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.


A 'Consuming' Portrait Of Appalachian Life

Dec 11, 2012

Earl Gray is about the closest thing to a celebrity that the small Appalachian town of Magguson has. In Chris Sullivan's debut animated feature, Consuming Spirits, Gray (Robert Levy) hosts a gardening show on the local radio station, and the occasional event around town.

His commentary tends to start practical, morph into poetic reveries, and then become impassioned — sometimes aggressive or despairing rants. His gravelly voice and edge-of-sanity delivery call to mind an alternate-universe Garrison Keillor after a career-long bender of whiskey, cigarettes and disappointment. One caller to his show asks about using the ashes from a trash-burning bonfire as garden fertilizer; Gray recommends against it, calling them the "bitter remains of charred memories."

That phrase might well be applied to Sullivan's emotionally raw, thoroughly original film as well, a labor of painstaking (and, one suspects, pain-exorcising) love 15 years in the making. Sullivan incorporates autobiographical details from a childhood heavily influenced by social services intervention, and from that seed springs a story about the fallout of broken homes, poverty, alcoholism and mental illness in small-town America.

He tells that story in an experimental stew of animation styles, using stop-motion miniatures for establishing shots, multilayered moving cutouts for the primary action, surrealist pencil sketches for dreams and memories, and occasional animated newsprint clippings thrown into the mix as well.

The effect is that of disjointed, haunted reverie, of alternate realities colliding, soundtracked by mumbled asides and an uneasy murmur of background noise. Gray's story intersects with that of Gentian Violet (Nancy Andrews) and Victor Blue (Sullivan), a sad-sack pair of middle-aged lovers who work in the paste-up department of the local newspaper, play together in a traditional Irish music duo, and steal kisses at Violet's house when they can get away from her mother — who suffers from dementia and is prone to wildly inappropriate sexual comments and attending dinner in the nude.

As the film methodically unfolds (it clocks in at well over two hours, but the hypnotic effect of Sullivan's hallucinatory style prevents it from ever seeming overlong), it becomes apparent that the connections between these characters run back for years and are full of unsavory details long kept in the dark. In the film's opening minutes, a nun is run down in a traffic accident, and that event begins tearing down the walls that have obscured these secrets, initiating a freak show of a narrative.

Sullivan's Appalachian Gothic takes us into a convent chapel where the mother superior makes product endorsements part of her tour; a tiny local-history museum where unruly children chatter while being told about the ghoulish, recently found Indian corpse that's been hurriedly taxidermied and added to a display; and into the touched mind of Victor, a depressive, alcoholic man-child who drifts in and out of consciousness behind the wheel of his truck while listening to Gray's radio show.

At one point, while both of them are wallowing in a dirty haze of boozy desperation, Victor makes a clumsy case that he and Gentian are made for each other: They're both so ugly that no one else would pay either of them any mind anyway, he posits.

As rendered by Sullivan, it seems plausible: His visual style highlights and caricatures the most awkward aspects of his characters — misshapen features, exaggerated skin flaws and spots, bloodshot eyes, patchy hair — until they nearly become visual representations of their own insecurities.

Only it's not just these two. The entire world he's built is constructed of ugliness shot through with moments of unexpected beauty, like the light that shines through the stained glass at the convent, or the sinuous grace of Sullivan's pencil-sketched dream sequences.

His narrative is the same way. In a story built on ugly secrets and lifetimes of terrible events, small moments of beauty and redemption sneak through — proving that sometimes utilizing those bitter remnants of charred memories can prove more fruitful than Earl Gray thought. (Recommended)

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