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.


What Would Obama Do (If There's No Debt Ceiling Deal)?

Jan 12, 2013
Originally published on January 12, 2013 12:08 pm



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

You might've chuckled a bit this week, if you heard about the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, to perhaps address Washington, D.C.'s debt ceiling stalemate. But it will certainly be no laughing matter if the U.S. Congress refuses to raise the borrowing limit, and the U.S. government defaults on its debt. Global financial markets would likely plummet.

NPR's John Ydstie reports on some of the options the president has if he and Congress cannot reach an agreement.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: President Obama says he won't negotiate. He says the Congress must raise the debt ceiling to pay for spending it's already OK'd. But Republicans say they'll use the threat of default to get more spending cuts from the White House. Of course, the best outcome would be for the two parties to agree on the package of spending cuts they postponed for two months, to avoid the fiscal cliff. That could clear the way for hike in the debt ceiling.

But if faced with default, the president could consider a few options, says Donald Marron, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office; now at the Tax Policy Center. First, Marron says, delay some payments.

DONALD MARRON: You might pay Medicare doctors a week later than usual. You might pay government contractors two weeks later than usual.

YDSTIE: But former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder says that's not as easy as it sounds.

ALAN BLINDER: It's not even so clear the government's computer programs are capable of doing that right. They're sort of on autopilot, to spit out millions and millions of checks.

YDSTIE: Even if the computers cooperated, says Blinder, deciding how to cut one out of every $4 the government spends each day, would be difficult.

BLINDER: You know that they're going to keep the Social Security checks coming; they're going to pay the military; they're going to pay the interest on the debt. And pretty soon, you're down to a very small corner of the budget that's going to have to absorb all the cuts.

YDSTIE: Another option, says Blinder, is for the president to invoke the 14th Amendment, which essentially says the government must pay its debts. But a huge legal battle would likely ensue, and the White House has ruled that out.

Marron says that brings us to the platinum coin.

MARRON: In principle, the Treasury secretary could issue high-denomination platinum coins, and use them as a way to finance the government if the debt limit isn't increased.

YDSTIE: The law that allows this is really intended for use in minting collectible coins, and Marron says he fervently hopes the parties can reach a deal.

MARRON: But if we got to the state of the world where the Treasury secretary faces this decision of do we default on the debt, or do we invoke a loophole; I am very strongly in the camp that I would like to see him invoke a loophole, rather than default.

YDSTIE: The way it would work, says Marron, is that the Treasury would mint a coin - or coins - in, say, $25 billion denominations and deposit them at the Federal Reserve; then draw on the funds to pay the government's bills. He says a trillion-dollar coin makes no sense. If the administration didn't want to involve the Fed, it could mint smaller denominations - in the 50- to $100 million range - and sell them to big banks or institutions.

MARRON: It's not something you want to embrace; it's not the way we ought to run a normal business. It really does sound like a "Simpsons" episode, or an "Austin Powers" sequel.

YDSTIE: But so far, the Obama administration hasn't explicitly ruled it out.

John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.