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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.


Outsmart Crowds With Mobile Shopping Revolution

Nov 21, 2012
Originally published on November 22, 2012 12:03 pm



We want to switch gears now. Tomorrow is Black Friday, as you probably know. That's when many stores offer massive discounts to shoppers who are willing to wait in huge lines and sometimes get into brawls in those lines. It's such a boon for businesses, that many stores are turning it into Black Thursday. They're opening their doors tonight.

With smartphones and tablets, though, more and more shoppers are buying gifts online. They're comparing prices online, and then charging items straight to their credit cards on the fly using apps on their mobile device. Here to talk to us about that, one of money coaches, NPR's senior business editor Marilyn Geewax. We turn to her regularly for advice on economics and personal finance. Marilyn, welcome back to the program.

MARILYN GEEWAX, BYLINE: Hi. It's great to be here.

HEADLEE: So tell us how big this segment is of people who are choosing to shop online, as opposed to in the physical store.

GEEWAX: Think about it. This really got started in 1995. Now, to me, that's not all that long ago. Amazon started out with selling books online, and then they pretty quickly moved into CDs, software, games, jewelry. And then pretty soon, everybody capitulated, and traditional stores like Sears, Wal-Mart, they all switched to sears.com, walmart.com.

So, you know, it really grew dramatically. In fact, at first, most employers were trying to use blocking technologies to keep employees from shopping during work hours. Now only about a third do that, because they know perfectly well that even if your computer is blocked, you can pull out your smartphone and keep shopping, anyway.

HEADLEE: Well, since you mentioned smartphones, there is a distinct difference between online shopping, where you're just sitting at home, right, and shopping from your desktop. And then there's people who actually take their smartphones in with them to compare prices and find deals and even look at reviews before they buy a product, right?

GEEWAX: Exactly. You know, the image of an online shopper just a couple of years ago was a woman sitting at home in front of her home computer after the kids went to bed and trying to do some shopping then. Today, the image of a shopper is you're waiting to get your hair cut and you're shopping with your handheld device. It's really changed the way people interact with shopping because they've got this, in effect, little computer right there in their hand.

HEADLEE: Many physical retailers may not be happy about this concept of show-rooming, right? I mean, because as it turns out, people are going into stores, they find a product they like, they look online. They either see reviews that...

GEEWAX: Guilty.



HEADLEE: Or they find a better price online, right? So they decide to go home and purchase it from the online store instead of the physical store.

GEEWAX: You can understand how frustrating that has to be to a merchant. You know, you've got to pay all those bills to keep the lights on, keep the floors polished. You display things nicely on your store shelves in your showroom, and then people - I don't want to say me, but...

HEADLEE: But you just did. It's OK.

GEEWAX: ...some people might come in, take a look at what you see in the store and then, you know, step out to go get a cup of coffee and pull out your smartphone and do some comparison shopping and see if that's really the right choice for you. And it puts a lot of pressure on the merchants. They have to compete, so there's a lot of pricing pressure.

And you see that in the data. This year, the analysts are projecting that retail sales altogether will be up only about 4 percent, and that's not that much. This is looking like a somewhat disappointing year. It's not so much that people won't be shopping, but just that the sales won't be that high because they can't raise prices.

HEADLEE: If you're just joining us, you're listening to TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. We're gearing up for holiday shopping by looking at the ins and outs of shopping on a mobile device. We're talking with NPR's senior business editor, Marilyn Geewax.

You know, I found it interesting that a grocery store like Safeway, for example, has a mobile app called Just for You. And in that particular case, it's more than the loyalty card thing, right? If you sign up for this mobile app, you get even bigger coupons that nobody else gets. You have to have the mobile app to do that. So I wonder: Who are the winners and losers in that equation?

GEEWAX: Merchants understand how people are shopping. They see people walking around with those smartphones. They know that this has become part of peoples' lives, of having a cell phone in your hand. And they're right to think that. Nine out of 10 people have some sort of cell phone.

And, you know, at first you might think that this is something that discriminates against the poor, because you would think that...

HEADLEE: Because they may not have smartphones.

GEEWAX: ...they may not have a smartphone, but what the data is showing is that poor people are dropping their landlines. They don't have a hardwired phone at home. They don't have an expensive computer at home. But they do invest in having access to the Internet, because they know it's important for themselves, for the kids.

So even poorer families are moving towards smartphones because there are cheap models out there, and it's their all-in-one package. It's the family computer. It's the family phone. So we're seeing that poor people actually do kind of have access to those coupons. But where there's a bigger divide is age, because older people may have a cell phone in their purse, but they use it to make phone calls. So they're not as sophisticated with using...

HEADLEE: Make phone calls on your smartphone?

GEEWAX: Yeah, imagine that, taking a phone and using it to place phone calls. Younger people just know more instinctively, or they've just kind of grown up with it, and they know how to find those bargains on their smartphones in ways that older people don't.

HEADLEE: Are people more likely to overspend when they're shopping online than when they're in a physical store?

GEEWAX: It's pretty darn easy to shop online. On the one hand, that's very convenient. On the other hand, there's something to be said for that old fashioned way of going into the store, putting it on layaway. You don't take the thing home until you can really afford it and it's been paid off. One-click shopping with a handheld device at three in the morning is a good way to get yourself into trouble.

Now, you know, in the larger sense of what is this all doing to the economy, you know, this shift to online shopping is changing, in some ways, what happens at Christmas in terms of hiring. Retail stores, as I said, they have all this pressure to hold down prices, so they're tighter with their hiring. But the delivery companies...

HEADLEE: Yeah, FedEx needs lots of people.


GEEWAX: Right. They need a lot of people. UPS says that it plans to add 55,000 workers for the holiday season.


GEEWAX: It's an awful lot of people moving packages back and forth, you know, putting them onto the trucks, unloading them. And that's really an area of growth for the economy, but one last point I want to make about these deliveries: You know, that's someplace where there's a financial divide for people.

That is, richer people tend to live in safer neighborhoods. But for a lot of people, that last step in the online shopping process - that is, having a package sitting on your front porch all day - is really a problem. There are just many more concerns about somebody just picking up your box. So one of the things the delivery companies are trying to do is texting and emailing you, or alerting you in some way that a package will be delivered the next day, so that you can either reroute it or tell them wait, wait. Give me one more day. Or you can get a relative to help you receive that box. So that's one of the points that slows down online sales.

HEADLEE: That's interesting. That was NPR's senior business editor, Marilyn Geewax. She joined us from our Washington studio. Happy shopping, Marilyn.


HEADLEE: Thanks so much.

GEEWAX: Oh, you're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.