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.


Death At The Lighthouse: Witless Bay Comes Alive

Nov 14, 2012
Originally published on November 14, 2012 3:41 pm

Da Chen is the author of My Last Empress.

In fiction, setting is a local goddess you must kowtow to before you lift up your pen and attempt to create an authentic fictional world. It is a lofty stage to be erected — an ornate frame within which a masterful painting will be hung.

Howard Norman's The Bird Artist, a 1994 National Book Award finalist, is the most exemplary text for learning how to best conjure up a unique setting. This elegant novel is the first book of his Canadian trilogy, and a subtle and hauntingly stark tale of suppressed romances, deep hatred and profound forgiveness. Its narrator, Fabian Vas, is a bird artist who draws and paints the Witless Bay. In the opening chapter, he confesses to murdering the village lighthouse keeper, Botho August, the secret lover of Fabian's lonely mother.

His magical stage is, of course, Witless Bay, nestled along the harsh and misty coast of Newfoundland. The rains there play major roles in the unfolding human dramas: sometimes a joyful prelude; other times a soliloquy condemning the evils of man and bleakness of life isolated from the rest of the Earth.

You can hear raindrops weep in some pages with anger and whisper in others with great lament in the quiet of a lonesome night, but it is the people, the vital elements of a setting, which set this book apart from the rest. They all seem drawn and contorted in some way by the pull of the sea, their lives tilted by the weight of the dark waves.

Some characters are blurred at the edges, incomplete from within, with part of their soul hovering out over the waves, attached to land only by the tragic ropes that fasten their collective fate.

Others are nestled snugly and cozily in their broken homes like seabirds seeking temporary shelter on the edge of a neglected Earth. They talk, if at all, in crisp and terse shorthand codes known only to locals, as if the silence of the sea has made them all begrudging philosophers of life who toss off miserly nuggets of wisdom and pinches of humor — as if the simplicity of Witless Bay has made them talk less and think more.

It is the thematic evocation of the sea that casts the overwhelming spell upon this witty bay. The ocean is the vast bosom they run to seeking freedom, relief and redemption — a cursed siren bewitching them, yielding good tidings and tragedies simultaneously. The Atlantic becomes the mother goddess giving birth to joy, anguish, hope and broken dreams by her ever-changing faces and roiling depths.

The Bird Artist is an ode to the sea, homage to that unbreakable bond between man and the elements — and the ancient discord and perpetual harmony that coexist within it.

The novel is the manifestation of the author's deep love for the land, and the sea that nurtures him. Only when a writer loves the locale this deeply can he or she deliver a work of such singularity.

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