize this opportunity. But political analyst Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College says the change the president called for will take more than one speech.

JACK PITNEY: This is something he needs to talk about, and talk about frequently in the months ahead, if he wants to pass new legislation on gun control. Right now, people are paying a lot of attention to it. Parents all across the country are feeling very emotional about this. But over time, issues change and feelings change.

HORSLEY: Democratic lawmakers are showing new willingness to take up the gun issue. The president spoke by telephone today with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a loyal NRA member who nevertheless says he's willing to consider new gun laws along with other measures. A White House spokesman says the president also supports California Senator Dianne Feinstein's push to renew the ban on assault weapons. But for now, Mr. Obama is keeping a low profile. Pitney says that may be deliberate.

PITNEY: On the one hand, he may feel pressure to speak out on the issue. On the other hand, the more he speaks out, the greater the risk is that members of the other party will get their backs up and not listen.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama did meet privately yesterday with Vice President Biden, the attorney general and the secretaries of health and education to ask for their ideas about combating gun violence. It's not the first time. Two years ago, after the Tucson shooting that killed six people and wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mr. Obama's Justice Department looked for what the president called common sense ways to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Chris Schroeder, who led that effort, says a wide variety of people were consulted, including police, safety advocates and gun shop owners.

CHRIS SCHROEDER: All the people that we talked to had very positive reactions to the idea of, well, let's make the background check system as effective as it can be.

HORSLEY: The administration has taken some steps to improve background checks. Others would require an act of Congress, such as addressing the 40 percent of gun sales that aren't subject to background checks.

Schroeder, who left the Justice Department last month and now teaches at Duke Law School, says his own recommendation would be to outlaw high-capacity magazines.

SCHROEDER: Those are the instruments that turn a long gun or even a pistol into a shooting machine that enable people to get off the high volume of rounds in a closed environment like the school at Newtown.

HORSLEY: Schroeder acknowledged with so many assault weapons and magazines already on the streets, it could take years to make a difference.

SCHROEDER: I think the goal ought to be to try to put a dent in the problem and not give up just because you can't solve it all.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama seems to agree. While no single law can stop gun violence, he said Sunday, that can't be an excuse for inaction. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.