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.

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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.

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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.


What Killed Him? A 'Verbal Autopsy' Can Answer

Dec 12, 2012
Originally published on December 13, 2012 4:19 pm

One of the few times we hear about autopsies these days is when a celebrity dies. But post-mortem investigations do more than satisfy our curiosity about Whitney Houston or Notorious B.I.G.

Autopsies tell communities why people are dying.

Take for example West Nile Virus. When eight New Yorkers died of brain infections in 1999, most everyone assumed they had a common virus. But New York City's medical examiners insisted on autopsies. And, what do you know, they discovered the first U.S. cases of West Nile Virus.

In many places around the world, though, there aren't enough doctors available to perform routine autopsies. So it's tough to figure out what's hurting people and where money should be spent to improve health.

That's where something called a "verbal autopsy" might help, says Swedish epidemiologist Peter Byass.

Byass and his team at Umea University have been working on the technique for about a decade. Their latest version combines a simple interview with high-tech algorithms to deduce a cause of death.

Most people who live in rural areas of the world die in their homes and haven't seen a doctor, Byass says. So after a death, a community nurse or field worker goes to the family's home and asks some questions: What happened before the death? Was the person bitten by insects or snakes? Did she have a rash? Swollen feet?

The answers are fed into a computer model, which then churns out a list of what likely killed the person.

"It's not that different from what a physician does in his head when he's filling out a death certificate," Byass says. "It's the mathematical equivalent of that process."

For some diseases, like the measles and malnutrition, the algorithms are almost as good as a trained doctor at pinpointing the cause of death.

Byass and his team recently tested how good their technique is at picking out deaths from AIDS. Although the results aren't finalized yet, he says, it looks like the algorithm can accurately say if a person dies of AIDS about 90 percent of the time. "AIDS deaths are complicated," Byass says. "This isn't easy."

And for other diseases with similar symptoms, like malaria and pneumonia, verbal autopsies have led to blunders. These mistakes have made some clinicians skeptical about the technique.

"Verbal autopsies give you a broad picture of what's happening in a community," Sir Brian Greenwood, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, tells Shots. "When you get specific details then people are probably overusing the tool."

Even a trained doctor's conclusions about death often don't match up with that of a real physical autopsy, Greenwood says. "Unless you do a very careful post-mortem examination — chop them up and do pathology — it's really hard to tell cause of death."

Still though, some information is better than none, Byass says. "In the U.S. and Europe, we take for granted why people die, but 50 percent of deaths around the world aren't recorded."

Knowing how someone dies is indispensible information for a community when it's deciding how to allocate precious healthcare resources, Byass says. "What diseases should you target for vaccines? Where should you be spending money? Without the data, you're guessing really."

So far the use of verbal autopsies has been limited to small research projects. But the World Health Organization is now pushing to make it more routine in places where deaths aren't recorded. Byass says his group is even getting ready to release a smartphone app that deduces cause of death.

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