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.


Delicious Deceit Abounds In McEwan's 'Sweet Tooth'

Nov 13, 2012
Originally published on November 13, 2012 2:49 pm

Ian McEwan's 15th book of fiction, Sweet Tooth, is a Tootsie Roll Pop of a literary confection — hard-boiled candy enrobing a chewy surprise at its core. The novel is set 40 years ago, when communism was still perceived as a threat, and takes its title from a fictional clandestine mission by Britain's MI5 intelligence service to sponsor writers espousing the Cold Warrior cause.

Readers will be happy to know that Sweet Tooth shares more with Atonement than with Solar, McEwan's disappointing previous novel — including a female protagonist and concerns with love, betrayal, doubt and the relationship between literature and truth. Both novels also feature intriguingly complex, layered structures, the keys to which are withheld until the final pages. But where Atonement compels on every level, from its country house opening to its war and hospital scenes, Sweet Tooth is most satisfying after its final revelations. Almost guaranteed to send you back to the beginning once you reach the end, it is a tricky book to discuss without revealing its surprise twist, which is best left for readers to discover for themselves.

A critic for the London Observer astutely dubbed Sweet Tooth, with its elaborately recursive layers of fictions within fictions, a "Russian doll of a novel." On its surface, the book is Serena Frome's story of her short-lived, botched career with MI5 (short for Military Intelligence Section Five) in the early 1970s, when she was a young beauty and Britain's identity as an empire was in free fall. Serena, a lusty speed-reader who devours novels that preferably end in marriage proposals, has struggled through math studies at Cambridge University, graduating at the bottom of her class with no idea of her future. She falls into an affair with her ex-lover's much older married professor, which ends badly. But before it does, he sets her up for an interview with MI5, with which he's been affiliated.

After months as "just one more office girl in a mini-skirt," Serena is tapped for Operation Sweet Tooth. Her job is to recruit and monitor a promising young writer named Tom Haley to receive funding from what he thinks is a no-strings grant from the Freedom International Foundation. McEwan probes the decay that ensues when Serena and Haley become sweet on each other despite the deceit at the root of their relationship.

If you've ever wondered what happened to the McEwan who wrote the edgy, creepy stories of In Between the Sheets, he surfaces again in Tom Haley's sinister, pessimistic fiction, descriptions of which ripple through Sweet Tooth like dark bands of fudge. In mesmerizing stories about a husband whose wife hawks his personal treasures and claims they've been stolen, and a man who falls in love with a mannequin but then reads treachery into her passivity, men are destroyed by misguided love. Will Tom be ruined by Serena's duplicity? For her part, she worries that she's just material for him: "I couldn't banish the thought that he was quietly recording our lovemaking for future use, that he was making mental notes," she reflects after their first awkward sex. So, who's using whom, and what is acceptable?

McEwan paints a convoluted climate of distrust even among Serena's friends at work. Intense conversations about spying, disingenuousness and literature dance around the "off-white lies" they all tell each other. McEwan sprinkles his novel with hints of his subversive intents, including Serena's declarations of her distaste for literary tricks and her belief that the relationship between author and reader "was a contract founded on mutual trust."

Espionage aspects of Sweet Tooth — concerning the IRA and USSR — are curiously flat. The book's tensions and temptations reside instead in its labyrinthine literary and romantic interplay. Coming from a culture that has produced such masterpieces of intrigue and guile as Harold Pinter's Betrayal and Ian Fleming's spy novels, McEwan's clever bonbon of a book has added "one extra fold in the fabric of deception."

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