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.


Sowing The Seeds For A Great American Chestnut Comeback

Dec 14, 2012
Originally published on December 17, 2012 10:02 pm

Though we hear about them every holiday season in that famous song, chestnuts – whether roasting on an open fire or otherwise – have been noticeably absent from many American tables for decades, thanks to a deadly fungus that decimated the species near half a century ago. But a small army of determined growers have been on a seemingly quixotic quest to put chestnuts back on the American table, and they're just starting to see results.

"There's a steady and consistent growth, in the number of growers, the number of acres, and the number of people who are buying chestnuts," says Michael Gold, a forestry professor at the University of Missouri's Center for Agroforestry. That's a little bit to do with America's bustling foodie culture. Growers are branding the chestnut as a health food, and are more poised to handle the ecological pitfalls of the past.

First, here's a little history on why the giant American chestnut – once a steady nut producer for humans and animals alike – virtually disappeared. In 1904, scientists noticed odd rusty cankers on northeastern chestnuts. The culprit: a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica or "chestnut blight". They tried to stop the blight with fungicides, breeding American trees with naturally resistant Asian varieties, and even nuclear radiation, with no luck. So, by 1940 – it had left approximately 3.5 billion dead or dying chestnuts in its wake. (The American Chestnut Foundation is still hard at work at developing a resistant Asian/American hybrid).

Now, of course one can still find chestnut vendors selling funnels of roasted nuts in cities like New York. But they are largely imported. "You can still find them in Europe and Asia because they never left those places," says Dennis Fulbright, a plant pathologist at Michigan State University who advises a Michigan grower cooperative called Chestnut Growers, Inc. Chinese chestnuts strongly resist the blight, while European chestnuts have enough resistance to survive a blight infection. They still have to worry about blight in European trees, but a virus that essentially gives the fungus a cold has allowed growers to treat individual trees successfully.

Fulbright attributes some of the nut's resurgent popularity to the simple fact that it's healthy. "It's low in fat; it's gluten free," says Fulbright. "People discovered that it's probably one of the best foods on the planet – from the Roman legion to resistance fighters in Europe during WWII."

U. S. chestnut imports have held steady around 4,000 metric tons, with creeping increases in the last ten years. If you're on the west coast, it's likely the chestnuts you're buying are a Chinese or Japanese species from China or South Korea, and if you're on the east coast, you're likely purchasing European chestnuts from Italy or Turkey.

But, you don't have to live a coastal urban metropolis to enjoy chestnuts. Thanks to increasing numbers of U.S. growers cultivating hybrid and foreign varieties, roasted chestnuts are reappearing at holiday festivals and in local supermarkets in the middle of the country, too. "They're now in small town America," says Fulbright. Michigan leads with around 200 growers, followed by Oregon and California.

Michigan growers plant a cold climate friendly European/Japanese hybrid called 'Colossal', while other states like Missouri grow Chinese chestnuts. European and hard-to-find American chestnuts are slightly sweeter than Chinese varieties, but Fulbright says, "most species of chestnut taste about the same by the time you could use them in a culinary dish." (Here's a how-to guide on cooking chestnuts.)

Many growers hand harvest to serve a niche, regional market, but they hope to modernize with grabbing tools called nut wizards and vacuum and all-in-one self-propelling harvesting systems. On the processing side, anti-microbial treatments help improve chestnut's short shelf life. "It's like an apple, if you leave them on a table they'll go crummy," says Dan Guyer, an engineer at MSU who's experimenting with X-ray chestnut sorting technology.

And then there are new marketing strategies. Chestnut flour is aimed at the gluten free crowd, but there's also chestnut honey and beer. MSU helped develop peeled-frozen chestnut packs, hoping to appeal to the shopper on the go.

In Missouri, Gold likens it to selling a novel exotic fruit in U.S. markets for the first time: "We see our role as the catalyst in developing what we call the 'new' chestnut, as a new crop for American palates."

But, U.S.-grown chestnuts now face another set of threats – some that have been around, like root rot fungus, and some new imports, like the Asian gall wasp. Fulbright says that growers are already taking defensive steps. "I'm optimistic," he says. Hopefully, this time around chestnuts will be here to stay.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.