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.

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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.

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Why Hagel? Let Us Count The Reasons

Jan 7, 2013
Originally published on January 13, 2013 9:02 am

So why did President Obama choose Chuck Hagel to be his new defense secretary?

First, Hagel is Obama's kind of Republican. The former senator from Nebraska is a realist and pragmatist who hasn't been afraid to buck the orthodoxy of his chosen party, for instance when Hagel opposed the Iraq War.

In that way, he's a lot like Obama, another foreign policy and national security realist who has been willing at times to upset those in his own party. The use of drone strikes against alleged terrorist targets — some of whom have been U.S. citizens — has angered any number of Democrats.

In his remarks Monday afternoon, the president noted that he prized Hagel's independence of mind and willingness to take politically unpopular positions. That's just what you would expect to hear from a president who has made Abraham Lincoln's "team of rivals" approach to choosing a Cabinet his White House touchstone.

Second, Obama also clearly is very comfortable personally with Hagel, whom the president bonded with during his short U.S. Senate career. As Obama reminded his audience, he and the Nebraskan traveled together as senators to the Middle East.

"I think it is not simply the fact that Sen. Hagel is qualified, but the trust the president places in him," says Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "This is somebody who has been very thoughtful. He is not someone who takes ideological stands. He has a real military background both in dealing with war and then dealing with" its aftermath, since Hagel isn't just a Vietnam veteran but a former Veterans Administration official.

Besides befriending Obama when the Illinoisan was a rock-star senator, Hagel also had long-standing Senate friendships with two other senators who have played significant roles in Obama's ascent and presidency, Vice President Biden (the former Delaware senator) and Secretary of State-designate John Kerry (the senior senator from Massachusetts).

Biden, Kerry and Hagel have shared much together, including some anxious moments in 2008 when during a trip to Afghanistan, a snowstorm forced their helicopter to make an emergency mountaintop landing.

Thus, Hagel's addition to the Obama administration would put four men with close ties from the Senate at the center of the nation's foreign policy and national security policymaking. That could have real benefits, given the imperative that foreign policy and national security mesh. Worth noting is that the three Democrats each ran for president while Hagel, the Republican, toyed with the idea but ultimately decided against it.

Third, picking Hagel gives Obama the chance to assert his presidential prerogative to choose whom he wants for his Cabinet.

Senate Republicans successfully forced Obama to rethink U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as a potential secretary of state after warning that they were prepared to wage a no-holds-barred confirmation battle if he nominated her to succeed Hillary Clinton. Rice took her name out of consideration, and that storm ended.

By nominating Hagel, Obama gets to frame the fight with Senate Republicans in ways more favorable to him. In choosing a Republican who as a senator occasionally strayed from GOP talking points, Obama puts Republicans in a trickier position.

Senate Republicans could reject the president's attempt at bipartisanship represented by his choice of Hagel. But it wouldn't make them look good in the eyes of the majority of voters who tell pollsters that they want Washington politicians to cross party lines to get things done.

Hagel was actually on Obama's short list in 2009 for defense secretary, but the president wound up sticking with Bush administration holdover Robert Gates.

Fourth, Obama is obviously not worried about charges that Hagel is anti-gay or anti-Israel.

To a large extent, Obama inoculated himself against the anti-Hagel allegations through his own policies. He signed into law the end of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people openly serving in the armed services; finally said he supported marriage equality; and ordered his administration to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

For his part, Hagel apologized for comments he made in the 1990s in which he questioned whether an "aggressively" gay ambassadorial nominee would be an appropriate representative of the U.S., an apology that's been accepted by some gay groups.

Obama also very likely isn't too worried about allegations sticking that Hagel is anti-Israel, for similar reasons. Those charges are based in part on Hagel's past use of the term "Jewish lobby."

Hagel has apologized for that, too. And he can probably count on getting the benefit of the doubt from many who are pro-Israel. Jewish voters chose Obama by a wide margin in the 2012 election, giving him about 70 percent of their votes, a share similar to what he received in 2008.

Fifth, Hagel's two terms in the Senate, his success as a businessman, his roles as a VA official and as the head of the USO, uniquely position him to oversee a Pentagon facing spending cuts as the federal government grapples with reducing its debt and deficits.

Cordesman, who would talk informally with Hagel when the two men, who lived on Capitol Hill, would bump into each other, says this is "somebody who listens and consults. He will be very careful to get opinions from the military and civilians and from outside. Given the complexity of the issues involved, that's critical. What's equally critical is he can speak to people on the foreign policy side because in today's world there's no clear separation between security and foreign policy."

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