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.

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Peak Farmland? Some Researchers Say It's Here

Dec 19, 2012
Originally published on December 19, 2012 4:34 pm

If you're looking for a dash of optimism about the future — and who isn't, these days? — you can find it in a rosy new prediction about the planet's ability to produce food for the next half-century.

It comes to us from a trio of researchers at Rockefeller University. Their bottom line: We have more than enough land to grow all the food that the world's increasing population will desire. In fact, farmers' ability to grow more food on less land will even outrun demand for that food, and farmers will abandon land once used to grow crops.

As the researchers put it, "we are confident that we stand on the peak of cropland use, gazing at a wide expanse of land that will be spared for Nature." Globally, they predict that farmers will release an area bigger than Egypt, or the equivalent of ten Iowas.

Now, before you go and cross off "food supply" from your list of things to worry about, I must tell you that some other crystal balls show a darker vision of the future. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, for instance, thinks that feeding humanity in 2050 will require farmers to grow crops on an additional quarter of a million square miles, or five Iowas. There are even scenarios that show agriculture gobbling up natural ecosystems equal in size to the entire U.S.

What produces such wildly different visions of the future? Basically, it comes down to a few key assumptions about supply and demand for food.

The Rockefeller group, for instance, says that demand for meat, and in particular, beef, is not increasing as quickly as some have predicted. Chinese are eating more meat as they get richer, but they are not duplicating the meat-heavy diets of many other countries.

The single most important assumption, however, concerns farmers' ability to increase the amount of food they can grow from each acre of land. The Rockefeller University group assumes that farmers will continue to increase their crop yields at roughly the same pace as they have since 1961 — some 1.7 percent per year. Others, like the FAO and the International Food Policy Research Institute, don't believe that's likely. Yield increases have been much lower — about 1.2 percent per year — over the past 20 years. And that's before one even considers the impact of the climate change, which could be devastating for some regions.

Jesse Ausubel, who led the Rockefeller group, says that it's "arrogant" and "peculiar" to assume that the world's farmers cannot increase their productivity rapidly, if needed. Large gains in crop yields haven't been needed over the past two decades, he says, because food has been relatively abundant.

In fact, Ausubel says, the expansion of crop lands strictly for food production ended twenty years ago; additional land was taken, however, to satisfy the demand for biofuels. But Ausubel expects that expansion to end, too.

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