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.


Under Construction: The World's Largest Thermal Solar Plant

Jan 9, 2013
Originally published on January 10, 2013 4:48 pm

According to photographer Jamey Stillings, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will be the "world's largest concentrated solar thermal power plant" when complete at the end of this year. That's if we want to get all technical.

In plain terms: There's a huge solar plant under construction in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and Stillings has been documenting the process since the very beginning. Did you know this was happening? I didn't.

"What I found along the way is that this is a very complicated issue," he says over the phone, as I ask him to explain in simple terms what he's seen out there.

The core complication is this: Solar power is meant to be a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to our major sources of energy. And yet the construction of a plant of this magnitude means forever altering the natural environment.

"Every single large-scale solar project has encountered this intersection of trying to accommodate the environmental concerns of conservation," says Stillings, "along with the need of an industry that wants to build renewable energy projects. How do you find that middle ground?"

According to his website, Ivanpah Solar will consist of more than 300,000 mirrors directing the sun's energy toward three towers, "creating 392 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 140,000 U.S. homes." (Though of course, the exact math can change over the course of construction.)

Some opponents might argue that plants like Ivanpah could be constructed, for example, on land previously stressed by agriculture. Or that it's sprawling over the home of the desert tortoise, a threatened species, and "marring" a relatively untouched landscape.

On the other hand, Stillings, says, "The Ivanpah Solar project has committed $56 million toward protection and relocation of the desert tortoise" as part of its project.

Bottom line, he says, it's clearly a nuanced and complicated issue.

"I want the images to raise questions," he says. "I want people to be inspired by something that is ... beautiful and fascinating — the geometry of a man-made structure existing within the organic structure of nature. ... But I also want people to ask themselves the same questions as if we were siting a new subdivision or a new Walmart or a new coal-fire plant."

For most of us, the rule of thumb when it comes to our own energy consumption is: out of sight, out of mind.

"We have lived in a world where our energy sources are invisible. We go to the gas station and liquid comes out and we drive away. We flip a switch and the light comes on," Stillings says.

But he thinks that might be changing — at least if there are more solar plants like Ivanpah in the works.

"We are going to be moving toward a place where we see where our energy comes from: from that field over there. And that's a change that I think we need to accept as a part of moving toward a more sustainable model," he says.

He thinks these photos might help get us there — to that point of energy-awareness. But also, he says, "I just love looking at this. Looking at the intersection of the hand of man and nature — and what comes of that. And looking at it from the air gives us a perspective that most people don't get: It puts it into the landscape."

His more encompassing, long-term photo essay, Changing Perspectives, documents "ongoing utility-scale projects in the West with a long-term goal of making it a global study." Above all, Stillings hopes to spark conversation. Join ours in the comments.

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