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.


Blame The Movies As We Mourn? Or Turn To Them For Comfort?

Dec 21, 2012

In light of last Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, all explanations and ruminations for why Adam Lanza opened fire are on the cable-news pundits' table. Was it the lack of gun control? Untreated mental illness? Or was it an Aurora-style pop-culture revenge fantasy writ large? Did Hollywood's culture of raging, gun-slinging entertainment help fuel the mayhem? Nobody knows the shooter's motive, and yet the conversation and pontification remains incessant and unabated.

The entertainment industry has made no sweeping admission of guilt, nor has it been asked to do as much by the victims' families or by legislators. But this week's canceled red-carpet premieres and earnest offerings of song on shows like Saturday Night Live and The Voice do point to some soul-searching on the part of our entertainers.

On Wednesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Mandalit del Barco reported on how Hollywood often pulls back after mass shootings, postponing release dates and adding new warning labels to crime procedurals. But as Mandalit reported, studio executives rarely ask more fundamental questions about the ethics of selling violence as entertainment. From Quentin Tarantino's slavery-revenge saga Django Unchained to Katherine Bigelow's critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, some of this season's highest-profile releases offer their greatest rewards in the form of stylized violence.

But if filmmakers can glorify (and perhaps inspire) brutality, can't they also offer us the opposite — an outlet for reflection and healing following an act of brutality?

Monsieur Lazhar is one such example. It was released earlier this year, nominated for an Oscar, and in its limited release cycle was most certainly lost in the pop-culture grinder. I discovered it by accident over the weekend, avoiding the too-sad news stream by browsing through Netflix's somewhat limited online library. I couldn't have predicted that this quiet, meditative film is actually an eerily prophetic and immensely relevant story — especially in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

The film charts one year at an elementary school in Montreal, where the quiet students at the center of the film are carrying immensely turbulent and traumatic pain under their stoic demeanor. Their beloved teacher has committed suicide; they discover her hanging body over their school desks.

It's not an inviting plot device for a work of entertainment, but for filmmaker Philippe Falardeau it's a window to explore the complex relationship between children and violence, teachers and students — and, more important, between pain and healing.

The title character is an Algerian immigrant who enters the story as a man in search of work and relevance. Monsieur Lazhar replaces the deceased teacher and gradually discovers that the other adults at the school have remained cold and distant from their students' pain. The classroom has been painted afresh, the belongings of their teacher stored far from view, and yet it's obvious that the students never grieved.

Against the advice of his superiors to avoid discussing the suicide, Monsieur Lazhar insists the students explore it in their work and in their friendships. Of course what the audience learns through the course of the film is that beyond the classroom, the soft-spoken Bachir Lazhar is recovering from his own pain. He's the sole survivor of a brutal attack on his family in Algeria, an asylum-seeker searching for a new beginning in the Canadian winter. In that fascinating intersection across cultures, the film explores how the pain of varying individuals can meet and transform into something redemptive and beautiful.

Monsieur Lazhar is just one film in the hundreds that lit up movie screens this year. But in the current debate over the correlation between pop culture and violence, it's another bit of evidence of the power of cinema — of art — as catharsis. It's a quiet reminder that for every filmmaker who traffics in the theater of violence, there are those whose work we need to help us make sense of the senseless.

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