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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.


In Syria, An Act Of Reconciliation Stirs Fierce Debate

Nov 20, 2012
Originally published on November 20, 2012 1:41 pm

After 20 months of violence in Syria, acts of reconciliation are scarce.

When one took place earlier this month in the town of Tel Kalakh, near the border with Lebanon, it touched off a fierce debate.

The man at the center is Ahmad Munir Muhammed, the governor of Homs, who has long been known as a loyalist of embattled President Bashar Assad.

However, Muhammed made an official visit to Tel Kalakh, where the majority of neighborhoods are controlled by the rebels.

With the rebels guaranteeing his safety, the governor drove into Tel Kalakh in early November to see a city where revolutionary flags flutter from most mosques. He was reportedly shocked by the devastation from army bombardments and paramilitary attacks on this border town.

His visit was approved by the rebel commander of Tel Kalakh, Abdul Rathman Wallo. The men were even photographed together.

Tangible benefits followed. The Syrian Red Crescent delivered humanitarian aid to the besieged civilians. More than a dozen Syrian soldiers who had defected, men wanted by the Syrian regime and some of them seriously wounded, were allowed to slip across the border to Lebanon for medical treatment.

Media Reports Ignite A Debate

Syrian state TV covered the event and reported the governor's promise to resume "all public services to guarantee the return of the families affected by terrorism." State television also declared this reconciliation a victory over "terrorists" who tried "to sabotage and make [Tel Kalakh] a lifeless city."

The Syrian regime refers to all armed groups as "terrorists." But no amount of propaganda could erase the image of the governor holding cordial talks with the "terrorists."

The details of the event were also recounted in As-Safir, a Lebanese newspaper, which described the events as a "surprising scene." The governor was quoted as saying he was "putting an end to Syrian bloodshed" and would take similar steps in all the towns under his authority.

So how was the visit viewed elsewhere in the country? The competing narratives began as soon as the visit became public.

The governor "shook hands with murderers," screamed the pro-government media, accusing him of nothing less than embracing al-Qaida in Syria. He "surrendered" Tel Kalakh, according to those who consider any recognition of the Sunni rebels an existential danger to Assad's rule and to the surrounding Alawite villages. The reaction shows the difficulty of any negotiated settlement to end the crisis.

But this unusual meeting also appears to be recognition of reality.

"Life must go on. They are pressed by the reality on the ground," says a former Syrian government official who spoke on condition on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the meeting.

The rebels of Tel Kalakh took up arms after peaceful protesters were targeted by the security police and the army, the former official said.

In May 2011, at least 40 civilians were killed when police opened fire and soldiers blasted the town with tank-mounted machine guns. Hundreds more were arrested.

Within days, almost half the Sunni Muslim population had fled over the river frontier into Lebanon. The Syrian regime stepped up the retribution with relentless bombardments, but the village did not change its mind. It continued to support the rebels.

The rebels maintain a strong presence in Tel Kalakh, though the damage is massive.

"It is also a sign that the rebels can't achieve their aims by military means," said the former government official.

The Syrian army retains control of every major city in the country. The rebels have taken rural areas in the north along the Turkish border, some pockets in the east near the Iraqi frontier, as well as the villages in the Golan Heights close to Israel. But the Syrian air force can bomb at will.

Tel Kalakh, along the Lebanese frontier, was one of the first Sunni populations to challenge the Assad government. The families, now refugees living in wretched conditions in Lebanon, are facing a second hard winter. The rebels are under increasing pressure from relatives who want to come home, explained the former government official.

Across Syria, the war grinds on. The refugee population grows ever larger. Any sign of concession, however small, is met with overwhelming resistance from loyalists who have become increasingly rigid in supporting the regime.

Some rebel commanders also condemned the reconciliation in Tel Kalakh. Rebels won concessions by welcoming the governor and eased some suffering in Tel Kalakh — but the shooting resumed within days.

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