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.

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Which Is There More Of: Kindness Or Unkindness? A Christmas Accounting

Dec 24, 2012
Originally published on December 27, 2012 11:57 am

Here's a notion. It comes from Kevin Kelly, author, editor and friend. He was imagining this:

Suppose, he said, that you could count every kindness, every good deed, every smile, every caress, every act of charity, love, tenderness, every generous moment that occurred on the planet this year, and add them all up so you'd have a Total Incidence of Goodness for 2012, a grand sum.

And then, suppose you did the opposite: suppose you counted every frown, every growl, every selfish, jealous moment, every kick, punch, poke, slap, jab, every deceitful, hurtful act, every murder, every wrong, every unkindness, and add them up, so you'd have Total Incidence of Badness — that's two columns, Good Acts, and Bad, a kind of moral accounting, double-entry style, for humankind.

Which, Kevin asked, would be greater? The good or the bad?

It was his guess — and that's what it is, a blind guess, that in more years than not (and there will be many exceptions,) — the piles will look almost equal, but that Good will edge out Bad by a single act or two, an almost invisible advantage.

But then, Kevin says, let the years roll by, then the decades, the centuries, the millennia, and over enough time, this slight propensity for Goodness will compound and compound into an emergent arc, shaping humanity, so that humans in the future will be kinder than humans in the past.

People, he thinks, are moving in tiny steps, from the dark toward the light.

History Has A Direction...

And Kevin's not alone. This idea, that there's a kind of direction to human history, maybe even built into our biology, has been around certainly since the Enlightenment in Europe. That's why, said John Locke, we have been given reason. We have to use our smarts, our moral sense, to choose well, to "pursue happiness."

And, at least recently, in material ways, we have improved. In 1800, half the people on earth died by age 30. Two hundred years later, though there are now six times more people, life expectancy has more than doubled, to over 65. We are increasingly better fed, better educated, and — this is key — more and more of us — especially women and millions of Chinese and Indians — have more options, more opportunities to do more of the things we want to do, including, perhaps, more room to be kind.

What Drives Change In The World?

The question is, what is driving these changes? Kevin suggests that if we wait long enough, progress just happens. If that's so, one might look for the cause in a Designer; that progress is a Christmas gift whispered into our natures, guiding us inevitably to a better world.

Or...

Is progress our assignment? Our challenge? A test we might fail?

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously addressed this question in a speech he gave on the steps of the state capital in Montgomery, Ala.

A couple of weeks earlier, more than 500 civil rights marchers had walked east out of Selma, Ala., heading on U.S. Route 80 toward the state capital, when they were stopped by troopers at the Edmund Pettus bridge, set upon with billy clubs and tear gas, and beaten. 17 people went to the hospital.

Two days later, Dr. King joined that march and this time segregationists attacked three ministers who were walking with him. One of them, the Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, was refused treatment at Selma's public hospital. An ambulance took him two hours to Birmingham, but it was too late. He died two days later.

King returned to the highway, and kept marching to Montgomery, until, on March 25, 1965, finally on the Capitol steps, he stood before a now swollen crowed of supporters and spoke to them about change, about progress, about a better world.

The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long...

People will improve, he told them. He couldn't say when, but one day, he said, people will be kinder to each other, fairer, "because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

History, Dr. King presumed, has a direction, Kevin thinks the same thing. But if history is bending, who does the bending? Does the world perfect us? Or do we have to roll up our sleeves and perfect the world?

King didn't say, not directly, but 40 years later, then Illinois senator Barack Obama, talking about Dr. King, assumed that history does bend, "It bends towards justice," he said, "but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice..."

Are We Ever-So-Slightly Angels?

Do I think humans are getting gentler? Fairer? Having been one (a human, that is) for only 60 or so years, having missed any number of religious wars, pogroms, sacks, annihilations, cruelties, I'm not in a position to say. What I know is too little. But in my short time, I have also known kindness. I have loved others, been loved, and felt the power of it, the mystery of it. I know there is a fierce goodness in the world. It is there, stubborn, insistent, tenacious. The question is, why?

Maybe, as Kevin suggests, we have been seeded with a little angel dust; love and altruism have been given a teeny boost in us. If that's so, I'm OK with that. I need the help. I am thankful for any angels I can get. But I'm also wary of my shortcomings, of my temper, of my capacity for not being kind. I certainly don't feel like an angel.

I'd rather strive to stay ahead of my darkness, and keep aiming for the light. People may be improving, but they'll never be perfect. The Australian philosopher John Passmore said it for me. He thinks people are capable of enormous kindness, but they get there by knowing they might slip, and that progress is "a consequence of their remaining anxious, passionate, discontented human beings."

"To attempt, in a quest for perfection, to raise men above that level is to court disaster; there is no level above it, there is only a level below it," Passmore wrote. I agree.

Not being bad, I think, is the best way to be good.

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