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.


Adjust Your Vision: Tolstoy's Last And Darkest Novel

Jan 6, 2013

George Saunders' latest book is called Tenth of December: Stories.

It's become commonplace to say that good fiction "wakes us up." The speaker usually means that he — a righteous, likable person, living in the correct way — becomes, post-reading, temporarily even more righteous and likable.

Resurrection, Tolstoy's last and darkest novel, works differently.

It's a shocking and impolite book, seemingly incapable of that last-minute epiphanic updraft or lyric reversal that lets us walk away from even the darkest novel fundamentally intact.

The story is simple: In his youth, Prince Dmitri Nekhlyudov seduced and impregnated a young servant, Maslova. Years later, on jury duty, he encounters her again — she's a prostitute on trial for murder. Nekhlyudov resolves to rescue her and atone for his sin. He follows Maslova down, down, down — through the corrupt Russian courts into a filthy prison and finally on a long, brutal march to Siberia.

What makes it so dark is its extreme truthfulness. Tolstoy does not flinch at the places that we, as writers and readers, reflexively agree to cloak. A clerical error adds 15 years to Maslova's sentence. It can't be helped; it would be rude to protest. A man dies of thirst in a crowded town, just feet away from water; women are raped in captivity; men cannibalize other men. Everywhere is poverty and debasement.

Before I read this book I didn't quite understand the Russian Revolution. How do we get from Anna Karenina or the reasonable and progressively discontent characters in Chekhov to the murder of the czar, to bludgeoning in the streets of Moscow, to the Stalinist purges? Resurrection is the missing link. In it, we see how bad Russian life was in the lower depths — and how impenetrable the boundaries were between the haves and the have-nots.

Is Resurrection a period piece, happily out of date? Is it merely a Russian work, irrelevant to our contemporary American project?


"All this comes," Tolstoy says, "from the fact that all these people — governors, inspectors, police officers, and policemen — consider that there are circumstances when human relations are not necessary between human beings. ... If once we admit — be it only for an hour or in some exceptional case — that anything can be more important than a feeling of love for our fellows, then there is no crime which we may not commit with easy minds. ... Men think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love. But there are no such circumstances."

Is there a solution?

There is, but it's hard.

"If you feel no love," Tolstoy writes, "sit still. Occupy yourself with things, with yourself, with anything you like, only not with men. ... Only let yourself deal with a man without love ... and there are no limits to the suffering you will bring on yourself."

Resurrection argues that we don't, in our reasonable hours, have the true measure of life. We bracket and discount the miserable. Tolstoy shows this submerged misery so unflinchingly that our eyesight gets adjusted: We see, as if for the first time, how strange and harsh our life here is — how naturally we accept the idea that the neglected and debased will be — must be — with us always.

Reading Resurrection, you'll resent Tolstoy and be glad you're not him — dragging that heavy conscience around making everything miserable. You'll feel, when finished, relieved to get back to being the person you were before you started: reasonable, optimistic, able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life; a progressive thinker, again understanding the suffering of others as regrettable but inevitable, the cost of doing business, as it were. You will once more feel that their suffering is ultimately their problem, not yours, and that it would be irrational to feel otherwise, and that their misery does not — cannot — implicate you.

But for a few precious, harrowing hours reading Resurrection you will feel otherwise, and, if you're like me, the memory of those hours will stay with you forever.

You Must Read This is produced and edited by the team at NPR Books.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.