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.

Pages

A Strong Voice For Brazil's Powerful Farmers

Jan 7, 2013
Originally published on January 7, 2013 7:56 am

In some ways, Katia Abreu is still an old-fashioned farmer, one who rides her chestnut mare, Billy Jean, to tour her farm in Tocantins state in north-central Brazil.

She glides the horse along a gravel road, which soon turns to dirt, and along fields of sorghum and corn. She has plans for more.

"Soon, we're going to produce fish and lamb," she says. "There will be soybeans and fields of tall grass for cattle. Lots of cattle."

Agriculture has boomed in Brazil, and the country now rivals the United States in food production — everything from beef to soybeans, chicken to corn. This has been a key part of Brazil's economic growth in recent years, though it also has environmentalists worried about farms cutting into forests.

The environmentalists are facing one tough farming advocate in Abreu, a senator, landowner and head of the country's most powerful Big Agro association.

This farm, one of three Abreu owns, has 12,000 acres — sizable even by Brazilian standards. And so is Abreu's influence. She's president of Brazil's National Agriculture Confederation, which represents 5 million farmers and ranchers. And she heads the influential Ruralist bloc of land-owning senators and representatives in Congress.

She has also built a relationship with one of the world's most powerful women.

"I work with Dilma," Abreu says, meaning Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. "She and I work to improve conditions and strengthen agribusiness in Brazil."

Environmental Concerns

That's worrisome to environmentalists, who acknowledge that in Abreu they face a determined and sophisticated voice.

Environmentalists say farmers and ranchers want to loosen restrictions on land use, and expand into the forests — including the world's biggest, the Amazon.

"It's clear that the intention of the Ruralist bloc in Katia Abreu's group is to expand the agricultural frontier to the detriment of forests by felling forest in an unprecedented way in the Amazon for the profits of large agricultural interests," says Christian Poirier, an activist with the group Amazon Watch.

Abreu recently led the Ruralists in a bruising battle in Congress, pushing hard for fewer restrictions on the use of land to vastly increase production. That led to passage of a land use law that environmentalists say softened restrictions on farmers and ranchers.

Silvio Costa, who heads the watchdog group Congress in Focus, says the land use law passed because of the overwhelming power Big Agro has in Congress, where 40 percent of all lawmakers are big landowners or their allies.

"Subjects related to agriculture, to land ownership are not discussed in Brazil or in the Brazilian Congress in a democratic way. Because there's a group with power to approve anything they want, they just approve," Costa says.

Abreu says she knows what people think about landowners. Her group commissioned surveys showing that Brazilians see landholders as truculent, dangerous, powerful and violent.

That's why her confederation recently hired Pele. Yes, Pele, the biggest soccer star Brazil's ever had, and still a national hero. He touts Brazilian agriculture in a new TV ad, and says Brazil is, like him, a champion.

A champion in food production — food needed to help feed a hungry world. That, in fact, is Abreu's message: That as big as Brazil's food production already is, it can — and should — be bigger.

Abreu says that productivity can improve on the same amount of land with more efficient land use and technologies like genetically modified crops. Environmentalists have doubts. But as she walks across her farm, Abreu stresses how ecologically minded she is.

She stops at a clump of trees and pulls at low-hanging cashew nuts. She says she loves to plant, and that every year she plants trees like these.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some people in Brazil are trying to stop the downside of Brazil's economic growth. The country has become a major player in agribusiness, exporting beef, soybeans, and corn. The trouble is that agriculture grows when farmers wipe out more of the Amazon forest.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

But environmentalists face a tough adversary: One of the most forceful champions of Brazil's agribusiness is a powerful politician who is both a farmer and the head of the country's most influential agricultural association. In fact, she's pushing for agribusiness to produce much more. NPR's Juan Forero sent us this profile.

JUAN FORERO, BYLINE: In some ways, Katia Abreu is still an old-fashioned farmer, one who rides her chestnut mare, Billy Jean, to tour her farm in Tocantins state in north-central Brazil. She glides the horse along a gravel road, which soon turns to dirt, and along fields of sorghum and corn. She has plans for more.

KATIA ABREU: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: Soon, we're going to produce fish, she says, and lamb. There will be soybeans and fields of tall grass for cattle, Abreu says, lots of cattle. This farm, one of three Abreu owns, has 12,000 acres - sizable even by Brazilian standards. And so is Katia Abreu's influence.

She's president of Brazil's National Agriculture Confederation, which represents five million farmers and ranchers. And she heads the influential Ruralist bloc of land-owning senators and representatives in Congress. She's also built a relationship with one of the world's most powerful women.

ABREU: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: I work with Dilma, Abreu says, meaning Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She and I work to improve conditions and strengthen agribusiness in Brazil. That's worrisome to environmentalists, who acknowledge that in Abreu, they face a determined and sophisticated voice for big agro.

Environmentalists say farmers and ranchers want to loosen restrictions on land use and expand into the forests - including the world's biggest, the Amazon. Christian Poirier is an activist with the group Amazon Watch.

CHRISTIAN POIRIER: It's clear that the intention of the Ruralist bloc in Katia Abreu's group is to expand the agricultural frontier to the detriment of forests by felling forests in an unprecedented way in the Amazon for the profits of large agricultural interests.

FORERO: Abreu recently led the Ruralists in a bruising battle in Congress, pushing hard for fewer restrictions on the use of land to vastly jack up production.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

FORERO: That led to passage of a land use law that environmentalists say softened restrictions on farmers and ranchers.

Silvio Costa heads the watchdog group Congress in Focus, and he says the land use law passed because of the overwhelming power big agro has in Congress, where 40 percent of all lawmakers are big landowners or their allies.

SILVIO COSTA: Subjects related to agriculture, to land ownership are not discussed in Brazil or in the Brazilian Congress in a democratic way. Because there's a group with power to approve anything they want, they just approve.

FORERO: Katia Abreu says she knows what people think about landowners. Her group commissioned surveys showing that Brazilians see landholders as truculent, dangerous, powerful and violent. That's why her confederation recently hired Pele, the biggest soccer star Brazil ever had, a national hero.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMMERCIAL)

PELE: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: He touts Brazilian agriculture in this new TV ad, and says Brazil is, like him, a champion, a champion in food production - food needed to help feed a hungry world. That, in fact, is Abreu's message, that as big as Brazil's food production already is, it can and should be bigger.

ABREU: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: She says that productivity can improve on the same amount of land with more efficient land use and technologies like genetically modified crops. Environmentalists have doubts. But as she walks across her farm, Abreu stresses how ecologically minded she is. She stops at a clump of trees and pulls at low-hanging cashew nuts.

ABREU: (Foreign language spoken)

FORERO: And she says that she loves to plant, and that every year, she plants trees like these. Juan Forero, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.