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.

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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.


Quinoa Craze Inspires North America To Start Growing Its Own

Nov 29, 2012

The explosion in world popularity of quinoa in the past six years has quadrupled prices at retail outlets. But for all the demand from upscale grocery stores in America to keep their bulk bins filled with the ancient grain-like seed, almost no farmers outside of the arid mountains and coastal valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile grow it.

But plant breeders and scientists who study the biology and economics of quinoa say that is about to change.

"We're going to see quinoa being grown all over the place soon," predicts Kevin Murphy, a Washington State University grain breeder who has spent several years developing quinoa varieties suited to America's diverse geography and climates. Murphy says it's already clear that quinoa can flourish and produce high yields in many parts of North America, and he sees "no reason why quinoa production won't take off in the next few years."

Small-scale farmers in the Northwest are currently testing the crop, harvesting a few pounds of quinoa each fall among their rows of vegetables and fruits and selling the seeds at farmers markets, but quinoa farming in the United States has not yet taken off in a big way for multiple reasons.

First, Murphy says, the quinoa craze is such a new phenomenon that farmers have hardly had a chance to react. As recently as six years ago, American shoppers could buy quinoa for the rice-like price of $1.50 per pound. Now, retailers get between $4.50 and $8 for every pound they sell of this nutrient-dense superfood.

So clearly, growing quinoa — which is actually the seed of the goosefoot plant (Chenopodium quinoa) — could be lucrative for American farmers, though only in cooler regions. Quinoa is very heat sensitive, and experienced gardeners say temperatures of 95 degrees will completely destroy a crop. Another challenge to producing quinoa is rain. If it falls during the autumn harvest time, it can ruin the crunchy, high-protein seeds by causing them to sprout.

And then there's the problem of removing the saponin, the naturally-occurring bitter layer of compounds that deter pests, but makes uncleaned seeds all but inedible to people. Special cleaning systems would have to be set up to do this, as growers in South America have learned.

To date just one sizable operation, White Mountain Farm in the Colorado Rockies, has made a big investment in the seed. "When we first started [in 1987] there was no demand for quinoa," recalls owner Ernie New, who planted 120 acres of quinoa this May and harvested 70 after a summer of destructive weather. "Nobody knew how to grow it, to clean it, to prepare it, to eat it. There was no information at all about it." Today, New says, he receives far more orders than he can meet, many from restaurants and retailers hoping to market "locally grown" quinoa.

But for now, virtually every quinoa seed eaten in the United States is imported from South America. There, almost 80,000 tons of quinoa were harvested in 2010.

And it's not without challenges. In Bolivia, second in production to Peru, great prosperity has come to many farmers. But communities in the Bolivian Andes that formerly lived on quinoa have become unable to afford it and are now relying more on nutritionally inferior processed foods.

And property disputes are reportedly on the rise as South American entrepreneurs — often landless arrivals from the cities — compete with one another for growing space in the limited arable land of the Andes as they try to cash in on the quinoa craze. Bolivian llama herders are also abandoning their flocks, once the region's natural fertilizer source, and, instead, planting quinoa. This seems already to be causing declining soil productivity.

Most South American quinoa farms are at high elevation — some more than two miles above sea level—but quinoa is a highly adaptable and versatile species, according to Oregon nurseryman Frank Morton, owner of Wild Garden Seeds near Portland.

Morton has been growing and breeding quinoa since 1984. Heat and moisture remain frequent killers of most varieties, but through selective seed saving, Morton has transformed several original types of quinoa into at least five new ones that he says can thrive in North American climates "and produce great yields on terribly poor soil." He has seen quinoa plants freeze solid overnight and continue growing after thawing — making it a potential crop for mountainous regions where other fruits, grains and vegetables cannot be grown. He also has seen it grow at sea level.

Morton believes that the Rocky Mountains, much of Canada, and the Pacific Northwest all have potential as quinoa producing regions, and he says he's certain that a North American quinoa industry will soon boom.

"There is tremendous potential for quinoa," he says. "The key is simply figuring out where it will grow."

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