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.


Brad Pitt, 'Killing Them Softly' (And With Style)

Nov 29, 2012

George Higgins was a Boston-based crime novelist and former assistant U.S. attorney who wrote meaty, swaggering dialogue that seems tailor-made for the movies, though until now only one of his books had been made into one.

That picture, Peter Yates' 1973 The Friends of Eddie Coyle, featured a late-middle-aged Robert Mitchum — a figure of shopworn masculine beauty — as low-level hood Eddie. Now Brad Pitt stars as another Higgins character in Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly. And if that's not exactly proof that we're living in a golden age of movies, it's at least reassurance that we're living in a not-so-tarnished one.

Pitt's Jackie Cogan is, you might say, a problem solver. A Grade-Z wiseguy (Vincent Curatola) sends a couple of bumbling ex-cons (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) to knock over a mob-run card game, an assignment that seems pretty much foolproof given that the dealer (Ray Liotta) is already suffering the scrutiny of his bosses.

And sure enough the Mutt-and-Jeff duo, despite sitting at the low-wattage end of the dim-bulb scale, pull off the theft — and the mob higher-ups aren't happy about it. It's 2008, and the economy has just taken its nosedive; even criminals need to protect their investments.

So the big guys send for Jackie to restore order, if not peace, to the cozy little world of racketeering. He makes his entrance sliding into the passenger seat of a car driven by an anonymous-looking mob middle-manager in a suit and tie (Richard Jenkins), but his own look is studiously casual: With his slicked-back pompadour, ombré aviator shades and time-softened leather jacket, he looks like everyone and no one. He looks like Brad Pitt in the same way Robert Mitchum always looked like Robert Mitchum.

That's a good thing, and Andrew Dominik, directing his first movie since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, knows it. Dominik adapted the screenplay himself from Higgins' 1974 novel Cogan's Trade, paying special attention to the book's dialogue: Even though he's changed the era in which the story takes place, the language still rings true to Higgins' style.

It's the characters, and their words, that drive the story here, and Dominik preserves all their scruffy colors: When McNairy and Mendelsohn show up for their little heist, all their seemingly paradoxical guilelessness and braggadocio are on display. Mendelsohn's character is a dog-napper who aspires to be a dope dealer, a guy whose face is perpetually coated with a veil of sweat. McNairy is sweeter, but just as clueless. When Pitt's Jackie comes for him, as is inevitable, he wears the look of a puppy who's just relieved himself in the wrong place, half embarrassed and half scared.

Killing Them Softly has more unruly energy, and less art-house pretension, than The Assassination of Jesse James. Its disreputability does come with a faintly arty sheen sprayed on — the picture could be a little grubbier, but let's not split hairs, especially such nice, greasy ones.

Dominik and cinematographer Greig Fraser get the setting right: The Boston of Killing Them Softly isn't the pretty, picturesque one but its Godforsaken fringes, a landscape of desolate looping overpasses with nothing much beneath them except scrubby lots and maybe a few warehouses. Dominik does make some of the violence look a little too pretty: A bullet pierces a cranium in slow motion, resulting in an exploding floret of blood that looks like the garnish on an upscale dinner plate. But elsewhere, when a character suffers a brutal beating, Dominik takes a more straightforward tack: With every punch, he makes you feel the price being paid by the guy's mug.

And then there's Pitt, striding through the movie not as if he owned it, but as if he knows he's just renting the space — he's unassuming and confident at once, in just the right measures. He also knows what to do with Higgins' filtered-through-Dominik dialogue, as when he explains to Jenkins his preferred method of killing: He doesn't like to fire at close range, because it gets too personal. "I like to kill them softly, from a distance," he says, and his voice captures both his sense of practicality and his capacity for sorrow.

And Pitt, like all good actors — or, perhaps more accurately, like all actors who have learned how to be good — is a terrific listener. In a scene with James Gandolfini, as a not-so-helpful colleague, he lends an ear as this bummed-out behemoth hoists a martini glass (or two) to his lips and spins a sad tale about how his wife almost divorced him while he was serving a prison sentence.

Pitt's Jackie takes it all in, his face showing sympathy that almost shifts into the territory of empathy. Who is this man, and what is he thinking? Pitt doesn't spell it out, because he doesn't have to. He's wearing Jackie's back story on the inside, which is where it belongs.

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